Pearse Museum is home to a large collection of items relating to the house, the gardens, the school, and the Pearse family. If you wish to consult any item in the collection, please contact us.
The ten collection highlights chosen here represent various aspects of the extraordinary life of Patrick Pearse. Although he died at the young age of thirty-six, Pearse lived a life of great variety and achievement. He was a leading member of the Irish language movement, the editor of a newspaper, he wrote plays, poems and stories, was the founder and headmaster of Scoil Éanna and, most famously, led the 1916 Rising.
Some of items relate to important aspects of Pearse’s public career, such as his editorship of An Claidheamh Soluis and his famous speech at the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. Others are more private and personal and reflect his imaginative childhood growing up over his father’s sculpture business in Great Brunswick (now Pearse) St, or the last hours he spent with his family before going to fight in the 1916 Rising. Together these ten objects give us an insight into Pearse’s complex and many-sided personality.
- Manuscript: Autobiographical
- Book: Cassell's Doré Gallery
- Newspaper: An Claidheamh Soluis
- Book: Íosagán
- Chart: Cairteacha Chú Chulainn
- Ticket: The Post Office
- Ticket: Lecture
- Manuscript: Graveside Oration
- Cups and Saucers
- Coin: Commemorative Ten Shilling
Manuscript of P.H. Pearse’s unfinished autobiography
Patrick Pearse began writing an autobiography in his thirties but never completed it. The manuscript which survives only covers his very early childhood. In this section he writes about his family background and how his mixed heritage as the son of an English father and an Irish mother set him apart. He concludes by saying:
‘For the present I have said enough to indicate that when my father and my mother married there came together two widely remote traditions, – English and Puritan and mechanic on the one hand, Gaelic and Catholic and peasant on the other; freedom loving both, and neither without its strain of poetry and its experience of spiritual and other adventure. And these two traditions worked in me and fused together by a certain fire proper to myself, but nursed by that fostering of which I have spoken made me the strange thing that I am.’
Note how he crosses out his original description of himself as an ‘Irish Rebel’ and replaces it with the much more ambiguous ‘strange thing that I am’.
Cassell’s Doré Gallery: Containing Two Hundred and Fifty Beautiful Engravings, Selected from The Doré Bible, Milton, Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso, Atala, Fontaine, Fairy Realm, Don Quixote, Baron Munchausen, Croquemtaine, &c. &c. With a Memoir of Doré, Critical Essay, and Descriptive Letterpress, le Edmund Ollier
Pearse was an incredibly imaginative child – in his autobiography he wrote ‘with every book that was read to me, with every picture I saw, with every story or song that I heard; I saw myself daring or suffering all the things that were dared or suffered in the book or song or picture’. His imagination was fed by his mother’s aunt, Margaret, who told stories about ancient heroes like Cúchulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill as well as modern figures like Napoleon, Emmet and Tone. His father, James Pearse, also had an eclectic collection of books which covered subjects such as art, architecture, modern history, religion and geography. Many of the books contained lavish illustrations, like these by the French engraver, illustrator and sculptor, Gustav Doré (1832-1883). Pearse grew up surrounded by such books, as well as artworks and the statues and sculpture produced in his father’s stone carving business. This gave him an appreciation of art and the power of images which influenced him throughout his life.
An Claidheamh Soluis
Pearse’s interest in the Irish language led him to join the newly-established Gaelic League in 1896. Despite his youth, he rose quickly through its ranks. By 1898 he was a member of the Coiste Gnótha, the executive council of the organization, and also headed up the publications committee. He took over the editorship of the Gaelic League’s newspaper – An Claidheamh Soluis – in 1903 and continued in that role until 1909. As always, he approached the job with great energy – he expanded the size of the paper and reinvigorated its content. He was not afraid to court controversy and even criticised the Catholic church’s attitude towards the language on occasion.
Íosagán agus Scéalta Eile le Pádraic Mac Piarais
As editor of An Claidheamh Soluis, Pearse was aware of the need for modern literature written in Irish to meet the demands of those who wanted to learn the language. He produced several books of short stories in Irish himself, including this book, Íosagán agus Scéalta Eile. It comprised four stories set in the Irish speaking area of Connemara in the West of Ireland. Pearse loved Connemara and visited it frequently. He eventually built himself a cottage in the Irish-speaking parish of Rosmuc.
Pearse was anxious for his book to feature attractive illustrations. Sarah Purser, an artist and the owner of a stained glass workshop, An Túr Gloinne, introduced him to one of the artists who worked for her, Beatrice Elvery. Pearse would come to the workshop and translate the stories for Elvery to illustrate as she didn’t speak Irish. She later described him as ‘a bulky, pale, shy man whose black clothes made him look as if he belonged to some religious order.’
