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.



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.


A bumper end of 2020 post – and a Happy New Year !

Christmas rather interrupted our regular-ish weekly posts, but we’ve got a lot of really interesting historical content to post today. We’d also like to wish all our friends and supporters a very Happy New Year, and keeping our fingers crossed that we can have a real, live Festival in 2021.

21 December marked the Winter Solstice and Abarta Heritage has a three-episode series on their website looking at Newgrange,  famously aligned on that solstice. They feature three people who know the monument very well – Professor Muiris O’Sullivan and Dr. Jessica Smyth, both from UCD, and Clare Tuffy, who manages the visitor centre at Brú na Bóinne. Festival co-founder Victoria Kingston worked with all three to develop the new exhibition at Brú na Bóinne which opened earlier in 2020 and interprets Newgrange and the many other Neolithic sites in the area. The Discovery Programme also shared some wonderful 3-D models of the mound, passage, chamber & art at Newgrange.

Ghost stories are traditionally told at Christmas, and MOLI (the Museum of Literature Ireland) has a wonderfully spooky short story on their website – Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘The Familiar’. It was originally published in 1847 as ‘The Watcher’ but set in late 18th century Dublin.

A wonderful online exhibition from the Crawford Art Gallery – Harry Clarke: Marginalia – which looks at his watercolour studies for The Eve of St Agnes window, now in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.

A new blog called Belfast Between the Wars, written by Victoria Millar who is a senior curator at National Museums of Northern Ireland, features stories she has uncovered from the city’s newspapers in the 1920s and 1930s. The first one is great: “Ballymena Lady’s plight in closed Belfast premises….”

We’ve just discovered a podcast called Irish Stew – “the podcast for the Global Irish Nation… whether hyphenated or not” which featured this interview with historian and archaeologist Damian Shiels (whose work on the Irish in the American Civil War we have featured frequently on this blog), including Damian’s work on battlefield archaeology.

The UK Parliamentary Archives have put together this short film on the significance and legacy of the Government of Ireland Act, passed in December 1920.

And finally the RTE website featured a fascinating interactive map on different ways the Irish border could have been drawn.

Image - A contemporary image showing how the final border divided Ulster .Photo: 12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A contemporary image showing how the final border divided Ulster Photo: 12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images




Our not-quite weekly at this time of year round-up

Well, it’s been a while since the last post but there has been a lot going on. So here goes – another big centenary on 11-12 December, which marks 100 years since the Burning of Cork. And lots of other interesting content too…

St Peter’s church and Nano Nagle Place, both in Cork City, are hosting fascinating exhibitions focused on Cork in 1920 – we have partnered with them this year to publicise the events we have all run connected with #Cork1920. The exhibition at Nano Nagle is called Small Lives: At Home in Cork in 1920 and looks at ordinary lives in Cork City in an extraordinary and tumultuous year.

St Peter’s exhibition focuses specifically on the events of December 1920. They very kindly let us use a short film from their exhibition, which you can see as part of our digital festival, but do go and see the exhibition too.

The painstaking research of Festival contributor Jim Herlihy is highlighted in this article by Ronan McGreevy in the Irish Times. It reveals for the first time the identify of an Auxiliary who wrote an eyewitness account of the burning of the city in December 1920: …”many who witnessed scenes in France and Flanders say that nothing they had experienced was comparable to the punishment meted out in Cork.”

Photo from the National Library of Ireland

Meanwhile away from the Decade of Centenaries, but a piece connected to a Second World War anniversary. Wartime NI website (and their newsletter) records the history of Northern Ireland during the Second World War and features many, many interesting individual experiences. This story from exactly 80 years ago this month caught our eye as it highlighted the dangers for coastal shipping in wartime, not just the long-distance convoys. On 5 December 1940, the SS Privet was sailing from Birkenhead to Belfast with a load of coal when the ship disappeared. It’s not known if the ship sank as a result of enemy action or bad weather, but no trace of the Privet or her nine Northern Irish crew was ever found.

The BBC website featured this very moving feature on Irish mixed race children, many of whose fathers were students from Africa or the Caribbean studying in Dublin in the 1960s and 1970s.

And finally in a rather gloomy December, a wonderful, sunny piece of footage of Lough Hyne in the 1960s posted by the Skibbereen Heritage Centre – wish there was more of it!

Almost too much history this week…..

… it has been quite a week for interesting historical content, with the centenary of Bloody Sunday and associated events in the War of Independence.

Croke Park have lots of information on their website about events there 100 years ago when British forces killed 14 people. There is a good overview and a short film about their centenary exhibition (sadly currently closed) which includes some extraordinary artefacts from that day including an original match ticket.

