Irish role in WWI in the spotlight

Almost every aspect of the First World War and its impact on Ireland will be discussed at a free public conference at University College Cork next week.

Irish role in WWI in the spotlight

From local historians to leading academics, the speakers will cover topics as diverse as the involvement of recruits from Blackpool in Cork in the Gallipoli campaign, and detailed accounts of Irish regiments, to press coverage in Ireland and the war’s influence on Home Rule, Irish suffrage movements and the GAA.

UCC’s school of history has put the focus on making the two-day conference as publicly accessible as possible, despite having top international speakers, some of them from universities in Spain, the US, England, Wales, and Belgium.

“The tone will be formal, but that should not make the discussion any less interesting. There is no registration required, people can come and attend any individual sessions that take their fancy,” said organiser and history lecturer Gabriel Doherty.

The conference — In Defence of Right, of Freedom, and of Religion — is part-funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is one of a series run by UCC’s school of history to mark the decade of commemorations from 1912 to 1923, having previously examined the home rule crisis of 1912-1914 and the 1913 Dublin Lockout.

“The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 is undoubtedly one of the most important anniversaries.

“The contemporary history of the world we live in today begins in 1914 and the war’s consequences continue to reverberate,” said head of school Professor Geoff Roberts.

“While this conference has a particular focus on Ireland, events here will be examined in their wider and comparative context. What happened to Ireland as a result of the war can illuminate broader processes and trends,” he said.

British prime minister David Cameron’s special representative for the centenary commemoration of the First World War, Andrew Murrison MP, will address the official opening on Friday evening, Jan 24.

The keynote address at the same session will be by Gary Sheffield, war studies professor at the University of Wolverhampton, and Myles Dungan — presenter of RTÉ Radio 1’s The History Show and University College Dublin lecturer — will speak about Irish soldiers in action, at the closing session the next day.

* More details of the UCC conference are available at www.ucc.ie/en/history/conferences/

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