Penny Adventures - Draiocht’s Largest Education Project To Date

January 10, 2016

1 Month
31 Schools
107 Classes

2590 pupils

Penny Adventures 1916 Literature Project
With Author Brian Gallagher and Illustrator Alan Nolan

NOVEMBER 2015 – APRIL 2016

Poets and writers featured strongly amongst the leaders of the Rising, so it seems fitting that literature play a prominent part in Draíocht’s commemoration event for 2016.

Our commemoration project began with an epic tour of all Dublin 15 Schools, both 6th class pupils in the Primary Schools and 1st year students in the Secondary Schools, by local historical fiction author Brian Gallagher, starting in November 2015. Over the month of November, Brian visited 31 schools and talked to more than 2,500 pupils about what it’s like to be an author, how to research and write a book and then he read excerpts from his thrilling novel ‘Friend or Foe’, a thought provoking, fast-moving tale that captures the atmosphere of revolutionary Dublin and the misery and chaos of war.

From those 31 schools, three 6th classes have been selected and using themes from Brian’s book and hints from his talk, they will engage in a 10 week literature and visual arts project, learning about the 1916 experience in an innovative and challenging way. Working with writer, illustrator and cartoonist Alan Nolan, classes will experience a mix of hands-on workshops, tours and talks learning about story writing and cartooning, all building towards creating a full length cartoon book. The project also includes a 1916 Dublin City Tour and a visit from historians from Collins Barracks.

The 3 schools are:
Scoil Thomais Laurel Lodge, Castleknock

Scoil Nais Mhuire, Blakestown, Mullhuddart
Mary Mother Of Hope Senior National School Littlepace, Castaheany

By March 2016 the finished cartoon strips will be professionally edited and the project will culminate in an opening celebration and exhibition of the children’s work in Draíocht’s First Floor Gallery, running from April-May 2016. The work the children produce will also be published in a comic book, along with a short film documentary which will be screened at the exhibition opening.

This project has been made possible by additional generous funding by Fingal County Council Arts Office.

For further information about Penny Adventures, please contact Sarah Beirne, Children & Youth Arts Officer, tel 01-8098029 or email

Brian Gallagher and pupils from Scoil Thomais, Nov 2015

Brian Gallagher and students from Riversdale, Nov 2015

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By Draíocht. Tags: Youth Arts, Brian Gallagher,

Penny Adventures - Brian Gallagher Author

December 11, 2015

Author Brian Gallagher reflects on his epic D15 school tour for Draiocht during November 2015 ..


1 month,  31 schools, 107 classes,  2590 pupils – and 1 hoarse author!

It’s been an amazing month as I visited almost every school in Dublin 15, some of them in new suburbs that I had barely heard of, despite the fact that I live in Castleknock.

Wherever I went though, one thing was the same – I got a warm welcome and huge engagement from the pupils.

With  ‘Friend or Foe’ being an adventure story set at  the time of the1916 Rising, the timing was good for the coming centenary, but what the pupils seemed to really relate to was the fact that all of the story is told through the eyes of a group of children – children their own age,  who lived in Dublin 100 years ago.

My school visits entailed talking about the creative process, life as a professional writer, the challenges involved in weaving fiction around factual events, a reading by the author and generally culminating with a Question Answer session – and what questions!

“If Id been alive in 1916 which side would I have been on?”

“If stranded on a desert island, which three characters from ‘Friend or Foe’ would I want with me?”

“If I was a superhero, who would I like to be?”

“Was I alive in 1916?” (Do I really look 100 years old?!)

The questions were insightful, challenging and funny and overall the tour was a wonderful opportunity to meet young readers and to hear what matters most in a novel, from their perspective.

I’d like to thank Sarah Beirne, Nicola Murphy and Emer McGowan from Draiocht for all the work and support involved in organising this tour, and also Sarah O’Neill, Arts Officer with Fingal for additional financial support.

And finally a word of gratitude to all the pupils and teachers I met.  Thanks for the hospitality – it made for a really memorable month!

Brian Gallagher. more ... here ... 

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Penny Adventures - Brian Gallagher Visits Riversdale Community College

December 1, 2015

On the 16th of November 2015 Riversdale Community College was visited by Brian Gallagher, an author of many plays and short stories which have been produced in Ireland, Britain and Canada. He is currently on a tour visiting schools from Fingal County Council. He is a producer of radio documentaries, plays and has experience in almost every aspect of writing.

He briefly spoke to us about his newly published book for young readers called “Friend or Foe” which is about the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland. It tells us a story of two friends who are put on opposite sides in a life and death struggle. We learned that his first historical fiction, set in the 1913 Dublin Lockout is called “Across the Divide” which is about an unexpected friendship between a rich girl and a poor boy.

Students asked him various questions about his journey into being a full time writer. His favorite book is “Taking Sides” which he wrote himself. His stories are unique because they are told through the eyes of the character. Mr. Gallagher likes to be precise with the details of the events happening in the book therefore, it is much easier for the reader to visualize the events taking place. For example he told us about his visit to a house where one of his stories had been set and to add details to make the story seem more realistic. He read to us an enjoyable extract from his book “Stormclouds”.

Overall the students and teachers found the talk entertaining and pleasant. Students are curious to read his newly published book “Friend or Foe”.

By: Maryam Azal and Natalia Forusinska
Transition Year Students
Riversdale Community College

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By Draíocht. Tags: Brian Gallagher,