Ireland and the Irish since the Famine

Course Material 2024/25


From the Famine to the Celtic Tiger, through democracy, independence, partition, the Troubles, and the UK’s departure from the EU, the history of modern Ireland is notoriously complicated, often tragic, and in dialogue with larger entities, such as the UK (in which Northern Ireland is a part), former British Empire, the USA, EU, and parts of the Global South. Uniquely among many apparently national histories, Irish history appears to be ‘living’ history, as perceptions of the past continue to shape the present. Starting from some of the major historiographical controversies, this paper will introduce students to Irish history since the second half of the nineteenth century in the aftermath of the Famine of 1845–52 until the peacemaking process in Northern Ireland and the development of a more secular and liberal Republic.  It will have a strong political dimension, exploring the rise of nationalism and unionism in their social context and in relation to other demands for rights, including women’s suffrage and the rights of religious minorities.  It examines patterns of resistance and cooperation, ranging from the development of political parties in the age of C.S. Parnell and Edward Carson and their influence on parties at Westminster, to the variety of political thinking that characterised the Irish Revolution. Society changed dramatically across this period and the paper will have significant social, cultural, and economic components. Topics including emigration and diaspora, sex and gender, economic change, and religion infuse the richness of material on offer. 

Combining regional, national, and transnational approaches, this Advanced Topic offers a unique opportunity to explore long-standing themes and problems, different methodological approaches to approaching Irish history, as well as the newest areas of research.  It will give students a solid understanding of major historical developments whilst allowing them to craft their own path in the syllabus to explore topics of most interest to them.  In all cases, students will wrestle with complex ideas, contested narratives and evolving debates to approach both ‘old’ and ‘new’ historiographical issues. 


Section notice

This material is intended for current students but will be interesting to prospective students. It is indicative only.