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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 Masters 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. Candidates 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 Úna Ní Bhroiméil

BA; MA; HDip (NUI) and PhD (Lehigh)
  • Phone: +353 61 204380
  • Email:
  • Location: L05

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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Current Postgraduate Students

Liam Barry Hayes (PhD in History)

David Collopy (PhD in History)

Siobhán English (PhD in History)

Justin Fitzgerald (PhD in History)

Kiara Gregory (PhD in History)

Jane Halloran Ryan (PhD in History)

Tanya Higgins-Carey (PhD in History)

Noel Lindsay (PhD in History)

Tracy McCarthy (PhD in History)

Betty McKeon (PhD in History)

Declan O'Brien (PhD in History)

Margaret O'Sullivan (PhD in History)

Marie Phelan (PhD in History)

Ben Ragan (PhD in History)

Martin Sheehan (MA in History)


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 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 here.

Useful Information

Departmental Assistantships - applications for 2021 now open

The Department of History, Mary Immaculate College, is now accepting applications from potential research MA/PhD students for a funded Departmental Assistantship in History beginning in September 2021. Further information available here.

Graduation 2020 – Congratulations!

Congratulations to all of our students who graduated in 2020. While the traditional graduation ceremony did not take place in October 2020, the college celebrated the achievements of the class of 2020 at a Virtual Ceremony of Recognition, now available to view on the MIC website.

Limerick History Research Seminars, 2019-2020

The Limerick History Research Seminar Series, which is organised annually by the Departments of History at Mary Immaculate College and the University of Limerick, took place at MIC in 2019-2020.

You will find the full programme for the series here. The seminars were open to everyone.

St Martin's Fair, Limerick, 28-31 October 2019

St Martin’s Fair is designed around a conference on the medieval history of Limerick which took place on King’s Island and celebrated the medieval manuscript known as the Black Book of Limerick. The Black Book is a chartulary of diocesan lands and documents, created under the patronage of Bishop Stephen de Val (or Wall) AD 1360-69. It contains approximately 174 texts many of which deal with the first half of the 13th century. This is the period in which King John’s castle was being built and the Norman colony in north Munster was being established. The conference therefore had papers on the Black Book itself and its nature but also on various themes in the history of Limerick city which are illustrated by this material. There was also a concert of medieval music in St Mary’s Cathedral, a tour of King John’s Castle and presentations on the sailing routes leading to Limerick and on boat building in the Scandinavian tradition.

Information on the event and the conference programme is available here.

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