Programme of Lectures on the Irish Revolution, The People’s College, Spring 2014.

The Republican flag flown in the Rising of 1916.
The Republican flag flown in the Rising of 1916.

Announcing a series of Lectures to be held by the People’s College in the Spring of 2014. All lectures will be in the INTO building beside the Teachers’ Club on number 38 Parnell Square, Dublin, and will run from 18:30 to 20:00.

*Lectures to be 45 minutes plus 15 minutes question and answer time.

*To take place from January to April 2014 from 18:30 to 19:30.


The year 2014 is the hundredth anniversary of the start of the Great War and therefore a landmark in European and world history. It is also a landmark in Irish history – being the year that Home Rule for Ireland was passed but also postponed. This led to a tumultuous series of events over the following decade, which are now collectively referred to as ‘the Irish Revolution’.

This series of lectures on those events seeks to inform a wide audience on the key questions and features of Ireland’s struggle for independence. Was it a revolution at all? Did British mismanagement tip the balance in favour of militant separatists? Why did Irish nationalists turn their guns on each other in 1922-23? What was the role of land, labour, women and Ulster unionists?

We hope to attract a panel of top-quality speakers to give an informed and accessible series of talks on these questions.

 1. Patrick Pearse – The Road from Home Ruler to Insurrectionary 193-14. Brian Crowley 5 February

This lecture will pose the question of why Patrick Pearse, one of the leading cultural nationalists and educationalists of his day, was willing to support Home Rule in 1914 but at Easter 1916 was proclaimed the President of the Irish Republic declared by the republican insurgents.


Brian Crowley is the curator of the Pearse Museum in St Enda’s in Rathfarnham in Dublin. He is the author of Patrick Pearse – A Life in Pictures.


2.    The Myth of Gender Equality, Women revolutionaries in The Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan in the rising of 1916. Ann Mathews. 12 February


The years of the Irish Revolution were also transformative years for Irish women. Women nationalist revolutionaries played a central role in the Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War. In some quarters the anti-Treaty activists in Cumann na mBan were blamed for the 1922-23 conflict. Citizen Army women in particular have long been held up as models of gender equality. Historian Ann Mathews questions this assumption.

Dr. Ann Mathews lectures in NUI Maynooth. She is specialist on women’s history in early 20th century Ireland, especially during the Irish revolution and its aftermath. She is the author of Renegades Irish Republican Women 1900-1922 and ‘Dissidents’ Irish Republican Women 1923-41.


3.    Revolution in Ireland 1918-21 – the political and military ‘re-conquest of Ireland’ and British responses. John Borgonovo. 19 February

British troops being replaced by Free State troops in Dublin in 1922.
British troops being replaced by Free State troops in Dublin in 1922.

This lecture will look at what nationalist revolution meant in Ireland. It will look at non-violent revolutionary mobilisation such as the Dáil Courts and also violent mobilisation of guerrilla warfare by the Irish Republican Army. It will also discuss why the British responses failed to put down the IRA guerrillas or to discredit the Irish Republic declared by the separatists.

Dr. John Borgonovo is an American-born but Cork-based historian. He has written, Spies Informers and the Anti-Sinn Fein Society, The Intelligence war in Cork City, 1920-1921, on the War of Independence in Cork city. More recently he has written ‘The Battle for Cork City 1922’ and most recently The dynamics of war and revolution, Cork city, 1916-1918. He teaches at University College Cork


4.    ‘Labour Must Wait?’ – Workers, Unions and the Irish revolution. Emmet O’Connor 26 February


This lecture will discuss the role played by organised labour during the Irish revolution. One aspect of this is the building of a strong nationwide labour movement in the 1917-22 period after the disaster of the 1913 Lockout. The second aspect is the role organised workers played in the nationalist revolution, from the Citizen Army of 1916 to the General Strikes of 1918, 1920 and 1922 in pursuit of self-determination and ‘Soviets’ that sprang up around the country.  Did labour take forward steps, or as De Valera is alleged to have said, did Labour have to wait?


