English Memory and Amnesia about Empire – Professor David Reynolds
David Reynolds is Professor of International History (Emeritus) at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Christ’s College. He was educated at Cambridge and Harvard, and held a Faculty position at Cambridge from 1984 until his retirement from university teaching in 2019. He served as Chair of History Faculty in 2013-15. He has also held visiting appointments at various foreign universities including Harvard, Sciences Po in Paris, and Nihon University in Tokyo.
The Tainted – writing fiction about Irish imperial experience – Cauvery Madhavan & Dr Ida Milne
Cauvery Madhavan was born in India and moved to Ireland thirty three years ago. She is the author of three books of fiction – Paddy Indian, The Uncoupling and The Tainted. The Tainted was awarded the runner-up prize in SAHR Prize for Military Fiction. It was listed by The Times UK as the Top 40 Historical Fiction in May 2020 and was picked by An Post Book Awards as their Top 5 Summer Reads 2020. Cauvery has written for the The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, the Sunday Tribune, The Phoenix and Travel Extra. She lives with her husband and three children in County Kildare and is working on her fourth novel.
Dr Ida Milne is Lecturer in European History at Carlow College. Originally from Ferns, Co Wexford, and currently living in Kildare, she worked in the newspaper industry and as a travel journalist, before returning to education in 2000. She was awarded the prestigious Irish Research Council Marie Sklowodska Curie Actions Elevate fellowship in 2014-18, for a project exploring the impact of infectious diseases of childhood on Irish society over the course of the 20th century. Her principle research field is the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. During Covid-19, she has become a frequent commentator on news media in Ireland and internationally about the lessons to be drawn from the history of epidemic disease.
Ethics and Remembering Empire – Professor Nigel Biggar
Nigel Biggar has been Regius Professor of Moral & Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford since 2007 and is also Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life. After reading Modern History at Worcester College, Oxford, Biggar 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.
Colonial objects at home in Ireland: how do they make us feel – Dr Briony Widdis
Dr Briony Widdis is an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics in Queen’s University Belfast. Her project, ‘Museums, Empire and Northern Irish Identity’, is a partnership with National Museums Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Museums Council, Irish Museums Association and Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at NUI Maynooth. The research focuses on the neglected importance of the legacies of empire for cultural identities in Northern Ireland, and on the role of museums in these debates. Through it, Widdis aims to highlight collections that have been subject to limited research and to build a research network, bridging academia and museums across the island of Ireland, focusing on decolonisation activism and its impact on museums.
Dr Widdis is a former Assistant Director of the Northern Ireland Museums Council, Heritage Officer and Culture and Arts Manager at Belfast City Council and Curator of Ethnography (Africa, Pacific and Americas) at National Museums Scotland.
The image at the top of the page shows items from her mother’s jewellery box on which Dr Widdis focuses in her talk.
The Irish in polar exploration – Dr Claire Warrior
Dr Claire Warrior is a Senior Curator at London’s Royal Museums Greenwich, and was one of the curators of the recent Polar Worlds gallery. Her PhD, from the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, was called ‘Rekindling histories: families and British polar exploration’, and looked at the ways in which family histories and national histories are entwined, and how and who we remember.
Image – ‘HMS Erebus in the Ice, 1846’ by François Etienne Musin courtesy of Royal Museums Greenwich
"Everything that touches Ireland finds an echo in the remotest parts of the Empire": The Dominion Dimensions of the Anglo-Irish Settlement, c. 1916-1922 - Dr Donal Lowry
Donal Lowry is a Senior Member of Regent’s Park College in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has been an editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies and has published on the history of southern Africa, the Commonwealth, and Ireland’s relationship with the British Empire.
An unsinkable constable makes an arrest: the Newmarket Men who policed colonial Hong Kong – Patricia O’Sullivan
Patricia O’Sullivan started researching Hong Kong’s vibrant history in 2010, initially uncovering long-forgotten family stories for Policing Hong Kong – an Irish History, (Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong, 2017). Based in the UK, but spending upwards of three months of the year in Hong Kong (until Covid-19 arrived) she has written a number of articles on forgotten aspects of the city’s life, some of which can be found on her website, www.socialhistoryhk.com. Women, Crime and the Courts: Hong Kong 1841-1941, which explores the lives of ordinary women in Hong Kong’s early years through the stories of what happened when things went wrong, was published in 2020.
