At EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, we celebrate history that’s truly inspiring. From episodes that have shaped Irish history, such as the Great Irish Famine, to the tales of pioneering Irish people that have affected change all around the world, like humanitarian Mother Jones, we explore history through the eyes of those who have experienced it. Bring these stories to life in the comfort of your own home with our top 10 book recommendations and activities for budding historians.
How I Survived the Irish Famine: The Journal of Mary O’Flynn
By Laura Wilson
Most people know something about the devastation of the Great Irish Famine of 1845 – 52, a period in Irish history that caused over half of Ireland’s population to perish or leave the country. Discover the story first-hand through the fictionalised account of 12-year-old Mary O’Flynn. Composed as a series of journal entries, coupled with original photography of artefacts and interiors, readers journey alongside Mary and her family as they discover the potato crop is failing, face the hardships of famine, and finally gain passage on one of the over-crowded coffin ships bound for North America. What will happen once they reach the promised ‘New World’?
Take it further: Follow in Mary’s footsteps by creating your own diary entries depicting what you, your family and Ireland is currently going through.
Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed the World
By Sarah Webb
Ever dreamt of changing the world? In this book by two remarkable women – celebrated children’s author Sarah Webb and illustrator Lauren O’Neill – children can be inspired by daring tales of adventure and ingenuity as they discover the amazing feats of Irish women worldwide. From the well-known, such as valiant aviator Lady Mary Heath, the first female pilot in the UK; to the lesser lauded, such as Anna Haslam, a suffragist and figure in the 19th and early 20th century women’s movement in Ireland, there are plenty of stories to surprise, delight and inspire them to take on the world!
Take it further: Using these tales as inspiration, describe what you would like to do to change the world – this could be creating a new invention or championing a social cause, such as animal rights!
Brian Ború: Warrior King
By John and Fatti Burke
Grab your sword and spears, for its time to take on the Vikings! Little warriors will enjoy this beautifully illustrated tale, lifted right out of Irish history. This picture book tells the story of ancient Irish Warrior King Brian Ború. From growing up in a large warrior family over 1,000 years ago in Killaloe, Co. Clare, to practicing raids along the River Shannon, we follow Brian until he eventually becomes King of all Ireland! But alas, Vikings are raiding Dublin and Brian is called to action… What will Brian do?
Take it further: Using whatever you can find in your house, dress up as Brian Ború and his fearsome band of warriors! Why not re-enact a scene from the book in your sitting room?
Artists and Creatives
Ancient Ireland: Colouring Book
By Conor McHale
For children who prefer to be active rather than passive learners, turn history time into an artistic endeavour with this colouring book by Conor McHale. Bringing Ireland’s ancient history to life through a series of detailed illustrations depicting everything from famous figures and historic battles to scenes from Irish myth and legend, this colouring book allows children to explore Irish history while also leaving their own mark on it – plus we’ve all heard about the benefits of mindful colouring for stress relief!
Take it further: Choose a scene depicted in the book, and draw your own version of it. Then, choose a scene from Irish history not depicted in the book, and draw it.
Horrible Histories Gruesome Guides: Dublin
By Terry Deary