“If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.” Baruch Spinoza

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

In Transition Year History students get a taste of what the Leaving Certificate History Course is like. They experience the handling of Documentary Materials, Local Historical Studies, Family History and Genealogy, Visits to Historical Sites and they get involved in some individual Historical Research project of their own choosing. They also are given an input into the design of what their programme will be for that year. This is also a good launching pad for those students who may eventually take the History Programme at Senior Level.

The new Leaving Certificate programme is divided into two separate phases, Early Modern (EM) and Later Modern (LM). Our school has opted for the Later Modern Programme as being ultimately of greater relevance and value to our students. The LM History Course has Six Irish History Sections and also Six European and Wider World Sections. For the purpose of Examination Four Sections are studied, two from each area. In addition one of those four Sections will be specified for study over two exam years, alternating between Irish and European, and this will be a Documents Based area of study. The teacher will decide the other areas of study in consultation with the students and also in the context of the books available. This year and next the required area of study is from Europe and this will change to Irish History for 2014 and 2015. The most popular choice in European History is for Democracy and Dictatorship 1920-45. In Irish History the Sovereignty 1912-49 time slot is equally popular along with the New Republic of Ireland, Politics and Society 1949-93. 

The course emphasizes the skills of the historian incorporating documents based study and individual student research topics. By engaging in research, history provides the students with skills for independent and self-directed learning that is essential in their third level education.

Outings and field trips are an important to the History Department of St. Joseph’s Secondary School. Each year group undertakes at least one field trip. The girls find these outings both educational and very enjoyable.

History is an invigorating and enjoyable discipline with many applications and openings, above all it develops the enquiring mind the broad approach and the ability to investigate and articulate.


While John officially came to the school to open our new library/reading room, we were delighted when he agreed to talk to some of our History classes.   He spoke about Conflict Resolution and talked about his work in achieving this in the North of Ireland.   Here are two of his quotes:-

  1. “All conflict is about difference, whether the difference is race, religion or nationality.The European visionaries decided that difference is not a threat, difference is natural. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict.The answer to difference is to respect it.
    Therein lies a most fundamental principal of peace – respect of diversity”.
  2. “The use of violence disguised as military patriotism has misled many. It’s monuments are mangled with broken bodies, prison walls and cemeteries. Patient political effort will not fill graves – violence will. Patient political effort will not fill jails with young people – Violence will. Patient political effort will not prevent job creation in a community starved of employment, particularly for young people – Violence will".