‘Machnamh 100’ - President of Ireland Centenary Reflections

‘Machnamh 100’ - President of Ireland Centenary Reflections

Published: Sun 1st Nov, 2020 | 09:00

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.  Over the coming year, 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 from different backgrounds and with an array of perspectives will share 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 will facilitate presentations and discussions on specific themes, to explore 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, will chair three seminars on the War of Independence entitled ‘Commemoration, Conflict and the Public Interest’. The first seminar took place in December 2020, with further events in February and May 2021. 

Later in 2021, the President will host another series of seminars focusing on the Civil War and the formation of two new administrations on the island.


First seminar – 4 December 2020

On Friday 4 December, the first of these three initial seminars took place. Titled Challenges of Public Commemoration, it 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.

This opening seminar contemplated commemoration itself, in the contexts of today and of the national and global events of a century ago. The historical spine in this session was the manner and context in which the constitutional and political ‘terms of settlement’ emerged in Ireland and how nationalists and unionists responded - at the time and since - to the new structures.  The implications of these responses for what ‘commemoration’ might mean today were also included in these reflections.


February 2021 – Instincts, Interests, Power and Resistance

This session will examine Ireland within the context of a post war Europe, adjusting to the war’s outcome for the Empires of the day. It will reflect on the mind of the British Empire and the changing global realities of emerging ideas, movements and resources. Consideration will be given to the British reaction to the Irish challenge in terms of its military campaign, propaganda, political and diplomatic efforts to influence domestic and global opinion. It will also reflect on the search for a settlement in the face of a military stalemate and the political crossroad of summer 1921.

The speakers for this event will be announced at a later date.


May 2021 - Recovering Imagined Futures

Hope, class and gender in the Irish independence struggle and its historiography

  1. Labour, land and longing
  2. Freedom is personal - women, participation and purpose.
  3. Concluding reflections: as the parliament of Northern Ireland meets (June 1921) and the military Truce (July 1921) opens the way for settlement talks between Britain and Dáil representatives, what possible futures beckon?

The speakers for this event will be announced at a later date.



Click here to read more about the approach President Higgins has taken to “Ethical Remembrance”.