Registered Charity Number: 20128135 061-339123

History Programme in Milford National School

Vision: The study of history in our school is concerned with the development of a broad range of topics. Historical education in our school enables children to investigate and examine critically significant events in their own immediate past, the past of their families and local communities and the histories of people in Ireland and other parts of the world. We further aim to foster an understanding of the actions, beliefs and motivations of people in the past through the development of local history.

School Context:

The Castletroy area is situated near the historic city of Limerick.  Individual teachers plan tours of local places of interest e.g. King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and The Walls of Limerick.  School Tours are also planned to incorporate places of historic interest e.g. Bunratty Castle, Lough Gur, Craggaunowen  The local area also is rich in historical interest, from Caisleán Chalaidh an Treoigh, the castle for which Castletroy is named, to the historical walking trails outlined in the book by local teacher, Ger Healy, The Hidden Excitement of  Monaleen and Milford. The local environment  is one the most important sources of evidence about the past. We are fortunate to be located in an area that is rich with exploration opportunities from all perspectives within the SESE programme. We as a staff value this amenity and actively promote an interest and awareness in the children in an effort to stimulate an appreciation and a sense of responsibility for the care and enhancement of the local environment.

Local History:

Castletroy  Castle or Black Castle (Caisleán Chalaidh an Treoigh)


Castle Troy, after which the large suburb of Castletroy is believed to be named, or the Black Castle was built during the reign of King Henry III (1216-1272), by the O’Briens. It was built  on the banks of the Shannon, upstream from where the University of Limerick is located today.  The Earl of Desmond was overlord of the whole territory around the 1500s but he lost his title after his rebellion against Queen Elizabeth in 1583.He was never to rule these lands again. The estate went to the Bourkes of Brittas and Castleconnell.

Castle Troy  or Black Castle was owned by Mahony Keogh (or Mac Keogh)  in the mid 1600s.  The Keoghs were a warlike tribe, often in conflict with neighbouring chiefs.  Keogh had a very beautiful daughter, whose hand was sought in marriage by a certain chieftain, but the young lady sent him about his business and would have nothing to do with him.  One night he returned with his men and overcame the guards.  Then he rushed up the spiral stairs, grabbed the maiden, but Keogh and his warriors rushed to the rescue.  After a grim hand-to-hand fight, the thief lay dead, his head split open.  Alas, Keogh’s lovely daughter was dead also, a spear thrust through her breast.  Even today, the night-faring fisherman sometimes hears her death shrieks ring out from the castle ruins.

A grandson of Mahony Keogh (Dr. John Keogh) was a famous mathematical and oriental scholar.  An inscription over the doorway in one of the Halls of Oxford testifies to his having solved a mathematical problem in which all others had failed.  (He was certainly fond of large numbers because he had at least 21 children.)

Castle Troy itself was severely battered by Cromwell’s cannon which he set up on Harty’s Hill, and after the last siege of Limerick it was dismantled and blown up, together with other castles which defended the passes to the city. Today all that remains is a ruin on the bank of the river Shannon.


Lo! grey Castletroy by war,
Tide and time batter’d
Stands, like an old chief
With his armour all shatter’d
As if musing, in gloomy and gaunt desolation

On the red feudal days

When Green Erin was a Nation.

There the warlike Mac keoghs,
In their power and revell’

And often in fight

Were their sounding spears levell’d

‘Till Cromwell, the fiend, with his
Tower-cleaving cannon,
Ploughed their strong castle walls
On the brink of the Shannon”.

Hogan’s “Lays, Legends of Thomond”


 Kilmurry Church

The present church was built between 1810 and 1812 on the former site of an old church. There had been  churches  on this site for hundreds of years but they had all fallen into ruin. The new church with a spire was built with £580 from the Board of First Fruits. In November 1812 a very strong gale damaged the new spire and the church itself was nearly destroyed by lightning. The Reverend Henry  Ingram, Rector, had the church repaired at his own expense.

