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The Department of History at Mary Immaculate College welcomes students taking undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. We provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere in which all of our students have the opportunity to develop.

At undergraduate level, our students study history within the Bachelor of Arts programme and we teach elective modules on the Bachelor of Education programme. We offer a taught MA in History and also a taught MA programme in Local History (in conjunction with our colleagues at the University of Limerick). The Department also supervises research postgraduate students at MA and PhD levels. 

We are a research-active department, committed to ongoing research and publication projects. Staff members have particular research strengths in Irish history and Irish American history, and we are also interested in transnational and comparative approaches to the past. We run regular research seminars and host major academic conferences.

We are also committed to 'community history' and over the years have forged close links with cultural bodies and local history groups in Limerick, the mid-west and beyond. We are always happy to respond to queries and receive feedback, so please feel free to contact us.  

MA In History at Mary Immaculate College
MA In History - More than a Master's at MIC
This programme combines taught modules & dynamic research to bring the past into the present
Head of Department
Dr Liam Chambers
+ 353 61 204534

Subject Overview


Below is a list of undergraduate History modules currently on offer at MIC.

This module will explore the rise of the nation state; the Habsburg-Valois wars; the Renaissance; humanism; late medieval Christianity; the Reformation; the Catholic Reformation; the ‘rise of capitalism’; European exploration and the ‘New World’; the development of political Absolutism; Louis XIV’s France; the Glorious Revolution in England, Scotland and Ireland; the Witchcraft trials of the seventeenth century; Non-Christian populations; the Scientific Revolution; the early/radical Enlightenment; proto-industrialisation; early eighteenth century European trade and global contacts.

This module gives students an awareness of major controversies in history by examining key debates drawn from eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century Irish, European and American history.  It allows students to investigate different interpretations of key events in history and to examine primary source documents and other evidence. It provides a framework for thinking critically about events and ideas in the past and opens up the possibility of questioning established narratives.

Introduction to the New British and Irish History; Centralisation and Union? Scotland, England, Wales and Cornwall; Ireland in the sixteenth century; Ireland in the seventeenth century; the challenges of composite monarchy; the Wars of the Three Kingdoms; Gaelic cultures; the Reformations; religion and belief; languages and histories; migration and plantation; economies and material culture; How successful was the making of Britain?

The module will introduce students to the major themes in European history over the past two centuries. The first half of the module examines the period from the start of the French Revolution in 1789 to the eve of the First World War in 1914. The module will address a number of key subjects: the French Revolution and Napoleonic Europe; the nature of the post-Napoleonic settlement and the challenges to it; social, economic and cultural changes, particularly the impact of industrialisation; the development of nationalism, to include specific case studies (for example, Germany and/or Italy); European engagement with the rest of the world, particularly the ‘new’ imperialism of the post-1870 period; the diplomatic and other factors leading to the outbreak of the First World War. The second half of the module will examine the ‘short twentieth century’, or what Eric Hobsbawm described as the ‘Age of Extremes’. Topics covered will include, the First World War and post-war violence in Europe; the Russian Revolution; Fascism and Stalinism in the interwar years; the Second World War and the Holocaust; the Cold War and the collapse of European Empires; the rise and fall of Communism in Eastern Europe; and European integration after 1945.

This module will focus on the broad themes and developments of American History 1850-1975. It will be framed around essential questions such as slavery; the struggle for civil and political rights; the Civil War; industrialization, urbanization and immigration; the role of government; race, class, and gender relations and America's role as an imperial or global power. Key crises such as the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, McCarthyism, Vietnam and Watergate will be highlighted.  Students will examine and analyse a diverse array of primary and secondary sources including documentary, newspaper, and visual sources as well as historical documentaries and scholarly articles.

The Restoration; the 'War of the Two Kings'; the post-1691 settlement and the development of the Protestant interest; debates about Ireland's constitutional status and the development of Patriotism; the Penal Laws; Jacobitism and Irish Catholic migration overseas; the Presbyterian community; the Irish economy in the eighteenth century; Improvement and Enlightenment; the position of women and children; Catholic politics; the Volunteers and Legislative Independence; the Whiteboys and agrarian violence; radicalism and reaction in the 1790s; the Rebellion of 1798; the Act of Union.

