Short biographies of our 2018 speakers are listed below in alphabetical order by surname.

Michael Attenborough

Michael Attenborough was educated at Westminster School and Sussex University, graduating in 1972. He worked as Associate Director at a number of English regional theatres and at the Young Vic in London. He then became Artistic Director of the Palace Theatre, Watford, followed by the same role at the Hampstead Theatre (1984-89). In 1990 he was appointed Resident Director and Executive Producer of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Between 2002 and 2013, he was Artistic Director of London’s Almeida Theatre. Under his leadership, the Almeida produced twenty eight premieres, ten new versions of foreign plays, ten new plays for young people and four major festivals.

Since stepping down from the Almeida in 2013, his freelance work has included productions of Macbeth in Australia and As You Like It in Washington, a national tour of Priestley’s Dangerous Corner, new plays by Rebecca Gilman and Deborah Bruce at the Hampstead Theatre, the UK Premiere of Neil LaBute’s Reasons to be Happy at the Hampstead Theatre and Frank McGuinness’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

In June 2013 he was awarded the CBE for services to theatre and in November 2016 Michael was appointed to the honorary post of Director Emeritus at RADA.

Speaking on Friday evening (The Arena)

Andy Bielenberg

Dr Andy Bielenberg is a Statutory Lecturer in History at University College Cork. He has published widely on Irish economic and social history and is currently engaged in various research projects on the Irish revolution, including a digital memorial of all fatalities of the War of Independence in Co. Cork.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Arena)

William Casey

A native of the Skibbereen area, William Casey has a lifelong interest in local history. In 2016 he completed a masters in local history and the topic of his thesis was the early Fenian movement in the Skibbereen region. The period covered by his research was from the mid-1850s to the Fenian Rising of 1867, a period when Skibbereen became known as the ‘Cradle of Fenianism’. The Fenians are not William’s only interest, other topics he has researched include subjects as diverse as 19th century Protestant missions, loan funds and the history of children’s burial grounds.

Speaking on Sunday morning (The Secret Garden)

Katie Childs

Katie Childs is the Head of Partnerships at the Imperial War Museums and, since April 2017, has directed the IWM’s First World War Centenary Partnership. The Centenary Partnership is a network of nearly 4000 organisations from across the world who are all marking the centenary of the First World War. IWM shares aspects of its collection and knowledge with the network, promotes the work of others, and leads national programmes. One of these is Women’s Work 100.

Before taking up her post at IWM, Katie jointly ran the National Museum Directors’ Council for five years. She has previously led international programmes for the British Museum, and is a Trustee of Ely Museum and the Collections Trust.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

Kieran Connolly

Kieran Connolly was born in Dunmanway, and studied at UCC and TCD. He was a lecturer in Economics at Waterford Regional Technical College (1975-1977), a Statistician at An Bord Bainne in Dublin (1979–1982) and a lecturer in Statistics and Economics at Dublin Institute of Technology from 1982 to 2016. Always interested in history, particularly modern Irish history and the American Civil War, he researched and wrote a book about Sam Maguire “because everyone knows “Sam” but very few know anything about Sam Maguire and he was also a native of my home town, Dunmanway.”

Speaking on Saturday morning (The Secret Garden)

Linda Connolly

Professor Linda Connolly is Director of the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, where she is Professor of Sociology. She has published several articles and books, including The Irish Women’s Movement: From Revolution to Devolution and Documenting Irish Feminisms: the second wave. She has led research projects on 20th and 21st century Irish history, the Irish women’s movement, Irish feminism, social movements, family studies, migration and Irish studies. She is editor of a forthcoming book entitled ‘Women and the Irish Revolution, 1917-1923: Feminism, Activism, Violence’, which was the subject of an IRC funded decade of commemorations new foundations grant.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Arena)

