When We Were Kings and Queens of the Road: Introduction

A “Travel to School” project by Robert Burns and the Museum of Childhood Ireland

We are thrilled to introduce our newest project. This new and exciting campaign is the concept of Robert Burns.

Robert is a civil engineer and director of Fingal County Council. He grew up in the Monaghan countryside in the 70s and 80s, moving to Roscommon in the late 80s. He now lives and works in Dublin. Robert has a passion for creating safe, vibrant, attractive and sustainable public places and communities.

In his time as director with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council he led on a range of projects to build new cycle lanes, create people-friendly public spaces, revitalise towns and villages and foster community input and engagement. He feels that our roads and streets are becoming increasingly  hostile places for children as a result of the prevalence of cars, something that has changed dramatically since his own childhood. He argues for the reclamation of street space away from cars for the health, safety and enjoyment of children and the local community.

Walking to school, W McAllister, Milltown, Co Dublin 1959

The project explores the ways in which people travelled to school in the past, when there was less reliance on cars as a means of transport, where children could safely and freely cycle their bikes around the roads without high levels of imminent danger, and indeed when we turned more to physical or pedestrian modes of transport, or buses, rather than an increased use of cars.

Bus to school, David O’Connor, Dundalk, 1980s

Over the coming weeks we will be sharing memories, stories and anecdotes from a broad spectrum of Irish and International society, as we revisit the roads of our childhood, and open a discussion about the changes to travel and our environment in the years in between.

Sharing bikes to school, John and Aidan Herdman, Cabra, 1944

See the stories published so far here:

On behalf of the Museum of Childhood Ireland, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Robert for his hard work on the project, and to all of our wonderful participants for their time and their stories. We are thrilled to be presenting this project and we hope you will enjoy following along with us in the coming weeks.

Have a story on this topic and want to get involved? Contact us on our social media sites, or email us at cbrowne@museumofchildhood.ie – we would love to hear from you!

Robert Burns and the Museum of Childhood Ireland intend to curate an online exhibition, physical exhibition and publication of a selection of the stories submitted in due course. Please note that any stories submitted may be used in such publications, exhibitions, and for relevant media interest. Every effort will be undertaken to ensure that such reproductions are true and authentic representations of the stories received!

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent or reflect the views of Robert Burns and the Museum of Childhood Ireland.

By Chloe Browne

Chloe Browne is an Irish writer, curator and Art Historian, with a keen interest in objects and social history.