2023 Speakers & Performers

June 12, 2023

Commandant Daniel Ayiotis is the Director of the Military Archives and a commandant in the Irish Army, based at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin. Since 1990 the Military Archives has been the statutory place of deposit for the records of the Irish Defence Forces, Department of Defence and Army Pensions Board under the terms of the National Archives of Ireland Act, 1986.

Professor Caitriona Beaumont is Professor of Social History in the School of Law and Social Sciences at London South Bank University (LSBU), London, UK and Visiting Full Professor at University College Dublin (UCD), June 2023 to June 2025. Her research focusses on the history of female activism and women's social movements in Ireland and Britain across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has published numerous articles and chapters and her book Housewives and Citizens: Domesticity and the Women's Movement in England, 1928 to 1964 (2013) was published by Manchester University Press. She is currently lead investigator for two new research projects Afterlives: uncovering the life stories and contributions of activist women in the wake of revolution and civil war: Ireland, Finland and Germany, 1918-1980s (UKRI & LSBU funded) an Agency and Advocacy: Locating Women's Grassroots Activism in England and Ireland, 1918 to the present (AHRC funded).  Her recent article in The Conversation (October 2022) 'How a photograph uncovered my grandmother's republication activism during the Irish revolution' is available to download here

Helen Beaumont is Education & Outreach Officer at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History. Appointed to this role in 1997, she set up and subsequently manages this section of the Museum’s Education Department. Her role includes management of public and schools’ programmes; working on exhibitions and partnership projects with diverse communities, institutions and government bodies. Previously, she worked as a teacher in Dublin and London at second level and in adult education. She is a graduate of the MA in Arts Management and Cultural Policy, UCD.

Dr Edward Burke is a Lecturer in the History of War since 1945 at University College Dublin (UCD). Prior to joining UCD, he was an Assistant/Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Nottingham (2017-2022). From 2015-2017 he was a Lecturer in Strategic Studies at the University of Portsmouth, attached to the Royal Air Force College from 2015-2017. He received his PhD in International Relations in 2016 from the University of St. Andrews.

Bob Collins has been Chairperson of the Policing Authority of Ireland since January 2020. He is a former Director-General of RTÉ, served as Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland from 2005 to 2012 and was Chair of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 2011 to 2016. He was the first Chair of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and has also served on a number of other boards including the National Library and the Ulster Orchestra. He is a former President of the Irish Association and has been a Trustee of the British Irish Association for some years.

Professor David Dickson is Professor Emeritus of Modern History in Trinity College Dublin, and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.  He has published extensively on the social, economic and cultural history of Ireland since the seventeenth century.  Past collaborative research projects have included the demographic history of eighteenth-century Ireland; the comparative history of famine in Ireland; the social history of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Dublin; the 1798 Irish rebellion; and Ireland's entanglement with empire. His major publications include Old world colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830 (2005); Dublin: The making of a capital city (2014), and The first Irish cities: An eighteenth-century transformation  (2021). Earlier this year he published a chapter in the collection Ireland, slavery and the Caribbean, eds. Finola O’Kane & Ciaran O’Neill (2023) and is currently helping to complete a major collaborative project, The Moore letters, a private archive of over 800 letters of a middle-class family living in north-west Ireland and in Maryland spanning the 1790s and the 1840s, that will be published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

Professor Robert Gerwarth is Professor of Modern History at University College Dublin and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He studied History and Politics in Berlin and Oxford and has published ten books on aspects of political violence in Europe, most of them translated into several languages. Among his more recent publications are The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End (Allen Lane, 2016) and November 1918: The German Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2020). 

Fionnuala Harkin (wine tasting) - running Fionnuala's Little Italian Restaurant in Clonakilty from 1991 to 2003 honed her interest in wine, ending up with a list that was far too big for a small restaurant in West Cork, but which was included in The Irish Times best wine lists at the time. Since then, she has travelled around Europe with Wines Direct meeting the families who tend the vineyards and make the wines we import. It is a labour of love to share their wines and stories with Irish wine lovers, either in our wonderful restaurants, while teaching Wines and Spirits Education courses, through rambling musings in a wine blog, or around the repurposed workbench in The Wine Shed in Timoleague.  

