Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2022), Volume 30


Many column inches have been given over to the colourisation of historical images. To some they represent a positive engagement with the past, while others maintain that they are a distortion of historical sources. A new exhibition at the Ulster Museum reminds us that there are other ways in which images can be manipulated. Running until 30 October, Against the Image: Photography. Media. Manipulation invites us to ‘question what photographic practice is in the modern age and reflect on how we absorb media in our daily lives’. Separately, the excellent Light from the West: Irish Art after 1870 runs until September 2023 and brings some iconic painters out of storage and into view at the Museum, including Grace Henry, William Orpen and Jack B. Yeats. For more information on both exhibitions see

Dublin City Council’s Historian in Residence programme has not only proved a success but has also provided a template for similar positions across the island of Ireland. Relaunched in Dublin’s City Hall on 29 March and now under the stewardship of the Dublin City Council Culture Company, the team currently consists of Cormac Moore, James Curry, Mary Muldowney and Cathy Scufill. Uniquely, Dublin also has a Historian in Residence for Children, Dervilla Roache. Marking the relaunch, the Historians in Residence have produced a new History on Your Doorstep volume, featuring essays on subjects as diverse as weaving in the Liberties and Dublin’s war memorials. It is available free from public libraries across the city.

Marking the Civil War centenary, an interesting historic banner has gone on display in a museum setting. In May 1922 the National Army marched into Portobello Barracks carrying a tricolour banner with the names of nine republicans killed in the War of Independence. The same banner would later be amended to include three more names. Surprisingly for a banner belonging to the National Army, one of the added names was anti-Treaty republican Dinny Lacey, killed in action in Tipperary in February 1923. Perhaps this was an early attempt at reconciliation, but it certainly adds emotional weight to the object. Unveiled by Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, the banner is on display at Kilmainham Gaol until January 2023.

An unexpected addition to the world of Irish-focused historical podcasts is Nate Lavey and Michael McCanne’s Foreign agent from Novara Media, available at Lavey, a documentary film-maker and video journalist, is based in New York City and his work has previously explored the plight of Jewish refugees in 1940s North America. Foreign agent explores the world of NORAID, and how the Troubles were viewed through Irish-American eyes. It marks an unusual departure for Novara Media, primarily a left-wing independent news outlet focused on contemporary British society. The endeavour undoubtedly reflects growing international interest in the Northern Irish conflict historically.

A welcome new addition to Dublin city centre is Pegeen’s, a café offering from the Abbey Theatre. Taking its name from Pegeen Mike, the young barmaid of J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, it is the only café in the city that draws on theatrical props. It was designed by Katie Davenport, and the Abbey tells us that she ‘furnished the space with witty interventions, motifs from her scenography work and a mismatched assortment of set pieces from the Abbey’s stores. Each item has a storied history on the stage.’ We may not make it to the stage of the Abbey but we can now sit amongst the props that have.

Above: The statue of Maureen O’Hara that failed to win the hearts of the residents of Glengarriff, Co. Cork, and was swiftly removed owing to ‘persistent distressing negative online commentary’, according to Cork County Council. (Irish Mirror)

In May there was much reporting on a statue of Honorary Academy Award-winner Maureen O’Hara in Cork’s Glengarriff which failed to win the hearts of locals, being removed within 48 hours of going on public display. Cork County Council cited ‘persistent distressing negative online commentary’ as the reason for its removal. Fans of the ‘Queen of Technicolor’ might instead get themselves to one of Ireland’s most unusual museums, Limerick’s Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. In recognition of O’Hara’s connections to that institution and her patronage of the museum, it boasts an impressive exhibition which includes ‘an extensive collection of the Hollywood legend’s personal belongings’.

Congratulations to the Dublin Festival of History, which marks ten years in 2022. The Festival has confirmed its return, with a full programme that includes many events in libraries across the city, and a new venue for the big weekend. Previous visiting historians have included Robert Service, Ian Kershaw and Sir Hew Strachan. More information at


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