A century on—how do we view the War of Independence?

Recorded @ Malahide Community School
2pm Thursday 19 September 2019
A century on—how do we view the War of Independence?
How has recent scholarship changed our view of the War of Independence? What new sources are now available? And has this in turn affected how we commemorate these events? History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, chaired this special Hedge School, geared towards senior cycle history students. Donal Fallon (co-editor of the blog Come Here To Me), Liz Gillis (author of 25 May: The Burning of the Customs House 1921), Martin Mansergh (government’s Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations), Mary McAuliffe (Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, UCD), and Kevin Manning (history teacher, Malahide Community School) responded to questions devised by the students of Malahide Community School, Portmarnock Community School, Skerries Community School, Sutton Park School and St Fintan’s High School, Sutton.

The Hedge School was supported by the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

The War of Independence in County Clare

David Fitzpatrick’s Politics and Irish Life, 1913–21: provincial experience of war and revolution (1977) reassessed
In association with Clare County Library 

recorded @ Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis on Saturday, 14 Sept 2019 at 2pm

The untimely passing of Prof. David Fitzpatrick (TCD) earlier this year provided an opportunity to reassess his ground-breaking 1977 local study of County Clare, which was to become the template for many similar local studies of the War of Independence. How does it measure up to the intervening 42 years of scholarship, in particular the release of primary sources such as the Bureau of Military History and the Military Service Pensions Collection? 

To discuss this and related matters History Ireland editor Tommy Graham, was joined by  Pádraig Óg Ó RuaircEve MorrisonCécile Gordon and Tomás Mac Con Mara for a lively debate on the subject. 

Scotland and the global Irish Revolution

Recorded @ Edinburgh University, Meadows Lecture Theatre,
Wednesday 15 May 2019

To what extent did revolutionary developments abroad shape what happened within Ireland during the revolutionary period 1919–23? And in what ways did events within Ireland impact beyond Irish shores, for instance amongst the large Irish diaspora population and other national groups? To discuss this generally, and the case of Scotland in particular, History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined for a lively discussion by Darragh Gannon, Fearghal McGarry (both Queen’s University, Belfast), Niall Whelehan (Strathclyde), and Kirsty Lusk (Glasgow).

Supported by the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Organised in association with the University of Edinburgh School of History, Classics and Archaeology

A century of women

History Ireland Hedge school at the Anonymous Was A Woman exhibition launch
@ Linen Hall Library, Belfast
Friday 12 April 2019

The exhibition makes use of the Linen Hall Library’s extensive collections and archives to highlight the historical advancements for women across education, employment and politics. The launch was  followed by a special History Ireland Hedge School, A century of Women, chaired by editor, Tommy Graham, with Myrtle Hill and Margaret Ward (authors and advisors of the online exhibition, along with Lydia Walker, www.acenturyofwomen.com), Donal Fallon (Come Here To Me), Baroness May Blood (Women’s Coalition founder).

Supported by the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Irish Revolution—local or global?

The runaway success of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution (and the parallel TV documentary) and the proliferation of microstudies of the War of Independence and Civil War seems to bear out the adage that, like politics, all history is local. But is it? Do we risk losing sight of the ‘bigger picture’, of a world torn apart by war, revolution, and state formation? What, for example, can either approach tell us about violence directed at women, hitherto ignored in Ireland? To discuss these and related matters, History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham was joined for a lively discussion by John Borgonovo, Fearghal McGarry, Darragh Gannon and Linda Connolly.

Censorship in Ireland—then and now

To mark the selection this year (2019) of Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls trilogy as Dublin’s ‘One City One Book’, the History Ireland Hedge School considered the issue of censorship. Banned on its release in 1960, The Country Girls is often credited with breaking the silence on sexual matters in ‘Catholic Ireland’. While by the 1970s such censorship had been considerably relaxed, it was replaced by political censorship in the form of Section 31. That in turn has passed but we are still left with the censorship of onerous defamation laws, not to mention internet and social media ‘trolling’, which has added a new twist to the censorship debate. To discuss these and related matters, History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined by Donal Fallon (Come Here To Me), Angela Nagle (Kill All Normies), Mary Kenny (Goodbye to Catholic Ireland) and Niall Meehan (Head of Journalism, Griffith College).

