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The IRA, 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic – Matt Treacy May 20, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The Left.

Here’s something that should be of interest to many of us, and thanks to Jim Monaghan for directing me to it.

Dr. Matt Treacy has written a book, entitled The IRA, 1956-69, Rethinking the Republic.

I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy over the next day or two and will give an analysis of the book in greater detail soon. It certainly adds to the canon of knowledge regarding the events around the IRA and Sinn Féin during that period.

But Anthony Coughlan has got there before the CLR 🙂

You can find his thoughts here on Indymedia.


1. Ghandi - May 20, 2011

Tried to get it in Eason’s the other day, don’t seem to have it. Anyone know where its available.
Phoenix also mentions it in the latest issue


2. Ghandi - May 20, 2011

Strangely Amozon has new copies for €45.40 and a used one for €55.42, perhaps this was Anthony’s review copy and he has notated it?????????


WorldbyStorm - May 20, 2011


It’s a pricey volume nonetheless. Manchester University Press.


3. EamonnDublin - May 20, 2011

Did Matt Treacy take the pictures in this book?


4. Andrew Madden - May 20, 2011

Unfortunately the book reads like the facts and evidence are sourced to fit a predetermined line – somewhat along the lines of the Provos were right to oppose politics in the 1960s but right to go for it in the 2000s because the stickies were commies.


5. Eamonn Dublin - May 20, 2011

Anybody that knows the author will understand the flawed position he takes.


Ghandi - May 20, 2011



6. Tumbles - May 20, 2011

Eamonn, is Matt Treacy a photographer?


7. Karl - May 20, 2011

Who is Matt Treacy ? Was this writtem as a Phd ?
What is “his flawed agenda” ?


8. Ghandi - May 20, 2011

Was originally a Phd,member of PSF,writes regulary in An Phoblact, so comes from that perspective. Nice guy all the same.


John Byrne - May 20, 2011

currently parliamentary secretary for Martin Ferris.


9. Karl - May 20, 2011

Thanks Ghandi and John
From Anthony Coughmans review and remarks he seems to have made a balls of his facts !


John Byrne - May 20, 2011

I wouldn’t say that. It’s from his Ph.D, which means it’s been through a stricter degree of peer review than most books. Nor would his republican (provisional sinn fein) background automatically preclude the analysis.

I haven’t read it yet, but as WBS says, along with Sean Swan and Hanley/Millar, Tracy’s work can only add to our understanding of the IRA/Republican movement during this period.


John Byrne - May 20, 2011

I should add, the fact that anthony Coughlan has a first-hand account to tell actually puts the onus of possible bias on him, not Tracy!


WorldbyStorm - May 20, 2011

John, I’d tend to agree with your analysis. This is peer-reviewed though that’s not an absolute guarantee. Treacy’s political stance is near irrelevant, this wouldn’t be assessed on that and while it would – entirely naturally – inflect his approach any errors of analysis due to that would be very easy to see and would be picked up fairly quickly. Doesn’t mean it’s brilliant or terrible, but to be honest I think it’s good that someone else is looking at this area.

I also agree that there’s a fair space for interpretation of events and even facts. Indeed the real service is whether we come away from this book with a new sense of events. I hope so.


10. Tumbles - May 20, 2011

Coughlan’s review is mainly differences of opinions.

From what I can see regarding the factual errors, Keating was actually a member of both the Connolly Association and the Wolfe Tone Society; Michael O’Leary was a member of the former and spoke at WTS meetings so to suggest some commonality of influence with those former members who joined or supported the republicans as Treacy does is not ‘absurd’, whatever else it might be!

Jack Bennett was involved in a lenghty debate within the CPNI on the national question in the early 1960s so it is quite reasonable to conclude as Treacy does that he was a member. In any event Coughlan says he does not know!

Treacy reports a conversation between Tadgh Feehan and Greaves that is publicly available in the National Archives. Coughlan quotes an entry in a journal which I don’t think anyone other than himself and Johnson have seen as counter evidence but the actual entry does not contradict Treacy’s account anyway!

