Alison Mac Cormaic

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Alison Mac Cormaic
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Science, History, Geography
Curriculum Strands:
Local Studies (History), Life, society, work and culture in the past (History), Eras of change and conflict (History), Politics, conflict and society (History), Continuity and change over time (History), Human environments (Geography), Materials (Science)
Counties catered for:
Clare, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Tipperary
Classes catered for:
3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

Book in-person visit

Alison’s art workshops are inspired by all the man-made things around us and focus on three main themes: place-based learning, drawing from real life and investigating design. In addition to studying the local architecture, Alison can use her arts education expertise to investigate a heritage topic of your choice. Alison is a visual artist and qualified design historian, training originally in stained glass, which explains her love of windows. She teaches art to early school leavers, is an experienced children’s art educator and is registered with the Teaching Council. To find out more visit her website:

In-person school visits

During a day’s visit it is possible to combine two or three of the following options:

The children are introduced to the architecture around them by matching buildings features to a ‘Built Heritage Bingo’ card, discovering elements such as hipped roofs and quoin stone corners on the way. Encouraging young people to look closely at their local environment, Alison approaches the study of buildings from a visual design point of view, asking questions such as: What are buildings made of? How do these construction materials influence design? How can we guesstimate the age of buildings?

In addition Alison brings A4 drawing boards for every student so this workshop can be developed into an outdoor observational drawing class.

Using glass and stone as example of building technology, the children compare old and new construction materials. They also investigate key design principles to discover why buildings look the way they do.

Children use Lego to build strong corner walls, and find out why corner quoin stones that were once purely functional are now highly decorative. Comparing the stone construction technique with the use of rolled steel joists, children build their own open walled, modern style buildings using straws and paper clips.

Children investigate how glass is made and research the raw materials that it’s made from. From castle to big house, to our modern wall-to-wall windows, find out how the technology of glass manufacture has strongly influenced the design of buildings through the centuries.

The Golden Rectangle, with roughly the ratio of an A4 page, has influenced architecture for thousands of years. Discover how, via the Renaissance, this ancient Greek design found its way into the main street of your town.

Alison has designed a Golden Rectangle Generator as an aid to draw a perfectly proportioned Golden Rectangle using just a square and a circle. From these visual maths measurements the children become 19th-century masons, designing and creating their own classically inspired shop front.

Classical orders (the decorative element at the top of a column) are an important building block of Western architecture and have been used for over 2,500 years. You see them everywhere in Ireland, as well as Europe, America and beyond. They are often found in 18th century doorways, town halls and other large ‘important’ buildings. They are highly decorative, using acanthus leaves and ram’s horns as inspiration. In this workshop, discover the difference between Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns and learn how their names originated from Greek Tribes.

Children design their own classical ‘order’ inspired by drawings made from leaves and other items brought to the school. They then go on to build them using carboard tubes, paper scrolls and other construction materials.

Alison can investigate stained glass windows in a local church. By bringing in examples of hand blown stained glass, painted and leaded windows, tools and materials she will demonstrate how stained glass is made. The children are introduced to Harry Clarke, Ireland’s most well-known stained glass artist. They will design and create their own window by using transparent materials and drawing against the light.

For a longer visual arts project Alison can facilitate the construction of a model historical building made from cardboard, for example, making a local ‘Big House’.

Alison brings in a number of previously built cardboard castles and houses to investigate home evolution over the centuries, the concept of change and continuity and the culture and lifestyle of the Big House. For example, the children can count the chimneys, which may lead onto a conversation about fires, the system of servants, and how we heat our homes today. The project provides excellent opportunities to expand understanding of 18th and 19th century Irish houses and the finished model makes an excellent resource for further learning in the classroom.

Alison has completed a wide range of art projects developed from various heritage and science themes, including tree identification and marine life. If there is a local heritage topic you wish to consider, art workshops covering any aspect of the visual art curriculum, can be planned in collaboration with teachers and pupils. At present, outdoor art projects can be developed successfully using place-based learning.


  • "A very enjoyable day thankyou!"
  • "Our day with Alison was absolutely amazing.The children learned so much about our the local environment. Alison's planning & local knowledge with use of building etc in our area was superb." - St. Nicholas' Parochial School, Galway
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  • "The children really loved looking at their town through the lens of the built heritage. It gave them a whole different way of looking at the buildings and different features of buildings in their home town." - Scoil Chroí Naofa, Athenry
  • "We thoroughly enjoyed Alison's visit. It was jam-packed full f activities and the outdoor fieldtrip around the locality was fun and educational. The on-site activities were hands-on, interactive and challenging. Alison's interaction with the children was professional, warm and engaging. We would have no hesitation inviting her back or recommending her to another school." - Galway Educate Together NS
  • "Really enjoyable visit and children got a lot from it." - Cregmore NS, Galway
  • "The children really enjoyed this and learned a great deal about their local village. They really enjoyed drawing their own maps also and being outside was wonderful." - St. Joseph's NS, Galway
  • "Alison spent spent 3 full days with us and worked with 6 5th classes. She was excellent and the session really benefitted the children and made them see their town in a new light!" - Trinity Primary School, Galway

Additional Information

  • Provides in-person visits
  • Caters for special needs
  • Provides practical/hands-on activities
  • Provides field trips

Contact Details

085 7140079