2024 Speakers

Catherine V. Bateson is an Associate Lecturer of American History at the University of Kent, where she researches and teaches the American Civil War, 1700s to early 1900s US social and cultural topics, slavery, civil rights and indigenous history, and American Studies topics relating to the environment, nuclear culture, and the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She also teaches global history, and areas of European eighteenth and nineteenth century developments, as well as black British history from the 1500s to present day. Her main work focuses on the Irish American in the nineteenth century, particularly through diaspora culture and articulations of identity and nationalism. Her first book, Irish-American Civil War Songs: Identity, Loyalty, and Nationhood (LSU Press, 2022) focuses on the experiences of Irish-born and descended soldiers during the American Civil War (1861- 1865) and how these were expressed in contemporary ballad outputs on both sides of the Atlantic. Dr Bateson has also written articles about the Irish American wartime experience as reflected in songs about the concept of ‘home’, the role of Irish regiments being involved in battle retreats, and has a forthcoming chapter about ‘enemy encounters’ amongst Union and Confederate soldiers from Ireland. She has also published articles on the importance of music in military history. Her latest research turns to post-Civil War memory articulations amongst ethnic, minority and labouring communities in 1880s America. When she’s not researching or teaching, Dr Bateson is also an Associate Editor of the ‘Irish in the American Civil War’ project, co-founder of the Stuff of War Society, and Academic Liaison Manager for the British Online Archives.

Caroline Campbell became Director of the National Gallery of Ireland in November 2022.  Born and raised in Belfast, she was educated at University College, Oxford, and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.  Caroline has held curatorial positions at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Courtauld Gallery, London and the National Gallery, London, where she was Director of Collections and Research from 2018-22. Caroline has published widely, on Western art particularly on the Italian Renaissance, and she has curated many exhibitions, including Mantegna and Bellini (National Gallery, London and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2018-19) and the forthcoming show Siena. The Rise of Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the National Gallery, London, 2024-25. Her first book, The Power of Art, was published in autumn 2023. She lives in Dublin and is married to the architectural historian John Goodall.

Andy Bielenberg is a Senior Lecturer in the School of History at University College Cork. He is the Principal Investigator for The Irish Civil War Fatalities Project.

Donal Byrne was responsible for RTE Nationwide's coverage of the Decade of Commemorations from 2013 to 2023. During that time he produced and presented over 25 programmes on subjects, ranging from the Irish involvement in World War 1 to the key events of the War of Independence and the Civil War, and the burning of the Big Houses during the revolutionary period. He is currently working on a book on the social history of these houses and what became of the families who lived in them.

Christopher de Bellaigue is the award-winning author of six books, including The Islamic Enlightenment, which was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing in 2017. His latest book, The Lion House: The Coming of a King, was a Sunday Times, New Yorker and Spectator book of the year and was described by the Daily Telegraph as ‘Wolf Hall for the Ottoman Empire…a gripping story told with intelligence, knowledge and verve.’ As a reporter in the 1990s and 2000s, he covered the power plays and invasions that shaped the Middle East, Turkey and South Asia. His writing appeared in the Economist, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. He has made several television and radio programmes and is an honorary fellow of the University of St Andrews.

John Dorney is an independent historian, and was researcher to the Irish Civil War fatalities project with UCC. He is also the author of The Civil War in Dublin and is the editor of the Irish Story website.

Photo Credit Paul Sherwood

Martin Doyle is Books Editor of The Irish Times, where he has worked since 2007. He is a former Editor of The Irish Post in London, where he worked from 1992 to 2001, and also worked for The Times in London from 2001-2006. He is the author of Dirty Linen: The Troubles in My Own Place (Merrion Press, 2023) which was shortlisted for Irish Nonfiction Book of the Year. He has essays in The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working-Class Voices, ed. Paul McVeigh (Unbound, 2021) and A Handbook of the Northern Ireland Troubles and peace process, eds. Laura McAtackney and Máirtín Ó Catháin (Routledge, 2023). He edited A History of The Irish Post in 2000 to mark the newspaper’s 30th anniversary. He was also an extra in Father Ted.

Dirty Linen: The Troubles in My Home Place is an intimate, personal history of the Northern Ireland conflict told through the testimony of the friends and families of more than 20 victims who died violently in the author’s own rural parish in County Down. The author enjoys access that only a trusted local could gain and layers this with the literary sensibility of a books editor, the storytelling ability of a veteran journalist and the sensitivity of a writer who has experienced personal bereavement.

Myles Dungan is an author and broadcaster. He presents The History Show on RTÉ Radio 1 and is the author of more than a dozen books on Irish and American history, including How the Irish Won the West, Four Killings and Land is All That Matters. He has taught Irish history at TCD, UCD, and the University of California, Berkeley, was the recipient of Fulbright Awards to UC Berkeley in 2007 and 2011 and received a PhD from Trinity College in 2012. 

