John M. Regan’s Myth and the Irish state

Published in Issue 1 (January/February 2015), Letters, Volume 23

Sir,—May I commend Brian Hanley for his review of John M. Regan’s Myth and the Irish state that brought to wider notice some of the current debates in modern Irish history (HI 22.5, Sept./Oct. 2014). Prof Regan is one of the most incisive minds working on modern Ireland today. The issues he raises about the manner in which Irish history is written are of fundamental importance and demand consideration, however much members of the historical establishment may bristle at his critiques. Many of the same issues have cast a shadow on the writing of Irish history in the period of the Tudor conquest in the sixteenth century. However, in my experience historians do not normally resort to ‘elision’—they really believe what they write to be true. The problem is that their pre-conceptions often determine their assessment of which evidence is relevant and which is not. Sometimes, indeed, their pre-conceptions take the place of evidence. That is why we need historians like John Regan to challenge hidden assumptions and prejudices that distort discussions of the past.—Yours etc.,

HENRY A. JEFFERIES
Derry

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