The module offers students an opportunity to reflect on and engage with a pivotal period in Irish history, one marked by political conflict, disturbing levels of poverty and considerable social upheaval. Through engagement with a range of primary and secondary sources, the student will gain an understanding of the political, social and cultural forces that shaped lived experience on the island and be able to locate the history of the period within wider comparative and transnational frameworks.  In particular, the module will address the potential for integration within the union and its failure to deliver a settlement satisfactory to a majority on the island. This political failure will be situated within a wider political, social and cultural history of the century which explores Ireland’s place within the wider United Kingdom and its relationship with the broader European circumstance. In doing so, the module will afford students the opportunity to trace the complex origins of modern Irish society and to develop their critical and analytical skills through independent research.

Focusing on the period 1850-1920, this module will investigate the lived experience of Irish immigrants in the United States of America. It will deal with key issues such as the notion of diaspora, the concepts of assimilation and integration, and the evolution of an Irish American identity. While examining areas of commonality, the module will explore differences in the immigrant experience between male and female, urban and rural, east and west, north and south and between first, second and third-generation Irish. Significant changes over time, such as changes in representation, attitudes to Ireland, and labour practices will be evaluated. Students will examine and analyse a diverse array of primary and secondary sources including documentary, newspaper, and visual sources as well as historical documentaries and scholarly articles.

Using three case studies of British counterinsurgency in the twentieth century – Ireland, 1919-1921; Palestine, 1936-39; and Kenya, 1952-56 – this module will chart the evolution of unconventional warfare since 1900. Having studied each individual case, students will then think more broadly about a series of themes and issues: unconventional warfare on film; popular support; harming civilians; and the lessons of unconventional war. The module will explore how guerrillas relate to their communities and the often-uncertain boundaries between the guerrilla and the bandit, fanatic, or terrorist. It will also examine the diverse strategies that conventional forces have developed to meet the very particular problems posed by unconventional war. Students will engage with key debates on the nature of violence, its practitioners, and its victims. They will also engage with relevant primary sources, reflect on historiographical trends, and discuss current controversies on the use of terror and counter-terror.

This module assesses the history of Irish migration to early modern Europe. The module introduces students to key themes:  the causes and geography of Irish migration; the context of political-diplomatic alliances; military migration and the development of Irish regiments abroad; religious and educational migration and the development of Irish colleges; economic migration and the development of merchant houses and networks. The module assess migration in the context of poverty, gender, family migration, assimilation, integration, cultural exchange and identity formation. The module will also examine Irish migration within the imperial networks of Catholic European powers, such as France and Spain. The module will conclude by examining the impact of the French Revolution on Irish migration and its re-orientation in the nineteenth century.

This module will chart the history of modern Ireland from the final decades of the Act of Union, through revolution and partition, to the creation of two new states and the challenges that followed in the Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland) and in Northern Ireland. The module will explore how ordinary people lived in this period, and how family, social, and working lives were impacted by political and cultural change. Topics covered will include sectarianism; the border; political and economic challenges in the two states; religion; class and gender; emigration; the ‘Emergency’ and neutrality; and the Troubles (c.1968-1998). Students will analyse and evaluate current debates among historians. They will also engage directly with a host of relevant primary source collections (many of which are now available online) including census returns, newspapers, pamphlets and posters, parliamentary debates and reports, letters, diaries, memoirs, and more.

The purpose of the module is to encourage reflection upon and engagement with the means by which we present and construct a usable past through the medium film and in written texts.  It will allow students to explore different ways of presenting the past and how different forms of media offer varied views on the past. The students will focus on important themes and debates in the history of the nineteenth century and explore them through written and film history.  This will allow them to reach a deeper understanding of the practice of history in general and, more particularly, key developments in the long nineteenth century.   In doing so, it will sharpen analytical and critical thinking and build on key skills and attributes acquired in years 1-3. 