Dr Kate Hodgson has been a lecturer in the French department at UCC since 2016. Before joining UCC she was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Liverpool. She has also worked as a researcher on the EURESCL project (Slave Trades, Slavery, Abolition and their Legacies in European Histories and Identities), funded by the EU Seventh Framework programme, at the University of Hull and the CNRS in Paris. She holds degrees from the University of Cambridge, Sorbonne Paris Nord and University College London. Dr Hodgson's research interests are focused in the areas of Francophone Postcolonial Studies and the history, memory and legacies of enslavement.

Professor John Horne is Fellow Emeritus (History) at Trinity College Dublin. A member of the Department of History in Trinity College Dublin since 1977, he was appointed to a personal chair in Modern European History in 2003. Initially a labour and social historian, he has engaged with cultural history for the last fifteen years, especially relating to the study of the Great War, without renouncing his earlier commitment to social history. France has been at the centre of his interests, but he has always done comparative history at the level of research as well as at that of conceptualization and reflection. More recently, he has been drawn by the question of how to write the contemporary history of Europe at a transnational level, rather than as a set of comparative national histories. In addition to being an executive member of the Research Centre of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne (France), he is on the Management Committee of EURHISTXX, a European contemporary history network made up of twelve research institutes and history departments across Europe. In 2008 he was appointed the first director of the new Centre for War Studies in TCD.

Professor Heather Jones is a leading expert on the First World War and on the Irish decade of war and revolution 1912-23. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where she was a foundation scholar, and is currently Professor of Modern and Contemporary European History at
University College London. She is the author of Violence Against Prisoners of War in the First World War: Britain, France and Germany, 1914-1920 (Cambridge, 2011) and For King and Country: The British Monarchy and the First World War (Cambridge 2021), and over 50 chapters and articles on the Great War era as well as two co-edited books. She has contributed to major works on the Irish Revolution including the following volumes: Atlas of the Irish Revolution; Towards Commemoration: Ireland in War and Revolution 1912-23; Ireland 1922:
Independence, Partition, Civil War; and The Irish Revolution: A Global History. She has regularly contributed to RTE radio centenary coverage and has also appeared in the two major RTE landmark documentaries on the Irish War of Independence and on the Irish Civil War, and she also contributed to BBC NI's Year 21 podcast series marking the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland.

Paul Lay is the author of Providence Lost: the Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate (2020), which was shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize. He is Senior Editor at Engelsberg Ideas, a a former Editor of History Today and a Trustee of the Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon. He is currently working on a book about the transition from Protectorate to Restoration.

Professor Charles Ludington is a wine historian, university history professor, and general editor of the Bloomsbury Cultural History of Wine, a six-volume encyclopedia of wine history (published 2025). His first degree was from Yale University, followed by M.A., M.Phil and Ph.D from Columbia University.  He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London and has won three teaching awards, including lecturer of the year in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at North Carolina State University. From 2015-17, he was a Marie Curie Senior Research Fellow at University College Cork and Université de Bordeaux-Michel Montaigne.

Mike MacCarthy-Morrogh was brought up in West Cork and studied at Trinity College Dublin than in London. He was a journalist, including for the Irish Times, and then a teacher for 30 years. His books include The Munster Plantation (1986), The Unification of Italy (1990) and The Irish Century (1998).  

Dr Tara McConnell is a food historian with a special interest in drinking studies. Intrigued by the many references to claret consumption in the historiography of eighteenth-century Ireland, she started researching the significance of claret as a social signifier and status enhancer in Georgian Ireland over a decade ago, subsequently presenting and publishing numerous papers on these and other claret- related topics. Her most recent publication is a monograph entitled “Honest Claret”: The Social Meaning of Georgian Ireland’s Favourite Wine (2022). In addition to her research focus on wine and its material culture, Tara has published papers on topics ranging from brewing and beer consumption in elite eighteenth- century households to the enthusiasm for fashionable ceramic table ware in the same period. With maternal roots in West Cork, she is delighted to discuss her research with attendees at this year’s West Cork History Festival.

Dr Patricia McCarthy is an architectural historian and author of 'A favourite study': building the King's Inns (Dublin, 2006) and Life in the country house in Georgian Ireland (London and New Haven, 2016). Her recent book is Enjoying Claret in Georgian Ireland - a history of amiable excess (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2022).

Dr Nicholas McDowell is Professor of Early Modern Literature and Thought at the University of Exeter. His most recent book is Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton (2020), the first part of a two-volume biography of John Milton for Princeton University Press that was named one of the five best history books of 2020 on Five Books. He has been awarded a 2022 Major Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust to write a comparative study of poetic responses to civil war in 17th-century Britain and Ireland and 20th-century Ireland.

