The Visions of Eoin MacNeill
By Dr. Mary Harris.
Presented as a collaborative event between NUIG/GAHS, and part of NUI Galway’s commemorative programme “A Nation Rising – Éire á Múscailt”
Few figures in early twentieth-century Ireland were as interested in the nation’s past or as optimistic for its future. As scholar, Gaelic Leaguer, and advanced nationalist, MacNeill’s enthusiasm and drive were remarkable. Nevertheless, his scholarly insights were not matched by political acumen. While he contributed significantly to the forces leading to the 1916 Rising, his attempts to forestall it proved highly controversial. His role in the ill-fated Boundary Commission further tarnished his image but his return to full-time scholarship yielded rich results. This talk will examine MacNeill’s perceptions of Ireland’s past, his role in promoting the language and his later move into the political sphere. It will consider his motivations, calculations and miscalculations, as well as later attempts to vindicate him.
Dr. Mary N. Harris is senior lecturer in History at NUI Galway. Her teaching and research interests focus on early twentieth-century political and cultural history and Northern Ireland issues. She is co-ordinator of NUI Galway’s 1916 commemorative programme and a member of the government’s Expert Advisory Group on the Decade of Centenaries.