I have long been a fan of that great educationist E.D.Hirsch. He feels that children in the United states are being deprived of the basic knowledge that would enable them to function in contemporary society. Hirsch is on the ‘knowledge is power’ side of the great education debate between traditionalists and ‘progressives’. His book Cultural Literacy was first published in 1987. It seems not enough attention was paid to his arguments. We might not have Trumpism now had his point of view prevailed in U.S. educational circles.

Hirsch includes lists, in alphabetical order, of things he feels every American child needs to know. These include events in history, scientific facts, geographical knowledge, phrases, quotations , literary and artistic references. Many of these items might not be immediately important to Irish students so I have attempted to amend Hirsch’s list dropping some of these and substituting items which might be considered essential for the education of our own pupils. Let’s face it, we have all been appalled from time to time at what some young people seem not to know. How can they do all this discovery learning we hear so much about if they don’t know what they should be looking for in the first place?

My list is entirely subjective. Feel free to drop items and add some of your own. I have listed items alphabetically from A to D….so far. Let’s begin with some key dates from Irish and world history.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1066

1169

1492

1601

1690

1776

1789

1798

1800

1803

1815

1829

1847-1850

1867

1886

1912

1913

1914-1918

1916

1920 -1922

1939-1945

1948

1963

1967

1973

à la carte

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

A.D.

Aachen

Abbey Theatre, The

Abbeydorney, Co Kerry

Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick

Abbeyleix, Co Laois

Abbeyshrule, Co. Longford

abbreviation

Abel

Abraham

absolute monarchy

abstract art

academic freedom

Achill

Achilles’ heel

Achonry (diocese)

acronym

Acropolis

Actions speak louder than words

ad hoc

ad hominem

ad infinitum

adagio

Adam and Eve

adaptation

Adare, Co Limerick

Addis Ababa

Adeste Fideles

adieu

adiós

adjective

Adonis

adrenaline

adverb

Aegean

Aeneas

Aeneid, The

Aesop’s fables

aesthetic

affluent

Afghanistan

aficionado

Africa

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite variety

agnostic

Aherlow, the Glen of

al fresco

Alabama

Aladdin’s lamp

Alamo

Alas, poor Yorick

Alaska

Albania

albatross around one’s neck

alchemy

Alcott, Louisa May

Aleppo

Alexander the Great

Alexandria, Egypt

algae

Algeria

alias

Alice in Wonderland

alienation

Alighieri, Dante

alkaline

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

All roads lead to Rome

All that glisters is not gold

All the world’s a stage

All’s well that ends well

Allah

allegory

allegro

Allingham, William

alliteration

alloy

allude

allusion

 ally

alma mater

alpha and omega

Alps, the

alter ego

alternate

alto

altruism

amadán

Amazing Grace

Amazon (myth)

Amazon (place)

amphibian

American War of Independence

amino acids

Amish

amnesia

amnesty

amniotic sac

amoeba

amok, run

Amsterdam

analogy

anarchy

ancien régime

And thereby hangs a tale

andante

Anderson, Hans Christian

Andrews, Eamonn

Andromeda

anecdote

Angelico, Fra

Angelou, Maya

Anglican

angst

animal/vegetable/mineral

Ankara

Anno domini (A.D.)

annuity

Annunciation, The

annus mirabilis

anon.

Antarctica

Anthony Susan B.

anthropology

antibody

anticlerical

Antigone

antipodes

anti-Semitism

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral

Antrim

any port in a storm

Aoife (myth)

Aoife (wife of Strongbow)

aorta

Apache

apartheid

aphorism

aphrodisiac

Aphrodite (Venus)

apocalypse

apocryphal

Apollo

Apostles, the Twelve

apostrophe

Appalachians

appeasement

appendix

apportion

appraisal

appropriation

April showers bring May flowers

apropos

Aquinas, Saint Thomas

Aquitane, Eleanor of

Arabia

Arabian nights

Arabic

Aragon, Catherine of

arbitration

Arc, Joan of

Archbishop

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

archetype

Archimedes’ principle

archipelago

Arctic, the

Ardagh (Limerick, Longford)

Ardara, Co Donegal

Ardee, Co Louth

Ardfert, Co Kerry

Ardmore, Co Waterford

Ardrahan, Co Galway

Argentina

aria

Arigna, Co Roscommon

aristocracy

Aristophanes

Aristotle

Arizona

Arkansas

Arkle

Arklow, Co Wicklow

Armageddon

Armagh, archdiocese of

Armenia

armistice

Armstrong, Louis

Armstrong, Neil

arrivederci

art for art’s sake

Art is long, life is short (ars longa, vita brevis)

Artane, Dublin

Artemis (Diana)

arteriosclerosis

artery

article (part of speech)

artificial intelligence  (AI)

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods

as the crow flies

ascetic, asceticism

ascorbic acid

Ascot

Asgard, The

Ashbourne, Co Meath

Ashe, Thomas

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Ash Wednesday

Asia

Asia minor

Ask not what your country can do for you…..