Soloheadbeg — impact & legacy

Seminar and History Ireland Hedge School held
@ Ballykisteen Hotel, Limerick Junction, Co. Tipperary.
Saturday 19 January 2019.

The Hedge School was chaired by Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland and includes all the speakers above. 

The 1918 general election — political earthquake or ‘same old, same old’?

recorded @ the Allingham Festival, Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon
6pm Saturday 10 November 2018

With good reason the December 1918 general election is regarded as a political earthquake. With a massively expanded electorate, including women over 30, the Irish Parliamentary Party, the dominant force in nationalist politics since the 1880s, was almost wiped out and replaced by Sinn Féin, whose MPs refused to take their seats in Westminster. Instead they assembled in Dublin’s Mansion House and declared themselves to be the first Dáil Éireann. Within a year the War of Independence would be in full swing. But was this sequence of events inevitable? Did it reflect a radical shift in the views of the electorate? How did the election play out at local level, particularly in Donegal? To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined by Brian Hanley(University of Edinburgh), Brian Walker (Queens, Belfast), Pauric Travers (Chair, BAI) and  Margaret O’Callaghan (Queens, Belfast).

Supported by the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

From ballots to bullets — Ireland 1918–19

recorded @ National Photographic Archive, Temple Bar
pm Tuesday 4 December 2018

History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined by a panel of experts — Brian Hanley, Liz Gillis, Niamh Puirséil — for a discussion to coincide with the National Library’s photographic exhibition covering the turbulent years of 1918 and 1919. Covering the end of the First World War, the suffragette movement, the global flu pandemic, the first meeting of Dáil Éireann and the outbreak of the War of Independence.

Exhibition open Mon–Sat 10am–5pm
Sunday 12 –5pm
Closes May 2019


In Association with Dublin Port
Venue: Dublin Port HQ, Alexander Road, East Wall 
Time: 2.30PM – 3.30PM 

The popularity of Quinnipiac University’s travelling exhibition, Coming Home: Art & the Great Hunger(opening in An tSeaneaglais [Glassworks], Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry, in January 2019) and the recent release of the film Black ’47have renewed popular interest in the Great Hunger. For a reassessment of Europe’s greatest demographic crisis of the nineteenth century, History Ireland editor Tommy Graham was joined  by authors John Gibney (ed, TheGreat Irish Famine, Pen & Sword/History Ireland, 2018), Patricia Byrne (The Preacher and the Prelate: The Achill Mission Colony and the Battle for Souls in Famine Ireland, Irish Academic Press, 2018), and Peter Gray (‘The Great Irish Famine, 1845–1850’ in J.Kelly (ed.) The Cambridge History of Ireland, Vol.3 Cambridge University Press, 2018).

100 years of women in politics and political life

recorded @ Bedford Hall, Dublin Castle
2.30pm Friday 2 November 2018

A hundred years ago women in Ireland (then part of the UK) got the vote. To mark a century of women’s subsequent involvement in politics and public life, Dublin Castle is hosting a special exhibition in the Coach House. In conjunction, History Ireland editor Tommy Graham hosted a Hedge School for teachers and schools with Sinéad McCoole (curator), Deirdre Mac Mathúna (President, History Teachers’Association of Ireland), Mary O’Rourke (former Minister for Education) and Joe Lee (Professor Emeritus, New York University).

Supported by the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The sinking of the RMS Leinster and the war at sea

@ National Maritime Museum, Haigh Terrace, Dún Laoghaire
7.30pm Sunday 7 October 2018

Just before 10am on 10 October 1918, east of the Kish Bank, two torpedoes fired by the German submarine UB-123 struck the 2,640-ton packet steamship RMS Leinster, en route to Holyhead, causing her to sink rapidly; over 500 lost their lives, out of a total of over 800. It was sadly ironic that only a few days previously the Germans had sent out peace feelers to US President Woodrow Wilson, and the war itself would be over within a month.

To discuss these and related matters, History Ireland Editor Tommy Graham was joined for a lively discussion by Philip Lecane (Torpedoed! The RMS Leinster disaster [2005]), Michael Kennedy (RIA’s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy), Jeff Kildea (Uni. of New South Wales) and Bernadette Whelan (UL).

