Ciara Meehan

Historian, Author, Lecturer

A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s

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I have co-edited a book on 1920s Ireland with Mel Farrell (Maynooth University) and Jason Knirck (Central Washington University). The book was published by Irish Academic Press in March 2015. 

In the aftermath of the Great War, Europe’s empires crumbled and a patchwork of new nation states emerged across the continent. As the map of Europe was being redrawn after 1918, Ireland too stood on the threshold of great change.

 The 1920s were a formative decade for Ireland politically and economically, both north and south of the border, but the decade is all too often dismissed as one of stagnation. In contrast, the contributors to this timely collection provide a refreshingly alternative view of such events as the Shannon hydro-electric scheme, and the workings of the Church of Ireland and of the Senate – all serving to reignite the debate about how modern Ireland was fashioned and how statehood collided with national identities and allegiances. The relationship between policy and the emerging state is also explored in chapters focusing on Free State election posters, loyalty and treason, the 1923 Land Act, the Irish Farmers’ Party and parliamentary democracy. Other dynamic contributions look at how economic policy shaped the lives of ordinary Irish citizens and continues to have an impact today, long after Ireland won its struggle for independence.

Contents

Introduction
Mel Farrell, Jason Knirck and Ciara Meehan ……………………………………………… 1

  1. Politics Pictorialised: Free State Election Posters
    Ciara Meehan ………………………………………………………………………………. 12
  2. Cumann na nGaedheal: A New ‘National Party’?
    Mel Farrell……………………………………………………………………………………36
  3. A Unique Experiment in Idealism: The Irish Senate 1922–28
    Elaine A. Byrne……………………………………………………………………………..59
  4. ‘Harnessed in the Service of the Nation’: Party Politics and the Promotion of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme 1924–32
    McKayla Sutton ……………………………………………………………………………. 86
  5. Redefining Allegiance: Loyalty, Treason, and the Foundation of
    the Irish Free State 1922–32
    Justin Dolan Stover………………………………………………………………………108
  6. The 1923 Land Act: Some New Perspectives
    Terence Dooley and Tony McCarthy ………………………………………………… 132
  1. Reframing the Republic: Republican Socioeconomic Thought and the Road to Fianna Fáil 1923–26
    Timothy M. O’Neil………………………………………………………………………. 157
  2. ‘A Regime of Squandermania’: The Irish Farmers’ Party, Agriculture and Democracy, 1922–27
    Jason Knirck………………………………………………………………………………..177
  3. ‘A Cold House for Catholics’? The consolidation of the Northern
    Ireland State in the 1920s
    Sarah Campbell……………………………………………………………………………197
  4. ‘Ireland’s destiny is in the making’: The Impact of the Centenary Celebrations of 1929 and 1932 on the Religious Atmosphere in Ireland
    Miriam Moffitt …………………………………………………………………………… 225

Reviews

Steven O’Connor, Études Irlandaises, 40-2 (2015), 169-170.

‘While this volume does not claim to be comprehensive, it certainly succeeds in making an original and revitalising contribution to a much neglected area of study. The volume is notable for the diversity of topics covered and for the number of essays which address gaps in the historiography’. 

‘Overall, this volume makes an important contribution to our understanding of Irish politics in the 1920s and it will stimulate further research into the early decades of Irish independence’.

Read the review in full here.

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