Cairteacha Chú Chulainn. Páirt 1. Ainmfhocail
Pearse founded his school, Scoil Éanna, in Cullenswood House, Ranelagh in 1908 and moved it out to Rathfarnham at the edge of Dublin city two years later. Pearse believed passionately that education held the key to the survival of the Irish language. He championed the use of modern teaching methods, in particular the “Direct Method” of language teaching which he had seen used in Belgian schools. This system used visual aids and pictures to teach students new words and encouraged them to learn through conversation and using their language skills in everyday situations.
Pearse wanted his school to be stimulating and inspiring for his pupils, full of interesting things which would appeal to their imagination. This is one of the teaching aids used in school. The Cuchulainn Charts were produced by the Dundealgan Press for teaching Irish in schools and featured brightly coloured images of everyday items accompanied by their name in Irish. No doubt Pearse also approved of the fact that the charts were named after Cúchulainn, his favourite hero from the ancient Irish legends. One former pupil of Pearse’s later remarked that Cúchulainn was mentioned so often in the school it was as if he was ‘an important but invisible member of staff’!
Ticket to a performance of The Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore and An Rí by P.H. Pearse in the Abbey Theatre, 17 May 1913
Scoil Éanna became famous for the quality of the plays and pageants performed in there. In 1913 Pearse approached the poet W.B. Yeats seeking support for the school. Yeats was one of the directors of the Abbey Theatre at the time and agreed to put on a benefit performance. It was a double bill of Yeats’s translation of a play by the Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore with Pearse’s play An Rí (The King), which was performed by the pupils of Scoil Éanna.
Tagore was one of India’s most popular poets and Yeats was a great admirer of his work. Tagore was also interested in education and set up a school in Bengal which Yeats described as ‘the Indian St. Enda’s’. In 1915 Tagore wrote about a production of An Rí which formed part of his school’s dramatic festival. The open-air production took place by moonlight with the players wearing traditional Bengali costume.
Ticket for a lecture on Irish Education and the New Volunteer Force by P.H.Pearse in the Auditorium of The Parkway Building, Philadelphia on 23 March, 1914
Scoil Éanna was always short of funds and in 1914 Pearse embarked on a lecture tour of the United States to earn extra money and attract wealthy sponsors for the school. He quickly realised that Irish-American audiences were more interested in hearing about his involvement with the newly formed Irish Volunteers. This ticket from a lecture Pearse gave in Philadelphia reflects his attempt to combine the two subjects. The other speaker was Bulmer Hobson, a member of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a secret organisation devoted to achieving an independent Irish Republic. Hobson used his connections to secure speaking engagements for Pearse and swore Pearse into the IRB shortly before his American trip. Pearse’s more militant attitude is reflected his American speeches. Speaking in Brooklyn on 2 March 1914, he said that the men of Ireland had ‘discovered that they share a common patriotism, that their faith is one and that there is one service in which they can come together at last: the service of their country in arms.’
Manuscript of the Graveside Oration at O’Donovan Rossa’s Funeral by Patrick Pearse
Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa, one of the leaders of the Fenian Rebellion in the 1860s, died on 29 June, 1915. The Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizens Army and other Irish separatist organisations came together to plan a massive public funeral on 1 August. Behind the scenes however, it was the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) who secretly controlled the event. Their leader, Thomas Clarke, decided that Pearse should deliver the graveside oration.
This is the manuscript of Pearse’s famous speech. It climaxed in the final paragraph when Pearse urged his audience to reject British rule in Ireland:
‘Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of the Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think they have forseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools the fools! – they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.’
Cups and Saucers
Last cups and saucers used by the Pearse Brothers in Scoil Éanna
These ordinary, chipped cups and saucers were used by the Pearse brothers at their last family meal in Scoil Éanna. For their mother and sisters they acted as a physical link to their last, private moment together before their family was torn apart. Years later, Margaret Pearse described her final farewell to her brother: ‘After tea and a little talk they both arranged to leave us again. As they were passing through the front hall Pat suddenly turned back and went down the stairs again. Mother said, “Did you forget something?” He said “I did”. He came back and either mother or I asked him “Did you get it?”- I do not know what it was that he had forgotten – his answer was “I did”. Those were the last words I ever heard him speak.’
1916-1966 Commemorative Ten Shilling Coin
In 1966, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, a special silver ten-shilling coin was issued. It featured an image of Oliver Sheppard’s Cúchulainn statue on one side and Pearse’s profile on the other. The decision to feature only one person on the coin reflected the way in which Pearse had become the dominant figure associated with the 1916 Rising. His side-profile has become as much a symbol of the Rising as the Proclamation or the burnt-out ruins of the GPO. It has appeared on stamps, has been cast in bronze and carved in stone. The iconic way in which Pearse has been portrayed since his death has sometimes made it difficult to imagine him as a man of flesh and blood. To quote his former student and personal secretary, Desmond Ryan: ‘Pearse never was a legend, he was a man.’