MA in the Irish Revolution

In the years between 1912 and 1923 Ireland experienced a degree of political, social, economic and cultural upheaval that was almost unprecedented in its long history. Among the successive crises and events that marked the era were:

- the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14, which took both Britain and Ireland closer to civil war than at any point since the seventeenth century;

- the Dublin lock-out of 1913, one of the most bitter labour disputes in modern European history;

- the First World War, among the most destructive in human history;

- the Easter Rising, one of the most fabled of all European insurrections;

- a limited grant of female suffrage;

- a bitterly contested War of Independence;

- the trauma of partition;

- a devastating and demoralising civil war.

The MA in the Irish Revolution takes as its subject matter the events, personalities and conflicts of this most significant and dramatic decade.

The course consists of two parts: the first, the taught element, has three modules; the second, research component, is examined via thesis.

The first module, Sources and debates in the Irish revolution, will examine contemporary writings, speeches and debates, with the attention on such figures as Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, and Edward Carson. Students will also be introduced to the source material available for the study of the period.

The second module, Historiography of the Irish revolution, examines the arguments and interpretation of the events by historians from the 1920s to the present day.

The final module, Public history, commemoration, and the Irish revolution, focusses on the role of ‘public history’, that is, the use of the events of this ‘revolutionary decade’ by politicians and other groups and individuals to promote contemporary agendas.

The thesis will be 20,000 words long, and shall be written on an agreed topic, under the supervision of a member of staff.

 

The successful student, on completion of the degree, will have a thorough grounding in the skills necessary for the further study of the period. These include:

-        a sensitivity to the links between the political discourse of this period and its historiography;

-        archival-based research, covering both hard-copy and virtual documentary sources;

-        the ability to discuss, in an informed manner, in public and at length, the topics under review.

My name is Dudley Martin and I’m from Hillsborough, North Carolina in the southeast United States.  Currently I am a student in the Department of History at University College Cork, earning my PhD in Irish History.  I have just finished a unique programme available at University College Cork, a Masters in The Irish Revolution 1912 - 1923.  It’s a one year taught program, designed to provide a strong, practical foundation in historical methodology, important skills in examining and critically assessing the source material of the period, and evaluate the issues and events which have emerged from this critical period of Irish history and have been the subject much debate on social , historical and political levels.

The program includes taught modules, a research trip to the major archives in Ireland and the UK, fieldtrips to important sites of public history and a research dissertation.  The first part of the course is a series of taught module. The first module, Sources and debates in the Irish revolution, examines the contemporary writings, speeches and debates of the revolutionary period, with the attention on such figures as Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, and Terence MacSwiney. The second module, Historiography of the Irish revolution, examines the arguments and interpretation of the events by historians from the 1920s to the present day. The final module, Public history, Commemoration, and the Irish Revolution, focuses on the role of ‘public history’, that is, the use of the events of this ‘revolutionary decade’ by politicians and other groups and individuals to promote contemporary agendas. The research module gives candidates the opportunity to explore in depth the subject matter of their proposal working closely with a supervisor in the development of a 20,000 word dissertation. 

This program is structured to give the students the necessary foundation to study history at the Graduate level.  The subject is one that evokes controversy and division even today in Ireland, making the approach of the programme so important.   The context of the discussions and debates, which look at the major events and historical players, take into account the various points of view, the biases and the passions.  I have found during the lectures the importance of understanding the reasoning that drives someone to take part in an event and how someone on the other side can have an equally compelling reason to oppose it.  The methodology used allows the history we are studying to be as living and compelling as current events.  For me coming to try to understand the martyrdom of Padraig Pearse, the passionate fight for the cause of Labour by James Connolly amongst the varied figures who became part of the narrative during the revolutionary period, has been an absolute joy.  The material is intriguing and through the lectures and debates there are always new insights to be gained and new questions to be asked.

We went outside the classroom to witness the marks left by this period upon the city of Cork.  For me this is quite important as history becomes so much more alive when you visit the area where events occurred and to see the legacy in the landscape, and the society as well as in the stories and writings.   We took a trip to archives here in Cork, to a number in Dublin, Belfast and London. We were introduced to the structure and purpose of archives, as well as given the tools that we needed to write and research our theses.  But best of all we were being prepared to take our passions towards this period, to add to the historical narrative, to continue the debate that has been ongoing since that time.  The skills and the lessons that I have learned and will be learning from the amazing professors in the programme and the department will serve me greatly as continue the research which I began in this MA programme.

 

Course Coordinator
Mr. Gabriel Doherty
School of History,
University College Cork.
E: g.doherty@ucc.ie
P: 00 353 21 4902783.

School Administrators
Deirdre O'Sullivan/Geraldine McAllister,
School of History
University College Cork
+353 (0)21 4902755 deirdre@ucc.ie

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