Pearse, generally known as a leader of the Easter Rising in 1916, had long been critical of the educational system in Ireland, which he believed taught Irish children to be good Englishmen. He had for years been committed to the preservation of the Irish language, mostly through the Gaelic League, and was dearly concerned about the language’s future. A trip abroad to Belgium and his observations of bi-lingual education there inspired him to attempt a similar experiment at home.
Pearse was not a practical businessman, but he was never one to let lack of finances get in the way of his plans. With promises from prominent nationalists as proponents of Irish heritage that they would give him whatever limited financial support they could, and, when applicable, would enrol their children in his school, Pearse established his school, which officially opened on September 8, 1908, in Cullenswood House, Ranelagh, a suburb of Dublin.
The school proved a successful experiment, but was never to fully escape the shadow of looming financial woes. In fact, the school would not have survived the crucial first few years without the devoted aid of his good friend and assistant headmaster Thomas MacDonagh, and the solid dedication of Pat’s brother Willie.
Senator Margaret Pearse bequeathed the house and its contents to the state in 1968 to be used as a memorial to both her brothers. The museum opened in 1979 and has recently undergone major renovations. Its collection consists of documents, furniture, books, artworks and other objects related to the life of Patrick Pearse and his family. The permanent exhibition principally consists of reconstructions of the rooms where Pearse lived and worked. Visitors can thus encounter objects from the collection in their original context. They can also get a sense of what life was like for the pupils of Pearse’s school as they wander around the boys’ dormitory, school museum, school art gallery and chapel. There is a dedicated exhibition of sculptural work by William Pearse, as well as an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions.
The Novel that we read this year is The Young Rebels and is based on the life of a young boy, John Joe who spent the best years of his life in Scoil Éanna. Thus 5th and 6th class and their teacher Kiera Dowd went to see the school and were thrilled to find it as described in the book, with the exception of a few missing characters.