Policing Hong Kong – an Irish History
Hong Kong 1918. A tranquil place compared to war-torn Europe. But on the morning of 22nd January, a running battle through the streets of Wanchai ended in the ‘Siege of Gresson Street’. Five policemen lay dead, so shocking Hong Kong that over half the population turned out to watch their funeral procession. One of the dead, Inspector Mortimor O’Sullivan, came from Newmarket, Co. Cork. He, along with a dozen and more from this little town, had sailed out to Hong Kong to join its Police Force between 1864 and 1950. Using family records and memories alongside extensive research in Hong Kong, Ireland and London, Patricia O’Sullivan tells the stories of these policemen, their families and connections in a setting about as remote from rural north Cork as it was possible to be. Policing Hong Kong – an Irish History pub. Blacksmith Books 2017 ISBN 978-988-7792734 is available from bookshops worldwide, hive.co.uk, bookshop.org or direct from the author email@example.com
Irish soldiers in the British Army during Empire – Lar Joye
Lar Joye is Port Heritage Director at Dublin Port. Previously he curated the award-winning Soldiers & Chiefs the Irish soldier at home and abroad from 1550 exhibition at National Museum of Ireland, described as a museum with a museum. He played a key role in the Decade of Commemorations 2012-2107 involved in a variety of projects including the 1913 Lockout: Impact & Aftermath and Banners Unfurled exhibitions and the WWI exhibitions Recovered Voices 1914-1916 & War in the Mud, the Irish Soldier on the Western Front, 1917. He represented the National Museum on the Irish Battlefield commission and on the Moore Street and GPO projects. In 2016 he was historical adviser for An Posts 2016 commemorative stamp series. More recently he has partnered with the theatre company Anu productions on the plays Pals- the Irish at Gallipoli, Sunder and These Rooms.
He is a graduate of University College Dublin, Leicester University and the Getty Leadership Institute and is currently chairman of the Irish National Committee of the Blue Shield and a member of the Board of Directors of the Irish Museums Association and the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust.
Echoes of the Zulu Wars in West Cork – Robert Harris
Robert Harris is co-writer – with Finola Finlay – of the arts and culture blog Roaringwater Journal which covers mainly West Cork history, archaeology, art, landscape and nature and can be found here: Roaringwater Journal
A now retired architect, Robert has lived overlooking Rossbrin Cove for a decade and admires the ruins of the O’Mahony castle at Rossbrin, the 15th century home of the clan Tánaiste Finghinn – known as the ‘scholar prince’. Finghinn gathered around him scribes and bards and created a great centre of learning on this now remote headland. Robert does not claim to be a ‘learned’ expert, but sets out to be an enthusiast, something which is perhaps vindicated by the 850 posts which Roaringwater Journal has published since its advent in 2012. A few years ago, Maura Cahalane – then Chair of the Skibbereen Historical society – asked Robert to investigate the part played by some West Cork residents in the Zulu Wars of 1879. This gave rise to the talk presented here: a new interest was born.
In the wars: military and imperial culture in nineteenth century Ireland – Dr Aoife Bhreatnach
Aoife Bhreatnach is an independent scholar and contract researcher with strong research expertise in Irish social and cultural history. A graduate of University College Cork, she has an MPhil in Irish History on the subject of Frank Aiken as Minister for External Affairs. Her Phd was awarded by DeMontfort University in 2003 and the subsequent book, Becoming Conspicuous: Irish Travellers, Society and the State was published in 2006 by UCD Press. From 2003-04, she held the Irish Government Senior Scholarship at Hertford College, Oxford and taught at the University of Warwick. A recipient of an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Post-Doctoral Fellowship from 2004-06, she worked in NUI Maynooth developing a theory of class in nineteenth-century Ireland. From this research emerged her interest in the role played by the British military in Irish social history.