Dr Niamh Gallagher

University Associate Professor in Modern British and Irish History
Fellow of St Catharine's College
Dr Niamh Gallagher

Niamh Gallagher is author of Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History (Bloomsbury, 2019) which won the Royal Historical Society's 2020 Whitfield Prize, and co-editor of The Political Thought of the Irish Revolution (Cambridge, 2022).

She lectures on the history of modern Britain and Ireland and convenes a range of courses across the undergraduate and postgraduate year groups. She has written on the cultural and social history of the First World War and is currently working on the history of Ireland and end of the British Empire.

Niamh has appeared frequently in the media and is involved in public policy (see below). She co-convenes The Cambridge Future of the Island of Ireland series, awarded an Arts and Humanities Impact Fund grant in 2022 to develop the project.

She is currently the recipient of a lectureship in modern Irish history generously funded by the Irish Government's Department of Foreign Affairs' Peace and Reconciliation Fund, and is available for consultancy.

Late nineteenth and twentieth century political, social and cultural history; theories of nations and nationalism (and their limitations); the impact of war on society; the Irish in the British World; transnational, imperial and comparative histories; the history of immigrants and minorities; empires and imperialism; emigration and settlement; political thought; gender and class; memory and myth-making; commemoration; anti-state politics

I supervise MPhil students in modern British and Irish political, social and cultural history from 1800 and welcome enquiries from students in these fields. Past students have written dissertations on:

  • The place of Ulster Liberalism within the long 'decline' of the Liberal Party
  • Comparing gendered violence during the N. Ireland 'Troubles' and in India's 'partition'
  • 'Motherhood' and women's experiences of the N. Irish 'Troubles'
  • An environmental history of the Gaeltachtai
  • Imagining and reshaping the border in Ireland's twentieth century
  • Paramilitary loyalism, class and negotiating constitutional and revolutionary politics
  • Anti-imperialism in interwar Britain
  • Government propaganda in Ireland during the First World War 
  • Working-class women in education during the interwar period
  • Scottish ex-patriates in India from 1880-1914
  • A comparative history of the Egyptian and Irish revolutions
  • Memory of the Great Famine in Ireland from 1930 to the present.

For Part II students writing dissertations, I welcome enquiries from students writing on any aspect of Irish history from 1800 (including the history of Northern Ireland), as well as students writing on British history. In British history I am happy to consider topics within both political and social history from 1880 to the present, and to make recommendations if I feel a colleague is more suitable. Past students have written dissertations on topics including:

  • Masculinity and paramilitarism during the N. Ireland 'Troubles'
  • The place of the Ulster Workers' Strike of 1974 in British strikes during the 1970s
  • The Gore-Booth sisters and radical politics
  • British public responses to Daniel O'Connell's campaign for Catholic Emancipation
  • Memory and the legacy of the War of Independence and Civil War in North Co. Kerry
  • The Border Commission and the experience of partition in Tyrone and Fermanagh
  • Domestic and sexual violence in London, 1918-1939
  • Changing attitudes to masculinity within the post-WW2 East End Jewish community
  • Ailtirí na hAiséirghe and fascism in 1930s Ireland

I convene the Part II (third year) Specified paper on Modern Ireland entitled 'Ireland and the Irish Since the Famine'.  At the MA level I teach an option called 'Interpreting Ireland', which allows students to dive into some of the major debates in the history of modern Ireland and to critically think about methodological and conceptual issues when writing Irish history.  For first and second years, I convene 'Sources' and formerly convened British Political History Since 1880. I supervise across these papers and the History and Politics Tripos. At St Catharine's, I have had a range of teaching, tutorial, and management responsibilities. Find out further information here.

Public policy and related work

- Invited witness on subject of Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, as well as Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, for House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, 12 October 2022. Watch the session here or read the transcript here.

- 'The misuse of the Good Friday Agreement in Ministerial protests over the Protocol', article published as part of History and Policy, 06 July 2022, https://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/the-misuse-of-the-good-friday-agreement-in-ministerial-protests-over-the-protocol

- Member of the Northern Ireland Independent Centenary Historical Advisory Panel 2020-2021 appointed by UK government to advise on marking centenary of Northern Ireland. Worked closely with the Nerve Centre, Derry, to assist historical aspects of the Creative Centenaries website 

- Invited contributor to the President of Ireland's (Michael D. Higgins) Machnamh 100 public seminar series on the theme of Empire: instincts, interests, power and resistance broadcast on RTE (25 Feb 2021)

- One of four panellists invited by the Irish Embassy in London to speak about the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Chaired by Fergal Keane (Dec 2020)

- Chaired Mether Initiative panel discussion with former secretaries of state for Northern Ireland, John Reid and Paul Murphy, and the shadow deputy leader of the House of Lords, Angela Smith, to discuss the challenges of delivering the Good Friday Agreement (Nov 2019)

Media, press and public engagement

- Consulted by Financial Times  regarding 'where next for Northern Ireland?' Published 31 October 2022 https://www.ft.com/content/8abfe3f2-d07c-41d2-9077-dbc4c951f210

- Talking head on Michael Portillo's RTE-Midas Production on the Irish civil war: the third and final documentary in 'The Enemy Files' series (broadcast on RTE, early 2023)

- Talking head on BBC's 'Sunday' with William Crawley on subject of bonfires in N. Ireland (broadcast 21 August 2022)

- Consulted by Financial Times (August, 2022) and Irish News (July 2022) to speak about 'The misuse of the Good Friday Agreement in ministerial protests over the Protocol', resulting in leading articles and front-page news.

