History of Children and Childhood

Here we present an online history of children and childhood in Ireland, 1500-2000. Research on the history of children and childhood in Ireland is relatively new. Most books and articles on the topic have appeared in the last twenty years. There are still, however, many gaps in our knowledge. We know more, for example, about the experiences of children in nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland than in earlier centuries. We aim to provide a general overview of the main developments and trends over the 400 years between 1500 and 2000.


Children and Childhood, 1500-1700

Children and Childhood, 1700-1800

Children and Youth, 1800-2022



Heritage Week 2021

For Heritage week 2021 we presented a series of videos on the history of children from medieval times to the eighteenth century is available on the MCI Youtube Channel:



  • Eileen Murphy, Burial Practices for the Young in Medieval Gaelic Ireland – Some Findings from Ballyhanna, Co. Donegal.
  • Mary O’Dowd, Boys in Sixteenth Century Ireland
  • Ann-Maria Walsh, ‘Remembering and Re-imagining Early Modern Childhood in the Boyle Archive.’
  • Rachel Wilson, An Education Fit for a Lady: Teaching Girls in the “Big House” in Ireland, c. 1690-1745

The presentations explore what these places, buildings and objects can tell us about childhood in Ireland in the medieval and early modern period.  The overall presentation demonstrates that much information can be gained about the children who lived in Ireland in the past. 

While archaeologists and historians are increasingly focusing their research on past children, work that concentrates on adults is still dominant. The presentations show that using these different approaches there is great potential to gain a more holistic understanding of the world of the child across the different eras.  

We were delighted that the video was a County Award winner for Dublin: Dun Laoghaire Rathdown.Thank you so much to the Heritage Council for this wonderful recognition of all the hard work of our volunteer team.

For more information on the history of childhood in Ireland see the History of Irish Childhood Research Network website.

Members of the History Pod

Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley

Dr Mary Hatfield

Dr Richard McElligott

Lorraine McEvoy

Dr Cormac Moore

Professor Eileen Murphy

Professor Mary O’Dowd

Annika Stendebach