‘A Rag-Bag of Pointless Information’? – The Value of Teaching History

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The Irish Association of Professional Historians  held a workshop in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick earlier this month.

The workshop discussed the teaching of History at primary, secondary, and third level, as well as outside the formal education system. Over the course of the day I heard a series of really engaging and thought-provoking papers which examined policy and curriculum developments over the history of the state and also looked at ways in which public history, material culture, and the digital space can inform History teaching today. The programme for the day is available here

I gave the keynote lecture at the workshop. My paper was prompted by the recent removal of history as a core subject for the new Junior Cycle, but also examined the importance of both teaching and learning history more broadly. I also considered how museums and heritage sites engage with teaching history in both formal and informal settings.

Given the fact that Minister Joe McHugh has decided to review the decision to remove history as a core subject for the Junior Cycle it seemed like a good idea to make my lecture publicly available for anyone who might be interested in reading why I (and many others) feel very strongly that history must be reinstated as a core subject.

You will find a PDF version of the lecture (along with some of the slides I used) by clicking on this link: ‘A Rag-Bag of Pointless Information?: The Value of Teaching History

In Praise of New Voices

RTE Brainstorm recently published a version of my recent blog post about my Dark Tourism trip around Ireland, or ‘Ireland in the Shadows’. You can find it here: How my Grandmother inspired a fascination with Dark Tourism. The blog version is here.

RTE Brainstorm is a great resource – full of interesting and accessible reports, opinion pieces and articles written by academics and researchers. The thing I enjoy most about it is that it has introduced me to a whole range of new perspectives on topics that very often are discussed by non-experts in print and on air. It provides an insight into fascinating research that’s being conducted by academics in Ireland and beyond. In a world of ‘fake news’ and the same old voices it’s a very refreshing addition.

Jim Carroll (the editor of Brainstorm) had a piece explaining the rationale behind Brainstorm in the Irish Times on Saturday. You can find the article here.

(I’m not praising the website just because one of my pieces was one of the ‘Editor’s Picks’…but you can read that one here!)

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Web Resources – Primary Sources

Irish History – Web Resources – Primary Sources


For the last few years I have been making increasing use websites relating to Irish history. There has been an explosion of good sites recently and I’ve been using them, both to introduce students to doing online research, and to locate materials to use in the various museum projects I’ve been working on. The sites I’m particularly interested in are those that make use of primary source material. Digitised collections of photographs, letters, paintings, documents etc have allowed my students access to primary material in a way that until recently was almost impossible – especially as I’m teaching Irish history in England.

Over the next few months I’m planning to post links to some of the websites I’ve been using. It will be a far from definitive list and it will primarily reflect my research and teaching interests, but there is a treasure trove out there which is well worth dipping into.

If anyone has suggestions of good sites to investigate I’m very interested in hearing about them. Feel free to drop me an email or comment on the page. I’ll set up a second list that will have links to secondary source material over the next few weeks.