On the morning of the same day, 15 men were killed in an IRA operation targeting British intelligence operatives. Ronan McGreevy had this article in the Irish Times, focusing on the story of one of those men, boarding-house owner Thomas Smith.

There was also a History Ireland Hedge School discussion on Bloody Sunday – featuring Joe Connell Jnr, Siobhán Doyle, Brian Hanley and Fearghal McGarry – and asking did these events mark a decisive turning point in the ongoing War of Independence?

The Military Pensions Archive has a blog listing the individuals whose files are available online and who either claimed involvement in the IRA operation on Bloody Sunday, or whose involvement is stated by others within the collection. This totals 153 men and 12 women – it was to that date the largest single operation undertaken in Dublin during the War of Independence.

A more local connection – Skibbereen Heritage Centre had a fascinating blog post on a photograph taken the morning after Bloody Sunday at a wedding reception in Dublin. The bride and groom – Michael J. O’Brien and Lil Clancy – were both from Skibbereen and Lil’s brother Joe ran the Eldon Hotel. He was good friends with Michael Collins and Gearóid O’Sullivan, and not only did they both attend the wedding reception, but they allowed themselves to be photographed (although Collins is not looking at the camera!)

Finally more broadly on the Decade of Centenaries, Festival contributor Eunan O’Halpin has authored, with Daithì Ó Corráin, a new book entitled The Dead of the Irish Revolution (Yale University Press) which aims to be the first comprehensive record of all deaths arising from the Irish revolution between 1916 and 1921. We are sure it will be well worth a read. Eunan has also recently had a book on Kevin Barry published, entitled Kevin Barry: An Irish Rebel in Life and Death (Merrion Press) – Barry was in fact his great uncle.

Our weekly round-up

Lots of really interesting things to read and listen to this past week…..

The always excellent blog on the Irish American Civil War by Damian Shiels had this post on the famous song Paddy’s Lament and its origins and history. The image below is by John Ross Dix and was published in 1864 (Library of Congress).


Ireland and the Middle East in the British Empire is the latest podcast from the Irish History Show, presented by John Dorney and Cathal Brennan – an interesting listen and a subject we’d love to return to at the West Cork History Festival.

On his blog, the Irish Aesthete profiled Father Frank Browne, best-known for the photos Browne took on the Titanic’s maiden voyage (he disembarked at Cobh) but a prolific and talented photographer of many other subjects – in fact he took 42,000 photographs in all. This blog post focused on Browne’s photos of country houses in Wicklow, which have been published in new book Wandering Wicklow with Father Browne.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography adds new lives each month, and this month’s new ones included Henry Swanzy (1915-2004). A fascinating figure, Swanzy was born in Glandore in Cork and after studying in England, went to work for the BBC Overseas Service. He became very influential in providing a platform for Caribbean writers to make their work better known in Britain via his programme Caribbean Voices. He also lived and worked in Ghana. Henry Swanzy must be related in someway to the painter Mary Swanzy, to whom the Crawford Art Gallery recently devoted an exhibition, and to Oswald Swanzy, the RIC inspector killed by the IRA in Lisburn in 1920 as a reprisal for the killing of Tomás Mac Curtain, Lord Mayor of Cork.

And on the subject of Swanzy and of Cork-Ulster connections, Professor Brian Walker’s talk for our 2020 digital festival has been published in a shortened form by the Dublin Review of Books and can be read here. Its title is Cork, Lisburn and Belfast in 1920: connections, controversy and conflict.

Finally, a really impressive project – the Atlas of Lost Rooms – which aims to contextualize the voices of women in the Magdalene Laundries, and particularly the former Laundry on Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin. The building has been recreated digitally and testimony of some of the women incorporated.

Our weekly update

Remembrance Sunday today, and an interesting article by Edward Madigan on ‘Remembrance and the British Dead of the Irish War of Independence‘ on the Historians for History blog.

Closer to home, this is a picture of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone of Private Patrick Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment who died in August 1916 and is buried in Abbeystrowry Graveyard near Skibbereen. The Graveyard is well-known for its Famine connections, with mass graves there thought to contain the bodies of 8-10,000 famine victims. But we haven’t been able to find out much more about Patrick Collins, other than that he was the husband of Ellen Collins who lived at 2, Clark’s Lane, Skibbereen. One to ask the Skibbereen Heritage Centre… 

A recent talk on the website of Epic Ireland focused on the important subject of ‘Ireland and the Black Atlantic‘ as part of Epic’s Hidden Histories of the Irish Abroad series. The talk was by Maurice Casey but the presentation also includes a discussion with Leni Sloan of the African-American-Irish Diaspora Network.

