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30 January: our regular update of interesting historical content

More of a fortnightly than a weekly update this time around – some interesting articles, an online talk from Bristol, via Belfast, on the legacies of slavery and a podcast from History Ireland on intelligence in the War of Independence. You can also listen to our very own History Ireland podcast from 2020 – exploring the theme of Ireland, Empire & the Sea – on our website here.

27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day – to mark the day, the Wartime NI blog posted this piece on Holocaust survivors who arrived in Northern Ireland in 1946.

The Mary Ann McCracken Foundation has recently been launched by the Belfast Charitable Society, It celebrates the life and builds on the legacy of Belfast-born social reformer, abolitionist and activist Mary Ann McCracken. Historian David Olusoga was the key note speaker at their launch – he spoke on the ‘Legacies of Slavery’ across the UK and Ireland. You can see his excellent talk here.

There is a recent History Ireland podcast on the ever fascinating subject of ‘Spies and informers beware – intelligence and counter-intelligence in the War of Independence‘. It features Festival contributors Andy Bielenberg and Eunan O’Halpin, as well as Cécile Gordon and Gerry White.

Festival contributor Liam Kennedy wrote about new President Joe Biden’s Irish-American ancestry in the Spectator magazine recently.

Finally, on the subject of Irish-Americans, Damian Shiels’ always interesting Irish American Civil War website had a photo essay about the Pension Building in Washington DC, from where Irish American Civil War pensions were administered. One of Damian’s photos of its splendid front hall can be seen below – it is now the National Building Museum.

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18 January: our regular historical round-up

Starting this week with a wonderful online exhibition ‘Mapping History’, put together by Dublin’s Marsh’s Library and Armagh’s Robinson Library. It showcases Irish and world maps and atlases published in the three centuries after the year 1536, drawing on the collections of both libraries. The map featured shows Ireland from Edmund Halley’s Atlas Maritimus and Commercialis (London, 1728) which focused on ports and coasts around the globe.


A profile in the Belfast Newsletter recently of a fascinating man – Thomas Carnduff, shipyard worker, Orangemen and poet who signed the 1912 Covenant, served in the First World War and had a play staged at the Abbey in 1932. The author, Connal Parr, spoke about Carnduff for an online event for Belfast’s Linen Hall Library on 18 January which will hopefully be available to hear/see. Carnduff was once the caretaker at the Library and is pictured below.

More locally, our friends at the Roaringwater Journal blog had a great post on the Legends of Mount Gabriel and particularly a pool near the top. This appears as Poulanenine on old maps, with the most likely etymology being Poul an Oigheann – the Pool of the Cauldron. I have used one of their great photos below.

UCD’s History Hub’s podcasts feature academics from their School of History include Fionnuala Walsh on the campaign for women’s suffrage in Ireland and Diarmaid Ferriter discussing the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Also focusing on events in the Decade of Centenaries, Festival contributor Brian Walker recently published an article discussing the Government of Ireland Bill, which received royal assent on 23 December 1920, and which led to partition as well as becoming the corner stone for the establishment of Northern Ireland.

Finally, the Irish Story’s latest blog focuses on boxing in Ireland (with gloves). If that interests you, you may also like to listen to Lar Joye’s talk on duelling in Ireland, which we had at our first Festival in 2017.

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10 January: our weekly round-up

First off the Bad Bridget podcasts, which tell the story of Irish women who emigrated to America and whose American dream did not end so well – we really enjoyed the first few episodes. They are all based on the research of, and presented by, Dr Elaine Farrell of Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Leanne McCormick of Ulster University who are joined by Derry Girls’ actress, Siobhán McSweeney.

Also linked to the USA, but a slightly more successful (or lucky) life story – a profile of Rex Ingram in the Irish Times caught our eye. He was a pioneer in the early days of Hollywood who directed The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in its time one of the biggest movies ever made. It took six months to shoot (unheard of at that time) and involved 12,000 people. Born in Dublin in 1892, he spent most of his childhood in Kinnitty, Co Offaly where his father was the Church of Ireland rector. Rex emigrated in 1911 and never returned to Ireland. Ironically his original surname was Hitchcock, but in 1915 he took his mother’s name as a surname instead.

An interesting post on the Irish Family Detective website about a celebrated 19th century murder case from Coachford, Co Cork, when a doctor Philip Cross was convicted and hanged for the murder of his wife after having an affair with his children’s governess.

The National Library of Ireland has a number of excellent online exhibitions on its website which are listed here and which showcase its collections. Subjects include the Dublin Lockout: 1916; W.B. Yeats and the First World War.

And finally, something completely different and not specifically Irish history either – a fascinating article in History Today magazine about clerical celibacy and its consequences in the medieval period. Its author, Dyan Elliott, is Professor of History at Northwestern University in the USA.