Ask, and it shall be given

Askeaton, Co Limerick

Asquith, Herbert

assessment

assimilation

Assisi, Francis of

Assumption, The

Astaire, Fred

asteroid

Astor, Lady

astrology

astronomy

asymmetry

As you would that men [people] should do to you do you also to them in like manner.

Athboy, Co. Meath

atheism

Athena (Minerva)

Athenry, The Fields of

Athens

Athlone, Co Westmeath

Athy, Co Kildare

Atlanta

Atlantic

atlas

atmospheric pressure

atoll

atom

atomic bomb

attaché

Attila the Hun

attorney

au revoir

Auckland

Auden, W.H.

audit

auditory nerve

auf Wiedersehn

Augean stables

Aughrim, Battle of (Co Galway)

Aughrim, Co Wicklow

Augustine, Saint

Augustus Caesar

Auld Lang Syne

aurora borealis

Auschwitz

Austen, Jane

autobiography

autocracy

automation

auxiliary verb

Avoca, Co Wicklow, Vale of

axiom

Axis powers

Azores

Aztecs

B.

Babel, Tower of

Babylon

bacchanalian

Bacchus (Dionysus)

Bach, Johann Sebastian

bacillus

Bacon, Francis (painter)

bacterium

Baghdad

Bailieborough, Co Cavan

Baker’s dozen

balance of payments

balance of power

balkanization

Balkans

Ballina, (Co Mayo)

Ballinamuck, Co Longford

Ballinasloe Horse Fair, Co Galway

Ballinrobe, Co Mayo

Ballintubber (Abbey), Co Mayo

Ballitore, Co Kildare

Ballybunion, Co Kerry

Ballycotton, Co Cork

Ballydehob, Co Cork

Ballyferriter, Co Kerry

Ballyfin, Co Laois

Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo

Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan (Song – Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff)

Ballylongford, Co Kerry. (Birthplace of….)

Ballymena, Co Antrim

Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary (Ronald Reagan and song)

Ballyshannon, Co Donegal (poem)

Ballyvaughan, Co Clare

Ballyvourney, Co Cork

Baltimore (Maryland U.S. and Co Cork)

Baltimore, The Sack of (Co Cork)

Baltinglass, Co Wicklow

Balzac, Honoré de

Banagher, Co Offaly (That beats Banagher)

banana republic

Bandon, Co Cork

Bangkok

Bangor Erris, Co Mayo

Bantry, Co Cork (Bantry Bay, Bantry House, French expedition 1796))

Baptist

bar mitzvah

Barber of Seville, The

Barcelona

Bard of Avon, The

baritone

Barleycove, Co Cork

barometer

baroque

Barry, James (painter)

Barry, Commodore John

Barry, Kevin

Barry, Sebastian

Barry, Tom

basal metabolism

basalt

basilica

Basque

bas-relief

bassoon

Bastille, fall of the

baton

Battle of Britain

Baudelaire, Charles

Bauhaus movement

Bavaria

Bay of Biscay

Bay of Pigs

Beatitudes (text)

Beatles, the

beaucoup

BeauMONT hospital not BeauMOUNT 

Becket, Thomas à

Beckett, Samuel

Beethoven, Ludwig von

beg the question

Behan, Brendan

Beijing

Beirut

Belfast

Belgium,

Belgrade

bell curve

Bell, Alexander Graham

Belmullet, Co Mayo

Ben Bulben. ‘Under bare Ben Bulben’s head….’

Benburb, Battle of

Benediction  (liturgy)

Berkeley, George (Bishop)

Berlaymont building

Berlin

Berlin (Irving)

Berlin Wall

Bernard of Clairvaux, St

Bernhardt, Sarah

besiege

    best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

   Best, George

    beta radiation

bête noire

Bethlehem

beware of Greeks bearing gifts

beware the Ides of March

Bewley’s

Bible Belt

bibliography

bicameral legislature

big bang theory

Big Ben

Big Brother is watching you

big business

bile

bilingualism

biochemistry

biography

biology

biomass

biosphere

bird in the hand is worth two in the bush., A

Birds of a feather flock together

Birr, Co Offaly (Birr Castle, Birr telescope)

