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Our weekly selection

There have been a number of articles and exhibitions recently about Cork and Ulster in 1920 – for our digital festival Professor Brian Walker explored the interconnected violence between them, which you can watch here. There is an excellent online exhibition at the Lisburn Museum about the ‘Swanzy Riots’ of 1920, in which many of the Catholic inhabitants of the town were forced to flee. This followed the killing in Lisburn of Oswald Swanzy, which was in retaliation for the killing of Tomas MacCurtain in Cork.

In the Irish Story’s latest podcast, John Dorney explores Ireland’s role in the Second World War with Joseph Quinn of the UK National Archives.

Desmond Guinness, a pioneer in the conservation of Ireland’s architectural heritage and co-founder of the Irish Georgian Society. Here is how the Irish Times reported his death, and also a more personal tribute from the ‘Irish Aesthete’.

Finally can we recommend the Twitter account of Nigel Monaghan, Keeper of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History (aka Dublin’s Dead Zoo) who is @KeeperNH – he has been recording the dismantling and packing of the Museum’s collections in advance of a refurbishment. The Museum is shown below in all its 19th century splendour.


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16 August: our weekly round-up

Of course the best history available at the moment to watch and listen to is our 2020 digital Festival, which is right here on our website. And we got some great coverage in the Southern Star as well. If you are in Cork city, can we recommend visits to two organisations with whom we have partnered this year on #Cork1920 – St Peter’s Cork who have a brilliant exhibition on about the Burning of Cork in 1920 and Nano Nagle Place?

And if you’ve done all of that, here is some other interesting content which caught our eye.

The Dublin Review republished a fascinating article on Sir Oswald Mosley’s connections with Ireland – including living for a while in Fermoy.

In the Irish Times, the extraordinary story of Dr Aidan McCarthy who survived Dunkirk, a Japanese POW camp and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki …. and his family’s pub in Castletownbere, which might not survive Covid-19.

And on a completely different subject, but also in the Irish Times, Frank McNally on Ireland’s relationship with cricket.

And finally, good to see Festival contributor Richard Butler’s book reviewed so positively recently. It is a very interesting but also beautifully produced book which the reviewer describes as “a feat of historical and architectural detective work.”



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Simon Kingston on our plans for our 2020 Digital Festival

Festival co-founder Simon Kingston on our plans for our 2020 Digital Festival.

To access our digital festival, please click here.


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Our 2020 digital (mini) Festival

Our digital (mini) Festival will be free-to-view on our website from Saturday 8 August. We aim to provide some of the elements that would have been part of the physical festival, based around two themes – the events of 1920 in Cork and Ireland & Empire. All of these are pre-recorded and no log-in is required.

On the theme of 1920 in Cork, we will have:

Dr Eve Morrison of St Catherine’s College Oxford on the Kilmichael Ambush, about which she is writing a new book to be published in November. In her talk, Eve discusses the interviews on which historian Peter Hart based his important, if controversial work, on the subject.

Professor Brian Walker of Queen’s University Belfast on inter-connected violence in Cork and Ulster in 1920 touching on, among others, the connected murders of Tomás Mac Curtain and Oswald Swanzy

West Cork-based historian Kieran Doyle in conversation with Festival co-founder Simon Kingston about Kieran’s project to map memorials of the Revolutionary Period across the county of Cork

a film about the burning of Cork, commissioned by St Peter’s in Cork city which is currently hosting an exhibition on the burning

In addition, we have a specially-commissioned History Ireland Hedge School podcast on Ireland, Empire and the Sea, chaired by History Ireland’s editor Tommy Graham. The panel includes Lar Joye of the Dublin Port Authority – which is sponsoring the Hedge School – alongside Dr Aoife Bhreatnach, Professor Claire Connolly from UCC and Dr David Murphy from Maynooth. The theme of Ireland & Empire is something we hope to develop further at our 2021 Festival.

We also have historian and writer Turtle Bunbury in conversation with Simon about Turtle’s book Ireland’s Forgotten Past: A History of the Overlooked and Disremembered.

We are already making plans for our 2021 Festival and look forward to seeing you in person then !

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2 August: our weekly round up

Here’s our weekly round up of interesting historical content – lots to read and listen to. There won’t be a round up next weekend as on Saturday 8 August we have here on our website our digital (mini) Festival with specially recorded talks and discussions. Find out more here.

In the Irish Times, historian and archivist Catriona Crowe wrote about the power of archives. She used the examples of the archives of the Irish industrial school system and the records of the adoption of Irish children in the United States from mother and baby homes to illustrate how crucial it is to preserve, properly catalogue and make these records available.

Three Castle Burning is a regular podcast that looks at aspects of Dublin’s social history and this podcast ‘From the Liberties to Lagos: Guinness and Nigeria‘ tells the story of the internationalisation of Guinness.  It links to Ireland & Empire, a theme we are touching on in our 2020 digital Festival and hope to explore further in 2021.

Novelist Kathleen MacMahon wrote a wonderful article in the Guardian last week on so-called “quiet” Irish women writers. Her grandmother, Mary Lavin, was one of the first women to feature in a poster of Ireland’s great writers. Having read all her grandmother’s work, MacMahon concludes that “.. if Ireland found these subjects quiet, Ireland needed its hearing adjusted.”

Another literary feature, this one in the Irish Times, was entitled ‘Mobilise the poets’. John Gibney described the origins of Irish cultural diplomacy – the quote comes from Arthur Griffith writing from prison in 1919.

And finally, a really interesting opinion piece by Dr Gillian O’Brien from Liverpool John Moores University on RTE Brainstorm about government policy towards culture and heritage.