Saturday 10 December 2016

Daniel Mulhall: Seven signatories would hardly recognise Ireland today

Daniel Mulhall

Published 02/04/2016 | 02:30

A sweeping view of the 1916 commemorations captured by Kevin Doyle on O’Connell Street
in Dublin. Photo:
A sweeping view of the 1916 commemorations captured by Kevin Doyle on O’Connell Street in Dublin. Photo:

I was asked by the historian, Ruth Dudley Edwards, to speak at the London launch of her book, 'The Seven: the lives and legacies of the founding fathers of the Irish Republic', a collective biography of the 1916 leaders', and one of the many books published this year to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. The other speaker at the launch was the Nobel Prize recipient and former First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble. Here is a summary of what I said at the launch. Ruth does not know this, but the first time I ever spoke publicly, at a student history conference in the late 1970s, my paper on the poet and political journalist, George Russell (AE) was chaired by her late father, Robin Dudley Edwards.

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Ruth's biography of Patrick Pearse: 'The Triumph of Failure', was one of the first serious books I ever bought - in 1977, the year it was published, when I was a post-graduate student at University College Cork.

I am not an academic historian, but I have published one book on early 20th century Ireland and have recently co-edited a collection of essays, 'The Shaping of Modern Ireland': a centenary assessment, which focuses on some of the many fascinating personalities from the Ireland of the late-19th and early 20th centuries, who in their different ways influenced modern Ireland.

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