Birth of Venus, The (image)

birthday suit

bishop

Bismarck, Otto von

bit between your teeth

bite the bullet

bite the dust

biting the hand that feeds you

Bizet, Georges

Black 47

Black and Tans

Black Death

Black Hills of Dakota

Black Hole of Calcutta

black market

Black Sea

black sheep

Blacklion, Co Cavan

blacklist

Blackrock College

Blair, Tony

Blake, William

blank verse

Blarney, Co Cork  (castle)

blasé

Bligh, Capt.

blight

blitzkreig

Blood is thicker than water

blood, sweat and tears

Bloody Sunday (1920 and 1972)

blow hot and cold

blue-collar

Blueshirts

Blythe, Ernest (Earnán de Blaghd)

Boer War, The

Bogart, Humphrey

Bogside, Battle of the

bohemian

Bohola, Co Mayo

Boleyn, Anne

Bolivia

Bolsheviks

bolt from the blue

Bombay (Mumbai)

bona fide

bonjour

Bonn

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Book of Common Prayer

Boolavogue, Co Wexford  (Song)

boom  (sonic)

boom (business)

Booth, John Wilkes

Bordeaux

Borgias, The

born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth

Borneo

Borris, Co Carlow, Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary, Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois. All Os in all Borrises  PRONOUNCED AS U and I don’t care what AA roadwatch says.

Boston Tea Party

botany

Botticelli

bottleneck

bottom line

botulism

bounty

Bounty, Mutiny on the

Bourbon

bourgeois, bourgeoisie

bowdlerise

Bowen, Elizabeth

Boy Who Cried “Wolf”, The

boycott

Boyne, Battle of the

Brahms, Johannes

Braille

brainwashing

Branagh, Kenneth

brave new world

Brazil

breach of contract

bread and circuses

break the ice

Breen, Dan

Brehon laws

Breifne, Barony of (O’Rourke, King of Breifne)

Brendan the Navigator, St

Breughel. Pieter

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Brexit

Brian Boru

Brigid, St

brinkmanship

Brisbane

Britain, Battle of

British Columbia

Broadway

broker

Brontës, Charlotte, Emily and Anne

Bronx

Bronze Age

Brooklyn

brother’s keeper, Am I my?

Browne, Dr Noel

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert

Bruce, Robert and Edward

Brugha, Cathal

Brussels

Bruton, John

Brutus

Bucharest

buck stops here.,The

Budapest,

Buddhism

Buenos Aires

building castles in the air

Bulgaria

Bulge, Battle of the

bull in a china shop

Bunclody, Co Wexford

Bundestag

Bundoran, Co Donegal

Bunratty, Co Clare (Castle)

Bunreacht na hEireann

Bunyan, John

bureaucracy

Burke, Edmund

Burma (Myanmar)

burning the candle at both ends

burning the midnight oil

Burns, Robert

Burntollet bridge incident

Burren, the, Co Clare

bury the hatchet

bust (business, sculpture)

Butt, Isaac

Buttevant, Co Cork

buying a pig in a poke

Byrne, Gay (Gaybo)

Byron, Lord.

Byronic

Byzantine complexity

Byzantine Empire

C

cabinet

Caesar, Julius

Cahir, Co Tipperary

Cahirsiveen, Co Kerry

Cain and Abel

Cairo

calculus

Calcutta

Caligula

Callan, Co Kilkenny

calling a spade a spade

calorie

Calvary

Calvin, John

Cambodia

Cambridge University

Camelot

Canada

Canberra

canine

Canterbury Tales, The

Canterbury, Archbishop of

can’t fit a round peg in a square hole

can’t have your cake and eat it too

can’t hold a candle to

can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear

can’t see the forest for the trees

Canton

Cape Cod

Cape Town

capillary

capitalism

capital punishment

Capitol Hill, Washington D C

Capri

captain of industry

Caracas

carbohydrates

carbon dioxide (CO²)

carbon dating

carbon monoxide

carcinogen

cardinal number

Caribbean

caricature

Carleton, William

 Carlingford, Co Louth

Carlow

Carolan, Turlough

Carmen (Title)

Carndonagh, Co Donegal

Carniverous

Carraroe, Co Galway (An Cheathrú Rua)

Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan

Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary

Carroll, Lewis

carry a torch for

carrying coals to Newcastle

Carson, Edward

carte blanche

cartel

Carter, Jimmy

cartilage

Caruso, Enrico

Casablanca

Casanova

Cassandra

Cashel, Rock of, Co Tipperary, archdiocese

caste

Castlebar, Co Mayo

Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

Castletownbere, Co Cork

Castletownshend, Co Cork

cast pearls before swine

Castro, Fidel

catalyst

Catch-22 (Title)

