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“Historians are dangerous people. They are capable of upsetting everything.”(Nikita Khrushchev)

History is taught as a core subject in Our Lady’s Secondary School from First to Third year, and is one of the Leaving Certificate subjects available to senior students.

The History Department at Our Lady’s aims to contribute towards the development of all aspects of the student’s educational needs. History encourages students to have a confident positive attitude towards learning. It prepares them for the requirements of further programmes of study, of employment and of life outside education.

Much of popular culture, whether in films, literature, or theatre, draws on history for inspiration. Many of the issues that affect the planet on a daily basis have their roots in history also, and knowing this history helps to understand them. History also helps to deepen our understanding of events and people, as it gives us context and a sense of perspective. Students will encounter many issues and events, both in Irish history and in the history of Europe and the wider world, which have helped to shape the world we live in.

Studying history allows students to acquire a unique combination of skills and insights that will develop them as a person and help to prepare you for a future career and to participate fully in society. As a leading UK journal once stated ‘’historians are regarded as having had an education that trains their minds to assemble, organise and present facts and opinions and this is a very useful quality in many walks of life and careers…history is an excellent preparation for very many other jobs’’.

Methodology used in all classes from first to sixth year is drawn from various sources; text books, documents, specialist books, primary material where available, videos, use of the local library and the internet. Individual research projects are a common feature of the work in both second and fourth, and in the senior classes. Class discussion is common to all years, with lively exchanges of points of view. The principle underlying the syllabus for Leaving Certificate is that the study of History should be regarded as an exploration of what historians believed to have happened, based on an enquiry into the available evidence.

‘The true use of history, is not to make man clever for the next time, it is to make him wise forever’.

What is it like for a student to study History at Junior Cycle ?

History Tour to Glasnevin

History at Junior Cycle introduces young people to the job of the historian and to the sources and techniques which historians use to find out about the past. It provides the students with a wide tapestry of past events, issues, people and ways of life through which they can come to perceive patterns such as cause and consequences, change and continuity. It is in the past that they will find the roots of the contemporary world. The students will be expose to a variety of teaching approaches eg use of a variety of types of historical sources, historical narrative and analysis, biographical studies, exploration of themes and issues. Students will also get the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the material by taking part in various field trips which are offered at Junior Cycle such as trips to the Ulster American Folk Park and Glasnevin cemetery as seen by the pictures below.

History Tour to Glasnevin

What will the impact of Junior Cycle Reform be on History as a subject , its framework and assessment?The study of History at Junior Cycle aims to enable students to develop the necessary conceptual understanding and disciplinary skills to investigate the actions of people in the past and to come to a deeper understanding of the human condition. Students also come to see the world, and their place in it, from an historical perspective; and understand how the people and events of the past have shaped the contemporary world.

The new Junior Cycle reform has three interconnected strands:

  • Strand One: The Nature of History
  • Strand Two: The History of Ireland
  • Strand Three: The History of Europe and the Wider World

The junior cycle places a strong emphasis on assessment as part of the learning process. Assessment in Junior Cycle History will optimise the opportunity for students to become reflective and active participants in their learning.

The assessment of History for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement will comprise two – classroom based assessment:

‘A Young Life in Time’ – Second Year

‘The Past in my Place’ – Third Year

In addition, the second classroom based assessment will have a written assessment task that will be marked along with the final assessment (10%) by the State Examinations Commission.

All assessment will be at a common level.

Through these Classroom Based Assessment students will develop their knowledge understanding, values and skills such as analysing and evaluating historical information.


What is it like for a student to study History at Senior Cycle?

History in Transition Year

Students have four class periods a week in Transition Year. An important part of history in transition year is undertaking research. Students will undertake many individual and group research projects such as family history and they can also choose a subject of personal interest dealing with any subject of historical importance. This will be of great benefit as it provides experience in research for the research study of the Leaving Certificate Exam.