- Co-founder of The Mether Initiative at St Catharine's College with Lord Des Browne of Ladyton. Now Cambridge Future of the Island of Ireland series.

- Talking head on Tyrone Productions documentary screened by BBC, 'Steps of Freedom: The story of Irish Dance'

- Talking head on BBC's 'The Long View' with Jonathan Freedland on subject of 'This Union' (broadcast 13 July 2021)

- Talking head on Michael Portillo's RTE-Midas Production, 'Partition, 1921', the second documentary in 'The Enemy Files' series (broadcast on RTE, June, 2021)

- Talking head on LRB podcast with Thomas Jones 'On the Irish Border' (June, 2021)

- Talking head on Talking Politics podcast with Prof. Richard Bourke on 'Northern Ireland: Past, Present, Future', (March, 2021)

- Invited speaker at Her Majesty's Treasury History Network as part of their Anniversaries Series to deliver lecture entitled 'Houses divided: the 1911 Parliament Act'  (March, 2021).

- Discussant on Dan Snow's History Hit podcast to discuss the Partition of Ireland (Jan 2021)

- Talking head on TV documentary, 'The Hunger', produced by Tyrone Productions in association with RTE, University College Cork and The Atlas Of The Great Irish Famine (Nov-Dec 2020).

- Discussant on the Cambridge-led podcast, 'Talking Politics', with David Runciman to discuss Sinn Fein and the Irish general election (Dec 2020) 

- Discussant on Radio 4 show 'In Our Time' hosted by Melvyn Bragg on subject of 'The Great Irish Famine' (April 2019) alongside Cormac O'Grada and Enda Delaney 


Tags & Themes


St Catharine's College,
Trumpington Street,


Twitter: @NiamhGal


Key Publications

The Political Thought of the Irish Revolution (Cambridge, 2022) 

Description: The Irish Revolution was a pivotal moment of transition for Ireland, the United Kingdom, and British Empire. A constitutional crisis that crystallised in 1912 electrified opinion in Ireland whilst dividing politics at Westminster. Instead of settling these differences, the advent of the First World War led to the emergence of new antagonisms. Republican insurrection was followed by a struggle for independence along with the partition of the island. This volume assembles some of the key contributions to the intellectual debates that took place in the midst of these changes and displays the vital ideas developed by the men and women who made the Irish Revolution, as well as those who opposed it. Through these fundamental texts, we see Irish experiences in comparative European and international contexts, and how the revolution challenged the durability of Britain as a global power.


Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Description: revises our understanding of Ireland and the Irish in the Great War. Using previously unused sources, it unearths forgotten dimensions of the Irish war effort and builds a picture of Irish societies at war in Ireland and within diasporic communities in Canada, Australia and Britain. Voluntary war associations, the war at sea, the refashioning of politics, the Allied war effort, Irish responses throughout the Empire and memory are a handful of the topics explored. Fundamentally it demonstrates the limitations of analysing the war through the lenses of Protestant-Unionism, Catholic-Nationalism or Irishness v Britishness.

Royal Historical Society Whitfield Prize Judges’ citation:

This is a bold and indeed audacious intervention in the historiography of Irish Catholic involvement in British and Allied action during the Great War. Niamh Gallagher’s sophisticated interpretation of the Home Front in towns across Ireland enables us to appreciate the ways in which individuals, families, businesses, civic and political leaders, and their supporters, understood Allied war aims and the reasons for contributing and remembering. Richly detailed and illustrated throughout, this is an unusually substantial contribution to the social and political history of Ireland and Irish communities abroad.”

Other Publications

Journal articles

- N. Gallagher, 'Ireland and the First World War: Myth, Memory and History', British Journal of Military History (forthcoming, 2023).

- N. Gallagher, 'That Awkward Region: Writing and Advising on the History of Northern Ireland', Political Quarterly, vol. 94, no. 2., (2023), 237-243.

Monographs, edited collections and invited chapters

  • N. Gallagher ‘Churchill, the ‘Irish Question’ and the Irish’ in Allen Packwood (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Winston Churchill, Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023), pp. 112-136.
  • R. Bourke and N. Gallagher (eds), The Political Thought of the Irish Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022).
  • N. Gallagher, 'Reordering the world in the aftermath of the First World War' in  Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid, Marie Coleman, Paul Bew (eds.) Northern Ireland 1921–2021: Centenary Historical Perspectives (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2022).
  • N. Gallagher, 'Breaking down binaries: empire, the First World War and partition' in President of Ireland's Machnamh 100: Empire (President's Office, 2021).

Recent book reviews