Our 2021 Programme is here


Events in bold will be paid for & broadcast live; tickets available via this website from early July.

All other events will be posted on this website on the morning of the relevant day of the Festival.


Friday 6 August


Introduction from founders Victoria & Simon Kingston, discussing the Festival’s themes of Ireland in 1921 and Ireland & Empire

The Execution of Bridget Noble – Sean Boyne

A family on both sides of the 1921 Rosscarbery RIC barracks attack – Flor Mac Carthy

4pm:             Panel discussion

Let’s talk about the Black and Tans. How should the actions of Crown Forces be remembered and understood in Ireland and in the UK?  with Dr Marie Coleman, Dr David Leeson, Dr Edward Madigan, Professor John Horne (Chair)

 6.30pm:        Live talk

Ireland after 1921 – Why the Free State had to be a Catholic State – Mary Kenny


Saturday 7 August


In the wars: military and imperial culture in nineteenth century Ireland – Dr Aoife Bhreatnach

Echoes of the Zulu Wars in West Cork  – Robert Harris

Irish soldiers in the British Army during Empire – Lar Joye

An unsinkable constable makes an arrest: the Newmarket Men who policed colonial Hong Kong – Patricia O’Sullivan

Irish imperialists & their influence on Imperial and Dominion thinking – Dr Donal Lowry

The Irish in polar exploration  – Dr Clare Warrior

Colonial objects at home in Ireland: how do they make us feel? – Dr Briony Widdis

2pm:             Live talk

Ireland, Empire and the Early Modern World Professor Jane Ohlmeyer

4pm:             Panel discussion

When did Partition happen? with Professor Paul Bew, Dr Niamh Gallagher, Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid

6.30pm:        Live talk

Partition – the experience of Southern Protestants and ‘left overness’ – Professor Roy Foster

 8.30pm:        Festival Concert 

Hope On, Hope Ever: a musical response inspired by elements of the Franklin Expedition with Jessie Kennedy, Tess Leak & The Vespertine Quintet


Sunday 8 August


Ethics and Remembering Empire – Professor Nigel Biggar

The Tainted – writing fiction about Irish imperial experience with Cauvery Madhavan, author of The Tainted, & Dr Ida Milne

English Memory and Amnesia about Empire  – Professor David Reynolds

 4pm:             Panel discussion

Selective memories: Irish and British historians on the imperial past with Dr Aoife Bhreatnach, Dr Margaret O’Callaghan, Professor Eunan O’Halpin Professor David Reynolds

6pm:  Live talk -– Closing Act

What we choose to remember and how  – Fergal Keane


Please note: this programme remains subject to final confirmation.

A double bill of historical content

We skipped an update last week so here’s a double bill of things to read. And we’re excited to say that the programme for our our very own 2021 Festival will be posted on our website this coming week…. .

This from RTE Brainstorm on the power of photography in highlighting serious food shortages in Ireland at the very end of the 19th century. And on the same website recently, this on Irish convicts sent to Bermuda in the middle of the same century. The article included some striking drawings of convicts in 1860 from the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, including the one below.

A 1860 sketch of convicts in Bermuda. Image courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Our friends at the Roaringwater Journal blogged this week about the newly updated and expanded Gazetteer of Irish Stained Glass. As Finola Finlay, who wrote the blog and contributed to the Gazetteer, comments “there is so much more to Irish stained glass than Harry Clarke….” The image below comes from Finola’s blog post, and show a detail from a beautiful window by Richard King in St Peter and Paul’s Church in Athlone.

The Cork ancestry of Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins is well known and was highlighted in many of the obituaries that followed his death in April, but this article looks at the Irish connections of other space pioneers [sorry about the ads…]

Manchán Magan writes on the Ports, Past and Present blog about the land bridge that may once have linked Ireland and south Wales, and is recent enough to have left behind folk-stories.

And finally, this from The Irish Story on the electrification of rural Ireland – news to us that the ESB worked with local clergy, who extolled to their parishioners the virtues of the new technology and the benefits of electrification.

More historical reading & listening

This week, Jerusalem, Dublin’s North Strand and two great Irishwomen – Elizabeth Bowen and Gráinne Ní Mháille.

The Irish Story featured this on the assassination of Walter Guinness, aka Lord Moyne in Jerusalem in 1944 by a militant Zionist group. At the time, he was British Minister-Resident in the Middle East having had a really interesting military and political career, in Ireland and Britain.

This article by Joseph Quinn in the Irish Times remembered the Luftwaffe’s bombing of Dublin’s North Strand 80 years ago. The photo below is from the Irish Times.

May 31st, 1941: Four bombs are dropped over Dublin city by Luftwaffe aircraft. The fourth explosion rips through the North Strand Road. File photograph: The Irish Times

The Daily Mail is not a paper we often feature on this blog, but they did have this recently on a love triangle involving Elizabeth Bowen. Cork gets a mention.

And finally in our last post, we included a BBC Radio 4 podcast series for children – this is one for the grown ups. Also presented by Greg Jenner, it’s called ‘Your Dead to Me‘ and features some great subjects, including Joan of Arc, Lord Byron, PT Barnum and….  Gráinne Ní Mháille.