Ruan O’Donnell is Senior Lecturer in History and a recognised authority on Modern Irish History. My Special Category, The IRA in English Prisons, Volume 2: 1978-1985 was published in November 2015 by Irish Academic Press. This is the second of a three volume series assessing the role of Irish political prisoners in Britain during the ‘Long War’. It is the most comprehensive project of its kind and falls within the emerging field of ‘contemporary history’. This is the first academic assessment of a key theme and takes full account of British penal policy, Irish diplomatic issues and the hitherto secret practices of republican ‘special category’ prisoners.
O’Brien Press will launch Dr O'Donnell's Patrick Pearse biography in the GPO, Dublin, on 29 February 2016. This is the last volume in the acclaimed ’16 Lives’ series of which he is Co-General Editor. The book is heavily indebted to newly available primary sources, as well as hitherto unknown private papers held in Ireland and the United States, and presents a far more nuanced and authoritative perspective on a leading historical figure.
A substantial chapter on Meath during the revolutionary period of the United Irishman has just appeared in the Geography Publications county history series. This is the fourth volume in the set to which Ruan has contributed material based on his archival investigation of the United Irishmen worldwide. His next publication is the co-edited 'The streets are not safe' for Irish Academic Press. This is a collection of first-hand accounts of the 1916 Rising written by republican activists, pro-Government civilians as well as members of the British military and judiciary.
New projects for 2017-18 include completing Volume 3 of Special Category and continuing research into the Irish-American radical connection in the Twentieth Century. Dr O'Donnell wrote a forty-four page pamphlet entitled America and the 1916 Rising in 2015 as an exploratory venture and will build on this promising thread in due course.