Summer Showcase, 2017

Researching Revolutionaries

This section features a selection of essays by students of ‘Ireland: Revolution and Independence, 1898-1968', a third year History module led by Dr Karol Mullaney-Dignam in Spring 2017.

The module surveyed the political, socio-economic and cultural history of modern Ireland from two perspectives: chronologically, so that the progression of events was outlined, and thematically, with emphasis on the ideas of continuity and change. The module addressed a wide range of important topics relating to the 'Irish revolution' and emergence from the British Empire, allowing more than 100 students to develop their analytical skills and critical perception of the central historical themes, and to write discursively on the complexities and subtleties of those themes. Module Tutors: Dr Ciara Breathnach, Gerald Maher, Dr Karol Mullaney-Dignam.

As part of their assessment, each student researched and wrote a 2,000 word, primary source-based, analytical account of an individual, family or group involved (militarily, politically or otherwise) in the Irish revolution in Limerick city, county or surrounds. Essays that challenged or added to mainstream historical narratives were welcomed; research on women connected with the revolution was strongly encouraged. However, students were free to choose their own essay topics and titles, and to immerse themselves in source material that was of particular interest to them, providing good research experience for those going on to do their Final Year Project.

Selected essays:

  • Limerick's leading ladies. Cumann na mBan stalwarts Kathleen Clarke (1878–1972) and Kate O’Callaghan (1888–1961) (Ailbhe Browne)
  • 'Guardians of your liberties'. The Collisons: a revolutionary family in North Tipperary, 1917-22 (Lauren Cassidy)
  • A lifelong fight for Ireland. Kathleen Clarke née Daly/Caitlín Bean Uí Chléirigh (1878-1972): revolutionary, activist, and politician (Lynda Ganly)
  • 'Troops without number'. The Limerick Soviet: a general strike against British militarism, April 1919 (Shane Kennedy)
  • 'Widow propaganda': published media representations of women impacted by the Limerick Curfew Murders, 1921 (Courtney McKeon)
  • 'As I was saying': media bias surrounding the arrest of Éamon de Valera, 1923 (Michael Moran)
  • 'Ignorance is bliss'. Cleeve's Condensed Milk Company, Limerick, and the Irish revolution (Ciara O'Donoghue)
  • Murky waters: how convoluted communications scuppered the Aud's gun-running mission to Ireland, 1916 (Conor O'Riordan)


Far from being a simple chronicling of events, these essays pose interesting and challenging questions, taking consideration of people who took contrasting positions on the political and social issues that preoccupied families and local communities in Limerick and neighbouring counties during the revolution. The different study pathways taken by the authors point to the utility and application of History thinking and skills in any line of work.