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Onsite Guided Tour: The Way We Wore: Representations of Social Change through Clothing

Tour at a glance

Level: Junior and Senior Cycle, Transition Year
Group size: 15
Location: The Way We Wore exhibition
Duration: 45 minutes
Available: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Booking: Please contact to book this session

This interactive tour focuses on the history of clothing in Ireland, and in particular, how clothing can be seen as a representation of social change for women in Ireland. Students will explore examples of clothing that highlight how women were expected to dress, and how clothing could be used to show status in communities. Students will hear stories of individuals in Ireland whose clothing give us an insight into restrictions which may have been placed on them, as well as how their clothing could be a symbol of personal freedom and activism.

This tour features objects such as examples of mourning gowns, day dresses and Celtic Revival clothing, as well as stories of individuals such as Margaret Tone, mother of Wolfe Tone, and famed Irish designer Sybil Connolly. 

Our guide was worth his weight in gold as the knowledge displayed put the exhibition in a new light.
Teacher Feedback

Curriculum links

Junior Cycle History

Section 1: How We Find out about the past
The job of the Historian
Castle, Church and City: Mediaeval society

Section 2: Studies of change
Political change: Revolutionary movements

Section 3: Understanding the Modern World
Political developments in Ireland in the late 19th century and the 20th century 
Social change in the 20th century

Leaving Cycle History

Working with evidence
History and the Historian. 

Later Modern field of study: Irish History, 1815-1993
Ireland and the Union, 1815 - 1870
Movements for political and social reform, 1870 - 1914


Learning outcomes

  • Examining how clothing and fashion changed over the period 1800 - 1960, and in particular what were the expectations that were placed on women in regards to the clothing they wore
  • Discovering the different experiences men and women would have had during this period, and comparing this to modern day
  • Learning about clothing as a sign of social status
  • Discussing clothing as a sign of forced conformity and freedom of expression. 
  • Developing an understanding of the importance of artefacts in our understanding of the past

Resources and suggestions

Before your visit

  • Visit the Museum in advance, if possible, to get familiar with the layout, key objects and key narratives
  • Plan a project around your visit. Students could research key events and organisations

After your visit

Ideas for post-visit activities:

  • Ask students to write a review of their museum visit
  • Hold a classroom debate on a contentious issue or event discussed during the tour
  • Consider the value of museums as places to display objects that connect us with our history
  • Draw your favourite item of clothing that you saw in the exhibit

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Decorative Arts & History

Collins Barracks ,
Benburb St,
Dublin 7,
D07 XKV4

+353 1 677 7444