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The Irish Civil War and Its Legacy

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18th Annual John Boyle O’Reilly Autumn School

Patron Dr. T.K. Whittaker

The Irish Civil War and Its Legacy

- 90 years on, a re-appraisal.

Sun 16 Sept 2012 10am-5.30pm
The D Hotel Drogheda



****See Report on the Autumn School from****

90 years ago, on the 4th of July 1922, the tower of Millmount Fort in Drogheda was shelled by Pro-Treaty forces using the same 18-pounder field gun which had been used to shell the Four Courts in Dublin some days earlier. This was one of the opening actions of the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) when differences regarding a proposed Treaty with Britain broke out into open warfare in which former comrades, friends and even brothers fought on opposing sides.

90 years later this bitter conflict still affects the structures of Irish politics. Some see it as the foundation of Irish democracy and others as the beginning of a process of counter-revolution.

This year the 18th Annual John Boyle O’Reilly Autumn School of the Old Drogheda Society is devoted to a reappraisal of the Irish Civil War and its legacy. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the topic it is an area of Irish history which has been largely neglected in the past. This historic conference begins the task of sifting historical truth from myth and assessing the continuing impact of the conflict on Irish politics and society with presentations from leading international experts in the field and also from national and local researchers unveiling newly discovered material.



Title: - The civil war and Irish life: how deep was the split?

Eunan O'Halpin is Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin. Amongst his books are Defending Ireland: the Irish state and its enemies since 1922 (Oxford, 1999), and Spying on Ireland: British intelligence and Ireland, 1939-1945 (Oxford, 2008).

He is preparing a study of The Dead of the Irish Revolution. 1916-1921 for Yale University Press, to be published in 2014. He has strong family links with the revolutionary era. His grandfather Hugh Halfpenny was an IRA battalion O/C in East Down before leaving Northern Ireland in 1922; his maternal grandparents Jim Moloney and Kathy Barry were senior figures on the anti-Treaty side in the civil war of 1922-23.

Prof. GAVIN FOSTER, Concordia University, Montreal

Title:- A 'Free State Palace of Jobbery'? Employment preferences and economic victimization in the civil war and its aftermath.

Gavin Foster is assistant professor of modern Irish history in the School of Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He earned his PhD in 2009 from the University of Notre Dame where his doctoral work examined the complex ways in which class and social status tensions and material conflicts became intertwined with politics, violence and animosities in the Irish Civil War. His work has appeared in Field Day Review, History Ireland, Saothar: Journal of the Irish Labour History Society, Éire-Ireland, and New Hibernia Review, and he is currently revising his dissertation for future publication. Thanks to an Établissement de nouveaux professeurs grant from the Quebec Government, Gavin’s newest research project uses oral history interviews to explore the Civil War’s complex resonances (and silences) in second- and later generation family and community memory in Ireland and among members of the Diaspora with connections to the conflict’s ‘wild geese’.


Title: - Was the Civil War a Class War?

Conor Kostick is the author of Revolution in Ireland - popular militancy 1917 - 1923 as well as numerous articles about Irish history. A former guide on '1916 The Easter Rising' walking tour, Conor
now teaches medieval history in TCD.


Title:- ‘O brothers’ blood! O iron time! What horror have we left undone?’ Lethal Violence and Retribution exacted by Provisional Government forces in the Civil War.

A graduate of NUI, Galway where he studied history, sociology and politics Tullamore native Philip McConway completed a PhD thesis ‘The Irish Civil War in the South Midlands 1922-23’ in TCD last year. At present he is preparing a monograph on lethal violence and retribution in the Civil War along with a number of journal articles on different aspects of the Irish Revolution. He is a committee member of Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society (OHAS) and contributor to its journal Offaly Heritage. He has previously given lectures to the OHAS and Birr Historical Society on loyalism, the National Army, the IRA and the Civil War executions. His wide ranging research interests encompass many facets of the Irish Revolution including the IRA, RIC, National Army, British Army, loyalists, political prisoners, local government, crime and anarchy, propaganda, and the legacy of violent conflict.


Title: - Drogheda in the Civil War

This paper from the Old Drogheda Society / Drogheda Museum’s group of community historians reveals new insights into the extraordinary events in the town in 1922 based on newly discovered material from primary sources.

Conference Fees

Conference lectures and 3 course lunch: - €25
Conference lectures only: - €10