In 1861 the Reverend  Charles Ward, a new rector, found the church in bad repair. He had the church closed for a year and in March 1866 it was re-opened. There was a new vestry and the floors were newly tiled. In 1872 new windows were installed. The church was well supported at this time by the many wealthy families who lived locally.

Sir Guy Campbell and his wife, Pamela, daughter of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, lived for a short time in Plassey House. Their infant son, John, is buried in the Kilmurry graveyard. He died on the 4th of February 1828.

In 1950 more repairs were made to the church tower and electric lighting and heating were installed.

Today the church is no longer in use as a church and is used as a venue for local activities such as art  and yoga classes.

Beside the church in Kilmurry  there is a large graveyard that is divided into two sections. The older section of the graveyard is around the church. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants are buried in the graveyard. The graveyard is kept in good condition and there are a number of tombs. One of the oldest headstones in the graveyard is to the memory of John Neagle who died on 23 March 1760, aged 69. Another old headstone of mention is in memory of Thomas Franklin who died on 15 June 1766 at the age of 104 according to the inscription on the headstone.

Plassey House:

Plassey is an area of Limerick City about 5km upstream on the River Shannon from Limerick City centre. It is located near the suburbs of Castletroy and Monaleen. The University of Limerick has its main campus in the area which is based around its administrative centre at Plassey House. The University’s other main campus is located across the River Shannon with the 2 campuses connected by 2 bridges.

Where did the name Plassey come from? For an explanation we must go back more than two centuries to the village of Plassey, not far from the teeming city of Calcutta. Here, on 23rd of June, 1757, Robert Clive (Clive of India) engaged in the final battle in the conquest of  India. The battle  left Clive a very wealthy man. The addition of the great Indian colony was a source of pride and satisfaction to the English rulers. He purchased land in Ireland.  It was an incredibly disjointed estate and ran into several thousand acres, stretching from Bunratty to Corbally, to three houses in St. Mary’s parish in Limerick. The object of his wild spending was to secure a suitable holding that would be considered appropriate to his new title. When everything was in order the new landlord became “Baron Clive of Plassey”, an impressive enough title for the retired military adventurer.   But it is certain Robert Clive left an enduring Limerick legacy behind him – the name of “Plassey” – and the firm establishment of a demesne which has been retained by a succession of residents.


The present house, “The White House” was built by Thomas Maunsell, founder of Maunsells’ Bank, Limerick, and occupied by him in 1814. He built a mill on the grounds, the ruin of which is still visible today.  The property was inherited by his daughter Mrs Robert Hedges Eyre Maunsell. After a short time the property was leased to Reuben Harvey who is still commemorated in Harvey’s Quay, and in Summerville Avenue, from the house of that name which he built there. Harvey was also the owner of the stores and Granary at Francis Street, and was enterprising enough to install his own communications system between Francis Street and Plassey. He was assisted in this enterprise by a number of carrier pigeons, whose Francis Street terminus was to be seen up to a few years ago, when the buildings were demolished to make way for Sarsfield House. Horses drew the barges from the mill in Plassey into the granary (still known as “The Granary”  today) along the tow-path which is still there to this day. Plassey House was  occupied  by  Richard Russell in 1868 and was the home of John Norris Russell in the 1870s. In 1933 it was acquired from the Bailey family by Patrick Keating, a Clareman who made his fortune in China. On Patrick Keating’s death the estate was purchased by the Rehabilitation Institute of Ireland from whom the new National Institute for Higher Education acquired it in 1970.



Dr Ed Walsh at the “White House” on the opening of NIHE (now UL) in 1970

In the 1970s a technical college, which later became the University of Limerick, was built at Plassey. Thomond College of Education, Limerick was also located on the same campus and was later dissolved and integrated into the university, whose campus now extends across the river into Co Clare.  Plassey House became the “White House” and was the original administrative centre set up by Dr Edward Walsh in 1970.


