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10:00am – 5:00pm. June – September 2019

FREE: Open to the public June 6th 


This exhibition at EPIC reflects on the role and influence of Irish educators across the globe over the centuries.

The Irish had an important role in early Catholic colleges in France, Spain and Belgium. Later, education in Ireland itself was revolutionised with the establishment of the National Schools’ system in 1830, the development of convent schools, and from 1892, the compulsory education of all children aged 6–14. While many children continued to fall through the cracks, there was a notable increase in girls’ educational attainment from 1870 onwards, creating a new generation of educated and ambitious women. By 1911, Ireland was second only to Finland in the proportion of women attending university.

The combination of these factors led many Irish women to train as educators. They found opportunities for adventure and fulfilment in British imperial service, private teaching, and in missionary work. For example, Margaret Noble, Sister Nivedita, dedicated herself to the education and empowerment of Indian women in 1895–1911. Margaret Eagar was governess to the family of the last tsar, Nicholas II. Irish feminists and women’s rights activists like Sophie Bryant and Frances Power Cobbe campaigned for women’s access to second and third-level education in the UK. This exhibition highlights Ireland’s long history of exporting male and female educators to work with communities all over the world – a tradition that continues today.

Top left: Sr Carmel de Montfort McAteer, Pacelli School for the Blind, Lagos. Image courtesy Religious Sisters of Charity, Caritas.

Top right: Sports training at Sancta Maria primary teacher training college, Buganda, Uganda. Image courtesy Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa archives, Dundalk.

Bottom left: Small alcove in library on Trinity College campus, Washington DC. c.1920-c.1950. Image by Theodor Horydczak. Library of Congress

Bottom right: Some of the Irish teachers working in the Middle East in 2019. Image courtesy Irish Embassy Abu Dhabi.