News and Views
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister Catherine Martin welcome national conference to mark the centenary of the Irish Civil War
· A four day national conference, hosted by University College Cork, from 15th to 18th June
· The conference is free and open to the public
· A fringe programme includes concerts, walking tours and exhibitions
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin will address the opening day of the Irish Civil War National Conference - one of the key events in the State’s Decade of Centenaries Programme for 2022. The conference is hosted by University College Cork (UCC) and supported with funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Over 130 expert speakers will examine all aspects of the Irish Civil War (1922-1923), including international, political, social, cultural, gender, military, and economic dimensions. The conference is open to the public and admission is free.
The four days of conference proceedings will be streamed live on www.ucc.ie/civilwar. The opening and closing days of proceedings will also be live-streamed by RTÉ.
The objective of this conference is, to quote the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, to accomplish ‘meaningful engagements with a difficult and traumatic time’. It will not seek a sense of closure or a single agreed narrative. It will allow for a diversity of views and perspectives, grounded in scholarship, academic rigour, archival discovery and the factual evidence for the historical events that took place.
The conference will be held on the UCC campus and will comprise papers and plenary lectures examining topics such as international comparisons with the Irish experience of civil war; military strategies and conflict; civilian trauma and memory; gender; class and labour militancy; agrarian unrest; propaganda and memory; archaeology and material culture; politics and ideology; the Military Service Pensions Collection; the Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury research project. Plenary lectures will be delivered by Professor Robert Gerwath (University College Dublin); Professor Helen Graham (University of London); and Dr Bill Kissane (London School of Economics).
The closing day (18th June) will comprise plenary panel discussions, exploring themes of politics, labour, trauma, diplomacy, partition, disorder, gender, faith, and memory.
A lunchtime concert in UCC’s historic quad by the Band of the 1 Southern Brigade of the Irish Defence Forces; an exhibition of the famous armoured car, ‘Sliabh na mBan’; a ‘Civil War Cork: City Centre Walking Tour’; and a History Ireland Hedge School are among the events hosted by UCC and partner organisations from 15th to 18th June to complement the academic conference programme.
For more details and to register or watch the live proceedings, visit: https://www.ucc.ie/en/theirishrevolution/irish-civil-war-national-conference-june-2022/
Recordings of all panels and papers will be published on UCC’s Irish Revolution website in the weeks after the conference. The conference can be followed online at #CivilWarConferenceUCC.
Speaking ahead of the conference, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin said:
As we look back one hundred years to our civil war, we are conscious that this will be a painful centenary for many. This conference, hosted by University College Cork, offers a fitting and timely forum to illuminate, scrutinise, and debate all aspects of the historical events that took place, grounded in factual analysis and the evidence of primary sources. The impact and legacy of these events have resonated deeply within families and communities over the past one hundred years. Some aspects of this traumatic time are only being properly examined and discussed now. With time and distance, new insights and perspectives are now possible, leading to a more nuanced understanding of the complex events that occurred. Previous, uncritically accepted narratives can be tested and re-examined, bringing the possibility of forgiveness and healing.
The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar said:
It’s almost 100 years since the Civil War took place. The peace, prosperity and stability that Ireland has enjoyed as a State since the end of that short and bloody conflict is avhallmark of European democracy. Few countries in Europe have experienced such a long period of uninterrupted sovereignty and democracy. The Irish State which was founded by Michael Collins and his colleagues still faces many problems, but as a nation we have achieved a huge amount, in the face of enormous challenges. Even in recent years Ireland has grappled with Brexit, Covid, and the global financial crisis, but continues to emerge stronger from every challenge we face. The commitment to democratic principles that emerged from the Civil War has stood us in good stead throughout our century of independence. The vision of our nation’s founders has largely been achieved.
Minister Catherine Martin added:
The Civil War left a lasting legacy of bitterness, pain, and loss within families, parishes, and indeed all aspects of society, for decades afterwards. I am committed to ensuring that the historical events of this period are remembered in a respectful, sensitive, authentic and inclusive manner. Our history belongs to us all, as we seek to understand the journey our country has taken to become an independent, sovereign State. It was a difficult and at times, deeply traumatic journey, interspersed with acts of violence and tragedy. This is a painful and still deeply personal centenary for many.
The Decade of Centenaries has adopted a measured and sensitive approach to the remembrance of these events – an approach which focuses on healing and reconciliation, and the respectful remembrance of all of those who suffered and lost their lives. This does not mean that we shy away from acknowledging and examining difficult topics and themes, and their enduring legacy for generations to come. I know that this conference will seek to explore some of these themes and help our understanding as we move forward.
Also speaking today, the President of University College Cork, Professor John O’Halloran said:
"With four days of discussion and over 130 scholars gathered on the UCC campus, the Irish Civil War Conference promises to be a rich addition to our insight on a pivotal moment in Irish history."
Dr Maurice Manning, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations reflected:
The many silences that followed the Civil War were a better alternative to simplistic, polarised narratives, propaganda and myth-making. With time, comes the possibility of meaningful engagement and healing. Reconciliation requires us to acknowledge the sadness, acrimony and cruelty surrounding actions taken during the conflict a century ago. The detailed programme for this conference indicates that all aspects of this period will be subject to the rigorous academic scrutiny that is necessary as part of any meaningful commemoration. In a respectful, inclusive, honest and open manner, we will continue our commemorative journey during this complex and for some, deeply personal centenary year.