President Higgins hosted the third seminar in the Machnamh 100 series.
Click on the Video or Audio tabs to listen to the President's contributions to the seminar, or on the Speech tab to read them.
All other contributions are available on the President's Youtube channel and Soundcloud account.
The President invited prominent scholars to discuss issues of social class, land and the role of women as they relate to the events of 100 years ago.
The principal address at the seminar was given by Dr Margaret O’Callaghan of Queens University Belfast. Her paper on 'Recovering Imagined Futures' was responded to by a panel consisting of Dr Caitríona Clear (NUI Galway), Professor Linda Connolly (NUI Maynooth), Ms Catríona Crowe, Archivist, and Dr John Cunningham (NUI Galway). President Higgins, too, provided a response, focusing on ‘Land, Social Class, Gender and the Sources of Violence’.
Machnamh 100 is an initiative of President Higgins that builds on his extensive work to date during Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations that has examined and explored seminal events such as the Lockout of 1913, the First World War, The Easter Rising, the Flu Pandemic, the election of 1918 and the first Dáil. Machnamh 100 is being supported by the Government and by RTÉ.
The term “Machnamh” is an ancient Irish concept encompassing reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought. In the context of this initiative, President Michael D. Higgins will host a series of seminars inviting reflections on the War of Independence, the Treaty Negotiations, the Civil War and Partition. Leading scholars, with an array of perspectives, have shared their insights and thoughts on the context and events of that formative period of a century ago and on the nature of commemoration itself.
Through Machnamh 100, President Higgins has facilitated presentations and discussions on specific themes, explored more fully the various aspects of that period in Ireland’s journey, and its legacy for the societies and jurisdictions that were to emerge subsequently.
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).
Click here to see the Running Order of the third seminar.