Dr Eve Morrison is a twentieth century Irish historian specialising in the Independence struggle and Civil War period (1913-1923), including the social and cultural memory of those events. Her research also engages with various theoretical concerns and scholarship relating to Irish history, memory studies and oral history. She completed both her BA and PhD at Trinity College Dublin. She was both Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar and postdoctoral fellow (University College Dublin). She was Canon Murray Fellow in Irish History School at the University of Oxford from 2018-2021.

Danielle O'Donovan is Project/Programme Manager for PortsPast and Present, an inter-regional research project at University College Cork. She is former Acting Director and Programme Manager at Nano Nagle Place in Cork City and has worked in museums for over a decade, most of which has been spent working in the independent museum sector. She previously taught architectural history at university level, where she was developing learning experiences in the historic built environment. This passion for learning, coupled with an interest in technology-mediated learning, brought her to post doctoral work in Trinity, developing eLearning and digital humanities projects for the Irish Heritage Trust.

.Glenn Patterson is a Belfast-born writer of fiction, non-fiction and scripts for stage and screen. He has been a writer in residence at the University of East Anglia and UCC and he is currently a Professor of Creative Writing in the School of Arts, English and Literature and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast. Amongst his novels are Burning Your Own (1988) which won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and his non-fiction works include Lapsed Protestant (2006) and The Last Irish Question: Will Six in Twenty Six Ever Go ? (2021).

Trevor Ringland MBE LL.B, is a lawyer who was born in Northern
Ireland in 1959. In rugby he represented Queen’s University Belfast, Ballymena, Ulster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. He has been involved in community relations work through various organisations including PeacePlayers-NI, the One Small Step Campaign, the Community Sports Network, the British Irish Association, Co-operation Ireland and the Ireland Funds. He has a strong interest in constructive politics and was
a founder member of the pro Union Group Re-Union which promoted a
positive vision of Unionism and was a former member of the East
Belfast Ulster Unionist Association and Co-Chair of the NI Conservative
Party He co-authored a pamphlet “The Long Peace. A future vision for
Unionism” with Mick Fealty and David Steven and was a member of the
Policing Board for Northern Ireland and a Trustee of the RUC (GC)
Foundation. He is a member of Knock Presbyterian Church. He was awarded the MBE in recognition of his cross-community work. He was also appointed as the UK Government Special Envoy to the
United States on Northern Ireland.

Dr Dominic Selwood is a historian and barrister. He is a bestselling author and novelist and frequent contributor to national newspapers, radio and television. He has a doctorate in history from Oxford, a masters from the Sorbonne and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries.

Festival Concert

Jessie Kennedy is an Irish vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and writer from West Cork and a long time friend and collaborator with the West Cork History Festival. She has released four studio albums to date, including the acclaimed “The Carbery Songs”. Jessie has performed and collaborated with artists including Donovan, Interference, James McVinnie, Patsy Puttnam, Glen Hansard, Jeremy Irons, Richie Buckley and Nigel
Kennedy. She has headlined venues such as The National Concert Hall, Dublin, Cork Opera House, St. Andrews in London, St. Barrahanes Classical Music Festival. Her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s song “Devils and Dust” was recently released by ACE Records on a compilation album of female artists singing Bruce Springsteen songs, which also features Emmy Lou Harris, Patti Smith, and Lucinda Williams. Jessie is a violinist and vocalist with The Vespertine Quintet. 2023 will be Jessie’s fifth year curating the music for West Cork History Festival.

