14 December 2016
In 1843, John Kells Ingram wrote a famous Irish political ballad, with the refrain 'Who fears to speak of '98'?', referring to the United Irishmen's uprising of 1798. This was an effort to evoke the memory of '98 in order to inspire a new generation, some of whom will have become involved in the romantic nationalist Young Ireland movement of the 1840s.
17 November 2016
In the aftermath of the UK's referendum in EU membership, I have invited by a number of groups to speak about the impact of Brexit on Irish-UK relations. Here is the gist of what I usually say on such occasions about Irish-UK relations, past, present and future.
01 November 2016
James Joyce's autobiographical novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in the United States in December 1916, having previously been serialised in a literary magazine. It was a milestone in Joyce's life as a writer and, by the time of its publication, he was already writing his master work, Ulysses, which was published in 1922, just weeks after the establishment of the first independent Irish State.
7 October 2016
On account of Ireland's deep interest in developments in British politics and public policy, our Embassy has for many years been represented at the annual party conferences of the major British parties.
14 September 2016
On 14 September I travelled to Aberystwyth University for the annual conference of the Wales-Ireland Research Network. The conference’s topic was ‘1916 in Ireland and Wales’. The conference was attended by academics from Ireland and Britain and heard a range of papers, including one on Frongoch where the 1916 combatants were interned in 1916-17.
07 September 2016
Tom Kettle was killed on the 9th of September 1916 at Ginchy during the horrendous 160-day battle of the Somme. He was one of up to 50,000 Irishmen who perished during the 4 years of the First World War.
26 July 2016
When James Joyce wrote that 'history is to blame', he was alluding to the burden of Irish history, whose weight he felt in his own life and which was one of the reasons why he spent most of his days in exile from Ireland.
08 July 2016
On a recent Saturday, I travelled to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst for the Royal Irish Regiment's centenary commemoration of the Battle of the Somme where I paid my respects to the memory of the many Irishmen who died during that most terrible of battles.
20 June 2016
Yes, Dexys do Irish - they really do! It's not that common for an Embassy to host a nine-song set by a seven-piece band, but that's what happened when Dexys came to play tracks from their new album, 'Let the record show: Dexys do Irish and Country Soul'.
03 June 2016
I am getting a bit weary of hearing the European Union derided as undemocratic or as an unaccountable bureaucracy. These claims do not square with my own experience of the EU, whose affairs I have followed since I first joined the Irish diplomatic service in 1978. They seem to me to be based on a lack of understanding, wilful or otherwise, of the necessarily complex ways in which the EU operates.
20 May 2016
I hear a lot of debate at the moment about the nature of the European Union. There are those who say that it is on the way to becoming a European super state. However, my experience of working on European affairs as a member of Ireland's diplomatic service since 1978, and a reading of the EU Treaties, tells a very different story.
09 May 2016
I have been involved with EU affairs on and off throughout my time in our diplomatic service and have come to appreciate the EU's achievements and continuing value to Europe.
05 May 2016
One hundred years ago this week, the lives of three Irish writers, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Mary Plunkett, came to an end at Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.
22 April 2016
100 years ago this week, Roger Casement, a retired British diplomat and a member of the nationalist Irish Volunteers was arrested near Banna Strand in County Kerry. Casement had just arrived in Ireland on board a German U-boat.
19 April 2016
I am often asked by members of the Irish community here about my views on the European Union and the coming referendum on EU membership to be held on 23 June. Here is how I normally respond to such questions.
24 March 2016
I was asked by the historian, Ruth Dudley Edwards, to speak at the London launch of her book, The Seven: the lives and legacies of the founding fathers of the Irish Republic, a collective biography of the 1916 leaders, and one of the many books published this year to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. The other speaker at the launch was the Nobel Prize recipient and former First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble. Here is a summary of what I said at the launch.
21 March 2016
Yeats's great poem 'Easter 1916 is not a bad place to start when seeking an understanding of that transformative era for modern Ireland. Yeats, writing in the immediate aftermath of the Rising, spotted that Ireland had been 'changed utterly' by the events of Easter week.
29 February 2016
In recent months, I have been required to speak quite frequently here in Britain about the European Union. In particular, I have often been asked to outline Ireland's attitude to the current debate about the UK's future in the EU, what has become known as the Brexit question. This is a topic of considerable interest to us as a fellow EU member alongside the UK since 1973 and the closeness of our relationship with the UK, especially since the Good Friday Agreement.
29 January 2016
This year, the centenary of the Easter Rising, I will be taking part in quite a number of events commemorating not just that momentous year for Ireland, but also its legacy in the form of a century of Irish independence. I will also be marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, in which so many from all parts of Ireland fought and died.
18 January 2016
For this centenary year, I plan to post a series of blogs on aspects of the Easter Rising and its legacy.
There are many approaches to the events of that momentous year for Ireland, but I want to begin with a literary angle. This is a rich vein, for remarkably three of the seven leaders of the Rising - Pearse, MacDonagh and Plunkett - were published poets, which has led to 1916 being described as a poets' revolution. It was more complicated than that of course and there are many ways to explain why the Rising took place. To my mind, the main causes were the delayed arrival of Home Rule and the impact of World War 1.