Irish History and Literature

Courses exploring Irish History and Literature

The Freedom to Achieve Freedom: The War of Independence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty - 1919—1921

Sinn Fein won an overwhelming victory in the general election of 1918 and immediately established the first independent Irish Parliament, the Dáil, which the British government refused to recognise. A bitter conflict erupted between republicans and British forces including the infamous Black and Tans. The guerrilla campaign led by Michael Collins was very different to 1916 and forced the British to the negotiating table in 1921 and led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty which, Collins argued, offered ‘The Freedom to Achieve Freedom’. With Dr Patrick Murphy, Tuesday 2 February, 7-9pm.

‘It was fifty years ago today…’: how the Troubles came to Northern Ireland 1966-1974

This series of eight classes will look at the origins and early years of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’. It will consider some aspects of the longer-term historical context of Northern Irish state following partition as well as the role of key actors in the crises that developed between 1966 and 1974. Amongst the topics we will discuss are the civil rights movement, the response of the Stormont and British governments, the unionist backlash and the growth of the Provisional IRA. With Dr Kevin Bean, 8 weeks from Wednesday 3 February, 6-8pm.

The Unfinished Revolution: Civil War, the Eclipse of Social Radicalism and the Irish Free State - 1922-1924

For many nationalists Irish independence was the chance to build a new, free and more equal society – an Irish republic. As the Irish writer Dorothy MacArdle noted, for every individual in the movement ‘the Republic seemed the Ireland of his desire’. However, the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which led to the formation of the Irish Free State and partitioned the country, fell far short of this ideal and, for many, it seemed like the victory of a narrow conservative nationalism. Although the Treaty and the Free State was supported by a majority of the Irish people, a sizeable minority of republicans refused to accept this and took arms against their former comrades. The bitter civil war that followed deeply divided the country and shaped Irish political life for generations. With Dr Patrick Murphy, Tuesday 2 March, 7-9pm.

‘A Temporary Exclusion’: Partition, Sectarianism and the Northern Ireland State

The inclusion of partition and a Northern Ireland state in the Home Rule Act of 1914 was, it was claimed, ‘a temporary exclusion’ but was made permanent by the creation of the Northern Ireland state in 1921. This was seen as a betrayal by many nationalists, but Ulster unionists saw it as their only protection against the loss of their identity and traditions in a Catholic nationalist state. The Northern Ireland state was designed to give unionists a majority and, in the words of the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Lord Craigavon, it created ‘A Protestant government for a Protestant people’. The failure of successive British and Irish governments to deal with the state’s inherent instability and the discrimination that nationalists suffered has had far-reaching consequences with which we are still living. With Dr Patrick Murphy, Tuesday 23 March, 7-9pm.