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26 March 2023  

Dr Martin O’Donoghue

Dr Martin O’Donoghue

Dr Martin O’Donoghue

Dr Martin O’Donoghue was awarded the Publication Prize in Irish History (which NUI awarded jointly in 2021) for his publication, ‘The Legacy of the Irish Parliamentary Party in Independent Ireland, 1922-1949’, published in 2019 by Liverpool University Press

Martin teaches modern British and Irish and British history at the University of Sheffield. He has previously lectured at Northumbria University, and the University of Limerick. He is a former recipient of the National Library of Ireland Research Studentship and a former Academic Director of the Parnell Summer School. He was awarded his PhD in 2017 from the National University of Ireland, Galway where he was an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholar.

His research examines the dynamics of political activism in modern Ireland, the development of party politics, Irish-British relations and the Free State’s relationship with the Commonwealth, the Irish revolutionary period (1912-23), and commemoration. In addition to his book on the legacy of the Irish Parliamentary Party, he has published on the 1918 general election, the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and the influence of vocationalism on the Irish senate. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and serves as a committee member of the Irish Association of Professional Historians.

This book provides the first dedicated analysis of the influence of former Irish Parliamentary Party members and methods in independent Ireland and the place of the party’s leaders in public memory. It uses biographical data to provide the first statistical analysis of the Irish Party heritage within each political party in the independent Irish state established in 1922. Exploring how former Irish Party followers reacted to the changed circumstances of independent Ireland, it examines movements like the Irish National League party (1926-31) as well as the commemoration of individuals like John Redmond, Charles Stewart Parnell, and Michael Davitt to ask how the Irish Party was remembered in a state founded on the sacrifice of the Easter Rising.

My interest in the topic arose from an interest in the nature of Irish politics in the post-1922 period. As a student, I heard a lot about ‘Civil War politics’ and how the Irish case seemed to be an outlier in a European context. While this initially caused me to turn to European history as an undergraduate, as I studied Irish history, I became interested in voices in the 1920s and 30s that did not seem to be conventionally pro- or anti-Treaty while still being quite mainstream in many ways. The idea thus came to me towards the end of my M.A. that there were quite a few individuals from Irish Party rather than Sinn Féin backgrounds and that examining this issue was potentially another way explore Irish politics. From there I began to ask the question of what happened to the Irish Party after 1918 and how did its remaining members and supporters react — because clearly, they were political outsiders after the revolution without being particularly outside the mainstream of Irish life in other ways. This was very visible in debates about the revolution and in commemorative concerns obviously, but also in political and cultural debates concerning the flag and the anthem as well as the Free State’s relationship to Britain and approaches to the question of partition. However, the book was also about investigating the wider legacies of the party as holistically as possible — considering longer-term resonances in the practice of politics and how both the radical and more conservative elements of an older national movement fed into that ‘Civil War’ party system which I had grown up thinking was simply about two sides of the Sinn Féin split.