100 years on Trinity conference considers the significance of the handover of Dublin Castle

On 16 January 1922 the Provisional Government formally took possession of Dublin Castle. Thousands cheered outside the Castle gates and newspapers across the globe compared it to the fall of the Bastille.

Pictured at Dublin Castle at Trinity’s ‘Handover of Dublin Castle Conference’ were Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. and Provost Dr Linda Doyle

100 years on historians considered the significance of the handover at a conference hosted by Trinity College Dublin at Dublin Castle and supported by the Office of Public Works and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme, the two-day conference explored the context of the handover, the impression it made across the world, and the consequences it had for the emerging Irish State.The conference took place on Fri 14th and Sat 15th January, 2022 in the Printworks in Dublin Castle and is also being live-streamed. See here for more information.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. and Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. addressed the conference on Saturday 15th.

Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Linda Doyle, commented: “The strong involvement of Ireland’s universities in the Decade of Centenaries programme illustrates the essential role universities play in the life of our nation. Rigorous academic research ensures that our past is kept safe from simplistic interpretation and rescued from those who would seek to reduce it to populist soundbite.”

“The State benefits massively from strong, independent research universities. In addition, our democracy is nourished when we teach these skills of critical thinking and deep learning to our students. Engagement with the public is also a core element of our mission, as this conference demonstrates. It is very encouraging to hear that several hundred people are following this event online, demonstrating a keen appetite for such experiences.”

Provost Dr Linda Doyle; Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin; William Derham, Curator, Dublin Castle and Dr Anne Dolan, Associate Professor in Modern Irish History.

Organiser of the conference, Dr Anne Dolan, Associate Professor of History, Trinity, added: “On 16 January 1922 three taxis brought the new Provisional Government through the gates of Dublin Castle and within an hour the apparatus of Irish government had changed hands. Most of what regulated the lived experience of every Irish person – boards, departments, the civil service, the judiciary – would now be determined by an Irish government. Thousands stood outside the Castle gates that day to cheer on the Provisional Government going in and coming out. From the Skibbereen Eagle to The New York Times, newspapers across the globe compared it to the fall of the Bastille.”

“This key moment in Irish history, however, has been largely overlooked. Unlike the Easter Rising, which quickly took its place in the foundation myth of the new state, the memory of the handover of Dublin Castle faded over the century. Taking place within days of the divisive debates in the Dáil on the Treaty, and followed so soon by the outbreak of civil war, the significance of the dramatic shift in the locus of power that took place in Ireland on 16 January 1922 has largely been lost.”

Lord FitzAlan arriving at Dublin Castle, 16 January 1922, Hogan-Wilson Collection, National Library of Ireland

Other contributors to the conference include Professor Eunan O’Halpin (TCD)  on the final days of the Dublin Castle administration that ruled over Ireland for close on eight hundred years. Dr Martin Maguire (UCD) on the handover of the machinery of government from the perspective of the civil service. William Derham (OPW) and Dr Anne Dolan (TCD) on the symbolism of Dublin Castle and how the handover was viewed in the popular imagination. Dr Ian D’Alton (TCD) and Dr Margaret O’Callaghan (QUB) on the reaction of southern Loyalists and the Northern Ireland cabinet to the handover.