Trinity Debates 1916 in London

Trinity became the first Irish university to host a major 1916 event outside of Ireland, when it joined with The Institute of Irish Studies, at the University of Liverpool, to host a major debate on 1916 in London on 31 March 2016.  Taking place in the Institute’s London campus, on Finsbury Square, the event brought together academics from Ireland, the UK, and the USA, to debate and discuss the events of the 1916 Rising, and how it has been commemorated, in both a national and an international context.  Over 100 Trinity alumni and invited guests attended the event, which was packed to capacity, and heard a range of views and interpretations about 1916 in a lively and entertaining evening of debate. 

Part of Trinity’s engagement with the Decade of Commemorations, the event followed on from numerous successful student and staff-run events in Dublin during the year.  However given all of Trinity’s international connections, and its extended alumni network, it was also decided to hold an event outside of Ireland to showcase Trinity’s broader engagement with the subject.  The Irish Ambassador to Britain, His Excellency Dan Mulhall, opened the debate, and it was chaired by Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity. 

From L-R: Prof Joe Lee (NYU), Irish Ambassador to Britain HE Dan Mulhall, Dr Anne Dolan (Trinity College Dublin), Prof Roy Foster (Oxford University),  Prof Peter Shirlow (Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool), Dr Patrick Prendergast (Provost of Trinity College Dublin), Dr Kevin Bean (Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool), Prof Eunan O'Halpin (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Patrick Geogheghan (Trinity College Dublin), Prof Heather Jones (London School of Economics and Political Science), Prof Ciarán Brady (Trinity College Dublin).

Opening the debate, the Provost in his speech noted that “In Trinity we acknowledge our responsibility – as a centre of scholarship and learning – to contribute to national commemoration”, and he went on praise the “rich, diverse programme of academic, public and creative events initiated by staff and students.  These range from an Irish language play to a film inspired by Casement; from translations of the Proclamation into seventeen languages, to a blog hosted by our Library.”

The panel of historians included academics working in Ireland, the UK and the USA, who presented their own interpretation of the 1916 Rising and its relevance in contemporary Ireland.  This led to a very lively panel discussion and audience interaction on how 1916 is remembered, and the challenges of commemoration.  

The academic panel consisted of Dr Kevin Bean from The Institute of Irish Studies, at University of Liverpool, Professor Roy Foste,University of Oxford, Dr Anne Dolan, Trinity College Dublin, Professor Joe Lee, NYU, Professor Eunan O’Halpin Trinity College Dublin and Professor Heather Jones (LSE). 

Concluding remarks were made by Professor Ciarán Brady, Trinity College Dublin and Professor Peter Shirlow, Institute of Irish Studies.

The event was jointly organised by the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and the School of Histories and Humanities at Trinity College Dublin.  Speaking at the event, Professor Patrick Geoghegan said: “We were delighted to be able to showcase our research on 1916 to a wider audience of alumni and invited guests.  It was also brilliant to be able to hear some of our own graduates – from the recent and not so recent past – speak on the subject, such as Roy Foster and Heather Jones.  Trinity has run many excellent events relating to 1916 over the past year, but because this one was outside of Ireland it was particularly memorable and significant.  It also enabled us to connect with many of our alumni in London, and we look forward to doing so again in the future.’

To view a selection of photos from the event, please click on the online gallery here