David Edwards

Dr David Edwards is Senior Lecturer in History at University College Cork. He is a graduate of TCD and went to UCC in 1993, teaching and researching in the area of late medieval and early modern Ireland. His current principal project focuses on the career and estate of the ‘New English’ adventurer Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork, whose land-grabbing activities in Munster and parts of Connacht and Leinster helped to transform the social and economic life of early 17th-century Ireland.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

David Fitzpatrick

Professor David Fitzpatrick is a Fellow Emeritus of Trinity College, Dublin, where he was until recently Professor of Modern History. He has held various visiting appointments in Australia and Canada, and in 2013 was Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge. His work has ranged widely across the political, social, economic, and cultural history of modern Ireland, including many studies of Irish emigration, Irish involvement in the Great War, and the Irish revolution. His most recent book is Descendancy: Irish Protestant Histories since 1795, which presents a detailed study of the revolutionary experience of Methodists in West Cork.

Sadly Professor Fitzpatrick has had to withdraw due to ill health.

Susan Flavin

Dr Susan Flavin is a lecturer in Early Modern History at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. She completed her PhD at the University of Bristol where she was also engaged on the major ESRC project Ireland-Bristol Trade in the Sixteenth Century (2006-9). Following a curatorial role at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, she spent three years at Trinity College Dublin as an Assistant Professor of History (2012-5).

Susan’s research concentrates on the history of trade, consumption and material culture in Early Modern Britain and Ireland. In 2014, she published Consumption and Culture in Sixteenth-Century Ireland: Saffron, Stockings and Silk, which used trade records to analyse trends in Irish consumption habits. She is currently working on micro-histories of consumption, using household accounts to examine patterns of diet and levels of nutrition in sixteenth-century Ireland. Susan’s research is grounded in interdisciplinary approaches to history, engaging with archaeology, art history, sociology and anthropology. She lectures on such topics as the social and cultural history of food and drink, and gender and domesticity in Early Modern Britain.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

Finola Finlay

Finola has a BA in History and Archaeology and an MA in Archaeology from UCC. After many years in Canada, working in the higher education sector, she has retired back to Ireland and is enjoying the opportunity to devote herself to all things West Cork. With her husband, Robert Harris, Finola researches and writes about the history, archaeology, landscape, flora, fauna, language, music and culture of this area for their blog Roaringwater Journal. Her current areas of particular interest include prehistoric rock art, tower houses, stained glass and wildflowers. For more, see

Speaking on Sunday morning (The Secret Garden)

John Horne

Professor John Horne is an historian, emeritus Fellow and former Professor of Modern European History at Trinity College Dublin and Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is a board member of the Research Centre at the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne (France). In 2016-17 he was Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Oxford University. He is the author and editor of a number of books and over a hundred chapters and articles, many relating to the Great War. Among his latest publications are (ed.) A Companion to World War One (Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley, 2010); (ed.) Vers la guerre totale: le tournant de 1914-1915 (Paris, Tallandier, 2010); and with Robert Gerwarth (ed.) War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2012). He is working on a history of the French experiences of the First World War.

Speaking on Saturday morning (The Arena)

Colum Hourihane

Professor Colum Hourihane received his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London in 1984 for s study on the iconography of Gothic Irish art which was subsequently published as Gothic Art in Ireland, 1169-1550, Enduring Vitality (Yale University Press, 2003).

After graduating he worked as deputy director of the Witt Index in the Courtauld Institute until 1997 when he took up the directorship of the Index of Christian Art, in Princeton University where he was based for twenty years up to his retirement. He has published widely in the field of iconography and has edited over twenty five volumes. He has also written five monographs including The Dallye Cross, The Processional Cross in Late Medieval England (Society of Antiquaries of London, 2005) and the most recent Pontius Pilate, Anti-Semitism and the Passion in Medieval Art (Princeton University Press, 2009). His most recent  publication was the editing of the Routledge Companion to Medieval Iconography which was published in 2017.

