Atlas of the Irish Revolution - A landmark and ground-breaking publication
The Atlas of the Irish Revolution became a publishing sensation in 2017
The 5-kilo book, Atlas of the Irish Revolution, topped the Irish non-fiction best-seller list for much of the holiday season, and won both the Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year and Joe Duffy’s Liveline Listeners Irish Book of the Year. Critics have praised the book’s innovative use of archival material to map different cultural, economic, social, political, and military activity in revolutionary Ireland. Ranging across disciplines and incorporating contributions from over 100 scholars, the book has broadened debates and opened new avenues in the study of revolutionary Ireland. The publication rests on a strong research foundation constructed by its editorial team.
UCC supported the four-year book project, released by its in-house academic publisher, Cork University Press (CUP). The core staff involved were Dr John Crowley and Mike Murphy of the Geography Department, and Dr Donal Ó Drisceoil and Dr John Borgonovo of the School of History. The former edited books in CUP’s successful Atlas series, including the award-winning Atlas of the Great Irish Famine (2012). The latter are historians with expertise in the Irish Revolution, whose archival research helped generate many of the book’s original maps. Cartographer Mike Murphy was responsible for map-production, assisted by Associate Cartographer Charlie Roche. Map data was supplied by many of the book contributors, as well as by the editorial team who scoured archives and existing secondary literature for potential material. The timing of the publication was fortuitous, as it coincided with a number of major digital archival releases, including the Military Service Pensions Collection (a massive collection from the Defence Forces of Ireland). Dr Helene O’Keefe joined the team for the second half of the project, providing both research and data management support. Nick Hogan, a technical officer in UCC’s Department of Archaeology, served as the book’s Graphics Editor. He sharpened the book’s 700 illustrations, which helped shape the book’s rich visual representation of revolutionary Ireland. The complex layout and book printing was overseen by Maria O’Donovan and Mike Collins at CUP, who then coordinated with specialist printers in Milan, Italy.
The Atlas of the Irish Revolution depended on fruitful collaborations with scores of scholars and cultural institutions. Many contributors shared their ideas for illustrations and research data for maps. A number of other specialists wrote individual image captions or made their research otherwise available to the editorial team. While some elements of revolutionary Ireland remained heavily contested, the publication took a ‘big tent’ approach by inviting contributions from multiple viewpoints and approaches. The editors also sought out early-career scholars and specialists from beyond academia. The book took a ‘history from below’ perspective, charting the involvement of workers, women, unaffiliated civilians, and rank-and-file participants in a variety of movements and armed conflicts. This inclusivity seemed to create its own dynamic, adding to the goodwill which characterised the editorial team’s easy partnerships with numerous archives, libraries, heritage groups, and individuals holding important collections used for the book. Special mention should be made of the National Library of Ireland for its generosity in providing timely responses for the reproduction of specific documents and images.
A project of this scope requires a clear vision. From the outset, the editorial team led by John Crowley sought to make sophisticated scholarship accessible to a broad audience. Readers were provided with multiple entry points to engage with varied subject matter. Visual imagery and accompanying captions provided an additional narrative layer. The overall result is a democratic book which has appealed to scholars and a wide public well beyond the confines of academia.