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the medieval history of Ireland prior to the year 1000; Genetic influxes during the late prehistoric and early medieval periods – Celts and Vikings; The arrival of writing and Christianity; Sources for Irish political history: annals; Sources for Irish political history: genealogies; Sources for Irish political history: wisdom literature and the law; High-kingship of Tara and the provincial kingdoms; The role of the Church in promoting political hierarchy; The Eóganacht rulers of Munster: Cashel v. Killarney; Feidlimid mac Crimthann and the Céili Dé; Viking mercenaries and the establishment of the coastal cities; The origins of Thomond and the rise of the Dál Cais; Conclusions. 

This module will deal with death and the dead in early modern Ireland and Britain, considering the process of dying; ideas about 'good' and 'bad' deaths; the preparation of dead bodies; funeral rituals; expressions of grief; the location of burial; reasons for the exhumation of corpses; the uses of funerary commemoration; people's expectations of the afterlife; and their ideas about the returning dead (ghosts and revenants). It will engage with the changes brought about by the Reformations in the Irish and British Isles, and the ways in which the treatment of the dead can throw light on interactions within communities and between members of different religious and political groups. While the focus is primarily on the period 1450-1750, the ideas and issues encountered will be relevant to other times and places as well.

Offered on B Ed programme only - History Elective 1.

This module introduces students to the history of early modern Europe in a chronological and thematic framework. The course examines a series of key topics and encourages students to engage with primary and secondary sources. Students will be especially encouraged to consider debates between historians about how best to understand the topics under consideration. The course will explore the impact of printing; the Renaissance; the Reformations; religious violence in post-Reformation Europe; European interactions with the wider world; authority and hierarchy; gender and society; witchcraft, criminals and other deviants: absolutism: the Scientific Revolution: the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

Offered on B Ed programme only - History Elective 2.

From the prosperous fifties through the turbulent sixties, the recessionary seventies and reactionary eighties, post-World War 2 America has been a dominant power in the world. Since the ending of the Cold War in 1989, America is regarded as the only superpower. This course will chart the main events and issues that shaped the United States during this period. Political, social and cultural aspects will be examined as well as America’s role in the wider world. The overarching issues of race, class and gender will be explored and key and historical moments such as McCarthyism, Cuba, Black power, Vietnam, and Watergate will be critically evaluated.

Offered on B Ed programme only - History Elective 3.

This module examines Irish history from the early sixteenth century to the late eighteenth century through a series of case studies. The module places a strong emphasis on reading primary sources, as well as on debates among historians drawn from in-depth reading of specialist secondary sources. 

Offered on B Ed programme only - History Elective 4.

It is impossible to understand modern Irish history without an understanding of the Great Famine. This module will allow students to explore this central event in Irish history through engagement with a range of primary source material and with key debates among historians and others. The students will be confronted with the central question of causation by looking at the roots of the Famine itself and its short- and long-term impacts on Irish society and, more broadly, on the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. The module will explore, in particular, the impact of migration on Ireland and on other parts of the world and will explore the legacy of Irish mobility on global history. 

Offered on B Ed programme only - History Elective 5.

This module explores the first seven decades of Irish independence looking at the emergence of new state structures, political, administrative and constitutional; the varying fortunes of the Irish economy; foreign policy; population and social change; education and the Irish language; popular culture; the role of women in Irish society, and the role of the Churches. 


Below is a list of modules currently on offer at MIC as part of the MA in History.

This course comprises two distinct sections. In the first section students will gain a critical understanding of different schools of history, of historic methods (text analysis, case studies…) and approaches to studying history (oral, economic, ethnographic, etc.). It will address key intellectual questions across the historical discipline and focus on theories and theorists relevant to historians. The second section of the course will provide students with a forum in which to address research skills appropriate to their particular field - literature review; library and archive sources; electronic databases and resources - and will attend to framing and refining research problems and questions. The organisational and presentation skills necessary for writing a research proposal and dissertation will be a key component of the second section of this course. 

