Pearse Memorial Fund Badge

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This Pearse Memorial Fund badge is a small paper badge wrapped around a straight pin. It features images of William Pearse on the left and Patrick Pearse on the right, along with the text “Pearse Memorial Fund” beneath their images. The reverse of the badge features the Gaelic text “Scoil Eanna” which was the name of Patrick Pearse’s school, also known as St. Enda’s School.

Patrick Pearse founded St. Enda’s on 8 September 1908. He founded the school to help preserve the Irish language. Students were taught in an immersive format that utilized a bi-language system where they were taught in both Irish and English. They were also educated in Irish culture and nationalism, with many of the students choosing to enlist in the nationalist movement by joining the Fianna Éireann or the Irish Volunteers.[1]

Pearse struggled to keep the school open due to financial difficulties. The school was far from Dublin, which made it difficult for children to attend day school there. The bulk of students were full-time boarders at the school. However, the alternative education style coupled with the expense of sending children to boarding school, meant that it was difficult to grow attendance. After Pearse was executed for his role in the 1916 Rising his mother and sisters wanted to keep the school open to maintain his legacy, so they embarked on a fundraising campaign. The initial fundraising campaign was so successful that the Pearse family was able to purchase the school building and land. However, financial difficulties continued to plague the school for years after, and the school was eventually closed in 1935. When Margaret Pearse passed away in 1968 the school building was donated to the Irish government and turned into the Pearse Museum.[2]

The Pearse Memorial Fund badge seen here is one example of a badge that was produced during the initial fundraising campaign. Anyone who donated to the cause would be given a badge as a gift for their donation. Since the badges are made of paper and small nails they would have been cheap to produce, but they were a symbol that the donor could treasure and wear with pride to show others how he/she contributed to the cause. There are numerous examples held in private collection and museums, and they still frequently come up for sale at auction and on various websites that sell Irish militaria and collectables.

[1]. Joost Augusteijn, Patrick Pearse the Making of a Revolutionary (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 158-161.

[2]. Joost Augusteijn, Patrick Pearse the Making of a Revolutionary (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 332.

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