History at Leaving Certificate

Students have five class periods a week in History. There is concentrated and significant emphasis on preparing students for the Leaving Certificate final exam. However, we attribute great importance to the students own critical thinking skills which are essential in their preparation for both life, work and further study in society. Over a three year period students will have the opportunity to study two modules from Modern European History and two modules from Modern Irish History. The modules they will study are:

  • Dictatorship and Democracy in Europe 1920 – 1949 (Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, World War II)
  • Division and Realignment in Europe 1945-1922 (Cold War, EEC, Fall of Communism)
  • Ireland: Movements for Political and Social Reform 1870-1914 (Home Rule Movement, Land War, Strike and Lockout)
  • Ireland: The Pursuit of Sovereignty and the Impact of Partition 1912-1949 (1916 Rising, War of Independence, Civil War, Cumann na nGaedheal, Fianna Fail)

History at Leaving Certificate involves a research based study. Students get to pick a research topic of their choice. This study will be completed in class and handed into the school in April of their Leaving Certificate Year. This research study is an excellent opportunity for students to gain marks in the Leaving Certificate as it accounts for 20% of the final Leaving Certificate Exam.

Senior Cycle history also provides students with an opportunity to gain educational experience away from the classroom and the school environment. Every two years students of senior cycle history are given the opportunity to gain some hands on experience of the curriculum as they are offered a chance to visit Berlin.


Career Relevance

History gives students many insights into human behaviour and a deeper understanding of current affairs that is relevant to many careers. History also develops an ability to think independently without jumping to unsupported conclusions. Employers tend to look for people who are independent thinkers, open-minded, disciplined, good at problem solving and able to pick out the essential from the trivial. History graduates have employment opportunities in various areas including: Teaching, Law, Civil Service, Museum/Arts, Politics, Media/Journalism, IT, Law, Marketing, Humanities, and Commerce/Finance

History Tours and Events :

Our Lady’s History & German students visit Berlin


Our Lady’s History & German students visit Berlin

Fifth & Sixth Year students visit Berlin

In early December a group of fifty three senior History and German students from Our Lady’s Secondary School, accompanied by their History teachers, Mr O’Boyle & Ms Sheridan and German teacher, Ms. Horgan, had the opportunity of bringing their Leaving Certificate History syllabus to life when they visited the historical German city of Berlin from December 2nd to December 6th. After arriving on Wednesday afternoon the students visited the Jewish Museum where they were divided into three groups and covered key topics such as Jewish response to National Socialism, the emergence of Jews in the modern world and women in Judaism.

Next up, the students had the opportunity to get into the festive spirit with a visit to the world renowned Berlin Christmas markets as well as relaxing with some ice skating in the outdoor skating arenas. Thursday began with a guided tour, taking in the political, economic and social history of the city including features such as the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, Berlin Wall and a visit to the former headquarters of the SS the Topography of Terror. This was followed by an interesting and informative visit to Stasi Prison used for holding political prisoners during the Cold
War period.

Friday was also an event-filled day beginning with an eagerly anticipated visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp which was used by Hitler and the Nazi’s during World War 2. The students were treated to an excellent tour of the camp and its role during World War 2. This was followed by a visit to the Olympic Stadium where students marvelled at the magnificent architecture and history of this famous building. On Friday evening the students had the opportunity to visit the German Parliament headquarters at the Reichstag.

On Sunday evening a tired and weary group arrived home safely to Castleblayney with many interesting facts and additional knowledge that can be put to good use in the months ahead as well as many treasured memories
that will last a lifetime.

Pictured at the famed Christmas markets in Berlin are Senior History & German students from Our Lady’s Castleblayney, who accompanied by 5 of their teachers enjoyed an action packed tour to the historical city of
Berlin where their Leaving Cert History course was brought to life and their
German oral skills were put to the test!


The JCSP student’s from Our Lady’s Secondary School in Castleblayney had a school history tour to the Irish Military War Museum in Collon.

This relatively new tourist attraction offers a fascinating insight into Irish participants’ involvement in World War 1, World War 2 and the 1916 Easter Rising.

The museum contains Ireland’s most extensive collection of weapons, uniforms, medals, military vehicles and equipment. The visit was a real hands on experience which both students and teachers enjoyed immensely.  Students got to finish their excursion with a ride in a Military Tank and went home with a fresh perspective on Irish history and a true journey of adventure.