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Dr. Ciaran O'Neill

Dr Ciaran O'Neill

Ussher Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century History.

Research Interests

My work mostly clusters in the long nineteenth century and spans fairly diverse themes. I am interested in social and cultural history, the history of education and elites, the Irish relationship with empire, modern literature, and public history. Right now I am finishing a monograph about people, power, and the state, as well as a collaborative research project that focuses on the Eastern Caribbean. I am Principal Investigator of Seeing Ireland: Art, Culture, and Power in Paris 1922, funded by the Commemorations Unit at DTAGSM, and of RISING, a Creative Ireland Climate Action collaboration between Trinity, Brokentalkers, Dublin Theatre Festival, and Algorithm.  I co-direct the Trinity’s Colonial Legacies project with my colleague, Dr Patrick Walsh. Recent and forthcoming work appears in Gender & History, Journal of Victorian Culture, Journal of the History of Sexuality, and Radical History Review. I have held visiting fellowships in the University of São Paulo, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, and in SMU Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since 2020 I have served as Deputy Director of Trinity Long Room Hub.


Some of these publications are available to download at

Monographs (2)

  • 2023. Life in a Palliative State: Power and Powerlessness in Union Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023)
  • 2014. Catholics of Consequence: Transnational Education, Social Mobility and the Irish Catholic Elite, 1850-1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, hbk 2014, pbk 2016).
    • Winner of the James S. Donnelly Sr. Prize for History and the Social Sciences (2015)
    • Special Commendation: NUI Publication Prize in Irish History (2015).

Edited Collections (2)

  • 2022. (ed.) w/ Finola O’Kane Crimmins, Ireland, Slavery and the Caribbean; Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Studies in Imperialism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2022)
  • 2013. (ed.) Irish Elites in the Nineteenth Century (Dublin: Four Courts Press).

Special Issue Journals (2)

  • 2016. (ed.) w/ Enda Delaney, ‘Beyond the Nation: Transnational Ireland’, Éire-Ireland, 51/1&2, 280pp
  • 2015. (ed.) w/ Bruce Bradley and Daire Keogh, ‘The Jesuits in Ireland’, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 103/412, 601pp.

Book Series Editor (2)

Journal Articles (11)

  • 2022 ‘‘‘Harvard Scientist seeks Typical Irishman’: Measuring the Irish Race 1888-1936,’ Radical History Review, 143 (May, 2022).
  • 2022 w/  S. Karly Kehoe, ‘A Catholic Atlantic?,’ Journal of Victorian Culture (submitted)
  • 2020 w/ Juliana Adelman, ‘Love, Consent, and the Sexual Script of a Victorian Affair in Dublin, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 29/3, 388-417.
  • 2019. ‘’The Cage of my Moment’ A Conversation with Emma Donoghue about History and Fiction,’ Journal of Historical Fictions 2:2. [Open Access]
  • 2019. ‘The Jesuits and the Irish Catholic Elite’, Espacio, Tiempo y Educacion, 6/2, 99-120. [Open Access]
  • 2018. w/ Mary Hatfield, ‘Education and Empowerment: Cosmopolitan education and Irish women in the early nineteenth century, Gender & History, 30/1, 93-109.
  • 2017. w/ Thomas Cauvin, ‘Negotiating public history in the Republic of Ireland: collaborative, applied and usable practices for the profession’, Historical Research. doi:10.1111/1468-2281.12192
  • 2017. w/ Maeve Casserly, ‘Public History, Invisibility, and Women in the Republic of Ireland,’ The Public Historian, 39/2, 10-30. [Open Access]
  • 2016. w/ Mo Moulton, Michael De Nie, Enda Delaney, ‘Roundtable Discussion: Teaching Transnational History’, Eire-Ireland, 51/1&2, 266-76.
  • 2016. w/ Enda Delaney, ‘Beyond the Nation’, Eire-Ireland, 51/1&2, 7-14.
  • 2009. ‘The Irish schoolboy novel’, Eire-Ireland, 44/1-2, 147-68

Book Chapters (13)

