‘The Cambridge History of Ireland’ – a landmark survey of Irish history

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins gave a special address at the launch of the four-volume Cambridge History of Ireland which covers 1500 years of Irish history, from 600 to the present day. He gave a speech in Dublin Castle marking the historic publication joined by editors of the volumes, Professors Thomas Bartlett, Brendan Smith, Jane Ohlmeyer and James Kelly. The event was hosted by Cambridge University Press.

More than 100 leading historians from Ireland and around the world have contributed to The Cambridge History of Ireland, the most comprehensive and authoritative history of Ireland ever written. Vibrant, comprehensive and accessible, the four-volume Cambridge History of Ireland covers fifteen centuries of Irish history. The publication brings together the latest scholarship, setting Irish history within broader Atlantic, European, imperial and global contexts.

Commenting on the significance of the overall publication, general editor and editor of the fourth volume, Professor Thomas Bartlett said:

“The volumes are appearing in the midst of Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations and on the eve of Brexit. Brexit itself now forms the backdrop to some particularly contested anniversaries: the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement; the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Troubles; and the 100th anniversary of the political partition of our island and the outbreak of civil war.“

“All four volumes situate Ireland in wider British, European and imperial contexts and assess how the Irish shaped the world and how the world shaped Ireland. The openness of Ireland to outside influences, and its capacity to influence the world beyond its shores, are recurring themes.”

The chapters in these four volumes offer new perspectives on the political, military, religious, social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and environmental history of Ireland between 600 and 2016 and analyse why people acted as they did. They address issues such as sovereignty, language, identity, migration, violence, gender, economy, and hunger among many others that are as relevant today as they were in the Middle Ages.

The work benefits from a strong political narrative framework and in challenging traditional chronological boundaries in a manner that offers new perspectives and insights.

Each volume examines Ireland’s development within a distinct period, and offers a complete and rounded picture of Irish life, while remaining sensitive to the unique Irish experience.

The contributors are from Ireland and  from all parts of the globe, including 39 universities and research centres in China, the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and  Israel.

Editor of the second volume, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer and Trinity Long Room Hub Director said:

“This is a history for our times and I am delighted that seventeen of Trinity’s academics have contributed to this first comprehensive multi-volume history of Ireland.  This is the single largest contribution from any one university to The Cambridge History of Ireland. The volumes have benefited from the breadth of collaboration  from  Trinity, and all 39 contributing  universities and research institutes in Ireland and globally.  They also benefit from the breadth of interdisciplinary cross-pollination between history, and other disciplines like anthropology, archaeology, art history, geography, literature, gender and environmental studies, computer and natural science.  The Cambridge History of Ireland represents this generation’s ‘take’ on the scholarship of the last 40 years and it is a proud moment for Trinity to play such a central role in its development.”

President Higgins joined by all contributors & editors


About the individual volumes of The Cambridge History of Ireland

General Editor: Thomas Bartlett, University of Aberdeen

Volume 1. 600–1550 Edited by Brendan Smith, University of Bristol

The first volume of The Cambridge History of Ireland presents the latest thinking on key aspects of the medieval Irish experience, focusing on the extent to which developments were unique to Ireland. The openness of Ireland to outside influences, and its capacity to influence the world beyond its shores, are recurring themes. Underpinning the book is a comparative, outward-looking approach that sees Ireland as an integral but exceptional component of medieval Christian Europe.

Volume 2. 1550–1730 Edited by Jane Ohlmeyer, Trinity College Dublin

The second volume looks at the transformative and tumultuous years between 1550 and 1730, offering fresh perspectives on the political, military, religious, social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and environmental history of early modern Ireland. As with all the volumes in the series, contributors here situate their discussions in global and comparative contexts.

Volume 3. 1730–1880 Edited by James Kelly, Dublin City University

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was an era of continuity as well as change. Though properly portrayed as the era of ‘Protestant Ascendancy’, it embraces two phases – the eighteenth century when that ascendancy was at its peak; and the nineteenth century when the Protestant elite sustained a determined rear-guard defence in the face of the emergence of modern Catholic nationalism. This volume moves beyond the familiar political narrative to engage with the economy, society, population, emigration, religion, language, state formation, culture, art and architecture, and the Irish abroad

Volume 4. 1880 to the Present Edited by Thomas Bartlett, University of Aberdeen

The final volume in the Cambridge History of Ireland covers the period from the 1880s to the present. This insightful interpretation on the emergence and development of Ireland during these often turbulent decades is copiously illustrated, with special features on images of the ‘Troubles’ and on Irish art and sculpture in the twentieth century.

About the Editors

Thomas Bartlett, General Editor, was Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin and, most recently, Professor of Irish History at the University of Aberdeen until his retirement in 2014.

James Kelly is Professor of History at Dublin City University and President of the Irish Economic and Social History Society.

Jane Ohlmeyer  is Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin; Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute; and Chair of the Irish Research Council.

Brendan Smith is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Bristol.

List of Trinity contributors

Peter Crooks,Rachel Moss,Katherine Simms,Robert Armstrong,Ciaran Brady,David Brown,Frank Ludlow, Jane Ohlmeyer, Micheál Ó Siochrú,Christine Casey, David Dickson,Patrick Geoghegan,Ciaran O’Neill, Anne Dolan,David Fitzpatrick,John O’Hagan,Eunan O’Halpin

For a full list of contributors to each volume, visit www.cambridge.org

Media Contact:

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, College Press Officer | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 2310 / +353 87 995 8014 (out of office hours)