This course will introduce students to scholarly theories of photography, representation and visual discourse. It will examine and analyse images such as photographs and political cartoons as primary source documents and will consider methods and methodologies of representing non-textual research findings. 

This module offers an in-depth political, social and cultural analysis of the period 1912 to 1927, which shaped modern Ireland and led to the end of the Union with Great Britain and the creation of two new states. It begins with the Home Rule crisis in 1912 and ends with the entry of Fianna Fail into the Free State Dáil in 1927. 

This module introduces students to (i) the development of European historiography from the eighteenth century to the early twenty-first century; (ii) the development of Irish historiography from the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. The module is designed to provide students with an essential grounding in modern historiography.

This module will explore the family, marriage, relationships, and interactions between different categories of kin in early modern Ireland and Britain. The ideology underpinning patriarchal authority will be considered. Other themes include: courtship and the making of marriage; domestic violence; separation and divorce; ideas about the roles of individual members of the family within the domestic economy; the birth and rearing of children; the social place of single people and widows; and representations of homosexuality and other illicit sexual acts. Students will be introduced to a variety of sources and to debates on gender history.

The module will allow students to engage in an in-depth study of the history of violence and the law in Irish history and to locate the Irish experience within a broader comparative framework. It will offer the opportunity to work with a range of primary source materials and to develop a substantial independent research project. 

Working under the close supervision of a faculty supervisor, each student will engage with scholarly works and primary source material in his/her chosen historical field and complete a written dissertation.

Below is a list of modules currently on offer at MIC as part of the MA in Local History (a taught programme delivered jointly with the Department of History, University of Limerick).

HI5101: Foundation Course: Scope, Source and Methods of Local History
GA5104: The Excluded Voice? Methods and Cases in Oral History and Bealoideas
HI5111: Computing, Databases and Quantitative Research Methods
HI5112: Local Studies, Archaeology and Material Culture
HI5102: Sources and Cases in Modern Irish History
GY5103: Reading the Landscape: Sources and Methods in Historical Geography
HI5231: People, Time and Space: Local History Research Seminar 1
HI5232: People, Time and Space: Local History Research Seminar 2

Research Postgraduate Programmes (MA and PhD)

The Department of History welcomes applications for research MA and PhD degrees.

Applicants should normally have a primary degree, with History as a major subject, of at least second–class honours level. Applicants should be able to indicate clearly their main area of interest so that they can be directed to the appropriate faculty member for further discussion and, if appropriate, preparation of an application.

Students will normally only be accepted for research in areas in which the Department has a particular specialisation (see Research Interests on Staff Profiles for details).

Further information on the application process is available here. You can find information on the Research and Graduate School at Mary Immaculate College here.

Queries may be directed to Head of Department, Dr Liam Chambers ( or to any member of staff.


Dr Liam Chambers

BA, MA and PhD (NUI)
Head of Department & Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: +353 61 204534
  • Email:
  • Location: G67

Dr Brian Hughes

BA (NUI); MPhil and PhD (TCD)
  • Phone: +353 61 204901
  • Email:
  • Location: R120

Dr Richard McMahon

BA (NUI); MA (NUI) and PhD (NUI)
  • Phone: +353 61 204356
  • Email:
  • Location: G58

Dr. Miriam Nyhan

BA and MPhil (NUI), MRes and PhD (EUI, Florence)
Assistant Professor (Lecturer)
  • Email:
  • Location: L105

Dr Catriona Paul

Lecturer in History (part-time)
  • Phone: +353 61 204380
  • Email:
  • Location: L105

Dr Catherine Swift

BA (UCD); M Phil (University of Durham); M Phil (University of Dublin) and D Phil (University of Oxford)
  • Phone: +353 61 204382
  • Email:
  • Location: JHN 104


St Martin's Fair: A conference on Medieval Limerick and its international connections, 28-31 October 2019

Frontier settlements are cosmopolitan places, attracting a migratory population of optimists and adventurers. As the twelfth century began, Limerick was the westernmost trading town of a dynasty claiming authority over almost all Ireland as well as the Isle of Man and its bishop, seen…

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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – ‘the Michael Hartnett of Africa’ – addresses LÍON conference

The world famous writer and champion of African literature, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, was in Mary Immaculate College on Friday 9 November to speak at the LÍON, Limerick and Languages: Revival, resurgence and new beginnings conference and celebration. Ngũgĩ, currently Distinguished Professor…

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Research Centres

Oral History Centre

The Oral History Project is an initiative of the Department of History at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. It aims to develop the collection and study of oral history in Ireland and become a valuable centre for historical studies. This site will contain information about the study of oral history and oral history samples to download and study.

