News and Views

Ireland Votes for Change to cast light on groundbreaking referendums

Organised by UCC Library and curated by its archivists Emer Twomey and Emma Horgan, the 1972: Ireland Votes for Change exhibition will be launched this Wednesday (October 11). Photo: Tomás Tyner.

Organised by UCC Library and curated by its archivists Emer Twomey and Emma Horgan, the 1972: Ireland Votes for Change exhibition will be launched this Wednesday (October 11). Photo: Tomás Tyner.

  • 10 Oct 2017

The impact of Ireland’s referendums of 1972 — the lowering of the voting age to 18, removing the special position of the Catholic Church from the Constitution and Ireland’s Accession to the EEC (EU) — is the focus of a new exhibition at UCC Library.

1972: Ireland Votes for Change, which marks the 45th anniversary of the three seminal referendums of that year, has been made possible by the donation of Neville Keery’s papers to UCC Library.

Now retired, Keery had a long and illustrious career as a journalist, administrative officer, Senator, and Senior European Commission Official. His active role in the 1972 referendums is reflected in his archival collection, which will be open for public consultation from January 2018.

The exhibition features items including photographs of Ireland’s President from 1976 until 1990 Patrick Hillery and the Irish delegation negotiating Ireland’s entry into the EU, members of Fianna Fáil’s Into Europe campaign, and Taoiseach Jack Lynch signing the accession treaty, in addition to original campaign material from both sides and publications produced for voters.

Other original artefacts include a medallion, given to Ireland’s ‘Euro babies’, born on the day of Ireland’s Accession to the EC: January 1, 1973.  

Organised by UCC Library and curated by UCC Library’s Archivists Emer Twomey and Emma Horgan, the exhibition will be launched on Wednesday, October 11, by eminent historian Professor Emeritus J.J. Lee, at Boole Library, UCC at 5pm, with all welcome to attend. 

Clips from UCC’s Dr Theresa Reidy exclusive interview with Neville Keery filmed in UCC, in which he speaks of about his career, the role he played in the events of 1972, and the ongoing Brexit question, are also featured.

The exhibition’s timeliness is striking, given the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union after more than four decades of membership, which has raised many questions on the ramifications of this decision for the Irish Republic, not least where Northern Ireland is concerned, according to its organisers.

But what many here in Ireland may not be aware of, is that the two countries officially joined the European Economic Communities, as it was then known, on the very same day - the 1st of January 1973, they add.

The opening hours of the exhibition, which offers free admission and runs until December 15, are Mon-Thurs 8 a.m. to 1:45 a.m., Fridays 8 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. - 5:45 p.m., and Sundays 6 p.m. - 1:45 a.m.

For more on this story contact:

Emer Twomey, Archivist, UCC Library: (021) 4903475/ emer.twomey@ucc.ie.

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