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Guided Tour: Bonnets, Bandoliers and Ballot Papers

Tour at a glance

Level: Junior Cert, TY, Leaving Cert
Group size: 30
Location: The Way We Wore and Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising exhibitions
Duration: 45 minutes
Available: Tuesday to Saturday

Explore how women’s roles changed in the first decades of the 20th century.

This tour looks at political protest and social changes within Irish society, and examines campaigns and protests of women through domestic life, war and rebellion.

The tour also features objects related to women’s suffrage, such as the ‘Votes for Women’ badge Francis Sheehy Skeffington was wearing at his death in Portobello Barracks.


Curriculum links

Junior Cert History (2017)

Strand 1: Developing historical consciousness, Working with evidence, Acquiring the ‘big picture’

Strand 2: Recognising key change, Exploring people, culture and ideas, Applying historical thinking

Exploring people, culture and ideas - how the experience of women in Irish society changed during the 20th century

Leaving Cert History (2017)

Working with Evidence.

- History and the Historian

Later Modern field of study: Irish history, 1815-1993.

- Movements for political and social reform, 1870-1914.

- The pursuit of sovergniety and the impact of partition, 1912-1949. 

Learning outcomes

  • Have an understanding (and know examples) of changing roles for women and men in the early 20th century
  • Explore how clothing can reflect and express identities, societal norms and aspirations
  • Get an introduction to the connections apparent between different movements in the early 20th century, for example, the labour, suffrage and nationalist movements and their associations
  • Find out about personalities involved in the campaigns for women's rights to vote from 1916 to 1918

Resources and suggestions

At the Museum

If you would like to further explore the changing role of women, visit the exhibitions Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising, and The Way We Wore.

Before your visit

  • We recommend teachers try to visit the exhibition in advance, if possible, to get familiar with the layout, key objects and key narratives within the exhibition
  • Read literature and poetry depicting events from and around the period
  • Use these resources and the exhibition visit to imagine and discuss the feelings and motives of people in the past and to discuss how an event in the past may have been perceived by those who participated in it
  • Consider choices made by individuals and organisations and the contexts these choices were made in
  • Plan a project around your visit. Students could research key personalities or organisations

After your visit

Some ideas for post-visit activities include:

  • Plan a project on a key personalities
  • Hold a classroom debate on women's suffrage
  • Consider contemporary contexts such as equality, migration, globalisation
  • Consider the value of Museums as places to display objects that connect us with our history
  • Create a museum in your classroom 

Recommended reading 


No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years, 1900-1923 (2015) by Sinéad McCoole

Unlikely Rebels: The Gifford Girls and the Fight for Irish Freedom (2011) by Anne Clarke 

Wild Irish Women: Extraordinary Lives from History (2012) by Marian Broderick

Women and the Irish Revolution (2014) by Liz Gillis

Guided and self-guided group visits can be booked using our online form.


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Dún Uí Choileáin,
Sráid na Binne Boirbe,
Baile Átha Cliath 7,
D07 XKV4

+353 1 677 7444