Dr Blood lived across the river from here in Willowbank House. All that is left of Willowbank House is a raised platform. . He had a lovely boathouse by the river and loved fishing. Dr Blood was the first person in Limerick to own a motor car. He had a French chauffeur called Pierre Barnaby.

Plassey Bank:

Through the years the spell of Plassey  gently enveloped much of the adjoining countryside, especially along the Shannon above and below this old favourite waterway. The magic lingered along the towpath, right into the old jetty at the canal harbour, giving the famous riverside walk a name that is likely to remain for as long as the Shannon continues to flow – “Plassey Bank”. For all Limerick fishermen it meant everything that was to be enjoyed. The scenery was magnificent and the number and variety of fish in the  river matched the beautiful surroundings. There was no other place like it.


The man-made mill-stream which served Plassey Mill. It had many brown trout until the 1930s.

All the beautiful trees that survived into the 1950s, were certainly planted by the Maunsells. The fine grove of beeches and sweet chestnuts that once extended from the waterfall (mill dam) to the Garrison Wall were planted in the 1820s. (The bank on which a number of them were planted was constructed at that time). The giant cypress and the cedars near the house appear to be much older. The great ash tree in the garrison field, which was blown down in 1936, was said to be more than two hundred years old at that time. The Maunsells also harnessed the might of the river. Taking advantage of the ten-foot drop between Bohogue and Drominveg, Major Hedges Maunsell built a mill at the western boundary of the estate. The flow of the river was arrested about half a mile upstream by a dam. The millrace ran right through the demesne. Up to the early years of the Shannon Hydro Electric Works this man-made waterway boasted everything in natural amenities that one could ask for. The rich greenery along the crystal verge was always in the shade of the tallest hawthorns to be found anywhere, and standing back at a respectable distance and in orderly formation were the long lines of mature beeches and elms. Contented anglers spent many pleasant days fishing in the mill stream – it was a wonderful trout fishery in the old days – and carefree picnickers whiled away generations of summers amid the fairy tale surroundings.

The Black Bridge

black bridge

The Black Bridge in the grounds of Plassey House crosses the Shannon from Limerick (Mill side) into County Clare. Approaching Plassey across the bridge allows a view of picturesque sections of the community. Swans nest near a worn pathway lined with trees.  To the right, there is a stony area of the river known as “Jim Stones”. This is a very special spot for fishermen and is named after the late Jim Ryan who lived in Annabeg House (a private home), Plassey until the 1980s.

Plassey Regatta: An organised water festival known as Plassey Regatta was held annually in August until around 1930. Crews from Limerick City, Coonagh, Castleconnell, Plassey etc. vied for supremacy. A long grease pole was extended out over the river. It was quite a challenge to walk to the end of the pole and back again without falling in. Tug of war conyests were also held.

A pub owned by the Shanny family once stood on the Clare side of the Plassey bank. The decline in the fortunes of the pub set in when three salmon anglers were drowned in February 1930, only a few months after the Abbey fishermen had been forced off the river.

Why were the Abbey Fisherman forced off the river?

From 1100AD the Abbey  Fishermen fished the  Shannon from Limerick to Doonass Waterfall near Castleconnell. They fished with snap nets from boats called “brocauns”. The Shannon Scheme destroyed the fishing here and ruined their livelihood. In 1938 55 fishermen were paid  £ 40,000 in compensation.


Fishermen’s cottages 2015: Fishing is still popular to this day

Abbey Elegy

No more their small boats move up that clear stream

At the rising or the ebb of tide

Their agile black brocauns no more are seen 

For they are gone mow from the Abbey side.

Arthur Lysaght

What was this Shannon Scheme which changed everything in Plassey?

Electricity came to Ireland at the end of the 19th century. At first it was used by factories and tramways only. After Independence it became clear that a countryside electricity system was needed. It was decided to build a giant dam on the Shannon. So began the great engineering work- “The Shannon Scheme”. A dam was built below Killaloe. An eight-mile long head-race was cut to Ardnacrusha and a power station was built there. The stored water was then released into the head race to turn the huge turbines.No longer did the full waters of the Shannon flow by Plassey, nor indeed did the Falls of Doonass live up to their former glory.

