The list of speakers at the 2017 West Cork History Festival, which took place 28th-30th July, is retained below to give you an idea of the range of speakers we had and the depth and breadth of the subjects we covered. Audio of all the talks will soon be available on this website. The programme for the 2018 Festival will be as diverse, engaging and erudite and as soon as it is announced, it will be available on this page.

Terry Barry

Terry Barry is Professor Emeritus in Medieval History at Trinity College Dublin. His main interests lie in understanding the settlements of the Normans who conquered England after 1066 and Ireland after 1169. He is currently working on a book that investigates the historic landscapes around Norman castles in Europe. In his presentation to the Festival, he will be discussing mediaeval tower houses in Ireland and elsewhere and helping to set the form as we see it in West Cork in its wider context.

Speaking at Session 3 (The Secret Garden)

Andy Bielenberg

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 at Session 3 (The Arena)

Nigel Biggar

Nigel Biggar is Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life, at the University of Oxford. After reading Modern History at Worcester College, Oxford, he proceeded to study religion, theology, and ethics in Canada and the USA. On his return to Oxford in 1985 he became Librarian and Research Fellow at Latimer House, and then for most of the 1990s he was Chaplain and Fellow of Oriel College. In 1999 he took the Chair of Theology at the University of Leeds; and in 2004 he moved to the Chair of Theology and Ethics at Trinity College Dublin. From Dublin he was appointed to his current position in Oxford.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Arena)

Richard Butler

Richard Butler is Lecturer in the Historic Built Environment at the University of Leicester, Centre for Urban History. He completed his BA, MPhil and PhD at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014-15, working with Prof. James S. Donnelly. He is a native of Bantry, Co. Cork. In June 2017, Richard will be a Moore Visiting Fellow at NUI Galway. Richard’s research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish architectural history, and in particular the building of courthouses and prisons in the nineteenth century, and church architecture of the twentieth century. He is working on the history of town planning in Ireland in the first half of the twentieth century as part of a British Academy-funded project, and is particularly interested in the urban development of Galway City. An article on the history of All Saints Church, Drimoleague, Co. Cork, appeared in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society in 2015.

Speaking at Session 3 (The Secret Garden)

William Casey

A native of the Skibbereen area, William 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’. As well as detailing the development of Fenianism in west Cork his work also examined how this small area influenced the wider movement in Ireland and America. The Fenians are not William’s only interest, other topics he has researched include subjects as diverse as nineteenth century Protestant missions, loan funds and the history of children’s burial grounds.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Secret Garden)

Pat Crowley

Pat Crowley is a Dublin-based lawyer with an interest in the history of the Baronies of Carbery, Bantry and Bere. The genealogies and DNA of the areas and of the diaspora in eastern Canada, Rochester, New York, San Francisco and Australia also interest him. He has also been working on the systems of administration, education and health in the Cork area and has written papers on the Cork Grand Jury, magistrates, consistory court (Church of Ireland), early lawyers and doctors. He has a blog West Cork History which attracts a considerable following, the bulk from outside Ireland.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Secret Garden)

Michael Dobbs

Michael Dobbs is a British politician and best-selling author. Nearly thirty years ago he began writing the House of Cards trilogy, which was adapted into a hugely acclaimed BBC television series and then adapted by Netflix for US television, starring Kevin Spacey. Michael Dobbs worked for the Conservative Party as an adviser, speech writer and then as Deputy Chairman of the Party and in 2010 he was made a life peer. He has also been Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, a TV presenter and newspaper columnist and a widely acclaimed speaker. He has written a number of novels involving Winston Churchill and a series of thrillers featuring MP Harry Jones.

Speaking at Session 7 (The Arena)

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards is a writer and historian. She was born and brought up in Dublin, was a student at University College Dublin, a post- graduate at Cambridge University and now lives in London. A historian and prize-winning biographer her recent non-fiction books include True Brits: inside the Foreign Office, The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist 1843-1993, The Faithful Tribe: an intimate portrait of the loyal institutions (shortlisted for the Channel 4 political book prize) and Aftermath: the Omagh bombings and the families pursuit of justice. Her most recent book is The Seven — The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic, published last year.
Ruth has written for almost every national newspaper in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom and appears frequently on radio and television in both countries, and on the BBC World Service.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Arena)

David Edwards

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 seventeenth-century Ireland.