 Catcher in the Rye, The (Title)

catharsis

Catherine the Great

Catholicism, Roman Catholicism

Caucasus, The

caucasian

caucus

cause célèbre

Cavan

caveat emptor

Ceannt, Ēamonn

Celbridge, Co Kildare

cello

Celsius

centre of gravity, centre of mass

centigrade

centimetre

Central America

CIA                                                                                

centrifugal force

Cerberus

cerebellum

cerebral cortex

Ceres (Demeter)

Cervantes

C’est la vie

Ceylon

Cézanne, Paul

cf.

chain reaction

Chamberlain, Neville

Chaplin, Charlie

Charge of the Light Brigade, The (title)

charisma

Charlemagne

Charles I and II

Charleston (dance)

Charlestown, Co Mayo

Charleville, (Ráth Luirc) Co Cork

Charon

Chartres

Chaucer, Geoffrey

chauvinism

checks and balances

chef d’oeuvre

Chekov, Anton

Chernobyl

Cherokee

cherubim

Cheshire cat

Chicago

chickens come home to roost

Chile

chimera

China

chip on one’s shoulder

chip (silicon chip)

chivalry

chloroform

chlorophyll

cholesterol

Chopin, Frédéric

choreography

chosen people

Christianity

Christie, Agatha

Christmas Carol, A (title)

chromosomes

Churchill, Winston

Chutzpah

Cicero

Cid, El (Title)

Circe

circuit, electric

circuit court

circumcision

circumference

circumlocution

cirrus clouds

civil disobedience

civil rights

civil service

Civil War

Clancy Brothers

Clancy, Peadar

Clancy, Willie

Clara, Co Offaly

Claremorris, Co Mayo

Clarinet

Clarke, Austin

Clarke, Harry

Clarke, Thomas

classical music

classics

clause

claustrophobia

cleanliness is next to godliness

Clemenceau, GeorgesCleopatra

cliché

climate

Clifden, Co Galway

Clogher (diocese)

Clogherhead, Co Louth

Clonakilty, Co Cork

clone

Clones, Co Monaghan

Clonfert, diocese

Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly, monastic site

Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Clontarf, Battle of

Clontibret, Co Monaghan, battle of

closed shop

Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary

Cloyne, Co Cork, diocese of Cork, Cloyne & Ross

coalition

coat of many colours

cobbler should stick to his last., The

Cobh, Co Cork (Queenstown)

cockles of the heart, warm the

coexistence

Coghlan, Eamon

cognitive development

coherence

cold-blooded

cold war

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor

Colfer, Eoin

collateral damage

collective bargaining

College of Cardinals

Collins, Michael

Colmcille, St., (Columba)

Columbanus, St

Cologne

Colombia

colon (anatomy)

colon (:)

colonialism

Colorado

coloratura

Colosseum, The

Columbus, Christopher

combustion

come full circle

Come live with me and be my love…

comet

comma

comme il faut

commissar

commission

commissioned officer

commodity

common denominator

common law

common-law marriage

communicative diseases

communism

Communist Manifesto, The (title)

compass

composite materials

compound interest

compound-complex interest

compulsion

compulsory

Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur

concentration camp

concerto

concierge

conciseness

condensation point

conditioned reflex

conduction

Confederacy, The

confederation

conflict of interest

conformity

Confucius

Cong, Co Mayo, cross of

congenital disease

conglomerate

Congo, The

Congress (US)

Congress of Vienna

conjunction

Connecticut

Connell, Desmond (Archbishop)

Connolly, James

Connolly, Sybil

connotation

conquistadores

Conrad, Joseph

conscientious objector

consent of the governed

conservation

conservatism

consonant

conspicuous consumption

Constable, John

Constantine (Emperor)

Constantinople

constellation

constitution

consumer

contempt of court

continent

contraband

contraception

contraction

contralto

Coolea, (Cúil Aodha), Co Cork

Cook, Captain

Coolidge, Calvin

cool your heels

coordination

Cootehill, Co Cavan

Copenhagen

Copernicus

copulation

copyright

coral reef

Corinthian

Cornea

Corofin, Co Clare

coronary artery

corporal punishment

corporation

Cortès, Hernan

Cosgrave, Liam

Cosgrave, W.T.

cosmic

Cossacks

Costa Rica

Costello, John A.

counterfeit

counterpoint

Counter Reformation

coup d’état

coup de grâce

couplet

course of true love never did run smooth, The

Courtmacsherry, Co Cork

Courtown, Co Wexford

Covenant

Cowen, Brian

Craig, James

Crash (financial)

crater

Cratloe, Co Clare

Crean, Tom

Creation

creationism

creditor

credit union

crème de la crème

crescendo

Crete

Crick, Francis, and James Watson

Crimea

Crime and Punishment (title)