Greatest killer of the 20th century? The ’flu pandemic of 1918–19

Recorded on Friday, 27 APRIL 2018 at 7pm
Venue: @ CAFE Readers’ and Writers’ Festival, Cobh Library, Co. Cork

The twentieth century was the century of mass death and yet, contrary to popular perception, the greatest killer of all time was neither Hitler nor Stalin, but was an illness often mistakenly associated with the common cold—epidemic influenza. It infected one billion people around the globe and may have killed approximately 100 million.

To discuss its effects in Ireland and worldwide, History Ireland editor Tommy Graham was joined by  Ida Milne, Guy Beiner, Patricia Marsh and Andrew McCarthy for a lively and informed discussion on this topic.

Sponsored by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

The cause of Labour? The 1918 general strike against conscription

Recorded on: Monday, 23 APRIL 2018 at 7pm. Venue: @ Liberty Hall, Dublin 1

On 23 April 1918 the Irish Trades Union Congress, and the ITGWU in particular, called a one-day general strike against the imposition of conscription and brought the country to a standstill. While it was the largest strike to date in Irish history, it was, uniquely, fully endorsed by both the employers and the Catholic Church. Support for the strike in the heavily industrialised but unionist-dominated Belfast was conspicuous by its absence.

To discuss these contradictions and other related matters, History Ireland editor Tommy Graham was joined by Padraig Yeates, Sarah Ann Buckley, Thomas Morrissey and Ethel Buckley.

Sponsored by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

History v archaeology: is it like Neanderthals versus Homo sapiens?

Recorded @ Kilkenny Medieval Mile Museum on Friday, 16 March 2018 at 6.30pm

The difference between history and archaeology is the difference between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens. The latter is more technologically advanced, and the former, although casually misunderstood, nevertheless boasts a bigger brain. Yet, it is hard to imagine one without the other’.

This tongue-cheek observation is attributed to Bethany Dean, then an undergraduate archaeology student at the University of Winchester. But what is the relationship between the two disciplines in developing our understanding of the past? How do they interact (if at all)? To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined for a no-holds (or holes!)-barred discussion with medieval historians Seán Duffy (TCD, Atlas of Irish History) and Matthew Stout (DCU, Early Medieval Ireland 431–1169) and archaeologists Geraldine Stout (Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne) and Ian Doyle (Heritage Council).

This event was run in conjunction with Kilkenny Tradfest and supported by Costello’s Brew Company.

John Redmond: his life and legacy

Recorded on Wednesday, 14 March 2018 at 7pm
@ The Officers’ Mess, Custume Barracks, Athlone

March 2018 marks the centenary of the death of John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, which had dominated party political life since the heyday of Parnell in the 1880s. It would all but be wiped out by Sinn Féin in the December 1918 General Election. Was that inevitable? To what extent was Redmond responsible for this change or was it due to circumstances beyond his control? Is it fair in hindsight to judge Redmond on the final few years of a long and eventful career? Was the Treaty settlement of 1921 to a large degree ‘Home Rule for slow learners’ in any case?

To discuss these and related questions History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined by Martin O’Donoghue (National Library of Ireland), Brian Hanley (University of Edinburgh), and Dermot Meleady (Redmond’s biographer).

This History Ireland Hedge School was made possible by the support provided by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Cinema in Revolutionary Ireland

Recorded on Tuesday 27 February at 7pm in the National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin 2

In Ireland in the revolutionary period, cinema was the latest form of mass entertainment. Previously ignored as a pernicious working class fad both by the British authorities and by their nationalist opponents, its propaganda potential was quickly recognised; in 1916 the British government sponsored the production of the documentary, The Battle of the Somme, which played in cinemas across Ireland; in 1917, within hours of the event, the Bohemian Cinema in Phibsborough screened footage of Thomas Ashe’s funeral. What effect, if any, did such interventions have on public opinion? How did both sides use the new medium?

To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined by  Kevin Rockett, Ciara Chambers, Denis Condon and Joanne Carroll.

William Allingham: ‘an Irish poet but not a national poet’? (W.B. Yeats)

@ Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

7pm Sat 11 Nov ‘17

Unlike Ballyshannon’s other famous son, Rory Gallagher, poet William Allingham (b. 1824) spent most of his adult life in his native town before moving to London in 1870. His lyrical and descriptive poetry, while somewhat out of fashion today, was a huge influence on W.B. Yeats and, later John Hewitt. Yeats made his observation shortly before Allingham’s death in 1889, but later softened his view. So where does Allingham stand in the pantheon of Irish poets? Was he any good as a poet? To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined for a lively discussion with Anthony Begley, Moya Cannon and Pauric Travers.

