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President Michael D. Higgins hosts fourth ‘Machnamh 100’ seminar

Date: Thu 25th Nov, 2021 | 14:33

'Settlements, Schisms and Civil Strife’ seminar considers road to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and its long term implications

Principal speech delivered by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter with responses from President Higgins, Dr Daithí Ó Corráin, Professor Mary E. Daly, Professor Fearghal McGarry and Professor Margaret Kelleher


The fourth of President Michael D. Higgins’ series of six Machnamh 100 seminars will be available on RTÉ Player and the President’s YouTube channel from 7pm this evening. The series takes its name from the Irish word Machnamh, an ancient concept encompassing reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought.

The recently recorded seminar, titled ‘Settlements, Schisms and Civil Strife’, is once again chaired by Dr John Bowman and includes contributions from some of Ireland’s leading academics considering the road to the Treaty of 1921 and its long term implications. 

The principal address at the seminar is delivered by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter (University College Dublin) with responses from Professor Fearghal McGarry (Queens University Belfast), Professor Mary Daly (University College Dublin), Dr Daithí  Ó Corráin (Dublin City University) and Professor Margaret Kelleher (University College Dublin).

Following these addresses, President Higgins delivers a final response along with his own personal reflections. In his contribution, the President seeks to look at the period ‘from below’, from the perspective of the varying circumstances of the enlisting volunteer and the fellow family member, with whom the efforts for the achievement of independence were shared; the same family member who might later become their opponent in the Civil War.

Reflecting on his own family’s experience, the President says in his contribution:

“The Civil War divided my father’s family, all of whom served in the War of Independence in Counties Clare and Cork. My uncle Peter went on to serve in the National Army from 1922 to 1925, taking part in the handover of Renmore Barracks, Galway. My father would spend most of the year 1923 as an internee in what was known to the prisoners as Tintown 3, in the Curragh camp. The Pension files record his long and exhausting battle for a small pension, which was eventually granted in 1956, eight years before his death and almost 22 years after his first application, in 1935.”

The seminar was recorded in the Hyde Room of Áras an Uachtaráin in front of a small audience of post graduate students with a research interest in this period of history who engaged with the speakers in a lively question and answer session chaired by Dr Bowman.

This seminar is the first in the second half of the President’s Machnamh 100 series. The initial three seminars, recently published in book format and available on and shortly in public libraries and universities around the country as well as via Scoilnet, focused on the War of Independence. This second series of seminars focuses on subsequent events, including the Civil War and the formation of the two new administrations on the island.

The fifth seminar, titled ‘Constitutional, Institutional and Diplomatic Foundations: Complexity and Contestation’ will take place in Spring 2022 and will explore the Irish constitutional foundations. The final seminar, to be held in Autumn 2022, will be titled ‘Acts of Commemoration: Pride, Pain and Perspective’ and will seek to secure a wide range of perspectives on the theme including scholars and thinkers from different disciplines, including cultural theorists, critics in the visual arts and the creative arts in general.