Speaking at Session 2 (The Secret Garden)

Marianne Elliott

Professor Marianne Elliott, who was born in Belfast, held the first Tony Blair Chair of Irish Studies at the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool from 2007 to 2014. She is the author of the multi-award winning biography Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence, and has been internationally recognised for her role in the Northern Ireland peace process, most notably serving on the Opsahl Commission in 1993, co-writing its report, ‘A Citizens’ Inquiry’. In October 2000, she was awarded an OBE for services to Irish Studies and the Northern Ireland peace process.

Speaking at Session 6 (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 at Session 3 (The Secret Garden)

David Fitzpatrick

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. He has contributed extensively to debates about the Bandon Valley killings, and looks forward to discussing their wider significance in his lecture.

Speaking at Session 3 (The Arena) and Session 4 (The Arena)

Roy Foster

Roy Foster was until recently the Carroll Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford. Born in Waterford, he studied at Trinity College Dublin. He was Professor of Modern British History at Birkbeck, University of London, and held visiting fellowships at St Antony’s College Oxford, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and Princeton University. Amongst many other publications, his two volume biography of William Butler Yeats was much acclaimed. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His most recent book, published in 2015, is Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923.

Speaking at Session 1 (The Arena)

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris is a former RTE television producer (Seven Days and Feach), screenwriter (Sharpe), Abbey Theatre playwright (Souper Sullivan), political media adviser (to Mary Robinson and David Trimble); he currently tutors in screenwriting at the National Film School and writes a weekly political column for the Sunday Independent.

Speaking at Session 2 (The Secret Garden)

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessey is the News Editor of the Irish Times, having previously served as its London Editor and Political Correspondent. He appears frequently on RTE Radio 1 and Today FM, along with appearances on BBC, Sky and elsewhere.

Speaking at Session 4 (The Arena)

Heather Jones

Heather Jones is an Associate Professor in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin where she was a foundation scholar and a Government of Ireland Research Scholar in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and St John’s College, Cambridge. Dr Jones has held a Max Weber Fellowship at the European University Institute, Florence and is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Research Centre of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne. Her monograph Violence Against Prisoners of War in the First World War: Britain, France and Germany, 1914-1920 was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011, with a paperback edition published in 2013. She has co-edited two books and published over 27 scholarly articles and chapters in edited volumes on the First World War and is currently researching the British monarchy at war 1914-1918.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Arena)

Lar Joye

Lar Joye is Curator of Irish Military History at the National Museum of Ireland. Curator of the award winning Soldiers & Chiefs exhibition as well as the recent History of Ireland in 100 Objects and 1913 Lockout exhibitions at National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History. He is a graduate of UCD with a MA in 20th century Irish History, the University of Leicester where he obtained a MA in Museum Studies and the Museum Leadership Course at the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University, California. Prior to working at the Museum he was Head of the Irish Film Archive in Temple Bar and is a qualified film archivist.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Arena) and Session 6 (The Secret Garden)

Connie Kelleher

Dr Connie Kelleher is a member of the State Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) in the National Monuments Service (NMS). She is a graduate of UCC with an MA in maritime archaeology and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin, on the history and archaeology of piracy in Irish waters in the early-17th century. As a commercially trained diver, her work with the NMS is broad and focuses on the protection of Ireland’s underwater cultural heritage. She is visiting lecturer in underwater archaeology in the Archaeology Department, UCC and is a board member of the International Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA). With several papers and chapters published on piracy in Irish waters, she is currently putting the final edit to her book on Ireland’s Golden Age of Piracy.

Speaking at Session 4 (The Secret Garden)

Patrick Little

Dr Patrick Little studied at the universities of Cambridge, Dublin and London, and is a senior research fellow at the History of Parliament Trust in London. He has published widely on seventeenth century British and Irish history, and his books include Lord Broghill and the Cromwellian Union with Ireland and Scotland (Boydell and Brewer, 2004). He is currently working on an edition of the 2nd earl of Cork’s diary, 1650-1676, and a study of the Church of Ireland 1641-1660.

Speaking at Session 2 (The Secret Garden)

Eve Morrison

Eve Morrison studied history at Trinity College, Dublin, receiving her BA in 2003. She continued her studies in modern Irish History as an Irish Research Council of the Humanities and Social Sciences (now IRC) postgraduate scholar at TCD, and was awarded her PhD in 2011. Her particular area of expertise is legacy interviews with veterans of the Irish independence struggle and civil war. The subject of her doctoral studies was the Bureau of Military History, and her postdoctoral research focused on the Ernie O’Malley notebook interviews. She was an IRC postdoctoral fellow at University College Dublin from 2013-2015, working on the O’Malley Notebooks. She is also writing a book based on her doctoral work for Liverpool University Press.

