As a child I loved history at school, but only as it relates to people. The history of military strategy and the like leaves me cold. There are many well-known quotes on the importance of history but I’m going to go with this one by George Orwell: ‘The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.’ So, what is brilliant about Patricia Murphy’s book, The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary, is that it takes the story of an important part of history and puts people firmly in the middle of it to make it relatable and real.
The story in brief is this: it is Easter 1916 and The Great War rages in Europe with two hundred thousand Irishmen fighting in the British Army. But a small group of Irish nationalists refuse to fight for Britain and strike a blow for Irish freedom. Caught up in the action in Dublin, is twelve-year-old Molly O’Donovan. Her own family is plunged into danger on both sides. Her father, a technical officer with the Post Office dodges the crossfire as he tries to restore the telegraph lines while her wayward brother runs messages for the rebels. Molly a trained first aider, risks her own safety to help the wounded on both sides. As violence and looting erupts in the streets of Dublin alongside heroism and high ideals, Molly records it all. The Proclamation at the GPO, the battle of Mount Street, the arrival of the British Troops. But will Molly’s own family survive and will she be able to save her brother?
As the title suggests the story takes the form of Molly’s diary. Molly is a great character, strong, principled and brave. I have to confess that I was not hugely familiar with the events that form the backdrop to Molly’s story, but I now know that they were some of the most pivotal events in modern Irish history.
This book is perfect for making history come alive for children, an entertaining adventure story and educational at the same time.
I was provided with copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Parent guide: nothing of concern here, suitable for age 10+ depending on reading ability. It does require a bit of concentration on the part of the reader, so for younger children it might be a good book to read to them.