Roy Foster was from 1991-2016 Carroll Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford. Born in Waterford, he studied at Trinity College Dublin. He was Professor of Modern British History at Birkbeck, University of London, and held visiting fellowships at St Antony’s College Oxford, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and Princeton University. His many prizewinning books include Modern Ireland 1600-1972, the two-volume authorised biography of William Butler Yeats, Vivid Faces: the revolutionary generation in Ireland 1890-1923, and On Seamus Heaney. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.He received the President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2021 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the An Post Irish Book Awards in 2023. He is the Honorary President of the West Cork History Festival.

Conor Gearty is Professor of Human Rights Law at LSE, and a KC (Hon). He is a member of Matrix Chambers from where he continues to practice, and is a bencher at both Middle Temple and the Honourable Society of the King’s Inn in Dublin.  From 2020-24, Conor was Vice-President for Social Sciences at the British Academy. His cases as a barrister are mainly concerned with human rights issues and he has appeared in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the (old) House of Lords.  Conor’s academic scholarship is concerned with issues related to human rights, civil liberties and terrorism law.  In 2021 he published a study on the role of the judges in relation to the use by British authorities of torture:  ‘British Judges Then and Now: the Role of the Judges’ (2021) 84(1) Modern Law Review 119154: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2230.12578  His book on the UK’s approach human rights was published in 2016: On Fantasy Island. Britain. Britain, Europe and Human Rights (Oxford).  His most recent book was published in May this year: Homeland Insecurity: The Rise and Rise of Global Anti-terrorism Law.

Rosa Gilbert is a historian of Britain and Ireland. She currently works for Irish in Britain, and researched and curated their oral history exhibition on the Irish diaspora in Britain.

Henry Hemming is the Sunday Times bestselling author of seven books including M, published as Agent M, in North America, the Dolman Travel Award-shortlisted Misadventure in the Middle East and the New York Times bestseller The Ingenious Mr Pyke. His most recent book is Four Shots in the Night: A True Story of Espionage, Murder and Justice in Northern Ireland. He has written for The Sunday TimesDaily TelegraphDaily MailThe Times, The Economist,  FT Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Thomas Keneally is the award-winning author of novels and non-fiction works. His novels include the bestselling, Booker Prize winning novel Schindler's Ark and The People's Train. He has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Prize and the Mondello International Prize. He lives in Sydney.

Ruti Lachs is a musician, writer, music teacher, event manager, independent researcher and community musician living in Crosshaven, Co. Cork. She plays piano accordion, piano and trombone, and sings. She has performed klezmer music, jazz, funk, trad and original songs with various bands (including Fresh Air Collective and Quangodelic) and as a soloist. She produces music and cultural events in Crosshaven and in Cork city. Ruti has been researching the Cork Jewish community for 7 years, producing two short documentaries, Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk, which won a National Heritage Week award in 2020, and Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood, in 2021. She leads guided musical walks of the former Jewish area of Cork, the old synagogue and other sites. She is currently preparing to archive her interviews and other research. Recently, Ruti composed the Irish Klezmer Suite, a series of genre-bending klezmer pieces for small ensemble. It has been performed twice in Cork city. In 2023, she received an Arts Council Agility Award to research the feasibility of an Irish Jewish Theatre Festival. She is on the Heritage in Schools specialist panel with the Heritage Council, focusing on music and Jewish culture. Ruti has written and performed two one-woman comedy musical theatre shows, Sideways on Planet Piano and A Different Kettle, which she toured from 2016 to 2019. She has written a musical play set in a Jewish community in Cork, Green Feather Boa. Ruti’s education work includes teaching piano, and running music workshops for all ages and abilities throughout Ireland. She has an MA in Community Music and thirty years performance and teaching experience.

Margaret MacMillan is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Toronto and emeritus Professor of International History and the former Warden of St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. Her work focuses on the history of the international relations of the 19th and 20th centuries and her books include Women of the Raj (1988, 2007); Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World (2001, 2002); Nixon in China: Six Days that Changed the World (2006, 2007); and The War that Ended Peace (2014). Her most recent book is War: How Conflict Shaped Us (2020).

Photo Credit Ander McIntyre

Breandán Mac Suibhne is a historian of society and culture in modern Ireland (PhD, Carnegie Mellon, 1999). His The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2017) was Irish Times Irish Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2017. His other publications include two major annotated editions, viz. John Gamble's Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Field Day, 2011), a compendium of the travel-writing of a hard-living doctor, and, with David Dickson, Hugh Dorian's The Outer Edge of Ulster: A Memoir of Social Life in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Donegal (Lilliput, 2000, 2001; University of Notre Dame Press, 2001), the most extensive lower-class account of Ireland's Great Famine. Mac Suibhne was a founding editor, with critic Seamus Deane, of Field Day Review (2005), a journal of political and literary culture. Mac Suibhne is also working, with Daniel Carey of the Moore Institute for the Humanities and other colleagues in the University of Galway, to develop an online database that will facilitate access to Kerby A. Miller's vast collection of transcripts of Irish emigrant letters.