  • 2023. ‘The Literary Americanisation of Ireland’, in Fionnuala Walsh, America in Ireland: Culture and Society 1841-1925 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • 2022. ‘In Search of Excess: Lambert Blair at Large in the Caribbean,’ in Ciaran O’Neill and Finola O’Kane (eds), Ireland, Slavery and the Caribbean; Comparative Perspectives, Studies in Imperialism, (Manchester: Manchester University Press)
  • 2020. ‘How Should Historians Approach Elites?,’ in Francois Denord, Mikael Palme, Bertrand Réau (eds) Researching Elites and Power (Springer) 159-168. [Open Access]
  • 2019. w/ Petter Sandgren (1), ‘Elites and Education’, in Tanya FitzGerald (ed), The International Handbook of Historical Studies in Education (Springer)
  • 2018. ‘Bourgeois Ireland, or, on the benefits of keeping one’s hands clean’, in James Kelly (ed), The Cambridge History of Ireland, 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • 2017. ‘Literacy and Education’, in Eugenio F. Biagini and Mary E. Daly (eds), The Cambridge Social History of Modern Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,). pp 244-60.
  • 2017. ‘Education, cosmopolitan cultural capital, and European elites in the nineteenth century’ in Susan Hegarty and James Kelly (eds), Schools and Schooling, 1650-2000: new perspectives on the history of education(Dublin: Four Courts Press), pp 93-109.
  • 2016. w/ Mai Yatani, ‘Ambition, Women, and the City: Irish women novelists 1890-1910’, in Anna Pilz and Whitney Standlee (eds), Irish Women's Writing 1878-1922: Advancing the Cause of Liberty (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp 100-20.
  • 2014. ‘The Irish schoolboy novel’, in Maria Luddy and James M. Smyth (eds),Children, childhood, and Irish society: 1500 to the present (Dublin: Four Courts Press), pp. 183-197. [reprint]
  • 2013. ‘Introduction’, in Ciaran O’Neill (ed.) Irish Elites in the Nineteenth Century (Dublin: Four Courts Press), pp 17-30.
  • 2013. ‘Power, wealth and Catholic identity in Ireland, 1850-1900’, in O. Rafferty (ed.), Irish Catholic Identities (Manchester: Manchester University Press).
  • 2012. ‘Education, imperial careers, and the Irish Catholic elite in the nineteenth century’, in D.J. Dickson, J. Pyz and C Shepard (eds), Irish Classrooms and British Empire: Imperial contexts for the origins of modern education (Dublin: Four Courts), pp. 98-110.
  • 2010. ‘Pearse, Parnell & the priests: history and politics in the Irish schoolboy novel’, in Katerina Jencova et al (eds.), The Politics of Irish Writing (Prague: Charles University Centre for Irish Studies), pp. 69-77.

Pamphlets and Art Catalogue Essays (6)

  • 2022. The Public History of Slavery in Dublin (Dublin: Dublin City Library and Archive) [Open Access]
  • 2022. ‘The Irish Artist in the World: Culture, Markets, and Modernity’, in Who Do We Say We Are? Irish Art 1922 | 2022 (South Bend: Snite Museum of Modern Art)
  • 2021. ‘Dublin’s Lost Wetlands and the Technosphere,’ Systems (Dublin: Science Gallery).
  • 2021. ‘Not So Innocent’, Dublin Review of Books, Jan 2020. [Open Access]
  • 2016. Exhibition Catalogue Essay, in Mick O’Dea, The Foggy Dew (Dublin: Royal Hibernian Academy)
  • 2015. ‘Programme Note’, Famished Castle, a Rough Magic Theatre production, 6-23 May.


I teach freshman modules on Irish, British, and imperial social and cultural history. At Sophister level I teach a specialist year-long module on Ireland, Modernity, and Empire and another on History and Fiction. I founded and for many years directed the M.Phil in Public History and Cultural Heritage along with Dr Georgina Laragy. In 2015 I won the Provost’s Teaching Award at Trinity College Dublin.  

Postdoctoral Supervision

I have the privilege of supervising, or co-supervising the following postdocs:

  • Dr Mobeen Hussain, Trinity Colonial Legacies Project Postdoctoral Fellow, 2021-2023.
  • Dr Joseph Curran, ‘An Urban History of Dublin Castle 1801-1880, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow 2021-2023.

PhD Supervision

I have the privilege of supervising, or co-supervising the following graduate students:

  • Clare Morrison, ‘Identity and Irishmen in the Chinese Customs Service’ (estimated completion 2022) co-supervising with Dr Isabella Jackson
  • Shelby Zimmerman, ‘The Medicalisation of Death in Dublin City Workhouses, 1872-1920’ (estimated completion 2022) co-supervising with Dr Georgina Laragy
  • Conor Dodd, ‘Glasnevin Cemetery  – Revolution and Commemoration’ (estimated completion 2024) sole supervisor
  • Cydney Thompson, ‘Adapting the Museum to the Digital Age,’ (estimated completion 2025), co-supervising with Dr Jennifer Edmond
  • Holly Ritchie, ‘Saviours and Slavers: the Irish in the Catholic Atlantic 1763-1860,’ (estimated completion 2025), co-supervising with Prof Karly Kehoe, SMU Halifax.
  • Oliver Brennan, ‘William Patrick Ryan (1867-1942): A life,’ (estimated completion 2026), sole supervisor.

PhD Graduates & Former Postdoctoral Mentees

  • Dr Sarah Hunter, Health of a nation - the physical and societal impact of Irish medical missionaries working in Bengal, 1885-1935 (Graduated 2016) co-supervised with Prof David Dickson
  • Dr Mai Yatani, Women's Reading Habits in fin de siècle Ireland (graduated 2017) co-supervised with Prof David Dickson
  • Dr Mary Hatfield, Growing up in Ireland: constructions of gender and childhood in nineteenth-century Ireland (graduated 2018) co-supervised with Prof David Dickson
  • Dr Jerome Devitt,, Defending Ireland from the Irish - The British and Irish Executive's reaction to Fenianism 1863-69 (graduated 2018) co-supervised with Prof David Dickson
  • Dr Aidan Beatty, Property: Race, Gender and the History of a Transnational Idea (GOI Postdoctoral Fellow 2016-18) sole mentor.
  • Antonia Hart, Irish Women in Business in the nineteenth century (completed 2021) co-supervised with Dr Richard McMahon (MIC)
  • Catherine Healy, A Cultural History of the Irish Domestic Servant in Britain and the US, c. 1870-1945 (graduated 2022) sole supervisor

Dr. O'Neill on the TCD Research Support System

Contact Details

Room 3111
Department of History
Trinity College
Dublin 2.

Telephone: +353 1 896 1405
Fax: +353 1 896 3995