Primary Resources

This resource gallery has been developed to be used for pre visit preparatory work and for post visit reference. You will find a range of primary documents and material here that links to the themes in each unit. By clicking on any image below you can access background information on the source and also find out where it came from and where it is currently held.

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Plan of the first floor at Fota.


In the 19th century attitudes to children were very different to those of today. While very much part of the family unit, children were nonetheless considered largely in economic terms: in poorer families they were expected to work; in middle class families they would enter the family business or the marriage market;  in the upper strata of society female offspring were valued in terms of profitable marriage alliances. Male offspring were also expected to marry well and  to carry on the family name by producing  an heir. 

Families were adult centred and there tended to be a distance between parents and children – this detachment was more marked in upper class households such as the Smith Barry family.  It was the servants who for the most part cared for the children and so the nursery was often placed at a point where the family bedrooms and the servants' rooms met a back staircase. Even so the nursery was often situated near to the mother’s rooms. At Fota this is the case and you can see from the plan of the first floor that the nursery could be accessed by a short passage from the Boudoir.

Open Resource