Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly teaches history at the University of Southampton and is the author of The Fenian Ideal and Irish Nationalism, 1882-1916 and Finding Poland: From Tavistock to Hruzdowa and Back Again.

On 12 March 1689, James II, the deposed king of England and Ireland, Catholic and absolutist, landed at Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland with a substantial French force. He had fled England a few months before when William and Mary had been declared joint sovereigns – the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’. In April, the House of Commons responded by voting for war with...

My grandmother lives in sheltered accommodation in the London borough of Lambeth. In the late 1940s she and my grandfather, newly wed, migrated to London from Sligo, a small county town on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard. On her last visit to Sligo in 1995, as the Celtic Tiger was beginning to stir, she was depressed by what she saw. The new realities didn’t fit her sense of the town,...

The debate over Ireland’s decision to maintain neutrality during the Second World War periodically resurfaces in the letters page of the Irish Times, exposing the cracks in established political pieties. The challenge tends to come from those resistant to the idea that the political circumstances of the time made neutrality the most rational policy. The desire to atone for the failings of an earlier generation sees historical analysis driven by contemporary moral certainties. Something of this sort animates Brian Girvin’s study of the diplomacy between the Allies and Ireland, Girvin’s late father having been pro-German, as he reveals in an early footnote.

Insurrectionary Hopes: Myths of 1916

Matthew Kelly, 1 December 2005

Few Irish nationalist commentators or politicians doubt that the insurrection of Easter 1916 was the most important event in 20th-century Irish history, marking the moment when Ireland emerged symbolically from English domination. Sinn Fein’s extraordinary tally of seats at the 1918 general election, the guerrilla war against the British forces that followed, the establishment of the...

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