Speaking at Session 2 (The Arena) and Session 4 (The Arena)

Dan Mulhall

Dan Mulhall became Ambassador of Ireland to Great Britain in September 2013. He was born in Waterford and educated at UCC, entering the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1978. He worked in Irish embassies in India and Austria as part of Ireland’s representation to the European Union in Brussels. He was also closely associated with the Dublin government’s approach to Northern Ireland policies. In 2001 he became Ireland’s Ambassador to Malaysia and in 2009, he became the Irish Ambassador in Berlin. In March 2017, it was announced that Dan Mulhall had been appointed as the Irish Republic’s representative to the United States.

Speaking at Session 2 (The Arena) and Session 5 (The Arena)

Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers is a graduate of UCD. He has been a newspaper columnist since 1981 – but has been writing about the Irish involvement in the Great War since 1979. He reported on the Northern Troubles in the 1970s, the Lebanese Civil War in the 1980s and the Bosnian Civil War in the 1990s. He is the author of five books. He lives in Kildare with his wife Rachel.

Speaking at Session 4 (The Arena) and Session 5 (The Arena)

Julia Neuberger

Julia Neuberger is a rabbi, British crossbench peer, social commentator and writer. She is Senior Rabbi at the West London Synagogue and one of the first two female rabbis in the UK. She was educated at Newnham College Cambridge and Leo Baeck College, London. She was Chief Executive of the King’s Fund from 1997- 2004, Chancellor of the University of Ulster 1994-2000 and Bloomberg Professor of Divinity at Harvard University in 2006. She became a life peer in 2004. She chaired the Commission on the Future of Volunteering from 2006-2008, followed by being Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Champion for Volunteering from 2007-2009. She writes and broadcasts frequently on a variety of social and religious issues. Among her books is ‘Not Dead Yet – a Manifesto for old age’ (2008), and ‘Is that all there is?’ (2011), reflections on life, mortality and leaving a legacy.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Arena)

Eunan O’Halpin

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 at Session 5 (The Arena) and Session 6 (The Arena)

Dominic Selwood

Dr Dominic Selwood writes on history for the Daily Telegraph, including the daily “On This Day” column, and contributes to the Spectator and other print media. He appears on national and international television and radio news discussing topical history, and has appeared in documentaries on Biblical, medieval, Tudor, and World War Two history. He has lectured at the British Museum numerous times on the Elgin Marbles. He studied and researched at university in Oxford, Paris (the Sorbonne), London, Poitiers, and Wales. His doctoral research focused on the crusades. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a former criminal barrister, has lived in Europe and the Middle East, and now lives in London. His history books include Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The History You Weren’t Taught in School (2015), an international number one bestseller debunking historical myths, and Knights of the Cloister (1999), a study of the medieval Knights Templar and Knights of Saint John. He also writes fiction. The Sword of Moses (2013) is the first in a trilogy of historical crypto-thrillers featuring the archaeologist and spy Dr Ava Curzon, and is an international number one bestseller. The Apocalypse Fire (2016) is the sequel, and the third part is forthcoming. He is also the author of two antiquarian ghost stories, The Voivod (2015) and Suffer the Children (2015).

Speaking at Session 4 (The Secret Garden)

William Sheehan

William Sheehan is an Associate Lecturer in History with the Open University in Ireland. He has also taught at Mary Immaculate College, Griffith College Cork, NUI Maynooth, and University College Cork. He is graduate of UCC, the University of Limerick, and Mary Immaculate College. He took his MA in History with the Open University. He has worked in both the public and private sectors, principally as a manager in the Irish Health Service. He has also served in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces. His research interests include the history of European imperialism, with particular reference to colonial counter- insurgency campaigns and the operation of colonial police services. Among his publications is A Hard Local War: The British Army and the Guerrilla War in Cork 1919-21 (2011).

Speaking at Session 2 (The Arena) and Session 4 (The Arena)

Kevin Vickers

Kevin Vickers is the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. Born in Chatham, New Brunswick of Irish heritage, he served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 29 years. In 2005 he joined the Canadian House of Commons as Director of Security Operations. He was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms for the House of Commons in 2006 and became internationally famous for his role in ending the 22 October 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill. He was presented with the Star of Courage for these actions.

Speaking at Session 5 (The Arena) and Session 6 (The Arena)