Construction on the Shannon scheme began in 1925. At the height of the construction  there were 5,000 workers. They were paid 32 shillings a week. In 1946 the Rural Electrification Scheme gradually brought electricity to every home in Ireland.


The aims of the history curriculum are:

to develop an interest in and curiosity about the past

to make the child aware of the lives of women, men and children in the past and how people and events have had an impact upon each other

to develop an understanding of the concepts of change and continuity

to provide for the acquisition of concepts and skills associated with sequence, time and chronology, appropriate to the developmental stages of the child

to allow the child to encounter and use a range of historical evidence systematically and critically

to provide opportunities for the child to communicate historical findings and interpretations in a variety of ways

to foster sensitivity to the impact of conservation and change within local and wider environments

to help the child to recognise and examine the influences of the past on the attitudes and behaviour of people today

to foster a willingness to explore personal attitudes and values and to promote an openness to the possibility of changing one’s own point of view

to encourage the child to recognise how past and present actions, events and materials may become historically significant

to enable the child to acquire a balanced appreciation of cultural and historical inheritances from local, national and global contexts.

Broad Objectives

The broad objectives of the history curriculum should enable the child to:

study a range of people and events in the past in order to develop a balanced understanding of family, local, national and world history

learn about the people, events, issues and cultural experiences which have helped to shape the local community and the environment

develop an understanding of chronology, in order to place people, events and topics studied in a broad historical sequence

acquire some understanding of change and continuity, including an awareness of factors which may have caused or prevented change, and come to appreciate that events may have a number of causes and outcomes

examine and use a range of historical evidence systematically and critically, and appreciate the fact that evidence can be interpreted in different ways

use imagination and evidence to reconstruct elements of the past

communicate historical understanding in a variety of ways, using appropriate language and other techniques or media

develop an appreciation of the perspectives and motives of people in the past and accept that individuals and events should be understood in their historical context

be aware that the attitudes and behaviour of people may be influenced by their understanding of the past and by their past experiences

respect and value a range of opinions and acquire open, questioning attitudes to the beliefs, values and motivations of others

develop tolerance towards minorities in society and appreciate the contribution of various ethnic, cultural, religious and social groups to the evolution of modern Ireland

develop a sense of personal, local, national, European and wider identities through studying the history and cultural inheritance of local and other communities

develop a sense of responsibility for, and a willingness to participate in, the preservation of heritage.

Strand and Strand Units.

The strands have been chosen to help ensure that children experience a broadly balanced history programme. The curriculum does not advocate a chronological approach to the teaching of historical topics. The number of strands increases, as the child grows older (from two strands in the infant classes to seven strands in the senior classes). The children will experience material from a range of historical periods in local, national and international contexts at each class level. The strands are not completely separate sections and many of them over lap. The study of the past and the development of a sense of time come to have an immediate relevance as children explore and understand the world in which they live. Local studies play a significant part in the history curriculum. Through the strand Local Studies we can also incorporate a lot of other strands e.g. “Change and Continuity” (housing/ my school and how it has changed over the years).

Skills and Concepts Development

Examples of skills at different levels.

