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Making secondary history fun & challenging

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Ireland in Schools (IiS) is a The memory of the coffin ships

national network of volunteers Task 1 of 4 in an investigation, ‘The truth about coffin ships?’, by Ben Walsh
which provides free teaching
and learning resources for
primary and secondary schools These two pictures below are photographs of the Irish National Famine
in Britain. Memorial in County Mayo in Ireland.

The aim is to make Ireland a Of all of the images which could have been used, this memorial chose
part of the normal curriculum in to focus on the coffin ships.
Britain, from primary schools to
sixth-forms, by making it easy
for teachers to draw upon
Ireland in their teaching.

Originally intended to underpin

the peace process, the
programme has taken on an
educational life of its own by
• addressing key curriculum
• enriching the teaching and
learning experience for
teachers and pupils alike
• making learning fun as well This shows us what a powerful
as challenging. impact the coffin ships have had
on the memory of Irish people.
The free IiS resources are
developed by teachers to
• reflect the realities of the But why have they had such an
curriculum and the impact?
classroom and
• provide models of best
Study the images closely and work out:
Download free resources for
secondary history at: 1. What messages the artist is trying to send with this memorial.
sh.aspx 2. How the artist uses images rather than words to get the messages
Tudors & Stuarts
Anglo-Irish relations in 19th c.
O’Connell Gladstone Parnell
Famine 1916 Partition
Some suggestions
Northern Ireland Full photograph Close-up
Secondary Strategy Beautiful setting - contrast with Figures are shown as skeletons - death
harshness of memorial. and hunger.
Website: Gaunt masts - almost like skeletons. Here we can see the ‘ribs’ close up. Ship looks frail - coffin ships were often The figures represent the dead - they are
not seaworthy. ‘haunting’ the memorial.
Contact: Timbers of ship remind us of the ribs of the hungry people who travelled in
A Norman conquest of Ireland?
A quick lesson by the Nottingham Pilot Scheme
Study units & other resources available via

Source A. The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife by Daniel MacLise, 1854

1. a. Which words spring to mind when you look at this painting?

b. Which parts of the painting could support these words?
2. What do you think that the artist is saying about Aoife’s marriage to Strongbow?
Give reasons for your answer, referring to parts of the painting.

All living within the English colony were

to use the English language and English
personal names
to ride horses in the English manner
to use English methods of dispute

forbidden to create social relationships with

the native Irish through
standing as godparents

Source B. Statute of Kilkenny, 1366 Source C. Land holdings in Ireland, 1450

3. How far do Sources B and C support the artist’s view of

the Norman intervention in Ireland in Source A?
Interpretations: Oliver Cromwell at Drogheda
Part of an investigation by Richard Bailey & Chris Culpin
Study units & other resources available via

Source A
‘Young Ned of the Hill’, The Pogues
A curse upon you, Oliver Cromwell,
You who raped our motherland,
I hope you’re rotting down in Hell,
For the horrors that you sent.
To our misfortunate forefathers
Whom you robbed of their birthright,
‘To Hell or Connaught’* - may you burn in Hell tonight.

Cromwellian land settlement, 1652

* Connaught is an area of Western Ireland with poor rocky soil.

Thousands were forced to live there after Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland.

Source B
From Antonia Fraser’s biography of Cromwell, 1973
1. Drogheda taught the lesson of what a siege and a storm meant. It undoubtedly frightened many
lesser garrisons into peaceful surrender. Militarily then the sack of Drogheda could fairly be said
to have done what Cromwell wanted.

2. The conclusion cannot be escaped that Cromwell lost his self-control at Drogheda, literally saw
red - the red of his comrades’ blood - after the failure of the first assaults, and was seized with
one of his sudden brief and cataclysmic rages. There were good military reasons for behaving
as he did, but they were not the motives that drove him at the time, during the day and night of
uncalculated butchery. The slaughter itself stood quite outside his normal record of careful
mercy as a soldier.

1. Read Antonia Fraser’s piece on the events at Drogheda.
Explain who she is, and discuss how she would have obtained information, evidence etc.
a. What does she say about Cromwell?
b. Does she attempt to justify his actions? How? What does she say?

2. Sentiments and accuracy in interpretation:

a. Which of the two views of Cromwell would you trust more? Explain in detail.
b. Whose sentiments would you go along with, the Pogues’ or Antonia Fraser’s?
(Some explanation of justification and sentiments may be required.)
In what warfare were Irish people involved in 1916?
Lesson 1 of a cross-curricular investigation, ‘1916: Fighting for whom?’, by the Birmingham Pilot Scheme,
Study units & other resources available via

1a. ‘The Birth of the Republic’

by Walter Paget, 1916 - an
artist’s impression of the scene
inside the General Post Office,
Dublin, at the height of the
Easter Rising, just before the

Patrick Pearse stands (hatless

and holding a revolver) on the
left of the stretcher, where
James Connolly lies wounded.
The picture was commissioned
in 1916 by supporters of the
Rising and the artist has caught
the ‘romance’ of the occasion
in heroic style.
National Museum of Ireland

2a Some 206,000 men from 1b. At most some 2,000 Irish men
Ireland served during the World and women took part in the Easter
War. 30, 000 d i e d , m o s t •
Dublin Rising in Dublin in 1916 to set up
dramatically during the Battle of an Irish Republic, completely
the Somme, which began in July independent from Britain. Among
1916. One of the three Irish the dead were 64 insurgents,
divisions, the Ulster Division
including the executed leaders,
suffered over 5,500 casualties in
the first two days out of a total of 132 members of the Crown forces
15,000 men. and 230 civilians.

2b. The Battle of the Somme: a

very famous painting, by James
Prinsep Beadle, ‘The Attack by
the 36th (Ulster) Division,
Somme, 1st July 1916', 1917.

Beadle, a military artist,

painted scenes from the
Great War, often from
imagination and sometimes
with the help from veterans
- in this instance the young
officer with his arm raised.
Belfast City Council

1. Freeze-frame one of the pictures. a. What are the main things you see in these pictures?
b. What are the main questions you want to ask?
2. Answer the following questions. c. What similarities and differences can you see between the

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