The Transformation of Ireland 1922-2022
This course outlines the different ways that Ireland has been transformed in the century since partition in 1922. It looks at a wide range of aspects of Irish society, politics, and the economy as a way of understanding how far and why Ireland has undergone profound change in this period. As well as looking at political and social change within Ireland, the course will also help you to understand the Irish state’s changing relationship with Britain and Europe, and the impact of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The definition of ‘transformation’ is a wide one and the course will look at the broad patterns of change in social and cultural life, such as the decline of the influence of the Catholic Church and the implications of secularization for Irish society. 10 meetings from Wednesday 6 October with Dr Kevin Bean.
Ireland and the Left in an Age of Revolution: Michael Davitt
More than other notable figures from the Irish nationalist left, Michael Davitt’s early life inspired his politics and spoke of suffering, endurance and resilience. Born in the midst of the Famine, his family were evicted by their landlord because they were in arrears with the rent. The family moved to Lancashire where, aged nine, he started work in a cotton mill and, two years later, lost his right arm in an industrial accident. He became active in the Fenian movement and was sentenced to a fifteen-year prison sentence which he served in harsh conditions. These experiences forged a fierce determination to fight oppression and injustice. He was instrumental in founding the Land League to fight for justice for Ireland’s tenant farmers and impoverished rural working-class. His influence as a nationalist leader, campaigner for land reform, writer and politician has been widely underrated but his story is one of the most inspiring in Irish history. Tuesday 5 October with Dr Patrick Murphy.
Ireland and the Left in an Age of Revolution - James Larkin
Like Michael Davitt, Jim Larkin’s personal experience of poverty while growing up in Liverpool, drove his relentless energy for social justice and the transformation of society through militant working-class struggle. Larkin succeeded where many had failed in organising unskilled workers into Ireland’s first ‘One Big Union’, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1913 he led the union in an epic struggle in the Dublin Lockout and, with James Connolly, founded the Irish Citizen Army. Larkin is now seen as a divisive figure but, by his charisma and sheer energy, he had the ability to inspire those who had been previously ignored by the political elite and the trade union movement. In the words of Constance Markievicz “his personality caught up, assimilated and threw back to the vast crowd that surrounded him every emotion that swayed them, every pain and joy that they had ever felt made articulate and sanctified”. Tuesday 2 November with Dr Patrick Murphy.
Ireland and the Left in an Age of Revolution: Sean O’Casey
Sean O’Casey was born to a Protestant working-class family in Dublin. He was attracted to politics initially through his interest in Gaelic culture and the Irish language, but his conversion to socialism was triggered by the Dublin Lockout after which he was blacklisted and became unemployable. He was briefly involved in the formation of the Irish Citizen Army, and famously fell out with Countess Markiewicz. However, his legacy is not that of a political activist but as a writer and playwright. In what is thought of as his greatest play, The Plough and the Stars, he explores the conflict between the lives of working-class people living hand-to-mouth in the Dublin slums and a narrow conservative nationalism that takes no account of their interests. Tuesday 7 December with Dr Patrick Murphy