Bakery workers in Bruree in 1921 declare, 'We make Bread not profits'.
Bakery workers in Bruree in 1921 declare, ‘We make Bread not profits’.

Dr Emmet O’Connor lectures in the University of Ulster in Coleraine. He has written, A Labour History of Ireland, 1824-200, Syndicalism in Ireland 1917-1923, James Larkin and Reds and the Green, Ireland, Russia and the Communist Internationals, 1919-1943.


5.    Pogrom or Civil War? The north east in the Irish revolution 1920-22. Kieran Glennon 5 March


The six north –eastern counties of Ireland separated from the rest in 1920-22 and became Northern Ireland, an autonomous part of the United Kingdom. During this period some 700 people died violently in the north-east of Ireland, predominantly in Belfast. This lecture will look at if this period was ‘a pogrom’ against innocent Catholics, as nationalists claimed, or a civil war between rival communities. Did unionist politicians organise mass assaults on Catholic civilians? Did IRA violence provoke unionists into reprisals? Conversely did the IRA protect the Catholic community in Belfast and elsewhere?

Kieran Glennon is the author of ‘From Pogrom to Civil War’, the story of his grandfather Tom Glennon, a Belfast IRA Volunteer and of Belfast itself I the 1920-22 period.

6.    ‘Truce and Treaty and the Parting of the Ways, War and Peace in Ireland July 1921-July 1922 Padraig Og O Ruairc 12 March


In theory the truce declared on July 11, 1921 between Irish republican and British forces inaugurated a period of peace in Ireland that was concluded with the signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty in 1921. In fact it saw continued political violence throughout the country and especially in the north-east as well as a spate of strikes and land agitation. The ‘truce’ period also concluded with the outbreak of civil war between Irish nationalists in late June 1922. Historian Padraig Og O Ruairc investigates the outbreak of peace and war in these months.


Padraig Og O Ruairc is a PHD scholar in the University of Limerick. He has published a number of books on the Irish revolution; Blood on the Banner The Republic Struggle in Clare, The Battle for Limerick City 1922 and Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913-1922.

7.    ‘Brother against Brother’ – Political violence in the Irish Civil War 1922-23. John Dorney 19 March


Crowds watch as the last anti-Treaty forces are cleared from O'Connell Street in July 1922.
Crowds watch as the last anti-Treaty forces are cleared from O’Connell Street in July 1922.

The Irish Civil War of 1922-23, when Irish nationalists fought each other over the Anglo-Irish Treaty remained for a long time a taboo subject in Irish memory. This lecture will look at the nature and extent of violence during the civil war, from conventional fighting to guerrilla warfare to reprisal and counter reprisal. It will discuss why the conflict left such bitter memories and how different sections of the population were affected.

John Dorney is an independent historian and editor and main writer for The Irish Story website, where he specially concentrates on the Irish Civil War. His book, Peace After the Final Battle, the Story of the Irish Revolution, will be published by New Island Press in the spring of 2014.


8.    Commemoration of the Irish Revolution, Brian Hanley. 26 March.


When the dust settled from the Irish revolution, former participants and others had to decide how to remember what had happened and what to forget. The Easter Rising became the most commemorated but also the most contested commemoration in nationalist Ireland. By contrast other aspects of the period such as the violence in the North were hardly commemorated at all and the southern Civil War of 1922-23 was commemorated essentially only by the losing republican side. This lecture will look at how people chose to remember and to forget.

Dr. Brian Hanley is a historian of 20th century Irish republicanism. He is the author of; The IRA  A Documentary History, 1919-2005, The IRA: 1926-1936, and with Scott Millar, The Lost Revolution, The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party. His current research interest is how the Northern Ireland conflict impacted on the Republic of Ireland from the 1970s to the 1990s.


Entrance is free but voluntary donations of €5 to help cover costs are appreciated.

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