14,000 to log on for free history lessons
History classes with a difference start today, when 14,000 students from all over the world will start an online course with Trinity College Dublin (TCD).
Students from Ireland and places as far apart as India, France, Australia, Canada and the UK, will learn about the turbulent 1912-1923 period, covering events such as World War 1, the Easter Rising and the War of Independence.
Student numbers are double what was expected, and about half of those who have registered for Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland's history 1912-1923 are from outside Ireland.
The free six-week course has generated particular interest in some quarters, with the Irish Embassy, New Delhi, India, planning to use it as the basis for a weekly or fortnightly discussion group.
Subject to sufficient interest, the five public libraries in Wexford are also planning to host study groups for local participants.
Trinity is offering the course as a Massive Open Online Course - a worldwide trend by leading colleges aimed at providing quality education to a broad audience.
The course is more than a chronology of events, and will look beyond familiar names and famous faces to explore the period through the lives of ordinary men, women and children, examining the political and social changes that shaped modern Ireland.
Trinity Professor of Early Modern History and Historiography Ciaran Brady said they were "astounded" by the uptake and "very gratified that half of the students are from outside Ireland".
Mr Brady said they wanted to challenge the silent assumption that there could be one authoritative voice claiming to have all the answers.
"We have designed a course intended to stimulate a critical attitude towards the question of whose history gets recorded and sought out, and whose history, ultimately, gets told," he said.