Lesson plan III – a brief introduction to Irish life during the Rising and the First World War

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 28 February 1916

Why use Letters 1916-1923 in schools?

Letters 1916-1923 is Ireland’s first crowd-sourced digital humanities project. It has created a new online archive of letters written from, to or about Ireland between 1 November 1915 and 31 December 1923. We are collecting letters from libraries and archives across Ireland and abroad. Many people have donated copies of their private family papers to the archive.

What is the educational objective of this particular lesson plan?

Different private and public letters from our unique collection are used in our lesson plans and bring to life what it was like to live in Ireland in 1916. The lesson plan provided here was initially developed for St. Angela’s School (Waterford), the Hartstown Community School (Dublin) and the Beara Community School (Cork). The sources used cover the Easter Rising of 1916, the First World War, and everyday life in early twentieth-century Ireland. By engaging with original primary documents, students will discover life stories which are not covered in history books and learn about the joys and sorrows in wartime Ireland.

Click here to download Teacher’s Pack (.docx 121kB). All documents needed for the exercises are linked below.


1.   Letter from Edward H. Andrews to Lord Stamfordham, 5 May 1916

2.   Letter from Kathleen Hogan to Nancy O’Rahilly, 29 May 1916

3.   Letter from Patrick Carphin to Jo Carphin, 28 April 1916

4.   Lord Wimborne to Sir John Maxwell, 1 May 1916 (Typed version)

5.   Postcard to Miss Macoun, 10 May 1916

6. Letter from Gladys Johnson to Ellen Vickery, 15 May 1916 (images of her included)


1.   Letter from Gerald O’Driscoll to Denis O’Driscoll, 24 May 1916

2.   Letter from William Ahern to Lady Clonbrock, 29 July 1916

3.   Letter from Lady Clonbrock to Mrs Budson, 19 April 1916

see also: 4. Letter #70

5.   Letter from Tom Dolan to his father, 11 May 1916


1.   Letter from James Finn to May Fay, 16 May 1916

2.   Letter from Peter McGinn to Robert Chalmers, 20 May 1916

3.   Letter from Matthew Nathan to Andrew Philip Magill, 19 April 1916

4.   Letter from William George Lyon to J. G. Swift MacNeill, 10 April 1916

5.   Letter from Ursula Mahon to Lady Clonbrock, 18 July 1916


Barney Doherty, Maynooth University, Kildare

Danielle O’ Donovan, Bridge 21, Dublin

Dr Brian Hughes, Maynooth University, Kildare

Niamh Crowley, St. Angela’s School, Waterford

Pauline Hurley, Beara Community School, Cork

Thomas Gerrard, Hartstown Community School, Dublin