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New perspectives and appraisals of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, 1921-2021

9 Sep 2021

A Virtual Conference hosted by University College Cork, 1-2 October 2021


October 2021 marks the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Conference held in London which lasted from 11 October to 6 December 1921. The negotiations produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which created the Irish Free State following its approval by Dáil Éireann.

The UCC School of History’s two-day virtual conference, which took place on Friday, 1 October and Saturday, 2 October 2021,  explored the complex issues and the processes surrounding the Anglo-Irish negotiations.

Acting in collaboration with the Steering Group of Descendants of the Irish Delegation sent by Dáil Éireann in 1921, and funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in association with Cork City Council, Cork County Council, and UCC, this conference sought to understand the involvement of the men and women who formed the Irish Delegation, and their counterparts on the British side. The aim was to illuminate the challenges facing the Treaty negotiations and the ways in which the negotiators sought to resolve them.

Dr John Borgonovo of UCC’s School of History said;

“While this Treaty may be viewed through the prism of the Irish Civil War and the later Northern Ireland Troubles, the negotiations themselves produced their own dynamics. The talks reflected evolving positions on fundamental issues such as empire, citizenship, identity, free trade, the role of minorities, defence and democratic representation. Our conference, and the distinguished guest speakers, will explore the complexities of the talks and how the outcome has shaped the history of our island for the last 100 years.”

UCC President Prof John O’Halloran said:

“University College Cork has been committed to robust public engagement throughout the Decade of Centenaries. By hosting this conference we hope to help illuminate this critical episode in Anglo-Irish relations.”

Professor Richard Toye of the University of Exeter was the plenary speaker on the conference’s opening day, speaking on David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Other speakers addressed topics such as the influence of women on the negotiations, the role of Irish-America, the representation of the Treaty in British political cartoons, the legal implications of the Treaty, and its ramifications for Ulster, and Southern Loyalists.

The second day of the conference included an oral history of the families of members of the Treaty Delegation, chaired by Dr Ide Milne and featuring descendants of those who took part in the talks.



Conference Proceedings 

Day 1


Welcome Addresses

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin President of UCC, John O'Halloran

Session 1: 

  • Dr Mervyn O’Driscoll (UCC): Welcome and Introductions 
  • Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid (University of Sheffield): ‘Ending the Scrap: From War of Independence to Truce’ 
  • Dr Sinéad McCoole (Historian, Commemorations Unit, Dept Tourism, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports, and Media): ‘Negotiating: Did Women have an influence?’ 

Session 2: 

  • Prof Bernadette Whelan (Univ of Limerick): ‘President Harding, Irish-America and the treaty negotiations, July to December, 1921’
  • Dr Michael Kennedy (RIA): ‘The Treaty and National Defence

Session 3: 

  • Prof Chris Williams (UCC): ’The Anglo-Irish Treaty in British Political Cartoons’ 

Sesison 4: Plenary

  • Paul Johnston, (British Ambassador to Ireland): Introduction
  • Prof Richard Toye (Univ of Exeter) – ‘Lloyd George, the British Cabinet, and the Treaty Negotiations’


Day 2


Session 1:

  • Dr Ide Milne (Carlow College) and Select Family Descendants of the Treaty Delegation: ‘Descendants Roundtable, An Oral history of the Treaty Delegation Families’ 

Session 2:  

  • Dr Robert Lynch (Univ of Glasgow): ‘Ireland’s Other Civil War: Ulster and the Treaty’
  • Dr Ian D’Alton (TCD): ‘The end of the road or a new journey? Southern Protestants Loyalist Minorities and the Anglo-Irish Treaty’

Session 3: 

  • Dr Blathna Ruane SC, (UCD): ‘Legal implication of the Anglo-Irish Treaty’
  • Erskine Childers: ‘Reflections on Civil Service and the Treaty Centenary’
  • Dr John Borgonovo (UCC): Closing Remarks

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