Dave Swift - Heritage Experts | Heritage in Schools

Dave Swift

Dave  Swift 1   Life In  Tudor  Ireland & The  Flight Of The  Earls
Dave  Swift 8
Dave  Swift 3  Explaining The  Proclamation At '1916  Brought  Back  To  Life' At  Monaghan  Courthouse
Dave  Swift 2  Anglo  Irish  Medieval  Soldier
Dave  Swift 4  Irish  War  Of  Independence Artefacts
Dave  Swift 6  Viking &  Irish Artefacts Of The  Hiberno  Norse Period
Dave  Swift 7
Viking Age Ireland Dave Swift
Dave Swift WW2
Dave Swift Irish 9 Years War
Dave Swift Flight of the Earls
Dave Swift Last of the Gallowglasses
2021 WW1 Dave Swift
Science, History, Geography
Curriculum Strands:
Story (History), Local Studies (History), Early people and ancient societies (History), Continuity and change over time (History), Myself and my Family (History), Human environments (Geography), Materials (Science)
Counties catered for:
Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow
Classes catered for:
3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

Book in-person visit

During Dave’s school visit, Irish archaeology is animated for the children as they experience an engaging demonstration on domestic and military life during a given historical period as chosen by the school.  Approximately 100 artefacts are displayed in the classroom turning the school into a veritable museum for the day! These items range from swords and Viking jewellery to a range of medieval helmets and 1916 uniform items.

During the session students are introduced to the fashions, military attire, weaponry, the economy and culture of the chosen historical period. Children get to inspect this unique collection of original and/or faithfully reproduced artefacts with their own hands. All reconstructions presented are thoroughly researched and are made to the highest international museum-grade standards – there is no skimping on quality! Traditional crafts examined by the students can include materials derived from metal, leather, wood, glass, ceramic, antler, bone and horn. The taking of macro photos of the exhibited artefacts is welcomed. Often such pictures can provide an excellent
visual resource for the teacher in future school lessons.

A lively historical narrative is given throughout the session explaining the major characters, social conditions and customs of the time. Dave also explains the human environments of the chosen period be it 25 Northumberland Road in Easter Week 1916, or an Irish crannóg. Sessions can end with a short quiz whereby the lucky winners have an opportunity to try out a few of the rarer 'normally off limits' artefacts - an ideal school photo opportunity!

Dave also welcomes acting as guide to schools who wish to visit the National Museum of Ireland (either Collins Barracks or the Archaeology Museum on Kildare Street). He is also available as a guide to Viking & Medieval Dublin or to the Battlefields of the Easter Rising including the GPO and Arbour Hill.

Dave Swift MSc has been working in Ireland as a field-archaeologist since 1999 and is a qualified National Tour Guide. As founder of Living History & Mobile Museum 'Claíomh' he has been involved in Irish historic recreation work for 30 years taking part in events in Iceland, Italy, England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden and Spain over the years as well as at home in Ireland. Dave often gives lectures and demonstrations at OPW heritage sites, various museums, Irish Walled Towns Network Festivals, Third Level Institutions and Local Historical Societies among others. He has many television and film credits working variously as armourer, historical advisor, fight choreographer, props supplier, wardrobe assistant and actor. Recent projects compose a diverse range including GPO Witness History Audio-Visual 'Fire & Steel', 'Medieval Dead' (Series 3, Episode 4: 'Gallowglass: Warlords Of Ireland') and supplying uniforms to TG4's 1916 comedy 'Wrecking the Rising'. Dave is a contributing author to 'Ireland and the Crusades' (Four Courts Press, 2022) and 'Gallowglass (working title)' (Zeughaus Verlag,
forthcoming 2022).


The Viking workshop gives a full overview of the period in Ireland from the first recorded raid in 795 to the final Irish Viking battle in 1171. Notable events and personalities like the Battle of Clontarf and Brian Ború can be looked at as well as the merging of Irish and Scandinavian culture into a 'Hiberno-Norse' combination. See in great detail both female and male Viking clothing, dress accessories and accoutrements.

From the background of the Vikings in Ireland to the 1169 invasion by Strongbow and his generation of Cambro-Normans to the consolidation of power under the English Crown. Learn about the beginnings of heraldry and the revolutionary use of massed archery and cavalry in battle.

The incomplete conquest of Ireland by the Normans. Encompassing the material culture of late medieval Gaelic and Anglo-Irish Ireland - including gallowglasses and their equipment - and the clash of culture between those that lived within and outside 'The Pale'.

The northern Earls led by Hugh O'Neill and 'Red' Hugh O'Donnell - and the last stand of Gaelic Ireland culminating in the Battle of Kinsale 1601, the Treaty of Mellifont 1603 and the subsequent Flight of the Earls 1607.

Royalists, Parliamentarians and the Irish Catholic Confederacy of Kilkenny: the struggle for Ireland in the mid seventeenth century.

Analysis of the uniforms and equipment of the various organisations involved including the Irish Citizen Army, Irish Volunteers/Irish Republican Army (IRA), Cumann na mBan, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), Auxiliaries (ADRIC) and the British Army. The session can include a detailed account of the 1916 Rising plus its aftermath. The 'Claídheamh Soluis' handling collection has several originals connected with the period.

Focusing on trench conditions for ordinary soldiers on the Western Front focusing on Irish Regiments of the British Army and their opposing numbers in the German Imperial Army. All within the context of the politics and global effects of the war as a whole. The WW1 handling collection includes original pieces connected
with the era.