JI/SI 1st/2nd 3rd/4th  5th/6th 
Time and Chronology ·         Become aware of and discuss the sequence and events in simple stories about the past·         Record sequences of events in personal and family history in stories using simple timelines ·         Begin to distinguish between past, present and future.·         Begin to develop an understanding of chronology through exploring and recording simple sequences by placing objects or pictures of historical sequence ·         Distinguish between the past, present and future·         Develop an understanding of time chronology through comparing the relive ages of people, objects and events·         Record information about people and events in the past using simple timelines·         Understand and use date conventions when studying the past including day, month and year·         Use common words and phrases associated with time· ·         Develop an understanding of time chronology so as to place people, objects and events within a broad historical sequence·         Record people and events in the past using a variety of simple timelines·         Use words, phrases and conventions associated with the recording of dates and time, such as BC,AD,age and period
Change and Continuity ·         Explore instances of change and continuity, especially in personal life, in family and local history. ·         Develop an understanding of change and continuity by exploring similarities and differences between the past and the present. ·         Develop an understanding of change and continuity by exploring similarities and differences between the past and the present and between different periods
Cause and Effect ·         Discuss the reasons why some events happened and some of their consequences ·         Discuss the reasons for, and the effect of ,some events and changes in the past ·         Recognise some factors, which may have caused, prevented or delayed changes in the past.·         Appreciate that events usually have a number of causes and outcomes
Using Evidence ·         Encounter some simple historical evidence ·         Examine a range of simple historical evidence·         Begin to distinguish between fictional accounts in stories, myths and legends and real people and events in the past ·         Examine and use a wider range of historical evidence, especially that which may be found in the locality or which is connected with local history·         Ask  Questions about a piece of evidence ·         Encounter some simple historical evidence·         Develop some skills in the location and selection of evidence·         Distinguish between primary and secondary sources ·         Summerise information in and make simple deductions from a single source of information ·         Ask questions about a piece of evidence·         Compare accounts of a person or event from two or more sources·         Make simple deductions from evidence·         Recognise that evidence may be incomplete or biased·         Appreciate that evidence can be interoreted in a of ways
·         Summerise information in and make simple deductions from a single source of information ·         Ask questions about a piece of evidence·         Compare accounts of a person or event from two or more sources·         Make simple deductions from evidence·         Recognise that evidence may be incomplete or biased·         Appreciate that evidence can be interpreted in a number of ways
Synthesis and Communication ·         Communicate an awareness of stories from the past in a variety of ways ·         Communicate an awareness of stories, people and events from the past in a variety of ways ·         Use evidence and imagination to reconstruct elements of the past·         Communicate this understanding of the past in a variety of ways ·         Select and  organize historical information·         Use imagination and evidence to reconstruct elements of the past·         Communicate this understanding of the past in a variety of ways
Empathy ·         Imagine and discuss the feelings of the characters in stories from the past ·         Imagine and discuss the feelings of characters in stories from the past ·         Imagine and discuss the feelings and motives of people in the past ·         Imagine and discuss the feeling and motives of people in the past Discuss how an event in the past may have been perceived by those who participated in it




 Approaches and Methodologies

Irrespective of the approaches selected, children’s learning experiences in history should:

arouse enthusiasm and curiosity about the past

encourage discussion and a questioning, critical attitude to accounts of the past and, as children grow older, to the evidence used to support these accounts

develop historical skills and wider skills of co-operation, communication and problem-solving

engage children in lively, purposeful activity in the classroom and in extensive exploration of the local environment.


In Milford N.S we believe that stories can play a number of roles as outlined below

As independent units of work e.g. biographical accounts of people from a variety of backgrounds including local, national and international figures.

A story can act as a stimulus for the introduction of a unit of work.

Stories may be used as part of a wider piece of work on a historical theme e.g. eyewitness accounts.

Stories are an important vehicle for the transmission of cultural heritage (myths and legends)

Foster the development of important values and attitudes including stories from a range of perspectives (various religious and ethnic backgrounds, traveling and settled communities etc).

Drama and role play

Drama requires impersonation, personification and role-play involvement. It is an ideal methodology for the teaching of history, as:

the involvement of children in role playing means they will empathise with characters in the past and come to defend their actions against the arguments of others

drama aims to re-create human experience. The pupil-actor is personally affected by the experience and this motivates him/her to know and understand more

drama mitigates against a simplistic approach to a topic. All points of view are articulated so that situations are no longer viewed in ‘back or white’ terms.

