How will these resources help you?

Ireland is often Britain’s ‘forgotten colony’. Children learn something of the British Empire in Asia and Africa but may know very little about the history of our neighbour Ireland. Yet around three quarters of a million people in the UK are Irish born, while roughly six million have Irish parents or grandparents. It is important to bring the Irish perspective into history lessons to help children to understand how the country came to be divided, with the northern part ruled by the British government. Teachers may lack resources from Irish viewpoints, however. The National Curriculum for History suggests topics from the British government’s perspective, positioning Ireland purely as a problem. This selection of non-fiction and fiction titles will reveal Irish perspectives on the Easter Rising of 1916, as well as ensuring that women’s experiences of the event are represented.

Key figures in the Easter Rising

James Connolly: Working Class Hero

by Rod Smith, published by Poolbeg Press, (2019), 9781781998724

This book describes James Connolly’s role as a leader of the Easter Rising, his injury in battle and execution for rebelling against the British. It is a title from the In a Nutshell series, which contains several biographies of key figures in the Easter Rising, including Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, Countess Markievicz and the human rights campaigner Roger Casement. 
These narrative non-fiction books provide an accessible, affordable starting point for learning about the Easter Rising. The subject is contentious, but the author shows that the Rising is not a simple case of good against bad. You can use the books to encourage children to ask questions about the events in order to form their own opinions. 

Fiction set during the Easter Rising

The Easter Rising 1916: Molly’s Diary

by Patricia Murphy, published by Poolbeg Press, (2014), 9781781999745

This is the fictional story of Molly O’Donovan, a 12-year-old Dublin girl whose family becomes involved in opposing sides of the Rising: her father is a technical officer with the GPO, while her brother runs messages for the rebels. Molly takes on the risky role of a first aider, helping casualties on both sides, while recording the events of the Rising in her diary.
The Hands on History series also includes titles set during the Irish War of Independence (1920–22) and the Civil War (1922–23). They are all written from the perspective of 12-year-olds caught up in the events. These titles will provide a broad overview of the political situation – the Irish struggle for independence and the division of the country. You can use them to discuss Irish society at the time: contrasting viewpoints about English rule, the significance of religion and the different experiences of men and women.

Women in the Easter Rising

Ten Women of the 1916 Rising

by Ann Carroll, published by Poolbeg Press, (2016), 9781781998779

This title from the In a Nutshell series examines the early life experiences of several women, which led them to participate in the Easter Rising. The book can be a useful springboard for a discussion of the events in people’s lives that influence their political opinions and actions. It includes little-known female activists in the Rising, including Molly Childers, who organised arms, as well as Julia Grenan and Elizabeth O'Farrell, who were couriers for the Irish Volunteers. 

Audiovisual clip

A House Through Time - Irish migrants in Newcastle

published by BBC, (2019)

This clip analyses therelationship between Irish migrants to the UK following the years of the Easter Rising and the First World War, and their British counterparts.

Podcast episode

RETEACH HISTORY - Emmy Quinn on Irish history


Curriculum Lead Emmy Quinn explains why Ireland was, in fact, the British Empire's first colony, and how this makes Irish History a fundamental part of the curriculum which has been often overlooked. 

Further Materials

Easter Rising 1916: A Family Answers The Call For Ireland’s Freedom by Gabriel Woods, published by CreateSpace, (2016), 9781533195159 Find this book
The Story of Ireland by Brendan O’Brien, published by The O’Brien Press, (2020), 9781788491495 Find this book
Rocking the System: Fearless and Amazing Irish Women who Made History by Siobhán Parkinson, illustrated by Bren Luke, published by Little Island Books, (2019), 9781912417438 Find this book
Cath Senker is a history graduate and non-fiction writer specialising in history titles. She is the author of several books about racism, migration and refugees, including the award-winning Far from home: refugees fleeing war, persecution and poverty (Franklin Watts, 2019). Cath teaches ESOL to vulnerable migrants and refugees on a voluntary basis. She is currently working on new book, which reflects the diversity of the UK’s population, called A Very Peculiar History: Great Britons.

Text © Cath Senker, 2020, 2023