PRESIDENT OF IRELAND CENTENARY REFLECTIONS
OF CENTENARIES AND THE HOSPITALITY NECESSARY IN REFLECTING ON MEMORY, HISTORY AND FORGIVENESS “In this decade of significant centenaries, we are challenged to engage with our shared past in a manner that is honest, authentic and inclusive, and as might assist a healing of conflicts that cannot be forgotten. The complex events we recall during this decade are integral to the story that has shaped our nation in all its diversity. Issues of the fullness of context, in terms of what has been or is being taken into account or being excluded, cannot morally be avoided. Ethical remembering requires us in particular to shine a light on overlooked figures and events in an attempt to have a more comprehensive, balanced and inclusive perspective on, for example, the independence struggle and the response to it. A central dimension of ethical remembering is a refusal of conscious or unconscious amnesia, not only of persons but events. It requires the inclusion of marginalised voices, the disenfranchised, voices from below in our recollections of the past. It must include the essential part played by women in the period that we commemorate, the role of class, and an openness to stories of ‘the Other’, the stranger, the enemy of yesterday. For the sake of the future we will share, we must be unshackled from the snares of the past. Creating a space for forgiveness is essential. The time has come for an ethics of narrative hospitality with its capacity to replace our past entrenchments, offering an openness to others. In doing so, we may nurture memory and remembrance as a strong foundation of a shared, agreed future.” President Michael D. Higgins
The term Machnamh is an ancient Irish concept encompassing reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought. Over the coming year, President Michael D. Higgins will host a series of seminars inviting reflections on the War of Independence, the Treaty Negotiations, the Civil War and Partition. Leading scholars from different backgrounds and with an array of perspectives will share their insights and thoughts on the context and events of that formative period of a century ago and on the nature of commemoration itself. Through Machnamh 100, President Higgins will facilitate presentations and discussions on specific themes, to explore more fully the various aspects of that period in Ireland’s journey, and its legacy for the societies and jurisdictions that were to emerge subsequently. In Volume 1 of Machnamh 100 – the first three of a series of six seminars, President Higgins invited reflections from a number of scholars focusing on the War of Independence, building on his extensive work on previous events that marked other pivotal moments in our nation’s history, including the 1913 Lockout and the Easter Rising. These contributions are now captured in Machnamh 100, Centenary Reflections, Volume 1, published in November 2021.
At the invitation of President Higgins, Dr. John Bowman, Historian and Broadcaster, will now chair the remaining three seminars in the second part of the Machnamh 100 Centenary Reflections commencing on 25 November, 2021 with further events in spring and autumn 2022. These remaining seminars will focus on events subsequent to the War of Independence, including the Civil War and the formation of two new administrations on the island. On Thursday 25 November, the first of the remaining three seminars will take place. Titled Settlements, Schisms, and Civil Strife, it will involve a consideration of the road to the Treaty and its long-term implications. It will also examine the summer of 1921 and what the Truce meant, what prospects it opened, as well as the international aspect of the halt in hostilities. Machnamh 100 is an initiative of President Higgins that builds on his extensive work to date during Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations that has examined and explored seminal events such as the Lockout of 1913, the First World War, The Easter Rising, the Flu Pandemic, the election of 1918 and the first Dáil. Machnamh 100 is being supported by the Government and by RTÉ.
SETTLEMENTS, SCHISMS AND CIVIL STRIFE
THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, CIVIL WAR AND PARTITION 1920-1923
25 November 2021
SETTLEMENTS, SCHISMS AND CIVIL STRIFE Master of Ceremonies: Dr. John Bowman Principal Speaker: Professor Diarmaid Ferriter Respondents: President Michael D. Higgins Professor Mary E. Daly Professor Margaret Kelleher Dr. Daithí Ó Corráin Professor Fearghal McGarry This session will involve a consideration of the road to the Treaty and its long-term implications. It will also examine the summer of 1921 and what the Truce meant, what prospects it opened, as well as the international aspect of the halt in hostilities. Spring 2022
CONSTITUTIONAL, INSTITUTIONAL AND DIPLOMATIC FOUNDATIONS: COMPLEXITY AND CONTESTATION This session will explore the Irish constitutional foundations – in comparative context/ domain status and empire. Consideration will also be given to representation and the ‘people’: choosing different electoral systems – for the Irish Free State and the Northern Ireland administration; the implications of that choice; and the concept and predicament of ‘minorities’ in the new configuration of states established in the aftermath of World War One. It will also reflect on ‘keeping the right company’: the Irish Free State claiming its place in a volatile system of international relations (League of Nations; International Labour Organisation, ILO); the response throughout the Irish diaspora to the new constitutional ‘order’ in Ireland during 2021/22; and women in the 1922 Constitution and in the public sphere of the new Irish Free State. The speakers for this event will be announced at a later date.
