Louth school wins history competition with SS Dundalk project

October 1918 sinking of ship investigated by primary school pupils in all-island contest

Schools in Dundalk, Co Louth, and Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, have landed the top prizes in this year’s all-island “Decade of Centenaries” history competition.

The overall winner at primary level was CBS Dundalk whose pupils researched the fate of relatives who had been on board the SS Dundalk when it was torpedoed in October 1918, with the loss of 19 lives.

St Joseph's Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, was the post-primary winner, having examined the effects of the Black and Tans campaign in the area in the early 1920s.

St Joseph’s also picked up an award in the “‘local/regional issues” category for a project on the former school for the deaf in Rochfortbridge.


Five other category winners were selected from 200 entries in the competition.

These included a project on the role of Na Fianna, or the Irish National Boy Scouts, in the events of 1912-1922, by Sinéad Callanan of Castletroy College, Co Limerick.

Another winner was Gartan National School, Co Donegal, which researched the impact of the Burtonport railway extension and how it came to dubbed "That Old Sinner" by The Irish Times in 1917 because of its chequered history.

The competition was the idea of the Department of Education and is sponsored by Mercier Press, History Ireland and University College, Cork.

It is also supported by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland as part of the decade of centenary commemorations.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said the competition was part of a broader programme including “Proclamation Day”, which was scheduled for March 15th, 2016.

“I am hoping that on that day each educational institution in the country will commemorate 1916, celebrate the present, and imagine the future.”

Each winning entry received a trophy along with a selection of books from Mercier Press. All the projects will be published on the Scoilnet website.

The inaugural competition was won last year by Scoil Cholmcille in Termon, Co Donegal, which reunited the family of a Tipperary man who fought and died in the first World War with his service medal a century after his death.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column