Discovering Dublin: Pearse Museum
Pearse Museum has been on my list to visit for a while, so after a particularly down day (just homesickness!) P took me and I was straight up GEEKING OUT. I totally get this is not a museum for everybody but if you like Irish history or are just interested in key historical figures throughout different times and places in history, I would recommend a visit. So, basically if you are a history nerd in any way, you’ll be in your element. It is good to note that the museum is free!
How to Get There:
The number 16 bus stops at the main entrances to the park on Grange Road. The numbers 17, 75, and 61 also serve the Rathfarnham area. Check the Dublin Bus Website for up to date schedules. There is parking for both cars and coaches on site.
I first learned who Patrick Pearse was in summer 2012 when I took the class that, not to be dramatic, would change the entire course of my life. Little did I know when I took Time of the Troubles: 20th Century Ireland, that my study abroad portion of the course would lead to me living in Ireland and beginning a slight obsession with Patrick Pearse. With all that said, I have absolutely no good reason it took me four years to finally get myself out to Pearse Museum.
Pearse Museum is located in Rathfarnham, only about a 10-minute drive from where I live. Crazy to think that in 2018 I only live 10 minutes away from where Patrick Pearse lived all those years ago! Am I the only one thinks that way? When my mom and I visited Edinburgh, and toured the Royal Yacht Britannia she said to me “We’re on the same boat Diana had been on” so surely it can’t be just me!
Pearse Museum and St Enda’s Park was where Patrick Pearse lived from 1910 -1916. Here he also ran Scoil Éanna, an Irish speaking school, during the same time period. Pearse Museum and St Enda’s Park, as previously mentioned, isn’t too far from where I live but it is so much greener around that it felt much further, as if we had left Dublin. I suppose that’s what 50 acres of parkland will make you feel like that. Pearse discovered the house when he was on a pilgrimage of areas associated with Robert Emmet. Maybe Robert Emmet was to Patrick Pearse, what Pearse is to me! Did he totally freak out when visiting places Emmet himself had been? Maybe inside, but I would say he kept his cool better than I do when we visit Irish historical sites.
On the subject of an Irish speaking school, in Ireland, it is a choice to send your kids to Irish school or not. Even if you do not send your child to an Irish school, children are required to take Irish as one of their three core subjects, the other two being English and Math (I refuse to put maths here, it just sounds wrong!). Once students get to secondary school they get a bit more leeway in picking other subjects but they must take these three. I think history should be a core subject too but that’s just my opinion!
The feedback I hear more often than not from people I know who attended school in Ireland is that the language is not taught in a way that is useful or interesting. I hate to hear people talk that way about the language because it is such a vital part of the culture. I won’t act like I am fluent in Irish myself or do much in terms of language movement but when I was still living in America and would read about Pearse’s passion for the language and influence in involving it in everyday life I was moved. He is the reason there is still so much Irish in terms of street signs and he really was a key figure in establishing modern Irish speaking schools.
Off the top of my head I can only think of a few people I know personally who are fluent. I know that it may not sound like the sexiest language when you hear it spoken but I love it. My boyfriend has a decent handle on it so I am always asking him how to say this or that. I should really be asking his dad since he went to school in all Irish and is fluent! The grammar is the part that really confuses me the most. If P and I have children and raise them in Ireland I would really love for them to attend an Irish school. This is something P and I don’t always see eye to eye (or should I say súl to súl) on but I think I can persuade him otherwise!
Once in the museum, there are multiple rooms to share the story of Patrick Pearse as well as his brother William, both of whom were executed for their role in the 1916 Rising. Spoiler: Willie wasn’t even involved, other than being Patrick’s brother. These rooms touch on Pearse’s upbringing, his involvement in the Irish language, Scoil Éanna and his education philosophy, as well as his role in 1916.
You also get to visit the house part of the Museum and I LOVED this part. The dormitory where students slept and the study were my favorite parts of the house because I am a huge fan of anything where you get to walk through where an important historical figure also walked!
In the entrance hall, the Emmet Block is displayed which is said to have been the block that Robert Emmet was beheaded on. The block was purchased for the school in 1917 at an auction in aid of relatives of the men who had died fighting in 1916. In 1919, the block was used in a propaganda film to promote sales of the First Dáil’s Republican Bond Loans. The bonds were sold to help raise money to support the new Irish government. The block was placed in front of the entrance to the Pearse home and Michael Collins (he’s a story for another day!) signed the bonds on top of it. The bonds were sold to female relatives of leaders of 1916 Rising, among them Pearse’s own mother and sister. This film was shown throughout Ireland during this time. There is also a gallery of Willie’s sculptures. Patrick and Willie’s father had a stonemasonry business where he was a mason and sculptor. Willie became a sculptor too and you can see many of his stunning works while on your visit to Pearse Museum. Willie was an art teacher at the school for a time too which in turn left him little time to dedicate to his own art. As a result, his surviving work is small but what is left is extremely impressive.
Pearse Museum is definitely not a ‘must-do’ in Dublin but if you have the time and the interest, it is worth a trip. My Irish boyfriend couldn’t really have cared less about our trip while I was having the time of my life, lol. I’ll leave you with a quote from Pearse that I think a lot of us can relate to:
“Two things have constantly pulled at cross-purposes in me: one a deep homing instinct, a desire beyond all words to be at home always, with the same beloved faces, the same familiar shapes and sounds about me; the other an impulse to seek hard things to do, to go on quests and fight lost causes. And neither thing, neither the quiet home life nor the perilous adventure, has ever brought me any content.”
– Patrick Pearse, Autobiography (manuscript).
I just couldn’t leave this out! There was a little board in the museum for kids to write about who they thought Patrick Pearse was. Most of the cards were signed with their name and age. This one was my favourite!