He sits on the committees of many organizations including Baptisteria Sacra, Visual Resources, CHArt (Computers and Art History Group of the University of London), Early Christian Art and RILMA. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London he was recently elected an honorary MRIA.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

Brian Hughes

Dr Brian Hughes joined the Department of History at Mary Immaculate College in August 2017 having previously worked at Maynooth University, the University of Exeter, and Trinity College Dublin, where he was awarded a PhD in 2014. His research and publications to date have focused primarily on the Irish Revolution (c. 1912–23), specifically the 1916 Easter Rising and low-level, grassroots violence during the conflicts that followed. His current research project explores the experiences of displaced southern Irish loyalists after the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922, as well as the history and work of the Southern Irish Loyalists Relief Association, a London-based lobby group.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Arena)

Cal Hyland

Born on the North Mall, Cork Cal Hyland was educated “in Tuam, Claremorris, Ballinasloe and the University of Life”. A collector of books and information from an early age, in 1966 he and his wife set up a business in second-hand and antiquarian books relating to Ireland. They owned a bookshop in Rosscarbery from 1996 to 2004.

In around 2011 he was asked to do some work at the National Archives and so began a research project on CO762 which continues to this day. These are the files and minutes of the Irish Grants Committee and its predecessor which was set up to provide assistance to loyalists in Southern Ireland.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Arena)

Alvin Jackson

Professor Alvin Jackson is a leading historian of Ireland and Britain, and has written seven books, most recently Judging Redmond and Carson (Royal Irish Academy: 2018) as well as The Two Unions:  Ireland, Scotland and the Survival of the United Kingdom 1707-2007 (OUP: 2013): he has also edited the acclaimed Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish History (OUP: 2017).  He has been Sir Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh since 2004.  He studied Modern History at Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College, Oxford, completing his D.Phil. in 1986. He was a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow between 1986 and 1988, and was Lecturer in Modern History at University College Dublin between 1988 and 1991.  In that year, he moved to Queen’s University Belfast as Professor of Modern Irish History.  In 1996-7 he began a close and ongoing connection with several US universities when he spent an academic year as John Burns Visiting Professor at Boston College, Massachusetts.

Alvin Jackson was Head of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Edinburgh for nearly four years (2010-13) and recently served as Dean of Research and Deputy Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science. His research has been supported by three major national awards – a British Academy Research Readership in the Humanities (2000), a British Academy-Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship (2009) and a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2014).  In 2014 he was elected as an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and in 2015 he was elected as Member of the Academia Europaea.

Speaking on Friday evening (The Arena)

Cliff Jeffers

Rev. Cliff Jeffers is a native of Bandon, Co. Cork.  After completing his secondary education at Bandon Grammar School and St. Brogan’s Vocational School, he studied Electronics in Cork Institute of Technology.  He worked in the computer industry in Cork for seven years before being selected for ordination in the Church of Ireland. His interest in local history was sparked by a short paper written during theological college, when he interviewed his grand uncle about his experiences as a child in Bandon during the War of Independence.  Following placements in Limerick, Laois, Kildare and Dublin, Cliff is now the Rector of Fanlobbus Union of Parishes, which includes St Mary’s Church Dunmanway, the church Sam Maguire attended as a child and where he is now laid to rest.  In 2017, St Mary’s Church in Dunmanway installed the Sam Maguire Community Bells to remember Sam Maguire and to promote reconciliation in an area that was deeply hurt during the War of Independence.

Speaking on Saturday morning (The Secret Garden)

Lar Joye

Lar Joye is Port Heritage Director at Dublin Port. Previously he curated the award-winning Soldiers & Chiefs the Irish soldier at home and abroad  from 1550 exhibition at Collins Barracks, described as a museum with a museum.  He played a key role in the Decade of Commemorations 2012-2107 involved in a variety of projects  including 1913 Lockout: Impact & Aftermath and Banners Unfurled exhibitions and the WWI exhibitions Recovered Voices & War in the Mud, the Irish Soldier on the Western Front, June 2017.   He represented the National Museum on the Moore Street and GPO projects in 2016 and was historical adviser for An Posts 2016 commemorative stamps.    More recently he has partnered with the theatre company Anu productions on  the plays Pals- the Irish at Gallipoli, Sunder and These Rooms.   He is a graduate of University College Dublin, Leicester University and the Getty Leadership Institute and is currently chairman of the Irish National Committee of the Blue Shield and a member of the Board of Directors of the Irish Museums Association and the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Arena)

