President Higgins hosted the fourth seminar in the Machnamh 100 series.
The fourth seminar, which was convened under the heading ‘Settlements, Schisms and Civil Strife’ involved a consideration of the road to the Treaty and its long-term implications. It also examined Ireland in the summer of 1921 and what the Truce meant, what prospects it opened, as well as the international aspect of the halt in hostilities.
'Machnamh 100' President of Ireland Centenary Reflections VOLUME 1 was released in advance of the fourth seminar.
"Machnamh 100” seeks to recall, critique and reflect on the context and events of the War of Independence, the Civil War and Partition. The series also provides an opportunity to consider the impact of what transpired in this period on the nature of the jurisdictions and societies that subsequently emerged.
The President is adopting a thematic approach to each of the seminars, focusing on those areas that have received perhaps insufficient attention and others to which a fresh or deeper return may help in developing a clearer understanding of the period.
A series of President of Ireland Reflections
At the invitation of President Higgins, Dr. John Bowman, Historian and Broadcaster, chaired three seminars on the War of Independence entitled ‘Commemoration, Conflict and the Public Interest’.
The first seminar, titled "Challenges of Public Commemoration", took place in December 2020, and contemplated commemoration itself and the contexts of the national and global events of a century ago.
President Michael D. Higgins opened the seminar with a reflection entitled "Of Centenaries and the Hospitality Necessary in Reflecting on Memory, History and Forgiveness."
The following speakers responded: Professor Ciarán Benson, Professor Anne Dolan, Professor Michael Laffan and Professor Joep Leerssen.
The second seminar, "Empire: Instincts, Interests, Power and Resistance", took place on 25 February 2021 and included consideration of European Empires following the First World War, the British Empire in particular, and imperial attitudes and responses to occurrences in Ireland. It also included reflections on examples of resistance to Empire in Ireland and resistance to nationalism.
The main reflection was given by Professor John Horne, Trinity College Dublin, who provided an overview of the international context of the events in 1920s Ireland, including the fall of empires and the particular status/power of the British empire.
There were responses from President Higgins, Professor Eunan O’Halpin (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Marie Coleman (Queen’s University Belfast), Professor Alvin Jackson (University of Edinburgh) and Dr. Niamh Gallagher (St. Catharine's College, Cambridge).
The third seminar took place in May 2021 and has been given the title "Recovering Imagined Futures". This seminar focused on issues of social class, land and the role of women, subjects that are all tangibly and profoundly interlinked in the context of early 20th-century Ireland, and how particular gradations of violence emerged and became deeply interwoven across these subjects with consequences that would shape the Ireland of today.
Issues for discussion included, inter alia, how the Land Question shaped the figure of Irish nationalism and the shape of the society which emerged from the nationalist struggle with consequences for society and culturally; the impacts of the independence struggle on women, as well as their role in activism and participation; and possible futures were considered in the context of settlement talks between Britain and Dáil representatives following the first meeting of the parliament of Northern Ireland (June 1921) and the military Truce (July 1921).