Irish History Research Group
Edinburgh University is one of the world’s leading centres for the advanced study of modern Irish history, with a tradition of excellence dating back over 40 years.
Irish History Research Group
The Group has unique strengths in the history of Ireland under the Union (1801-1921), Irish-British relations, the history of nationalism and unionism, comparative and transnational history, Scottish-Irish history, and the history of the global Irish diaspora since 1700.
Current major research projects include a comparative study of political unions in European history and the Irish encounter with modernity since 1780, supported by a number of prestigious research awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Commission Programme. Since 2007 we have won over £1 million in highly competitive external funding awards.
We have close working relationships with a number of Irish universities and the Irish Research Council. Two members of the group are Honorary Members of the Royal Irish Academy (only 30 or so scholars in the humanities and social sciences worldwide hold this distinction) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and one is a Fellow of the British Academy. One of the group was appointed by the Irish Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to the Irish Manuscripts Commission, the first such appointment from outside the island of Ireland. We have established links with the modern Irish history group at Cambridge University, including holding regular joint PhD workshops in both Edinburgh and Cambridge. We also work closely with colleagues at the major North American centres of Irish Studies at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame and New York University.
Our aim is to explore the history of modern Ireland in a comparative, transnational and global context, with a particular focus on political, social and cultural relationships with Scotland, England and Wales, as well the principal countries in which the Irish have settled in over the last three centuries.
Graduate students work on a wide range of topics and hold funding awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Economic and Social Research Council as well as University and School studentships. We also host the only PhD scholarship in the UK devoted exclusively to the study of Irish history, the Justin Arbuthnott PhD Scholarship in Modern Irish History.
The activities of the group include hosting a seminar series, which features many of the most original scholars working in the field from Ireland, Britain and further afield, a fortnightly early career researchers’ workshop, and the annual Justin Arbuthnott Lecture in British-Irish Relations, delivered in recent years by distinguished figures including Tom Bartlett, Mary E. Daly, Diarmaid Ferriter, Fintan O’Toole and Roy Foster.
We regularly host symposia and workshops on aspects of Irish history including recent events on 'Writing the Troubles', ‘The Irish Border’, ‘The 1918 General Election’, ‘Abortion in Ireland: A Transformative Moment?’, 'History, Storytelling and 1916’ and ‘Transnational Irish History'. In July 2022 we will host the ‘Ireland and Sexualities in History’ workshop.
Academic, honorary and emeritus staff members
James Bright – Loyalty in Captivity: Ideas and Identity among Ulster Loyalist Paramilitary Prisoners, 1976-1987
Dannii Browbank – The Thin Orange Line: Policing Protestants, Unionists and Loyalists in Northern Ireland, 1968-1986
Niamh Coffey (AHRC CDA Studentship, with University of Strathclyde) – Emigrant Irish Women and Dundee’s Textile Industry, 1845-1922
Saul Farrell –The Gaelic League and the Irish Nation State, 1893-1922
Abigail Fletcher (Justin Arbuthnott PhD Scholarship) – From Partition to Decriminalisation: Homosexuality in Northern Ireland 1921-1982
Dexter Govan (Justin Arbuthnott PhD Scholarship) – The Orange Order in Belfast and Glasgow, 1910 to 1914
Anna Lively (AHRC Studentship) –Transnational Connections between the Russian and Irish Revolutions, 1905-23
Gareth Lyle – Belfast and the Great War: A Case Study
Callum Northcote – For King and Republic: Former British Servicemen and the Republican Movement
Bobbie Nolan (AHRC Studentship) – Language and Identity among Irish Migrants in San Francisco, Philadelphia and London, 1850-1920, Teaching Assistant, School of History and Geography, Dublin City University
Roseanna Doughty - Representations of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles' within the British media, 1973-1997, Associate Lecturer in Irish History at Newcastle University
Stuart Clark (Carnegie Trust) – The Scots in Ireland under the Union: The Boundaries of Britishness, c.1800-1925
Catherine Bateson (AHRC Studentship) – The Culture and Sentiments of Irish American Civil War Songs, Associate Lecturer in American History, University of Kent
Joseph Curran (ESRC Studentship) – Civil Society in the Stateless Capital: Charity and Authority in Dublin and Edinburgh, c.1815-c.1845, Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow, Trinity College Dublin
Sophie Cooper (McFarlane Scholar) – Identity and Nationalism in the Irish Diaspora: Melbourne and Chicago, 1850-1890, Lecturer in Liberal Arts, Queen’s University Belfast
Andrew Phemister (School Doctoral Award) – ‘Our American Aristotle’: Henry George and the Republican Tradition during the Transatlantic Irish Land War, 1877-1887, Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow, NUI Galway
Thomas Dolan (AHRC Studentship) – History in the Thought of the Architects of Peace in Northern Ireland, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of York
Lindsey Flewelling – Ulster Unionism and America, 1880-1920, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Denver Colorado
Devon McHugh – Family, Leisure, and the Arts: Aspects of the Culture of the Aristocracy of Ulster, 1870-1925, Senior Partnerships Manager, Museums Galleries Scotland
Helen O’Shea (AHRC Studentship) – Ireland and the Cyprus Insurgency, Lecturer in History at the Open University
Melanie Sayers – Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian, and Ireland