Oral evidence

As a vivid and immediate historical source it is envisaged that oral evidence from people known to the children can be used to:

make incidents and aspects of the past real for children.

give children access to information that is almost impossible to obtain elsewhere. ensure that the past is examined from a range of perspectives

allow us to share in the feelings of participants in events in the past

help older children, especially, to examine how a person’s perspective can affect their memories of the past

help develop children’s sense of time.

Documentary evidence

It is accepted that apart from oral evidence, written documents give us our best opportunities to gain some impression of the thoughts and feelings of people involved in events in the past. Most documents will need to be edited however, before being presented to the children. As the vocabulary level in many letters, books and other documents will be suitable only for adults; many terms will have to be explained in advance. Handwritten documents also may create difficulties therefore a typed alternative may have to be supplied.

Using ICT

Information and communication technologies (ICT) can be a greatly enriching resource in the teaching and learning of history. Among the ways in which it may be used are the following:

data-handling programs can be used by children to record and analyse substantial records or bodies of information. For example, children might enter details of pupils whose names were entered in the school’s rolls over a period. They could then ask questions about the ages of pupils on enrolment, the occupations of their fathers and their ages on leaving the school. The answers to these questions might be presented in graphical format using the computer

word-processing and drawing programs give the child another means of communicating his/her historical findings. By allowing redrafting, editing and correction to be completed so readily, computers can encourage the child who may not find conventional written work satisfactory. These programs also allow a document to be built up over a long period: for example, children might store timelines on computer disk and add to them as new units of work are completed

information technology can greatly enrich the range of sources and information available to the child. Many CD-ROMs which include historical accounts, pictures, maps etc. are available

using the internet can give children access to an even greater range of sources. Many galleries, museums and interpretative centres have web pages, and children can ‘visit’ their collections and sites via the computer

the internet can also give children an added incentive for historical research. Some schools have established links with other schools and classes and have shared details of their projects and investigations via e-mail. For example, children engaged in a study of the Celts could share and compare evidence from a number of locations using this method.

Personal and family history

We hope studies in this area should:

enable children to establish their personal positions in time, become aware of the history of the immediate past and so facilitate the gradual development of a sense of the past

make children aware of some of the major relationships in their families, especially their own links to parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles

help children to explore instances of change and continuity in their own lives and those of others

equip children with the language of time, e.g. old/older, young/younger, before/after, then, same/different, etc.

provide opportunities for the examination of a range of simple evidence about their own past and that of their immediate family

gradually help children to see that the incidents, memories and evidence of their own past are of value and interest and so make the exploration of the past real and relevant to them

encourage the co-operation of the school, parents and wider community in the education of pupils in a meaningful and beneficial way.


Using artifacts

We believe that the use of historical artifacts can make a distinctive contribution to the child’s historical understanding and to the development of historical skills for a number of reasons:

the handling and investigation of historical artifacts is by its nature activity-based and can have a strong motivating influence in the teaching and learning of history

it supports differentiated learning as children who have reading or other learning difficulties can be at least as effective as their classmates in analysing and making deductions from the evidence of artifacts

the use of artifacts as historical evidence makes an important contribution to achieving a broad and balanced understanding of history.

it can help children to appreciate the ingenuity of people in the past given the constraints of the technologies available to them.

it provides particularly valuable opportunities to examine instances of cause, effect, change and continuity.

We may consider collecting various items of interest over the years to create a history collection, kit or small museum which would be available to all classes in the school.


Pictures and photographs

It is accepted that pictures and photographs are types of evidence suited to children of all ages and abilities. They may also be incorporated in different types of lesson in a whole class situation or in groups. They also give opportunities to encourage the development of higher order critical skills such as deduction and recognition of bias skills, which would be difficult to practice using documentary evidence. Other visual sources will also be included in this approach including examples of early art as that completed by stone age peoples, painting adorning tombs such as pyramids, decoration on pottery, stained glass images, statues and even postcards and advertisements.

Use of the Environment