The Scotsman had an article recently which also connected Ireland with black history. A tapestry depicting the Battle of Culloden in 1746 includes a figure, wearing a frock coat and wig who is believed to be the West Indian manservant of Captain Thomas McNaughton. McNaughton was from Kiltimurry in Omagh and fought for Jacobites at Culloden with the ‘Wild Geese’ – a regiment of Protestant Irish troops who supported the Jacobite side. Research is now underway to try and find out the identify of the manservant. The detail of the tapestry below is from the National Trust for Scotland, who own the tapestry.

And finally a historical perspective on living in a pandemic: a fascinating photo-story by Simon Norfolk on how the residents of the small village of Eyam in Derbyshire, in England’s Peak District, quarantined themselves during the bubonic plague epidemic of 1665-6. It’s on the Wellcome Collection’s website, which has lots of other fantastic content exploring the connections between science, medicine, history life and art.

Our weekly update

Lots of excellent Halloween / Samhain related content recently some of which we’ve included below our own Halloween visitors:


  • a Three Castles Burning podcast in which Donal Fallon explores Bram Stoker’s Dublin as part of the Bram Stoker Festival.
  • the blog of the Irish Humanities Alliance had this on the ancient Irish festival of Samhain, written by Marion McGarry – “a merry gathering in the face of fear” as she describes it.
  • a while back, the Irish Women’s Writing Network featured this post on Elizabeth Bowen writing about ghosts and haunted houses, but it seemed appropriate for the season – it’s by Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado of QUB.

On another subject entirely, Edward Burke wrote a really interesting post for his University of Nottingham blog on political violence in Ulster. The subject is “A 50 Years War? Republican and Loyalist Paramilitaries Active in the 1920s and the 1970s” and he looks at three individuals who fought in both periods.

In the Decade of Centenaries today marked a significant date – 100 years since the execution of 18-year old medical student Kevin Barry by the British authorities for his part in an IRA ambush which resulted in the death of three British soldiers. The Irish Times‘ Ronan McGreevy interviewed two people who are descended from Barry’s sisters, and both of whom have written books about him. One is Festival contributor Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College, Dublin.

Finally, Festival contributor Linda Connolly has edited a new book, Women and the Irish Revolution: Feminism, Activism, Violence which will be published this month by Irish Academic Press. There are essays by a number of others who have spoken at past Festivals, including Louise Ryan and Andy Bielenberg. His essay looks at the murder of Mrs Lindsay by the IRA about which he also spoke at our 2018 Festival.




Our weekly historical miscellany

Lots of really interesting things to read and watch this week….

A major Cork-related Decade of Centenaries anniversary falls today – 100 years since the death in Brixton Prison, on hunger strike, of Cork Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney. There have been lots of articles on the subject in the last few days, but two of the most interesting looked at the impact on MacSwiney’s family. Firstly Ronan McGreevy in the Irish Times on MacSwiney’s widow Muriel and daughter Máire and on RTE History, a profile of his sister, Mary. Depicted below in an image from the National Library of Ireland, Mary MacSwiney was a prominent suffragist, republican and one of the country’s first female TDs.

Also in Cork, but back to the early 17th century, our friends at the Roaringwater Journal blog have this piece on the depiction of West Cork’s Roaringwater Bay in a (secret) 1612 map.

An intriguing post on the often excellent Writing the ‘Troubles’ blog called Researching the Troubles through the Study of Architectural Heritage Destruction by Andrew G. McClelland.

Also related to Northern Ireland, a huge archive of BBC Northern Ireland footage is now available on the BBC website – so many interesting films to watch.

Finally, Liverpool University Press have just published a really interesting-looking collection of essays entitled Southern Irish Loyalism, 1912-1949 which is co-edited by Festival contributor Brian Hughes. You can hear his talk at our 2018 Festival – entitled ‘Gossip, rumour, and propaganda: depictions and perceptions of Irish revolutionary violence’ by clicking here.


WCHF’s (mostly) regular round-up

The play Embargo by Deirdre Kinahan had its premiere last week as part of the Dublin Festival of Theatre. Inspired by the embargo placed on the transport of British troops and weapons by Irish workers during the War of Independence, it was appropriately enough sponsored by Dublin Port Authority and Iarnrod Eireann. Well worth a watch and available on YouTube until 25 October:


Also relating to the War of Independence – some astonishing and shocking footage was shared widely on social media this week, courtesy of the IFI. Taken exactly 100 years ago, it shows the aftermath of the shooting of Sean Treacy, leader of the IRA’s Third Tipperary Brigade and British military intelligence officer Arthur Gilbert Price, killed on Dublin’s Talbot Street after a gun battle on 14 October 1920.

