President Higgins launches free book marking 'seismic events' of past century in Ireland

President Higgins launches free book marking 'seismic events' of past century in Ireland

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has made the content from discussions and speeches that marked Ireland’s historic centenary year freely available to the public in the form of an e-book.

Under the President’s Machnamh 100 series, three seminars have taken place exploring the events of a century ago.

Held over the past 12 months, the seminars were chaired by Dr John Bowman, with the focus on Ireland’s War of Independence.

The first seminar, held in December 2020, was entitled Challenges of Public Commemorations and examined the nature and concept of commemoration itself in the context of today and of the national and global events of a century ago.

Speakers included the President, Professor Ciarán Benson (University College Dublin), Dr Anne Dolan of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Michael Laffan of University College Dublin and Professor Joep Leerssen of the University of Amsterdam.

The second seminar, held in February 2021, was on the topic of Empire: Instincts, Interests, Power and Resistance and focused on imperial attitudes and responses to circumstances in Ireland, the forms and practices of resistance to Empire in Ireland, as well as resistance to nationalism in its different forms and expressions.

The main address was given by Professor John Horne of Trinity College Dublin with responses from the President, Professor Eunan O’Halpin, of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Marie Coleman of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Alvin Jackson of the University of Edinburgh and Dr Niamh Gallagher of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

The third seminar, in May 2021, was titled Land, Social Class, Gender and the Sources of Violence; Recovering Reimagined Futures and focused on issues of social class, land and the role of women, including how particular gradations of violence emerged and were inflicted on women, forms that were class-based and other forms of violence.

The principal address was given by Dr Margaret O’Callaghan of Queen’s University Belfast, with responses from the President, Dr Caitriona Clear of NUI Galway, Professor Linda Connolly of NUI Maynooth, Ms Catriona Crowe of the Royal Irish Academy and Dr John Cunningham of NUI Galway.

This week President Higgins revealed that the content of those events would now be available for all to read, as an e-book titled Machnamh 100 – Centenary Reflections, Volume 1.

“The Irish people have shown a great interest in considering and reflecting on the seminal events of 100 years ago,” he explained.

“In my conversations with a great many of our citizens over the last ten years, I have seen the desire which we have as a people to look again at those formative events, to challenge our preconceptions, and in particular to listen to those voices which have not always been heard or have been underrepresented in our traditional readings of the period.

“That is why I invited scholars from different backgrounds and with an array of perspectives to share their insights and reflections on the context and events of those seismic events of a century ago, as well as on the nature of commemoration itself,” he added.

“I am delighted to now be able to provide in full the very valuable contributions which those scholars have made to all those who are interested in reading them through the publication of ‘Machnamh 100 – Centenary Reflections, Volume 1’.

“May I invite the public to read them and it is my hope that it will help all of us to explore more fully the various aspects of that seminal period in Ireland’s journey, and its legacy for the societies and jurisdictions that were to emerge subsequently.”

Dr Bowman added: “I found especially ambitious – and promising – President Higgins’ choice of title for the series: Machnamh.

“This Irish word encompasses consideration, meditation, reflection and thought. What better attributes could be brought to an understanding of the more controversial events which mark the Decade of Centenaries?

“I hope that in reading this collection, the public will be provoked to engage in their own process of Machnamh around these formative events.”

Three seminars in the Machnamh series still to take place, are scheduled for the coming months.

Once complete, this second series of seminars will also be published in book format as Machnamh 100 – Centenary Reflections, Volume 2.

Machnamh 100 – Centenary Reflections, Volume 1, is now available to download for free here.