One of the outcomes of UCD Archives’ recent project ‘The Finest Men Alive’: Documents of Imprisonment & Protest (bit.ly/finestmenalive) has been developing a relationship with Éadaoin Ní Chléirigh and Catherine Neville who run Richmond Barracks and through them, with the playwright Irma Grothuis. Irma is developing an education programme for local primary schools in conjunction with Richmond Barracks. As some of the letters used in the online exhibition and catalogue were written in Richmond Barracks, we thought that they might be useful for Irma’s programme. Archivist, Sarah Poutch, worked with Irma and chose a sequence of letters from the Papers of Bernard O’Rourke (UCDA P117) and provided copies which could be used in their history and drama programme, Stories from the Garrison.
Irma commented on the completed project that “The letters from Bernard O’Rourke, really helped to bring history alive for the children and his story was a great prism through which they were able to explore some of the events of 1916.”
The children were asked to explore two main areas:
- What was it like for Bernard and the other men when they were locked in Room 7 in Richmond Barracks?
- What was it like for Bernard’s family during this time and how did his daughter feel when she got his letters?
Below are two letters written by two of the participating children during the programme, after Irma had worked with them on Bernard’s story. The children were asked to imagine that they were his daughter Claire and they were asked to write back to Bernard after receiving his letter from Richmond Barracks.