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The poll was conducted on the monthly Lansdowne telephone omnibus survey with a nationally representative sample of 1000 adults aged 15+. The results therefore have the same level of validity as a standard national opinion poll.


The questions:

Which Irish historical figure was known as the Emancipator?

Daniel O'Connell – 44%

Other - 8%

Don't Know -48%

Amongst 15-24 year olds ( those most recently in school and therefore who might be expected to have been taught this, 60% say they don't know who the Emancipator was).

Michael Collins was a leader on which side in the civil war, the pro treaty side or the anti treaty side?

Pro treaty – 62%

Anti treaty – 28%

Don't Know – 10%

Most people get this one right (so civil war politics lives on). Still a sizeable minority (including 34%) of women thought Collins was anti-treaty – a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of Irish history.

Who was the first President of Ireland?

Douglas Hyde – 41%

Other – 25%

Don't Know – 33%

Only 4 in 10 Irish people can name the countries first President – this drops to 23% amongst 15-24 year olds and 25% amongst 25-34 year olds

Who was Taoiseach during World War 2 ?

Eamon De Valera - 49%

Other - 7%

Don't know -44%

Not even 50% know who lead Ireland during World War 2. Again, the 15-24 year olds emerge in a poor light, only 35% of them can name Dev, whilst 60% say they don't know – they couldn't even guess someone else.

In what year did Ireland officially become a Republic ?

1922 – 20%

1937 – 4%

1949 – 13%

other year – 35%

Don't know – 29%

Well this was a trickier one – only 13% of Irish people know the country officially became a Republic in 1949. Most people opt for 1922 or simply ‘don't know'.

So what do these results tell us:

Knowledge of recent history amongst young people is extremely poor. Correct answers increase in direct line with age. If we keep going at this rate and recent school leavers continue to be as ignorant of these facts, a time will come when most people have no idea about major historical figures in Irish history.

We are clearly not as attached to our history as we might like to believe. Only minorities know of the Emancipator, the first President or the man who led the country through the war years. Fewer still have any idea about the countries official status as a republic.




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