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A short selection this week

Our selection this week takes us to the Soviet Union, Palestine, back to Cork city and then finally to the horrors of the Famine in Skibbereen.

The Irish in the USSR is the first of a series of films on the theme of ‘Hidden Histories of the Irish Abroad’, produced by Epic: the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin. Epic’s historian Maurice Casey is the presenter.

On the Irish Story website, Seán William Gannon looks at the fascinating Irish connections to the Palestine Police from the early 1920s until the British withdrawal in 1948.

Our friends at Nano Nagle Place opened a new exhibition this week called ‘Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920’ which is really worth a visit (see image below). They have also put on their website an interesting lecture by Michael Lenihan on The Burning of Cork. We have been doing joint programming and marketing with Nano Nagle and St Peter’s Cork this year on the theme of #Cork1920. St Peter’s have their own fantastic exhibition on the Burning.

And finally, a moving film made by the Skibbereen Heritage Centre and presented by Philip O’Regan, which looks at the tragic story of Widow Lynch and her children who briefly lived, and died, on Skibbereen’s Windmill Lane during the Famine.

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Our regular round-up of historical content online

A blog post on Damian Shiels’ always fascinating Irish-American Civil War website caught our eye after he re-posted it on Twitter – Looking Into the Face of A Dying Irish Soldier. Actually it’s the photos that are initially so striking, telling the moving story of John Ruddy, an Irishman who was wounded fighting for the Union side in 1865 and subsequently died from his wounds three years later. As Shiels comments “the photos offer a rare opportunity to look into the face of one of the thousands of Irish emigrants who died in the American Civil War.”

The photo reproduced above comes from the US National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Two articles in the Irish Times on very different topics jumped out at us in the past week. The first made the bold claim that sexuality was freer under British rule than after independence. The authors, Maria Luddy and Mary O’Dowd have just published a book on Marriage in Ireland, 1660-1926 (Cambridge University Press). Might be a good topic for discussion at our next history festival.

Secondly, a really interesting article by Manchán Magan in which he describes West Cork as Ireland’s only “outstanding example of a genuine “creative hotspot” – a place so teeming with artists, craftspeople and innovators that it somehow defined the essence of the area and led to the birth of an entire movement of artistic excellence.”

The Cork Public Museum has a new exhibition (delayed by COVID-19) called “Suffering the Most – the Life and Times of Tomas Mac Curtain and Terence MacSwiney” which tells the story of Cork City’s first two Republican Lord Mayors. It was opened by the Taoiseach, himself a former Lord Mayor of Cork. Worth a visit, or there is an online version of the exhibition here.

And finally, our local paper The Southern Star published this article about its own history during the revolutionary period by Alan McCarthy. He has just written a book on Newspapers and Journalism in Cork, 1910-23: Press, Politics and Revolution (Four Courts Press). The Skibbereen Eagle is also included, and their rivalry covered – the Eagle was eventually bought out by the Star in 1929.


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Our not-quite-weekly round up

Slightly longer than a week since our last round-up but never mind – links to lots of interesting historical content below. Plus, don’t forget that our 2020 digital Festival is all available on this website to watch and listen to as often as you like, along with all the talks from our real life Festivals in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The very good monthly Ports, Past and Present newsletter (to which you can subscribe via their website) had an article by James L. Smith on whales washed up on the Wexford coast. The skeleton of one, a blue whale found in 1891, now has pride of place in the Natural History Museum in London.

An interesting article by Brian Hanley on RTE’s Century Ireland website on why Irish revolutionaries had to go global.

Turtle Bunbury had a more personal story to tell – but with an equally global flavour – in this post on his blog about the Rudall and Halpin families which spans South Africa, Australia, Cornwall and Co Cavan. You can also see Turtle in conversation with festival co-founder Simon Kingston as part of our 2020 digital Festival here.

Manchán Magan has a new book out entitled Thirty-Two Words for Field: Lost Words of the Irish Landscape which sounds fascinating – read a review in the Independent and another in the Irish Times. It has illustrations by the brilliant Steve Doogan, with whom Festival co-founder Victoria Kingston worked on the new exhibition at Bru na Boinne in Co Meath.

Finally the Dublin Festival of History kicks off on Friday – a link to their programme is here, with lots of interesting events. And also in Dublin there is a new exhibition at the City Assembly House by Peter Murray, Festival contributor and former director of the Crawford in Cork. Called ‘Saving Graces’ it celebrates 20 years of conservation projects supported by the Irish Georgian Society. Find out more on the IGS website.