50th anniversary of ‘free education’

@ the National Library, Kildare Street 7pm Tues 21 Nov

On 10 September 1967, Minister for Education Donogh O’Malley announced a scheme for free secondary education, much to the surprise of his cabinet colleagues, and of the Department of Finance in particular. But once word was out, there was no going back; expectations had been raised and the public response was hugely supportive. Within a decade participation rates at second level had doubled. But to what extent was the system subsidized before the announcement? To what extent has it been ‘free’ since? And beyond education, what was its effect socially and economically?

To discuss these and related questions History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined by: John Walshe (TCD), Carole Holohan (TCD) and Frank Barry (TCD)

Meeting Éamon De Valera and Michael Collins

@ Dublin Book Fesitval, RDS Library,Dublin.  2.30pm Sun 5 Nov

As part of the Dublin Book Festival, Tommy Graham, Editor of History Ireland magazine, hosts a discussion with Joseph E.A. Connell Jr (author of Michael Collins: Dublin 1916–22, Wordwell 2017) and David McCullagh (author of De Valera (Volume 1): Rise 1882–1932), Gill Books 2017). Author Joe Connell contributes a regular column to History Ireland and David McCullagh is a presenter of RTÉ’s ‘Prime Time’.

Recording courtesy of the RDS library and with grateful thanks to Librarian Gerard Whelan.

REFORMATION 500 — the Hedge School

@ St Werburgh’s Church, Werburgh Street. 7pm Wed 18 October 2017

Tommy Graham, Editor of History Ireland magazine, led a discussion panel to discuss the Reformation on the occasion of its 500th anniversary. Included on the panel were Adrian Empey (C of I Historical Soc.), John McCafferty (UCD), Alison Forrestal (NUIG), Gesa Thiessen (TCD).

The last train from Bundoran

@ Railway Heritage Festival, Eclipse Cinema, Bundoran, Co. Donegal 8pm Sat 30 Sept

2017 marks 60 years since the closure of the Great Northern Railway and the last train to leave Bundoran station. Tommy Graham, Editor of History Ireland magazine, led a Hedge School discussion panel that included Marc Geagan, Peter Rigney, Jonathan Bardon and Hugh Dougherty. They discussed the genesis, ramifications and consequences of the closure of the railway.

History Ireland Hedge School @ Mindfield, Electric Picnic

3pm Sun 3 Sept

The Bolshevik Revolution — in the dustbin of history?

In the face of claims of the total triumph of neo-liberal capitalism and a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, how should we mark the century of the Bolshevik Revolution? Should it be consigned to the ‘dustbin of history’ — or can it be recycled? History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined for a no-holds-barred discussion with John Horne (historian, TCD), Oliver Eagleton (playwright & activist), Brian Hanley (historian, Uni. of Edinburgh) and Frank Barry (economist, TCD).

‘Keeping the head down’? — Protestant folklore Project

14th September 2017
@ Cavan County Museum, Virgina Road, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.

When one thinks of folklore study and folklore collecting south of the border, the Protestant community is not normally the first sector of society to spring to mind. A major collecting project being undertaken by the National Folklore Collection, focusing on Irish Protestants as a cultural group, seeks to redress this imbalance. In this ‘decade of centenaries’ what does it tell us about Protestants in independent Ireland? Did the new state live up to the non-sectarian ideals of the 1916 Proclamation (‘cherishing the children of the nation equally)? History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined for a lively and enlightening round-table discussion by Deirdre Nuttall (National Folklore Collection), Niall Meehan (Griffith College), Críostoir MacCartaigh (National Folklore Collection), Malachy Hand (Loughcrew Megalithic Centre) and Ian D’Alton (TCD).

This History Ireland Hedge School was supported by the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and hosted by Cavan County Museum.

‘Poet of the blackbirds’ — the life and death of Francis Ledwidge

@ Richmond Barracks gymnasium, Inchicore, Dublin 8. 7pm Thurs 27 July

‘[I was] astonished by the brilliance of that eye and that had looked at the fields of Meath and seen there all the simple birds and flowers, with a vividness which made those pages like a magnifying glass, through which one looked at familiar things for the first time.’

