Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall have launched separate lecture series focused on Ireland’s century-old revolutionary period. Both presentations can be accessed in virtual and recorded formats.
Mulhall’s “A Farther Shore: American Reflections on the Advent of Irish Independence (1921-22)” is joined by the American Conference for Irish Studies, and U.S. and Irish scholars. The Jan. 26 debut focused on the 1916 Rising, renewal of Sinn Féin and the Irish Volunteers, the spring 1918 conscription crisis, December 1918 election, and the First Dáil in January 1919. A Feb. 23 session will explore the War of Independence. A third presentation is planned for March 25.
Higgins began his Machnamh (Reflections) 100 series in December with a talk entitled “Of Centenaries and the Hospitality Necessary in Reflecting on Memory, History and Forgiveness.” A February session (no date yet) will focus on “Instincts, Interests, Power and Resistance.” Another event, “Recovering Imagined Futures,” is planned for sometime in May. Check the Machnamh 100 homepage for updates and details.
Mulhall noted the youth of the Irish republican leaders compared to the aging home rule proponents who lingering from the late 19th century. “This was a very talented generation” that exhibited “extraordinary boldness and bravery” in establishing the Dáil less than a month after the December 1918 election. “Prudence would have called for contacting London,” the veteran diplomat said.
He singled out the October 1920 hunger strike death of Terence MacSwiney as having extraordinary international impact on the Anglo-Irish War in ways that other events did not. Viewed from today, Mulhall said he is amazed by how quickly events moved in Ireland in the six years from the Rising to the Free State, as compared to more than a century of earlier failed armed and political action opposed to the 1800 Act of Union.
See my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.