The European Theatre of Operations - a rare opportunity to handle original artefacts from the most destructive war yet known. Particular focus is on 1943-45 equipment and uniforms of the US Army, Red Army and Wehrmacht in the context of the struggles for the Soviet Union, northwestern Europe from June 1944 and the
Battle of Berlin 1945.


  • "I could not say enough about Dave Swift's visit. He came so well prepared and his materials and artefacts were amazing. In the afternoon he did a talk on 'The Battle of Clontibret' which took place locally. We invited parents and grandparents in to the talk and it was a lovely afternoon as children sat in the class with their families and heard this expert talk about a local event. Again he had so many weapons and artefacts from the time as well as anecdotes and stores. All in all I could not recommend him enough. I am hoping to book Dave Swift again to talk to the Senior Classes about World War 1."
  • "David was excellently prepared with all areas covered comprehensively. He really passed on his enthusiasm for his area of expertise i.e. the Vikings."
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  • "David had many pieces of interesting materials which further stimulated his talk and the children's interest in the topic."
  • "David was excellently prepared with all areas covered comprehensively. He really passed on his enthusiasm for his area of expertise i.e. The Vikings."
  • "David was a compelling speaker, passionate and knowledgeable about his subject and has an impressive collection of replicas relating to the Viking Era, we really enjoyed his visit ."
  • "The pupils were engaged all day and really were History Hunters. Their own words are “it was really very interesting, amazing artefacts, depth of knowledge of the expert was fantastic and they enjoyed the visit because it was so active and very hands on and they got to meet a real archaeologist and Heritage Expert.” Irish archaeology was animated for the children as they experienced an engaging demonstration about the Vikings. Approximately 100 artefacts were displayed in the classroom turning the school into a veritable museum for the day! Children got to inspect this unique collection of original and/or faithfully reproduced artefacts with their own hands. David’s professionalism and passion for heritage is very evident in all the research he has undertaken and the quality of artefacts he brings, he engages with the children in the question and answer session allowing for their own Historical Questions on the theme. Thanks for a great day!"
  • "I have spent the whole day listening to my class talking about 'Dave'. 'Dave said................' the pupils learned so much from not alone his talk but from being able to handle artefacts from Viking and Norman times. I had asked Dave if in addition to doing the Vikings and Normans he could chat about WW1 and was surprised when he arrived with a half an hour talk and artefacts on the war. The pupils were totally engaged and the pupils were reluctant to leave school when the bell went. I can not praise him highly enough. I should add that the pupils were accompanied by a SEN teacher. She said she spend her evening telling her own family all the stories and history Dave Swift had told the pupils."
  • "David gave our pupils a very unique workshop on military attire and weaponry, focusing on 1916 to 1922. Pupils were allowed to inspect his fantastically unique collection of artefacts. His knowledge on the topic was amazing. A wonderful experience for all who were lucky enough to be present!"
  • "I couldn’t speak more highly of Dave he was an absolute gem. Children really enjoyed the visit" - St Mel’s, Ardagh
  • "Dave was passionate and engaging, the children found his style amusing and compelling! He also explained his topic with continuity of context and has a huge array of exciting props, we will be hoping to book two more with him in January!" - Homeschoolers
  • "Dave was absolutely brilliant he left many children who had no previous interest in history with a newly found passion for the subject." - Dunderry National School
  • "Once again our school has been 'blown away' by Dave Swift. He was booked to cover WW1 in the morning and WW2 in the afternoon. His talks on both periods of history were very thorough and at the same time aimed very well at the age of the pupils. His use of artefacts was second to none - pupils got to hold uniforms and weapons of the two periods. He peppered his talks with storied about his grandad, Irish men and women of the time and the lives of the civilian population in the wars. The pupils were engaged from start to finish and as a teacher I found it interesting that when he did his 'recap' quiz at the end every single pupil could recall the information he had so effortlessly given us."
  • "Facilitator was very enthusiastic & knowledgeable about the topic. There was a wide range of artefacts This was a very worthwhile visit for the children."
  • "David was a very engaging speaker. The children enjoyed handling the artefacts." - Ballinlough National School
  • "This was the 5th session with Dave. The children (and parents) enjoyed every session and he is a wealth of knowledge. We learned a lot." - Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon Homeschool Group
  • "Excellent presentation" - Harolds Cross NS, Dublin
  • "An informative presentation on the Viking and Norman periods" - Scoil Mhuire, Abbeyside, Waterford
  • "Very informative and children engaged throughout. Dave very good with the children and allowed them to handle and experience the artifacts for themselves." - St. Conleth and Marys Primary School Newbridge, Kildare
  • "Dave's visit to the Handwork room was both very interesting and instructional. The children learned lots about leather craft and were able to get a hands-on experience using various leatherwork tools and how to work on their own leather craft projects. Would highly recommend a visit by Dave Swift." - Raheenwood Community NS, Clare
  • "We had a great day with David. He delivered lessons on the Irish Plantations and the Flight of the Earls. He made it very interesting and engaging. He had a great rapport with the pupils. They loved sampling the artefacts." - Graignamanagh BNS, Kilkenny
  • "David was fantastic. Clearly very knowledgeable about the topic and also had lots of time for children's questions. Was very informative and we'll set up. Highly recommended" - St. Andrew's NS, Dublin
  • "We would love to have Dave back for full days with each class in future to really explore his thorough and engaging knowledge of 1916. You could’ve heard a pin drop. They held onto his every word. They would’ve stayed longer if possible. David engaged the children from beginning to end. They loved passing around the artifacts and said that he really brought 1916 to life for them. They loved the facts and back stories and it really consolidated the learning they had been doing in class prior to the visit." - St Brigid’s primary School, Kildare

Additional Information

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

Contact Details

087 680 3432