So wrote Lord Dunsany, patron of the poet, Francis Ledwidge. How had this self-educated labourer, the eighth of nine children, who left school at 13, emerged as one of Ireland’s most notable war poets? What were the contradictions in the life of this trade unionist, Gaelic Leaguer and Irish Volunteer, who ended up joining the Royal Enniskilling Fusiliers and dying in the Third Battle of Ypres on 31 July 1917. To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, was joined for a lively round table discussion with Michael O’Flanagan, Eunan O’Halpin, Miriam O’Gara-Kilmurray, and Liam O’Meara.

Three of Ledwidge’s poems set to music were performed by Mezzo soprano Miram O’Gara-Kilmurry, accompanied by Irish composer and pianist Michael Holohan and Rebecca Draisey-Collishaw on the cor anglais (English Horn).

Supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Ireland and the United States from 1917 to Trump

@ the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street
recorded at 7pm Tuesday 23 May

The centenary of the entry of the United States into the WWI provides a timely opportunity to review the ‘unique relationship’ with Ireland. But it was not always close or cordial. The 1916 Rising had cast Ireland’s ‘exiled children in America’ in the role of potential subversives, in league with Imperial Germany. After the war, to their great disappointment, Irish nationalists discovered that President Woodrow Wilson’s advocacy of self-determination did not apply to the subject nations of the victorious Allied powers. Relations reached their nadir with US ambassador David Gray’s ‘American note’ of February 1944, implicitly threatening violation of Ireland’s neutrality unless Dublin’s Axis missions were expelled. Things only improved in the wake of JFK’s 1963 visit, and, notwithstanding continuing popular opposition to US foreign policy, particularly during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bushe, reached their high-point with the ‘shamrock diplomacy’ of the Clinton era. But where stands the ‘unique relationship’ in the wake of the election of the xenophobic and protectionist Donald Trump? To discuss these and related matters join History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, fwas joined by Michael Kennedy (RIA’s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy), Bernadette Whelan (UL), Patrick Geoghegan (TCD) and John Borgonovo (UCC).

Ireland, the United States and the war at sea, 1917

1917 was the pivotal year of the First World War. At its outset German U-boats were inflicting huge damage on Allied shipping, while in the land war the loss of one ally, Russia, was not compensated by the gain of another, the United States. How did the Allies swing the balance in their favour by the year’s end, particularly at sea? How central was Ireland (and Cork in particular) in this conflict? To address these and related questions History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham was joined by John Borgonovo (UCC), Michael Kennedy ( RIA’s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy), Jennifer Wellington (UCD) and Michael Martin (Titanic Trail).

Recorded @ CAFE Readers’ and Writers’ Festival, Cobh Library, Co. Cork
7.30pm Thur 4 May
(100th anniversary of the arrival of the US navy into Cork)
This History Ireland Hedge School was supported by the Commemorations Unit, DAHRRG

‘Now you see them…now you don’t’: women in the Irish Revolution

@ Mechanics Institute, Middle Street, Galway
(in association with the Women’s History Association of Ireland)
Recorded on Friday 21 April at 8pm

One of the features of last year’s 1916 centenary commemorations was the extent to which the role of women in the national movement was acknowledged. Their role intensified in the immediate aftermath of the Rising, particularly since hundreds of male activists were in jail. Why then were women subsequently marginalized? Did they voluntarily step back into the shadows or were they elbowed aside? To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham was joined by Mary McAuliffe (UCD), Linda Connolly (NUI Maynooth), Elaine Sisson (IADT, Dún Laoghaire), and Conor McNamara (NUIG).

Reflecting on the Reformation

A History Ireland Hedge School recorded at at Belfast Fest. of Ideas & Politics, Conor Hall, Belfast Campus, Ulster University, York Street

Sun 26 March

It is 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of his Wittenberg church, attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling ‘indulgences’ to absolve sin, setting in train the Protestant Reformation. But was that really about religion — or a cynical power-grab by some of the princes of Europe? Or was it an early manifestation of Brexit — disillusionment of the periphery with the perceived corruption of the cosmopolitan centre? What is its relevance today? Discussing these and related matters moderated by History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, were Hiram Morgan (UCC), Bronagh McShane (NUI Galway), Pat Coyle (Irish Jesuit Communications), and Revd Brian Kennaway (Irish Association, Former President).