More information about the Oral History Centre here.

Centre for Early Modern Studies

The Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick supports the research activities of scholars of the history and culture of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at the University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College. The Centre stimulates interdisciplinary engagement and seeks to enhance the environment for intellectual exchange between its members. The Centre also promotes postgraduate studies and postdoctoral research. The Centre will draw on the wealth of material in the Bolton Collection, Glucksman Library, UL and other collections to promote early modern studies. The Centre emerges from Limerick Early Modern Studies Forum which was established in February 2015 following the award of funding from the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme. The centre was launched on 13 October 2016.

More information about the Centre of Early Modern Studies here.

Useful Information

Departmental Assistantships - applications for 2024 now open

The Department of History, Mary Immaculate College, is now accepting applications for a funded Departmental Assistantship in History beginning in September 2024. The scheme is open to new or current research MA / PhD students.

Further information about the scheme and how to make an application is available here.

Limerick History Research Seminars, 2023–2024

The Limerick History Research Seminar Series, which is organised annually by the Departments of History at Mary Immaculate College and the University of Limerick, takes place this year at MIC.

The programme for the Spring Semester is available here.

Postgraduate Research Student Profile

Comparing centralised and regional policing: maintaining order in times of political agitation in France, England and Ireland (1880-1914)

Supervisor: Dr Brian Hughes, Dr Richard Mc Mahon


In my thesis I compare the French, Irish and English policing systems from the end of the nineteenth century to the eve of the Great War and explore the validity of characterising the English system as ‘regional’ and the French and Irish ones as ‘centralised’. Using case studies in which public order was challenged, I explore the structure of police administration in each country and how they adapted to meet the challenges of political unrest and agitation. In addition, I discuss the French, British and Irish policing organisational framework and address the establishment of similar procedures and practices in the three police cultures at the time, with a focus on political policing culture and the development of intelligence services.

Investigation of the financing of medieval monastic orders in Munster

Supervisor: Dr Cathy Swift


The Irish church underwent major reform in the twelfth century when reformed monastic orders from the continent were introduced. These were initially patronised by Gaelic lords but after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1179, the colonists continued to invite religious orders from France and Britain. Both Gaelic and Anglo-Norman patrons awarded lands, rights, and parishes to the new orders which included the Cistercians, Augustinian canons, Knights Hospitallers, Knights Templars and Fratres cruceferi.

My studies involve the investigation of the economics, lay support, and patronage of the medieval monastic foundations who held land, rectories, and other possessions in the modern-day counties of Limerick and Tipperary from 1140 up to the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, and the impact this had on the local parishes. The influence of external factors such as warfare, disease and environmental factors on monastic finances will also be examined.

Priests, Politics, and the Great Famine in Limerick

Supervisor: Dr Richard Mc Mahon


The purpose of my research is to gain an understanding of how the Catholic Church came through the national catastrophe of the Great Famine, and how they seem to have established a much stronger position in Irish life than they held in pre-Famine Ireland. There can, of course, be little doubt of the growing political influence of the Catholic Church in the decades before the Famine. This study will discuss the influence of the Catholic Church in the selection and promotion of political candidates for parliamentary elections and the competing political allegiances amongst members of the clergy. Limerick’s electoral area covered both rural and urban areas within two ecclesiastical jurisdictions and it offers a telling case study of the power and influence of liberal politics in Ireland at the time. This thesis will explore the nature of these political struggles and conflicts by looking at how the Catholic clergy sought to shape and influence the conduct of politics on a county and city level in the early 1800s.