Crimean War

critical mass

Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo

Crockett, Davy

crocodile tears

Croesus, rich as

Croke Park, (Archbishop Croke)

Cromwell, Oliver

Crosby, Bing

Crossbarry, Co Cork

Crosshaven, Co Cork

crossing the Rubicon

Crossmolina, Co Mayo

Cross that bridge when you come to it

crown of thorns

Crucifixion, the

cruel and unusual punishment

Crumlin, Dublin, Crumlin Road, Belfast

Crusades

Crusoe, Robinson

Crystal Palace

Cuba

Cuban missile crisis

cubism

culture

cum laude

cummings, e.e.

cumulus clouds

Cupid (Eros)

cupola

Curie, Marie

Curracloe, Co Wexford

current, electric

curriculum vitae

curry favour

Cusack, Cyril, Sinéad, Sorcha, Niamh

Cusack, Michael, Cusack Stand

Custer’s last stand

cut off your nose to spite your face

cyclone

Cyclops

cymbal

Cyprus

Cyrillic alphabet

czar

Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic)

D

dacha

Dachau

Daedalus

Dali, Salvador

Dallas, Texas

Damascus

Damascene conversion

damn with faint praise

Damocles, sword of

Daniel in the lions den

danke schön

Dante Alighieri

Danton

Danube

Dark ages

dark horse

Darwin, Charles

date which will live in infamy

David (Bible)

David Copperfield

David (of Michelangelo)

Davis, Thomas

D-Day

dead heat

Dead Sea

Death of a Salesman

decadence

decibel

deciduous

Declan, St, of Ardmore

de facto

default

defence mechanism

deficit

definite article

deflation

Degas, Edgar

de Gaulle, Charles

déjà vu

de jure

Delany, Ronnie

Delaware

Delhi

Delphic oracle

delusion

demagogue

Demeter (Ceres)

De Mille, Cecil B.

democracy

demography

demonstrative pronouns

Demosthenes

Denmark

denouement

Denver

deposit (geology)

depreciation

Depression, The Great

de rigueur

Derrynane, Co Kerry

Descartes, René

Des Moines, Iowa

despot

détente

deterrence

Detroit, Michigan

deus ex machina

de Valera, Eamon  (Dev)

devaluation

developmental psychology

devil can cite scripture, The

dialectical materialism

diameter

diamond in the rough

Diana (Artemis)

Dickens, Charles

Dickinson, Emily

dictator

dictatorship

diction

 Dido

diehards

diffusion

Dingle (Daingean), Co Kerry

Diogenes

Dioysus (Bacchus)

diplomacy

diplomat

direct object

disciples

discount

Discretion is the better part of valour

disenfranchise

Disney, Walt

Disraeli, Benjamin

dissident

distillation

distillery

District of Columbia

Divest

Dividend

Divine Comedy, The

divine right of kings

divinity that shapes our ends., There’s a

division of labour

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Doctor Livingstone, I presume?

dog in the manger

dogma

Doll’s House, A (title)

dominant trait

Dominican Republic

domino theory

Donegal

Doneraile, Co Cork

Don Giovanni

Don Juan

Donne, John

Do not go gentle into that good night

Doolin, Co Clare

Don Quixote

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Don’t cry over spilled milk

Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes

Don’t give up the ship

Don’t hide your light under a bushel

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Don’t put the cart before the horse

Doric

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor

Double, double, toil and trouble

double entendre

double helix

double indemnity

doubting Thomas

Douglass, Frederick

doves and hawks

Dow-Jones

Down’s syndrome

draconian

Dracula

draft (military)

Drake, Sir Francis

dramatis personae

Dreyfus affair

Drew, Ronnie

Drink to me only with thine eyes….

Drogheda, Co Louth

Dromahair, Co Leitrim

Dromcollagher, Co Limerick

Drumcliff, Co Sligo

Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim

due process of law

Duhallow, (Barony of), Co Cork

Dunboyne, Co Meath

Duncannon, Co Wexford

Dundalk, Co Louth

Dungarvan, Co Waterford

Dungloe (An Clochán Liath) Co Donegal

Dunkirk

Dunlavin, Co Wicklow

Dunmanway, Co Cork

Dunmore East, Co Waterford

Dunquin (Dún Chaoin) Co Kerry

Duodenum

Dürer, Albrecht

Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return

Dutch treat (go Dutch)

Dylan, Bob

dyslexia