SPEAKERS’ BIOS Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, President of Ireland is currently serving his second term, having been first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2018. President Higgins has forged a career as an academic and political representative at many levels, campaigning extensively for human rights, peace and sustainability. He was a member of Dáil Éireann for 25 years, and member of Seanad Éireann for nine years, and Ireland’s first Minister for the Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. President Michael D. Higgins led the commemorations of the “Decade of Centenaries”, marking the centenary anniversaries of some of the seminal events in Ireland’s history. The President attended and spoke at a large number of State and other ceremonial events helping to shape national efforts at exploring and examining the background, impact and contemporary significance of the events being recalled.
ACTS OF COMMEMORATION: PRIDE, PAIN AND PERSPECTIVE This session will seek to secure a wide range of perspectives on the above theme – including scholars and thinkers from different disciplines, including cultural theorists, critics in the visual arts and the creative arts in general – music, film, and literature in its various genres. The speakers for this event will be announced at a later date.
Since taking office, the President has published three collections of speeches setting out his approach: ‘When Ideas Matter: Speeches for an Ethical Republic’, ‘1916 Centenary Commemorations and Celebrations’, and ‘Reclaiming the European Street: Speeches on Europe and the European Union, 2016-20’.
Dr. John Bowman is a broadcaster and historian. He has presented current affairs and historical programmes on RTE radio and television since the 1960s. He is author of Window and Mirror: RTE Television, 1961-2011, the first comprehensive history of Irish television. His PhD, De Valera and the Ulster Question: 1917–1973, won the Ewart-Biggs Prize for its contribution to North-South understanding. His latest book, Ireland: the Autobiography, is published by Penguin. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin in 2009 and awarded an Honorary Doctorate by UCD in 2010.
Diarmaid Ferriter is Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD and author of numerous books, including The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 (2004), Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland (2009), Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s (2012), The Border: The Legacy of a Century of Anglo-Irish Politics (2019) and Between Two Hells: The Irish Civil War (2021). He is a regular television and radio broadcaster and a weekly columnist with the Irish Times. In 2019 he was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy.
Mary E. Daly is Professor Emeritus in Irish history at UCD, and a member of the Expert Advisory Group on the Decade of Centenaries. She served as President of the Royal Irish Academy from 2014-2017.
Margaret Kelleher is Professor and Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at University College Dublin. Her publications include The Maamtrasna Murders: Language, Life and Death in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (UCD Press) which was awarded the Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture by the American Conference of Irish Studies in 2019 and shortlisted for the Michel Déon Prize. She is Chair of the Irish Film Institute and UCD academic lead for the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI).
Daithí Ó Corráin lectures in the School of History and Geography at DCU and is Chair of the MA in History. He has published widely on the Irish Revolution, 1912-23 and Irish Catholicism. He is the author of Rendering to God and Caesar: the Irish churches and the two states in Ireland, 1949-73 (2006) and chapters on Irish Catholicism in the Cambridge History of Ireland (2018) as well as the forthcoming Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism (2022) and Oxford Handbook of Religion in Ireland (2022). He is co-editor with Professor Marian Lyons of The Irish Revolution, 1912-23 series of county histories published by Four Courts Press. His latest book (co-authored with Eunan O’Halpin) is the landmark The Dead of the Irish Revolution (2020).
Fearghal McGarry is Professor of Modern Irish History at Queen’s University Belfast. He has written widely on revolutionary and postindependence Ireland. He is the author of The Abbey Rebels of 1916: A Lost Revolution (2015) and The Rising: Ireland, Easter 1916 (2010). His co-edited books, Ireland 1922: Independence, Partition, Civil War (Royal Irish Academy) and The Irish Revolution: A Global History (NYU Press) will be published next year. With partners at the University of Edinburgh and Boston College, McGarry has recently completed a major AHRC research project, A Global History of Irish Revolution, 191623, which investigates how the Irish struggle for independence was shaped by international currents. He has been extensively involved with activities marking the Decade of Centenaries including the development of GPO Witness History exhibition. He was a historical consultant for the BBC’s recent television documentary series, The Road to Partition.