‘Absolute and Unquestioned Integrity’: William Rochfort and Irish Land Agency 1874-1930

Supervisor: Dr Richard Mc Mahon


Land agents, an integral part of the management of Irish landed estates, have been largely overlooked in studies of landed estates. Were they ‘devils one and all’, ‘ruthless exterminators and heartless tyrants’ who left a legacy which ‘stinks in the nostrils’, or was their role ‘greatly misunderstood’ and did they leave a more positive legacy?

For many their negative legacy is the one that prevails to this day. Such is the dearth of publications on land agents that Reilly argues, rightly, that a ‘comprehensive scholarly study of the [Irish] land agent has yet to appear’. My research proposes to address the lacuna by examining the career of William Rochfort, who established his own landed estate agency business in the 1870s and had to negotiate his way through the turbulent days of the Land Wars and reinvent himself in the post-landed estate era of the early twentieth century.

The Legacy of The Civil War in South Tipperary and adjoining areas of East Limerick, 1922-1937

Supervisor: Dr Brian Hughes


This research explores how the deaths, injuries, violence, agrarian unrest, destruction of property and the polarisation of society which characterised the Irish Civil War and its aftermath, affected the South Tipperary and East Limerick area. It considers how the area responded to the consequent challenge of rebuilding a peaceful society and a sense of cultural identity after years of violence.

The everyday experiences of dependents of deceased combatants, former participants and civilians of financial loss, physical or mental illness, consequent loss of income, emigration and poverty are examined, with reference to Military Service Pensions files, the files of the Irish Grants Commission and claims for compensation made under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923.

Networks of Necessity: The Clunes, Clare and Conneticut Connections

Supervisor: Úna Ní Bhroiméil


This thesis will explore and interrogate how one particular family from a clustered settlement in rural east County Clare was able to migrate for a sustained period of time from one generation to another to Connecticut, where they settled and made the Connecticut area their new community. It will examine the ties that continued to exist within this group of related families which resulted in continued migration and re-settlement from 1850 to the early 1900s. It will also explore the civic, political and professional areas that these family members were actively involved in and the effect of their involvement in the Irish American community in Norwalk, Connecticut during the progressive era.

Gertrude Gaffney: A Controversial Voice in an Unstable World

Supervisor: Dr Brian Hughes


This thesis examines the work of Gertrude Gaffney, a conservative Irish Catholic journalist writing for the Irish Independent in the second quarter of the 20th century. Besides writing a weekly column, she worked as a war correspondent in the Spanish Civil War, writing about the political situation in Europe, before World War Two, and about young Irish female emigrants to Britain in 1936.

This thesis looks at Gaffney’s work within the context of her time, and compares it to that of some Irish female counterparts and a female American war correspondent who radically differed from Gaffney. Gaffney had a deep abhorrence of communism. Her writing suggested that she saw fascism as a counterbalance to communism in Europe. Some of her writings have been used to interpret her as a feminist activist. This thesis questions the validity of this, in the context of the overall body of her work.

British military counterinsurgency in the 18 Infantry Brigade area of operation in Ireland, 1919-1922

Supervisor: Dr Brian Hughes


This study will focus on the military side of the British governments counter-insurgency campaign in Ireland between 1919 and 1922. The study is primarily based on the experiences of the military formation of the 18th Infantry Brigade (I. B.) in Ireland between 1919 and 1922. The 18th Infantry Brigade of the British Army in Ireland between November 1919 and February 1922 was one of three brigades, 16th, 17th and 18th which together completed the formation of the 6th Division (The Kerry Brigade was created and added to the Division on 13 July 1920). This study will examine the nature and extent of British military counterinsurgency in the 18th Infantry Brigade area between November 1919 and July 1921, assess how effective British military were at counterinsurgency and compare experiences in Ireland to counter-insurgency campaigns in other countries were the British conducted similar campaigns.

