Third, fourth, fifth and sixth classes worked together for the most part of this project. They began by researching initially what castles and tower houses are or were within the parish of Newmarket on Fergus. Immediately the realisation of a differing historical border line to the current border became apparent. We studied the historical border of the parish and used that as our guide. From the beginning of the research we found out that there was a far larger number of castles in the parish that originally thought. There are in fact twenty three castles which were at some point in history within the parish. Many of these have no longer a trace of existence except in the historical research documents. We set about finding out as much as we could about each castle, though books, the internet and in particular the Clare Library, and talking to local people. The classes came together and formed groups where they worked together to compile their information.
They then presented this back to everyone. We were lucky to have Mr. Colm Liddy come and then work with each group. He spoke with them about their research, created many discussion points and showed lots of photographs of the current state of some of the castles. It was an excellent opportunity for the class to talk to a local historian and get his advice on it. Colm also helped the children to pinpoint each castle on a map of the parish.
We were also very luck to have past pupil Ms. Róisín Carmody come in a speak with the classes about a project she did on Stonehall Castle. Her grandfather was present on the day of the destruction of the remains of that castle. Hearing his account of it was very beneficial for the children.
While most information was taken from the internet we were lucky to receive an old photograph of Clenagh Castle.
The next section saw the exploration of constructions. We used spaghetti and marshmallows to explore the best way to design a tall structure, with the focus very quickly being turned to created a good foundation to support the height. We then turned out attention to the strength of structures. With only sheets of paper, straws and masking tape they were tasked with creating the strongest possible structure. The competition which ensued gave many variations of manipulating paper to add strength.
We then moved on to working on pulleys, we were delighted to have Mr. Michael Browne do a work shop on pulleys. We worked on different types of pulleys and how to use materials to make them. We spoke about how this type of system would be used long ago in construction.
We learned about circuits, moving from simple circuits using a bulb and a battery to including a switch. We then talked about more complex circuits using connectors to have more than one circuit working from the same battery. We began the task of creating circuits to work on our map. We wanted to have a bulb to mark each castle and each school and to have a separate switch to illuminate the bulb for a specific castle. so after experimenting and consulting an electrician we created three circuits, two with ten bulbs each and one with six bulbs. Each circuit is powered by a battery pack containing two AA batteries. It was a laborious task of cutting wire, crimping connectors and creating the circuits.
From this we began the art section of the project. Before we looked at the actually castles we discussed how to create a scaled version of an object or image. One of our students in Sonas showed us a scaled down version of his house.
We talked about the significant features on the five castles we chose to make. We spoke about how we would make 3D versions of them. We decided to use a foam card to make the constructions. We found measurements of the walls of the castles from historical sketches. We used these to create scaled sketches for the constructions. We used a scale of 1m:1.5cm. After all the maths were done the classes set about drawing the sketches directed to the card and carving the pieces out with craft knives. This was a slow task in order to get a precise result, especially taking into account area as of the walls which have fallen or broken in parts. Once the walls were cut out, they were glued together. Finally each castle was sprayed with both a grey paint and also a graphite spray to give the texture and ‘stone’ look.
The final part of the project was to compile our research together on our school website to be used in the future as a learning resource. We also wanted to document all the classes’ work to showcase the enjoyable year spent working on this. QR codes were created and placed on the table to provide immediate links to online information.
All the pieces of this project were put together on a table built specifically for this project with a glass top to showcase the map with lights as well as the magnificent castles created.