Terri Kearney

Terri Kearney is a native of Skibbereen and has managed Skibbereen Heritage Centre since it opened in 2000. She has published two books,  Lough Hyne: The Marine Researchers – in Pictures, Lough Hyne: From Prehistory to the Present as well as co-authoring Skibbereen: The Famine Story.

Speaking on Saturday morning (The Secret Garden)

Connie Kelleher

Dr Connie Kelleher is a member of the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) in the National Monuments Service (NMS), Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. She is visiting lecturer in underwater archaeology in the Archaeology Department, University College Cork; is past Board member of the International Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) and former Council member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. She has published widely on shipwrecks in Ireland, as part of her work with the National Monuments Service, and also on the subject of piracy in Irish waters during the early seventeenth century.

Speaking on Sunday morning (The Secret Garden)

Mary McGillicuddy

Mary McGillicuddy was awarded an MA in Local History from University of Limerick in 2008. Over the years, when visiting her father’s home place in south Kerry, she would see old black and white photographs taken in the locality of ships and women on the shore processing fish, but came across little written material about the period. This prompted her to focus on this topic for her MA thesis. She originally studied Media Studies in New York and later completed a BA in Sociology and History and a Diploma in Rural Develoment in UCC and holds an MSc in Environmental and Development Education from South Bank University, London. Based in Kerry, she worked for over 20 years in a Development Education centre in Tralee.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times. He is the author of the book Wherever the Firing Line Extends: Ireland and the Western Front published in 2016. He is the editor of Centenary, Ireland Remembers 1916 the official State book recalling the commemorations of 2016. He is also the editor of Was it for This? Reflections on the Easter Rising, an anthology of commentary on the Easter Rising from the pages of The Irish Times which was published in 2016. He has produced two eBooks based on The Irish Times archives: ‘Twas Better to Die: The Irish Times and Gallipoli 1915-2015 and The Mad Guns: Reflections on the Battle of the Somme 1916-2016. He is the presenter of the full-length documentary United Ireland: how Nationalists and Unionists fought together in Flanders which has been produced by The Irish Times. He was given exclusive access to the Lemass Tapes which were published in The Irish Times in June and the joint editor of 1918, Empires Fall, Nations Rise published by the newspaper in April.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

Niamh MacNally

Dr Niamh Macnally is Curator of the Prints & Drawings Study Room at the National Gallery of Ireland. She has developed a deep knowledge of and expertise in the wide-ranging Prints and Drawings collection during her time at the Gallery. In addition to dealing with individual researchers and university groups wishing to view the collection, she has contributed to numerous publications including The Works of J.M.W. Turner at the National Gallery of Ireland (2012), and has edited the Gallery’s new Essential Guide and Highlights of the Collection (both 2016).

Niamh has developed and organised an array of thematic exhibitions that focus on the collection.  Over the past three years she has both administrated and judged the Hennessy Portrait Prize. She curated the highly successful exhibition Margaret Clarke – An Independent Spirit (2017), an exhibition that re-evaluated the work of an early twentieth-century Irish artist.   She is presently working on an exhibition of animal drawings by the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Frans Post, due to open in September 2018, and next year will curate an exhibition in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus.

Speaking on Sunday morning (The Arena)

Ida Milne

Dr Ida Milne is a social historian whose research looks at the effects of disease in Irish and international contexts. She is currently European History Lecturer at Carlow College. From 2014-18 she held a prestigious Irish Research Council Marie Curie fellowship at Maynooth University. She is vice chair of the Oral History Network of Ireland, and a member of the Royal Irish Academy historical sciences committee. Her book Stacking the coffins Influenza war and revolution in Ireland, 1918-19, was published in May.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Arena)

Peter Murray

Over the course of three decades at the Crawford Art Gallery, firstly as curator and latterly as Director, Peter Murray led the Crawford from being a municipal art gallery to becoming a National Cultural Institution. Trained as an art historian, but also a practising artist, Murray received a BA from UCD, followed by a post-graduate M. Litt at Trinity College.