The Transnational Ideology of John Mitchel

Supervisor: Dr Úna Ní Bhroiméil


The topic under consideration is the ideology of John Mitchel on both sides of the Atlantic, during both the Irish and American branches of his journalistic career. The charge of inconsistency has been levelled against Mitchel primarily relating to his association with the cause of freedom in Ireland and his championing of slavery in America. The time period under study dates from 1845 to 1875 using the onset of the Famine in Ireland and the American civil war as significant pillars of reference and culminating with Mitchel’s death in 1875. Using a dual lens both Irish and American aspects of Mitchel’s career are to be attributed equal significance which will add significantly to this field of research. The research question of this study asks if this charge of inconsistency was valid and in so doing will interrogate the basis upon which the inconsistency is founded.

Accidents and Disasters in Eighteenth Century Ireland

Supervisor: Dr Liam Chambers


This project assesses accidents, disasters and the response to them in eighteenth century Ireland. Accidents and disasters were a common feature of eighteenth-century life, although the subject has not garnered sustained attention from historians. Drawing on newspapers and a range of other primary sources, this study focuses on a number of significant themes: fire; domestic accidents; maritime disasters; climate. A central objective of this project is to understand what kind of accidents and disasters occurred in eighteenth century Ireland. However, the study also examines the response (or lack of response) to these events. While accidents and disasters presented constant challenges for those living in the eighteenth century, historians have argued that they made some progress in dealing with such problems as food shortages and climate challenges. This dissertation aims to extend this research. For example, work undertaken to date suggests that urban firefighting methods evolved over the course of the century. While the secondary literature on accidents and disasters in eighteenth century Ireland is limited, the project links to a range of themes in eighteenth century Irish historiography, including the emerging field of early modern environmental history. Indeed, by utilising a wealth of primary source material and the large corpus of secondary material available on related subjects, we can place Ireland within the wider context of global disaster history.

John F. Finerty and questions of race, empire and nationalism in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ireland and America

Supervisor: Dr Richard Mc Mahon


This thesis will cover the life of John Finerty from his birth in Galway in 1844 to his death in Chicago in 1908. Through an exploration of Finerty’s life, the thesis will examine questions of race, gender, ethnicity, empire and nationalism.

Although a native of Galway, John spent all his teenage years living with an aunt and uncle in North Tipperary. It was here that he came under the influence of the Young Irelander, Fr. John Kenyon, a man with advanced nationalist views. He joined the Fenians and he spoke at two nationalist meetings in Tipperary in 1863 where his fiery rhetoric brought him to the attention of the authorities. He was forced to flee to the United States early in 1864 and he immediately joined the Union army. At the end of the American Civil War, he settled in Chicago and worked as a journalist for various newspapers. While working for the Chicago Times he was sent to cover the Indian campaigns in 1876 and his weekly reports formed the basis of his book ‘War Path and Bivouac’ published fifteen years later. He was elected to Congress in 1882 and he also founded his own newspaper The Chicago Citizen that same year. His paper was dominated by Irish affairs and vehemently anti-English. 

Tracing Finerty’s journey from Ireland to America as a Fenian, an Indian fighter, a Congressman, a member of Clan na Gael, a Land Leaguer, a Parnellite and a Redmondite will shed light on questions of race, empire and nationalism in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ireland and America.

A demographic, oral, and social history of migration from the Loop Head Peninsula, County Clare, to Danbury, Connecticut, 1880-1950

Supervisors: Dr Richard Mc Mahon, Dr Sarah O'Brien


This study is an investigation of migration from the Loop Head Peninsula in west Clare, to the town of Danbury, Connecticut, between 1880 and 1950. It seeks to examine demographic changes to the society, the community, and the families of the Loop Head Peninsula, wrought by large scale migration from the late nineteenth century. This is a dual study of migrant society and experience which explores, through oral history, the memories of those who migrated, and their lived experience of migration, their diaspora, and their memories of home. This is  alongside the oral reminisces of those who did not migrate, and their memories and lived experience of home, which together, will contextualise migration, return migration, population decline and social changes. The industrial town of Danbury in Connecticut, was the ‘Hat City of the World’, where a large concentration of migrants from the Loop Head Peninsula established themselves in the city’s fourth ward, and in its many hat factories. 

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