herald

Saturday 25 November 2017

Going native: Piercing insight into our history

For many years I have lived in close proximity to St Enda's Park in Rathfarnham, and have been terribly lax about using the beautiful grounds, an offence made all the worse because Enda's is home to a major part of Irish heritage: The Pearse Museum.

The museum was a staple of school tours when I was a kid but I hadn't been in it in years, and since it has undergone a major renovation, reopening in 2008, I figured I should take a look.

Armed with my appalling knowledge of Irish history, I watched the 20-minute introductory video before starting my wanderings around the house in the company of my amiable guide, William.

The revolutionary (so to speak) Scoil Eanna had been set up by Patrick Pearse in 1908 and moved to this impressive location, The Hermitage, in 1910.

It was interesting to learn that a visit to Belgium, where Flemish was taught alongside French, convinced Pearse that his dream could actually work. His aim was to create a school that "takes Ireland for granted", where one "need not praise the Irish language, simply speak it".

The video, inevitably, concludes with the events of Easter 1916 and while I know I learned all this in school, it's amazing to look with adult eyes at the devastation inflicted on Sackville (O'Connell) Street. I never knew that a gunboat sailed up the Liffey and fired on Liberty Hall!

The house is gorgeous, beautifully restored now to what it was like in the Pearses' time. And it gives a better sense of what it was; not just a school but a family home, too.

Four of Scoil Eanna's teachers were executed after The Rising: Patrick, his brother Willie, whose sculptures are on display now, Thomas McDonagh and Con Colbert. The school stumbled on until it closed in 1935 and in 1968, after the death of Mammy Pearse, it was handed over to the State.

The museum is free to visit and the refurbishment means most of the house is accessible to wheelchairs.

St Enda's Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin. 01 493 4208, www.heritageireland.ie

Promoted articles

Entertainment News