Taoiseach to deliver opening lecture conference on Irish Civil War

Conference seeks to better inform debate on events of 100 years ago, says UCC historian


Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to deliver the opening address at a four-day conference on the Irish Civil War at University College Cork when over 130 experts will gather to reflect on the conflict which began 100 years ago this June.

The Irish Civil War National Conference will be held from June 15th to June 18th on the UCC campus and will explore the political, social, cultural, military, and economic dimensions to the Irish Civil War.

Mr Martin, who has an MA in Irish History, has written about the revolutionary period in his native Cork in his book "Freedom to Choose: Cork and Party Politics in Ireland 1918-1932' published by Collins Press in 2009.


UCC President, Prof John O’Halloran explained that the event at which the Taoiseach will speak is part of the Irish government’s Decade of Centenaries Programme and will be open to the public and recorded for viewing in collaboration with RTE.ie.

“This major conference marks a new chapter in the Decade of Centenaries, as our reflections move on from Ireland’s hard-fought independence to a new contemplation of an internal struggle that divided families and friends.”

It was fitting UCC should host the conference as academics and researchers from its School of History had excelled throughout the analysis of the Decade of Centenaries by leading debate, provoking thought, and challenging consensus, he said.

Dr Mervyn O’Driscoll, Head of the School of History at UCC, said that the university was committed to making its historical scholarship accessible to the broader community and pointed out that the conference was free.

The event is intended “to bring Irish Civil War history to a broad audience in order to help better inform the debates which are sure to emerge throughout this final stage of the Decade of Centenaries,” he said.

Dr O’Driscoll said the intention is that the conference will bring together on-going academic research into the conflict.

The aim is try to accomplish what the government's Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations described as, 'meaningful engagements with a difficult and traumatic time', he added.

During the first three days of the conference after Mr Martin’s opening lecture, national and international speakers will deliver 20-minute papers addressing all aspects of the conflict including international comparisons and global contexts.

The panel of experts will also look at the Irish Civil War in terms of military conflict, civilian trauma, gender roles, labour militancy, state violence, agrarian unrest, military strategy, propaganda, memory, ideology and prison experiences.

Other speakers will speak about the use of the Miltary Archives and plenary lectures will be delivered by Prof Anne Dolan (TCD), Prof Robert Gerwarth (UCD), Prof Helen Graham (University of London), Dr Bill Kissane (London School of Economics).

Dr Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Senior Academic Leadership Initiative Chair in Irish Gender History at UCC said that staff at UCC were very excited to host a conference that would showcase the most cutting-edge research on the Irish Civil War.

“We are particularly excited to front previously overlooked or under-researched aspects such as trauma, sexual and gender-based violence and the archaeology and material culture of the Civil War.”

The conference will close with a day of 'plenary panels', as experts explore the topics of Trauma, Partition, Faith, Gender, Diplomacy, Politics, Labour, Disorder, Literature, and Memory.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times