North Strand Bombings: a Family Recollection

It has been seventy-five years since the North Strand Bombings and since my great granddad passed away. Between the night of 31 May 1941 and the morning of 1 June, four bombs fell on Dublin.  The first struck the junction of the North Circular Road and North Richmond Street. Minutes later a second fell onContinue reading “North Strand Bombings: a Family Recollection”

Opening of ‘Love, Italian Style’

I was at the Italian Cultural Institute in Dublin yesterday evening for the launch of the Love, Italian Style exhibition. Curated by Niamh Cullen (University College Dublin), it looks at the changing perceptions of marriage from the 1940s to the 1970s in Italy, and draws on popular magazines — notably Grand Hotel — and diaries held atContinue reading “Opening of ‘Love, Italian Style’”

A Graveyard with Character

I’m back in Dublin for a few days. With the blessing of the graves just around the corner, I went with my Dad to water the flowers on our family plot. The graveyard has always intrigued me. According to local folklore, an underground tunnel connects Dunsoghly Castle (which I’ve previously mentioned here) with the former church that lies inContinue reading “A Graveyard with Character”

Keep the Conversation Going #TimeToTalk

This week the University of Hertfordshire (UH) participated in the national ‘Time To Talk’ campaign led by Time to Change, England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. UH staff and students were asked to tweet using the hashtag #TimeToTalk and UH Student Wellbeing Services re-tweeted us throughout the day. Although Thursday, 6 February,Continue reading “Keep the Conversation Going #TimeToTalk”

Ballymagash & the Fall of the Fine Gael-Labour Government, 1977

A variation of this post first appeared on,  31 December 2013 With advanced publicity for Oliver Callan’s New Year’s Eve special promising sketches that would sail close to the wind in their depiction of President Michael D. Higgins and his aide Kevin McCarthy, RTÉ reportedly asked that the satirist tone down his portrayal of  the PresidentContinue reading “Ballymagash & the Fall of the Fine Gael-Labour Government, 1977”

This year I read…

By the time 2013 came around, research for my own book was complete. With only proofs to check and an index to compile, it was time to start new projects and finally get around to some more general reading that had been neglected while I’d been writing. The following are just three of the booksContinue reading “This year I read…”

Guest Post – Writing History: Bias and Credibility

I primarily see my blog as a space to test ideas.  Often what readers find here is not the finished product, but rather my thought process as I work through aspects of my research.  Occasionally I stray into general interest subjects that have grabbed my attention.  Recently, I wrote a post about historians and bias,Continue reading “Guest Post – Writing History: Bias and Credibility”

Historians: Who do We Think They Are?

Do we need to know? A specialism in a particular area of history is a funny old thing. Certain fields appear to exempt the researcher from any potential accusations of vested interest, while others appear to invite the observation that the author must be a sympathiser. I am now the author of two books onContinue reading “Historians: Who do We Think They Are?”

The Sewing Machine, The Household and Times Past

Fashion before the age of mass production was the subject of a fascinating post from the blog of Dr Niamh Cullen recently: In my research on dress in post-war Italy, people’s experiences of dressmaking were of course entirely different. Sewing wasn’t a pastime; it was an integral part of household management. Right up to the 1960s,Continue reading “The Sewing Machine, The Household and Times Past”

Some Thoughts / Tips for Relocating Abroad for Work

UPDATED, 3 September 2013 Relocating abroad is stressful. There’s no getting around it. Opening a bank account, finding somewhere to live, applying for a national insurance number (if you’re moving to the UK), getting a new phone number… The list goes on, each item posing its own set of challenges. I was lucky that I’dContinue reading “Some Thoughts / Tips for Relocating Abroad for Work”

‘There is an evil growing’: Views on Mixed Marriages (1917)

Thursday’s post — ‘Your Husband Comes First in the House’: a (Catholic) Guide for the Young Wife (1938) — attracted a lot of interest. It was re-tweeted numerous times, re-blogged and reproduced on and Thank you to everyone who took an interest.  If you didn’t read the post, it looked at a bookletContinue reading “‘There is an evil growing’: Views on Mixed Marriages (1917)”

‘Your Husband Comes First in the House’: a (Catholic) Guide for The Young Wife (1938)

The following booklet belonged to my grandmother. It sort of surprises me that she owned a copy: she wasn’t the typical stay-at-home wife. Rather, she owned and ran the local shop in her rural community. In many ways, it served as a centre of activity. Locals stopped by not just to pick up their groceries,Continue reading “‘Your Husband Comes First in the House’: a (Catholic) Guide for The Young Wife (1938)”

The Dublin Tenement Experience

I have two young children and on one occasion the roof fell in on us. We were not able to contact the landlord. In fact, not since May 1960 has anybody come near us for rent. The place is appalling. There is one toilet for the whole three-storey building and rats are running all overContinue reading “The Dublin Tenement Experience”

Glasnevin Cemetery: Where the Stories of the Ordinary and the Powerful Intertwine

I visited Glasnevin Cemetery this morning as part of my research for the new book I’m writing on Dublin in the revolutionary period.  With Pamela (my ‘research assistant’ / partner in crime) in tow, I intended to have a look at the graves of the Republican Plot and maybe visit those of other powerful figuresContinue reading “Glasnevin Cemetery: Where the Stories of the Ordinary and the Powerful Intertwine”

Youth, Charisma and Politics: Some Thoughts Prompted by the NLI / RTÉ / JFK Talk

A shiny creature with dazzling teeth, golden skin and a mop of hair.  Ryan Tubridy’s description of John F. Kennedy succinctly captured the appearance of the man whose image welcomed the audience to the National Library of Ireland yesterday evening.  Tubridy was opening a talk on RTÉ’s role in covering JFK’s historic visit to IrelandContinue reading “Youth, Charisma and Politics: Some Thoughts Prompted by the NLI / RTÉ / JFK Talk”

Moving On (Goodbye, UCD)

On Monday (1 July), I attended my first history staff meeting at the University of Hertfordshire where I’ll officially be taking up my new lecturing position in September.  This marks the end of an era for me.  Since 2000, I have been firstly a student and then a member of the academic staff at UniversityContinue reading “Moving On (Goodbye, UCD)”

1920s America: The Lowering of Morals and Raising of Hemlines

This short post originally appeared on the now defunct Irish history blog, Pue’s Occurrences. At the time, I was prompted to write it after an episode of Strictly Come Dancing. Odd, I know, but then inspiration can come from the strangest of places. That night, viewers were transported back to the 1920s through fast-paced dancing,Continue reading “1920s America: The Lowering of Morals and Raising of Hemlines”