Ida Milne is a public historian whose principal research fields are in southern Irish Protestant identity and the impact of infectious disease on society.  A frequent media commentator and speaker on both topics, she lectures in history at Carlow College and is a visiting research fellow at Trinity College Dublin Department of History. She chairs the health and environment strand of the European Social Science History Conference, and the HSTM Ireland Network. She served on the Church of Ireland Decade of Centenaries Advisory Committee chaired by Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, and served two terms in the RIA Historical Sciences Committee, where she was on the organising committee for the 2020 Church of Ireland Disestablishment and Beyond conference. With Dr Ian d’Alton, she co-edited Protestant and Irish, the Minority’s Search for Place in Independent Ireland (Cork University Press, 2019). Her current research explores Protestant networks and allegiances in south Wexford from the 1790s, drawing on the Elmes family letters from Old Ross during the 1798 rebellion. 

Russell Napier is author of The Solid Ground investment report for institutional investors, now in its thirtieth year, and co- founder of the investment research portal ERIC- a business he now co-owns with D.C. Thomson. Russell has worked in the investment business for 35 years and has been advising global institutional investors on asset allocation since 1995. Russell is author of the books Anatomy of The Bear: Lessons From Wall Street’s Four Great Bottoms (in print for almost twenty years and ‘a cult classic’ according to the FT) And The Asian Financial Crisis 1995-1998: Birth Of The Age of Debt. He is founder and course director of The Practical History of Financial Markets course. The course has run since 2004 and is now available on campus at Edinburgh Business School and also online. Russell is Chairman of The Mid Wynd International Investment Trust a GBP400m market cap. investment company listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 2014 Russell founded the charitable venture The Library of Mistakes a business and financial history library in Edinburgh that now has branches in India and Switzerland and in 2025 will open in Singapore. The Library of Mistakes hosts lectures which are live streamed and recorded and a podcast series was launched in 2022. Russell has degrees in law from Queen’s University Belfast and Magdalene College Cambridge. He is a Fellow of The CFA Society of the UK and also a Fellow of the CISI. He is an Honorary Professor at The University of Stirling and a Visiting Professor at Heriot Watt University. He is a contributing columnist for The Toronto Star newspaper.

Helene O'Keefe is a historian and Research Support Officer in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, University College Cork. Her book To Speak of Easter Week: Family Memories of the Irish Revolution was published in 2015 and she was a researcher on the award-winning Atlas of the Irish Revolution (2017). She coordinated a series of Atlas of the Irish Revolution public engagement projects during the Decade of Centenaries, including the Irish Civil War Fatalities Project, and is co-editor of the forthcoming Atlas of the Irish Civil War: New Perspectives.

Anna Reid studied Russian history at University College London. After a spell as a management consultant she joined The Economist, first on its business desk, then as its Kyiv correspondent. She then ran the foreign policy programme at the London-based centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange, and she is a trustee of the Ukrainian Institute London, regularly visiting the country. She is the author of four books: Borderland: a Journey through the History of Ukraine; The Shaman’s Coat: a Native History of Siberia; Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege, 1941- 44; and most recently A Nasty Little War: the West’s Fight to Reverse the Russian Revolution.

Catherine Wynne is Reader in Victorian and Early Twentieth-Century Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Hull. She specialises in Victorian and post-nineteenth century literature and visual culture, with particular focus on the Gothic, war art, Victorian theatre, travel writing, and colony and empire. She has published monographs on Bram Stoker (supported by the British Academy) and Arthur Conan Doyle. Her most recent publication is a biography of Lady Butler, Victorian Britain's leading war artist. Lady Butler: War Artist and Traveller, 1846-1933 (Dublin: Four Courts Press) was supported by a grant from the Marc Fitch Fund. She is currently working on a new edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for Oxford University Press (World Classics) and a new (joint edition) of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear for Edinburgh University Press New Critical Editions of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Williams Cole has been producing, directing, editing and archival producing documentary film for nearly 25 years. He produced Gumbo Coalition with Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, which premiered on Max in 2023 and just completed directing Rebel Wife, which as well as being shown at the West Cork History Festival, will broadcast on Irish television this summer. Among his other credits are Sundance premieres Finding Fela and 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film, the HBO film Gun FightGiuliani TimeBarney’s Wall and Rebel Rossa (now available on Amazon Prime).  Williams earned a MSc (distinction) at the London School of Economics on a US-UK Fulbright Scholarship and graduated from Columbia University (magna cum laude). He was a founding contributing editor of The Brooklyn Rail, a monthly publication on arts and politics. Recently he completed an AI Strategy Certificate at eCornell and is engaged in the Information Warfare Certificate at University of Arizona. 

He is also the great-grandson of the subject of Rebel Wife, Mary Jane Irwin O’Donovan Rossa.