Schools’ Competition 2023

The story of my old photograph

We are delighted to announce the County Donegal Historical Society Schools’ Competition for 2023.

The theme for 2023 is ‘The story of my old photograph’

Competition Details

A photo can give us a glimpse into lives past, long forgotten events, forgotten places and memories that are personal or shared with the community. They will help our understanding of history, culture and identity.

Your Task

Find an old photograph from a family album ( before 1970 if you can, please) and research the story and the history behind the photograph. Maybe the story of the person, building, monument, tradition, event, piece of equipment, etc.

Present your research imaginatively and creatively.


Primary school student categories: Senior school: 4th – 6th classes only

Full class groups, one whole class entry. In small schools with a mix of ages in one classroom, the classroom can be a whole class entry.

Individuals, single student entry.

Please, no small groups. A whole class, whole classroom or individual only.


Hard copy entries only, in the form of a standard A4 project book or scrapbook.

One photograph per individual entry. A max of 5-10 for class entry depending on class size.

For individual entries, please give details of name, age and class as well as school contact details and a contact teacher.

Please do not include the original photograph – a good quality copy will suffice.

Judges will be looking for originality as well as evidence of imagination and creativity.

Entries must be delivered/posted to the

County Museum, High Road,Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Closing date for entries is Friday 1st December 2023.

Prizewinners will be notified in January 2024.

Any queries to Pat Shallow

Schools’ Competition 2017/18 

Cumann Staire Chondae Dhún na nGall
County Donegal Historical Society’s Schools’ Competition 2017/18
Theme: Historical Connections between Donegal & Europe up to 1900.
2018 is European Year of Cultural Heritage. The aim of the European Year of Cultural Heritage is to encourage the sharing and appreciation of Europe’s cultural heritage, to raise awareness of our common history and values, and to reinforce a sense of belonging in a common European space.
The County Donegal Historical Society has chosen this theme for the 2018 Schools’ Competition to give you an opportunity to explore links between the events, people and places of your own area of Donegal and Europe. Links that you could explore include historical figures from Donegal who went to Europe; historical events; the built environment; traditional ways-of-life; industrial heritage; economic activity; maritime links, emigration or social and cultural heritage.
General Guidelines:

  1. Completed registration form and project to be submitted by 23rd March 2018 to DHS Schools’ Competition 2018, c/o Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
  2. Hard copy (MS Word), A4-size presentation, Times New Roman, 12pt font, double- spacing, black ink.
  3. All e-mail correspondence should be directed to with the name of the School and project title in ‘Subject’ bar.
  4. The competition is only open to schools in Co. Donegal.
     For group entries (10 students minimum – the names of participants and classes must be supplied): word count range: 2,000 – 4,000.
     For individual student’s entries: word count range: 1,000 – 2,000.
     Each entry should list sources and references.
     Investigation of primary sources and original field research will be favourably
     Entries can be in Irish or English.
    The closing date for the receipt of entries is Friday 23rd March, 2018. No entries will be accepted after this date.
     All entries will be assessed by a panel of judges selected by the Executive Committee of the County Donegal Historical Society.
     The criteria for evaluation used by the judges will be:
    o Relevant historical research (40%);
    o Evidence of original investigation of primary sources & field research (20%);

o Imaginative and creative approach (20%);
o Varied presentation of information and evidence (15%); and o Overall impression (5%)
The decision of the County Donegal Historical Society’s judging panel will be final.
Awards Ceremony:
The County Donegal Historical Society’s Schools’ Competition awards ceremony will take place in Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey on Wednesday, 16th May, 2018 at 7.30 pm. Each school/entry should be represented on the night.
Presentations of awards at ceremony will include:
Harley-McDonagh Trophy: Best Primary School Class Entry
This award is named in honour of Hugh Harley, one of the original benefactors of the County Donegal Historical Society’s schools’ competition and former Wall Street financier, and J.C.T. McDonagh who served as President of the County Donegal Historical Society from 1958-1959.
Fr. Jackie Fitzgerald Memorial Trophy: Best Secondary School Class Entry
This award is named in honour of Fr. Jackie Fitzgerald who was a historian, author and County Donegal Historical Society member from Inishowen.
Emerson Award: Best Individual Primary Student Entry
This award is named in honour of Lucius & Kathleen Emerson. Lucius Emerson was a founder member of the County Donegal Historical Society in 1946 and served as curator of the County Donegal Historical Society museum from 1946 until 2005. Kathleen Emerson served as Honorary Secretary of the County Donegal Historical Society from 1960 to 2004.
Donald Mac Lochlainn Trophy: Best Individual Secondary Student Entry
This award is named in honour of Donald Mac Lochlainn who was a life-long friend of the County Donegal Historical Society and whose father served as President of the
County Donegal Historical Society in 1950.
County Donegal Historical Society:
The County Donegal Historical Society was founded on the 20th December 1946 and its objective is to preserve and record the history of County Donegal. During the course of any year, the County Donegal Historical Society publishes the Donegal Annual, holds several field days, a coach outing, several lectures and other events as well as the schools’ competition. We encourage students to join the Historical Society and the good news for students is that a year’s membership is only €5. Down the years, the Society has been responsible for initiating the Federation for Ulster Local Studies and for establishing a museum. Further details about the County Donegal Historical Society are available at: and on Facebook:
All the best to all who enter the competition, and hope you have a great time exploring!