Justin Grounds is a violinist, composer and music producer originally from Cambridge, UK. He studied a degree in Music & Theology at Durham University, majoring in electroacoustic composition, while touring and recording with the live drum’n’bass collective Keiretsu, melding his classical violins with electronic beats and bass - a thread that has woven through his diverse musical output to this day. After years spent in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia, Grounds now lives and works in West Cork, Ireland, and is a celebrated and sought-after composer, performer and producer. As well as releasing 4 solo records and touring in Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA, he collaborated with Dublin based singer Pearse McGloughlin on a highly acclaimed cycle of electronic chamber songs called ‘Idiot Songs’, one of Irish Times’ albums of the year in 2013. He more recently produced the debut record of The Vespertine Quintet, 2 albums with singer Jessie Kennedy and Cork songwriter ADT’s debut record ‘Vol.1’.His works for orchestra and chamber ensemble meld his training as a baroque violinist with his love for modern electronic sound processing and disregard of genre. Passagalia Apis for string orchestra and de-tuned baroque violin was performed by Elizabeth Wallfisch and the Cork Baroque Orchestra, as well as by Maya Homburger and Barry Guy in their own duet arrangement for the East Cork Early Music Festival 2014. He has received commissions and bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland, CREATE Ireland, Uillinn Arts Centre, Cork Orchestral Society among work for local ensembles and independent film. His large-scale oratorio The Embracing Universe was premiered to a sold-out audience at Skibbereen Arts Festival in 2019. His most recent work CumuloNimbus for orchestra and soloists, commissioned by the East Cork Early Music Festival, was premiered on early music day 2022. Passionate that music should be a vital and central part of all society, Justin has spent many years teaching a string course for teenage violinists with the ETB, facilitating electronic music and composing workshops internationally as well as volunteering with the local youth orchestra and youth centre studio in his home town of Clonakilty. In 2014 he composed a series of scores for his Human Orchestra Project which he presented along with a specially commissioned piece as a TedX speaker. Since 2015 Grounds has been a member of the Arts for Health team in West Cork as composer-in-residence at the Clonakilty Community Hospital and presented this work at numerous national conferences.

Tess Leak is an interdisciplinary artist with who has worked predominantly in the areas of Arts and Health for many years. Co-creator of the Museum of Song project. A graduate of the Curious School of Puppetry. Tess is a  Cellist with Barefoot Baroque and The Vespertine Quintet. In 2022 she collaborated with Jessie Kennedy on “Thus She Shall go to the Stars”, music inspired by Skibbereen astrophysicist Agnes Clerke for the West Cork History Festival. 

Sam O'Sullivan is a drummer and percussionist. Sam has played percussion on albums such as the Grammy Award-Winning Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris, live performances of the acclaimed album Acadie by Daniel Lanois, and various albums and live shows with U2 (incl. No Line on the Horizon, Lovetown and Desire) . Sam has worked as the U2 Studio Manager and Drum Technician for Larry Mullen (U2) for the past 37 years. He has also worked with Irish groups such as Planxty, Clannad and Moving Hearts.

Billy Kennedy is a singer songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Cork City. The Evening Echo described his songs as having 'a gentle poetic sensibility. Upbeat pop fused with Americana. 'Red FM's Neil Prendeville described it as 'One of the best things around.' The lead single '25 Ways' received airplay on RTE 1 from John Creedon, Niall Toner, and other shows. He has produced albums by various Irish artists including Dave Murphy, and Martin Murphy as well as Slovenian songstress Branka, and New Zealand's Junior Mike. Billy released three singles in 2020. The first 'Giants' was supported by concerts in Camden Fort Meaghar and The Inkwell Theatre. He released two other singles that year with 'Sea Creatures' being included on the RTE1 recommends playlist. The final song of 2020 'Angels on Patrick St' was recorded and performed with the Crosshaven Community Choir with a video highlighting the stunning atmosphere of Crosshaven village. Billy is back with a new single 'Summertime Somewhere' which is released on 21 August. There will soon be a full length album to follow.

Susan McManamon is a pianist, choral music director, conductor and teacher. MA in Ethnomusicology from University College Cork. In 2022 Susan collaborated with Jessie Kennedy on “Thus She Shall go to the Stars”, music inspired by Skibbereen astrophysicist Agnes Clerke for the West Cork History Festival. Recent collaborations include dance performances with Helga Deasy. Member of The Vespertine Quintet.

The Vespertine Quintet are Justin Grounds, Tess Leak, Susan McManamon and Jessie Kennedy. Comprising the traditional string quartet and piano with added electronic sounds. Born during a long West Cork winter as an idea by violinist Grounds to gather some friends and play some sparse and wintery minimalist music by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds and Estonian Arvo Pärt. Word soon got out and the quintet were invited to play to sold-out audiences at venues like Glebe Gardens, Lissard House for Skibbereen Arts Festival, and winter series of collaborations with well- known solo artists at DeBarras - Clodagh Simonds of Fovea Hex, Poet and Peacemaker Padraig O Tuama, Farewell J.R., Liam O Maonlaoi, composer Tom Adams, Choice Music Award winner Adrian Crowley and many others.