Terror in Ireland


The Sligo Champion featured a fascinating article this week by academic Sinead McCoole, who is trying to trace the identity of a young nationalist woman from Sligo who appears in an April 1920 newsreel taken outside Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison. Through careful archival research, McCoole thinks she has identified the woman in question as a Miss Elizabeth Jane Crotty……  and her father was in the RIC. She is appealing for further information.

Finally, the Irish Story reviewed a very interesting sounding new book by Eimaer O’Connor called Art, Ireland & the Irish Disapora: Chicago, Dublin, New York 1893-1939 (published by Irish Academic Press). Its cover is depicted below. One for the reading list.


History Festival selection

So, our weekly round-up has become more of a fortnightly one – but hey, that just means more good material to watch, listen to and read.

We were shocked to see images of the fire at the former Convent of Mercy in Skibbereen – the roof was destroyed and much else besides. The Skibbereen Heritage Centre has an excellent article by Philip O’Regan on its website telling the history of the Convent up until the fire last week.

The website Atlas Obscura recently featured Festival-contributor Connie Kelleher in a fascinating article on an always intriguing theme – West Cork and pirates. Connie has just published a book on the subject (the cover is shown below) which we can highly recommend.

From piratical adventures to delayed ferries …..  the Ports Past & Present blog featured another Festival contributor, Claire Connolly of UCC, writing about Jonathan Swift‘s unhappy stay in Holyhead in 1727 which inspired him to write: “Lo here I sit at Holy Head, With muddy ale and mouldy bread

An attention-grabbing title for this article on RTE Brainstorm – What has the British army ever done for us ? written by Jim Deery. Discuss.…. 

Another subject intimately connected with the Irish experience of empire was discussed on RTE Drivetime at the end of September – the repatriation of colonial-era artefacts from museums in Britain and Ireland. Hear it here.

Ireland, Empire and the Sea was the subject of the History Ireland Hedge School recorded especially for our 2020 Digital Festival. It has now had over 600 listens. Hear it, and many more Hedge Schools, via the History Ireland website.

Ambassador Dan Mulhall, who has spoken at two of our festivals, wrote this blog on the DFA website about the visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland in 1845-6. Douglass was a notable campaigner against slavery and had himself been born into slavery.

Finally PRONI (the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) hosts all sorts of interesting talks on its YouTube channel on many serious historical and archival topics, and some less serious. ‘Samson and Banana: Circus Stories of Belfast and Ireland‘ was one that caught our eye!






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.

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.


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.



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.


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.”



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 !

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.  




A fortnightly round up ….

Last week’s round up was rather delayed so we thought instead we’d do a longer fortnightly round up – some really interesting reads and listens below.

Festival contributor Claire Connolly of UCC wrote in the Irish Times about the power of literature in a time of global pandemic. We are looking forward to hearing Claire’s contribution to our digital festival, as part of a History Hedge School on Ireland, Empire and the Sea. This will be on our website from 8 August and via History Ireland.

On a related topic of pandemics (unavoidable really), The Irish Story’s most recent podcast is about how the terrible Sligo cholera epidemic in 1832 inspired Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Stoker’s mother Charlotte Thornley survived the epidemic and told her son stories of that time. We have previously posted a link to an article on the London Library’s website about the books Stoker consulted in that library while researching the same book.

In the Irish Times earlier in the month Marie Coleman of QUB discussed events in the north a century ago. 21 July 2020 marked 100 years since the beginning of the expulsion of an estimated 7000 workers from Belfast’s shipyards and other manufacturing industries in the city – all these workers were Catholics or socialists. The Irish Story also had an article on the violence in Belfast in July 1920.

On the theme of the revolutionary period, RTE Radio 1 broadcast a fascinating documentary on 18 July – The Little Shop of Secrets – about Nora and Sheila Wallace, whose newsagents shop in Cork City played a crucial role in the War of Independence in Cork.

The Ports Past and Present project, partly based in UCC, always has interesting material on its blog. This article by Elizabeth Edwards caught our eye, looking at the experience of women crossing between Ireland and Wales. Mary Wollstonecraft had a calm crossing from Holyhead to Dublin in 1786 and found herself lost in a sea of thoughts. The crossing was a less positive, and sometimes positively dangerous, time for others who feature in the article.

Over the summer the Dictionary of Irish Biography has been highlighting individual stories by theme – so far they have had rogues and now they are focusing on explorers. Those featured include aviator Lady Heath (pictured below), astronomer Annie Maunder, William Lamport, apparently the inspiration for Zorro and Thomas Heazle Parke, who was the first Irishman to cross Africa and once “saved a man’s life by sucking arrow poison from his wound”. How could you not want to read more here ?!

And finally, RTE Brainstorm had an article on the always intriguing topic of Sheela-na-Gigs, mysterious medieval carvings of female figures with prominent vulvas and breasts, which are found in Ireland, Britain and continental Europe.