Dingle Historical Society presents Ireland and World War 2

Friday 17th, Saturday 18th, August 2012

About this event

Cumann Staire Dhaingean Uí Chúis Dingle Historical Society presents Ireland and World War 2. Friday 17th, Saturday 18th, August 2012.

‘Smugness or Insurgency?’: The Emergency in Ireland, 1939-45 Professor Diarmaid Ferriter Professor of Modern Irish History, School of History & Archives, UCD. Friday, 17th August, 7.30 pm.

Opened by Mr. Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Internal Debate: the Emergency, Fianna Fáil and Irish Unity, 1939-1945, Dr. Stephen Kelly Historian, UCD. Saturday, 18th August, 10.30 am.

The Emergency, Neutrality and Ireland’s Second World War Reconsidered, Dr Michael Kennedy Executive Editor, Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Royal Irish Academy. Saturday, 18th August, 12.00 pm.

An Ambivalent Neutrality: Ireland 1939-1945, Professor Tom Garvin Professor Emeritus of Politics, UCD. Saturday, 18th August, 3.00 pm.


Halla Bunscoil an Clochair (Girl’s Primary School Hall),
Upper Main Street

All welcome – Fáilte roimh cách – Visitors welcome

1. ‘Smugness or Insurgency?’: The Emergency in Ireland, 1939-45

A lecture by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History, School of History & Archives, UCD. Lecture content: This lecture gives a provocative and multi-faceted overview of Ireland during The Emergency, the period of the Second World War. It will address the social, political, economic and cultural contexts of Irish neutrality and look at the experiences of Irish people and their governors, less than 20 years after the end of the Civil War, as they remained largely isolated from global conflict and instead fought their own battles for independence, survival, and diversion.

Biographical Note:

Diarmaid Ferriter was born in Dublin in 1972 and is one of Ireland’s leading historians. He is Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD and has published extensively on twentieth century Irish history. His books include the bestsellers The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 (2004), Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the life and legacy of Eamon de Valera(2007) and Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland. He is a regular broadcaster with RTE radio and television where he has presented the programmes What if?, The History Show and The Limits of Liberty, and a contributor to newspapers including The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and Sunday Business Post. His new book, Ambiguous Republic: The Irish Seventies will be published in October 2012.

2. The Internal Debate: the Emergency, Fianna Fáil and Irish Unity, 1939-1945

A lecture by Dr. Stephen Kelly, Historian, UCD. Lecture content: The paper examines the internal debate which occurred within the entire apparatus of the Fianna Fáil party towards the British government’s ‘proposed’ offer of a united Ireland in return for the Irish government ending its war-time policy of neutrality and entering the war on the side of the Allies. Previous accounts of Fianna Fáil’s attitude towards securing an end to partition during the war years have failed to explore the extent that some Fianna Fáil personalities, including members of the organisation’s National Executive, such as Eamonn Donnelly, demanded that Eamon de Valera and his cabinet colleagues make the attainment of a united Ireland the Fianna Fáil governments’ central priority during the war. The paper examines how de Valera ignored such requests and clamped down on the anti-partitionists within the party; the maintenance of neutrality was de Valera’s main concern and he was determined not to permit individuals, such as Donnelly, a platform to propagate their anti-partitionism. The paper also illustrates the extent that a seizable proportion of Fianna Fáil grass-roots offered sympathy for the IRA’s war-time polices, particularly in relation to the use of physical force to end partition. Although not always openly supportive of the IRA campaign, many Fianna Fáil members held a sneaking respect for their actions. The paper demonstrates that many Fianna Fáil members throughout Ireland were outraged that the Irish government could imprison and in several cases execute IRA ‘Volunteers’.

Biographical Note:

Dr. Stephen Kelly is currently part-time lecturer, School of History and Archives, UCD, where he teaches courses on European nationalism and Anglo-Irish relations. His research interests focus on modern Irish history, Anglo-Irish relations, Northern Ireland and the Blessed John Henry Newman. He recently published a book on the subject of John Henry Newman’s political and social thought, entitled, A conservative at heart? The political and social thought of John Henry Newman (Columba Press, Dublin, 2012). In spring 2013, he will publish his second monograph, entitled, Fianna Fail, partition and Northern Ireland, 1926-1971 (Irish Academic Press, Dublin and London, 2013).

3. The Emergency, Neutrality and Ireland’s Second World War Reconsidered

A lecture by Dr Michael Kennedy, Executive Editor, documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Royal Irish Academy. Lecture content: We often think of Ireland as isolated from the second world war because of neutrality. In fact Ireland was on the frontline of the Battle of the Atlantic and the threat of invasion remained to 1944. Using newly discovered material from Irish, British and American archives this paper re-examines Ireland’s wartime experience and argues that the Irish government and military were far from unaware of events in continental Europe and in the sea lanes and air off Ireland’s coasts. Using first hand accounts from Irish diplomats across war-torn Europe it shows their experience of total war and, using records from the Irish mission in Berlin, how two Irish diplomats attempted unsuccessfully to provide neutral visas for Jews in concentration camps to enable them to come to Ireland and on to the United States. Close to home the paper examines what strategy the poorly equipped Defence Forces would use to make a stand against an airborne or seaborne invader – the overall plan anticipating Germany, and not Britain, as the ultimate enemy. Through neutrality de Valera sought to steer Ireland through the storm of the war. Ireland was a lucky neutral; many European neutrals were invaded in 1940, their status notwithstanding. The paper will look at one often-forgotten parallel to Ireland that few are aware of: Britain’s invasion of neutral and newly independent Iceland in May 1940. Ireland’s second world war emerges not as a period of isolation, but as a period of fundamental change in Irish foreign policy where the paradox of neutrality was that Ireland was in fact drawn closer to Europe because her politicians and diplomats had for the first time to take real account of events on the continent.

Biographical Note:

Dr Michael Kennedy is the Executive Editor of the Royal Irish Academy’s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series, of which volume VIII (1945-48) will be published later this year. Previously, he lectured in Modern and Irish History at Queen’s University Belfast. He received a PhD from University College Dublin. Dr Kennedy has written widely on Irish foreign policy and military history, including Ireland and the League of Nations, 1919-46 (Dublin, 1996), Division and Consensus: the politics of cross-border relations in Ireland 1921 – 1969 (Dublin, 2000), Obligations and Responsibilities: Ireland and the United Nations, 1955-2005 (with Deirdre McMahon) (Dublin, 2005), Guarding Neutral Ireland (Dublin, 2008) and The Irish Defence Forces 1940-49: The Chief of Staff’s Reports (Dublin, 2011) (with Commandant Victor Laing). He has recently co-edited, with John Doyle, Ben Tonra and Noel Dorr, the first text book on Ireland’s international relations, Irish Foreign Policy, which was published by Gill and Macmillan earlier this year . Dr Kennedy is a member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission and a Research Associate of the Centre for Contemporary Irish History, Trinity College, Dublin.

4. An Ambivalent Neutrality: Ireland 1939-1945

A lecture by Professor Tom Garvin, Professor Emeritus of Politics, UCD. Lecture content: His present paper, “An Ambivalent Neutrality: Ireland 1939-1945” looks at the general phenomenon of neutrality in the context of world war and looks at the pronounced ambivalence in Ireland toward both sets of belligerents. While the majority were fundamentally pro-Ally, a minority among the Irish were pro-Axis. Neutrality also exacerbated isolationist tendencies which had long-term consequences.

Biographical Note:

Tom Garvin is Professor Emeritus of Politics at University College Dublin. He is the author of many books and articles on Irish political history and comparative politics.