As curator at the Crawford, Murray edited the first ever catalogue raisonne of the Gallery collection, detailing the paintings, sculptures and prints acquired since the early 19th century. Since the publication of that catalogue in 1991, the collection has more than doubled in size, and now encompasses some four thousand works. Highlights among these new acquisitions are the Great Southern Art collection, the Fr. John McGrath bequest, the Seamus Murphy studio, the Watson stained glass studio, and the AIB collection.

Speaking on Sunday morning (The Arena)

Eunan O’Halpin

Professor Eunan O’Halpin is Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin. He has published widely on aspects of twentieth century Irish and British history. Amongst relevant works are The Decline of the Union: British government in Ireland 1892-1920 (Dublin, 1987), Defending Ireland: the Irish state and its enemies since 1922 (Oxford, 1999), and Spying on Ireland: British intelligence and Irish neutrality during the Second World War (Oxford, 2008). A founding co-editor of the series Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, he is currently preparing a study of Afghanistan and the belligerents during the Second World War. He has strong family links to the Irish revolution, in which his Halfpenny, Moloney and Barry grandparents had senior roles and in which two great uncles were killed.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon (The Arena)

Niamh O’Sullivan

Professor Niamh O’Sullivan is Professor Emeritus of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design. She is the curator of Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, the world’s largest collection of Famine-related art, which is on view in Ireland for the first time this year.

Speaking on Sunday morning (The Arena)

Michael Robinson

Dr Michael Robinson completed his PhD at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies in January 2017. His thesis explored the post-war treatment and experience of Great War veterans who returned to inter-war Ireland with a focus on those suffering from psychoneurological ailments. He has published work relating to his PhD in Irish Studies Review and History Ireland, and he currently has a monograph stemming from his PhD thesis currently under review for publication as a monograph. He is currently funded by the Wellcome Trust for a project analysing the post-war experiences of disabled British and Irish Great War veterans who migrated across the British Empire. His talk at the West Cork History Festival focuses on the first chapter of his upcoming monograph, namely the treatment of disabled Great War veterans who returned to Ireland during its revolutionary period, 1918-1923.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Secret Garden)

Louise Ryan

Professor Louise Ryan is originally from Cork and a graduate of UCC. She is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield in the UK. Louise has been researching the Irish suffrage movement for over 20 years and has published numerous articles and books on the topic.

This year her book ‘Winning the Vote for Women: the Irish Citizen Newspaper and Suffrage Movement in Ireland’ has been published by Four Courts Press. In celebration of Vote100, Louise has spoken at events in Leinster House, the British House of Commons, the Royal Irish Academy and Richmond Barracks, Dublin, as well as countless universities. Louise has also featured on radio programmes and in several leading newspapers including the Irish Times, Sunday Business Post and Irish Examiner.

Speaking on Saturday morning (The Arena) and Saturday afternoon (The Arena)

Guy Warner

Guy Warner is a retired schoolteacher and aviation author. Educated in Belfast, he studied history at the University of Leicester. He has had a life long interest in aviation and fairly recently stood down as Vice-Chairman of the Ulster Aviation Society after 20 years on the committee. He is also a member of the Northern Ireland War Memorial Council, the RAF Historical Society, the 230 Squadron Association and the 656 Squadron Association. He has had 28 books published, including many on military and civil aviation history, written many articles for aviation magazines and newsletters and appeared on radio and TV on the subject. He also acted as a consultant on aviation matters to RAF 100, Mid and East Antrim Council, Inishowen Maritime Museum, the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, the Belfast Telegraph, the Ulster History Circle, BBC NI, RTE, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of the Azores.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon (The Secret Garden)