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Doireann Markham is a postgraduate student at the UCD School of History. Her research is focused on dead bodies in revolutionary Ireland and post-revolutionary Ireland, particularly state exhumations in the Irish Free State. She has given a number of papers on exhumations and reburials in modern Ireland, as well as on anti-Treaty republicanism in post-civil war Ireland.

Doireann gave a paper – ‘Trying to settle down but it’s extremely difficult’: IRA volunteers and university life in the 1920’s’ – at the Universities in Revolution and State Formation Conference which took place in UCD Newman House in June 2015. 15 conference papers were recorded for podcasting by Real Smart Media and are available on History Hub (see below).

In her paper, Markham examines the experiences of a precious few anti-Treaty republicans who, after the Irish Civil War, were in a position to resume their university studies:

The paper asks whether anti-Treaty republican students’ time at university revived their republican radicalism, or merely facilitated an adjustment to civilian life. Questioning whether university students actively directed or merely followed the evolution of republicanism in the 1920’s, it examines the considerable difficulties faced and the assistance rendered unto such students by IRA GHQ. It also examines the social lives of these students, the relationships formed and maintained within republican clubs, and the deliberate isolation from those who had not taken the republican side. Overall, it offers an insight in to what Ernie O’Malley referred to as ‘trying to settle down but finding it extremely difficult’ – Doireann Markham.

Universities in Revolution and State Formation

Organised by UCD’s Dr Conor Mulvagh, Universities in Revolution and State Formation was held in UCD Newman House on St Stephen’s Green over two days in June 2015. The conference examined the role played by universities, both their staff and students, in social, cultural and especially political change, from the early modern to the contemporary. The event was part of the UCD’s Decade of Centenaries programme and was generously funded by the Irish Research Council’s New Foundations and UCD’s Seed Funding Programme: Decade of Centenaries Internal Award Scheme 2014 and supported by UCD’s Centre for War Studies.

The conference explored how, in the early stages, universities often acted as the forum for debates and had a guiding influence on events. It examined how, despite often central involvement in revolution and state formation, students and academics – especially the latter – often subsequently act as a restraining or moderating influence on these movements.

Noted academics also discussed their personal experiences on the barricades. “By enquiring into the role of activist/witness, the conference reflected upon these more recent events and provided an open space for discussion of their successes, failures, and significance” commented conference organiser Dr Conor Mulvagh, Lecturer in Irish History with special responsibility for commemorations at University College Dublin.

The conference was recorded for podcasting by Real Smart Media and these podcasts are available via History Hub’s podcast channels on Soundcloud and iTunes. Podcasts include:

  • Dr Conor Mulvagh (UCD) on Indian law students in Dublin from 1913-16, including future Indian President V.V. Giri.
  • Professor Emeritus Hugh Gough (UCD) on his time in Paris during ’68 protests.
  • Dr Eve Morrison (UCD) on the IRA in higher education, 1919-23.
  • Dr Stephen Kelly (Liverpool Hope University) on the Young Irelanders and the Catholic University.
  • Dr Mairéad Carew (UCD) on ‘Eoin MacNeill: Revolutionary Cultural Ideologue’.
  • Dr Matthew Stout (St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra) on the formation of Northern Ireland’s cultural institutions.
  • Ruairí Cullen (QUB) on history honours at the Irish universities c.1890-1910.
  • Dr Sarah Campbell (Newcastle University) on Queen’s University students and revolution, 1967-1971.

Image: Doireann Markham speaking at the Universities in Revolution and State Formation conference (© Real Smart Media).

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