Coughlan dismisses Treacy’s description of the Movement for Colonial Freedom as a CP front and yet there is at least one academic article is claims that that is exactly what it had become in the 1960s when it was dominated by CPGB members.

So, really what we are talking about is not factual errors but differences of interpetation.


WorldbyStorm - May 20, 2011

I think that’s quite a fair analysis too.


11. Captain Rock - May 20, 2011

75 euro a pop, not easy on the pocket. Does Treacy reject the Fianna Fail influence theory in favour of the equally hackenyed commie infiltration plot?


12. Ciarán - May 21, 2011

I hear Coughlan has succeeded in getting the book’s distribution put on hold due to ‘defamatory’ statements made about him in it.


13. Budapestkick - May 21, 2011

One of the things that annoys me about the ‘conspiracy’ thesis or ‘entryist’ thesis is the idea that Goulding was some sort of simpleton, easily led by whatever middle-class intellectual happened to be around at the time. This isn’t a problem for Tony Coughlan however:

‘By then Roy Johnston had resigned from the Republican Movement and Eoghan Harris became political guru to the Officials in his stead. Harris developed a unique ideological mishmash of his own, which he termed “class politics”. This exalted foreign big capital as “progressive”, denigrated the small Irish business class as reactionary and played down the political relevance of Partition. He succeeded in foisting this on poor Goulding and his colleagues as a form of “socialism”.’

As for the changes that happened within the IRA in the 1960s, I think the extent to which they were a break from traditional republicanism has been exaggerated, including by me. Much of the agitation stuff (fish-ins, land agitation, housing action etc.) had been done before in the 1930s while the idea of exposing the state as repressive and reactionary goes right back to the IRB. I think the changes, to a large extent, were caused by Goulding and his allies looking back to the 1930s for inspiration, rather than to Moscow or Tony Coughlan.


14. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

The book is still in Hodges and Figgis. Ridiculous price it has to be said.

Fair enough point in regard to the republicans in 60s taking up on what the likes of Congress had been doing. However, Treacy makes the point that the IRA had already realised the importance of that and indeed that the republican social and economic programme even before 1962 was radical in terms of its position on finance, economic democracy, foreign capital etc. What the ‘traditionalists’ objected to was not the politics but the strategy which did clearly involve moves towards standing down the IRA, accepting ‘constitutionalism’ and a formal aliance with the CPs.

They were also aware of the CP role in Congress and indeed there are similarities there as well in terms of how the CP and CP/Moscow influenced people wanted to make the IRA a part of a broader movement in which the Marxists were the ideoligical driving force.

There is an impression that the IRA lurched to the right after the Congress departure whereas in fact in 1935 the Dublin IRA was directly involved in a strike that was one of the factors that led to the IRA being banned and An Phoblacht remained left wing for the short period after O’Donnell left and before it was banned.

Similarly while the Provos were condemned (by AC among others) as right wing reactionaries Eire Nua was a radical document and by the late 70s the Provos had actually moved to the left of the Officials.

Treaacy also records O Bradaigh’s opposition to Stalinism and his understanding that Stalinism was inimical to any sort of genuine economic or other democracy whereas many on the Official side were clearly infatuated by ‘actually exisiting socialism’ to the extent where they later had formal relations with the likes of Kim Il Song!

O Bradaigh’s politics and the politics of the early Provos as evidenced in Eire Nua are not dissimilar to libertarian left and even anarchist prescriptions on the economy and localdemocracy.


Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

I think it’s true that there was a growing sense of the need for a radical position before 1962, and that the post-62 stuff grew out of that too.

However, it’s hard for me to reconcile what you are saying about the politics of the early Provisionals with references to extreme socialism in the list of reasons for forming a separate organisation from the IRA and Sinn Féin given in 1970, and the attitudes of people like Jimmy Steele and Joe Cahill. The attitude of many leading northern provisionals both towards politics and the Éire Nua document itself (a sop to unionism etc) certainly suggest that it was never taken very seriously by those at the sharp end in the north.

I’d also seriously question the idea that the Provos had moved to the left of the Officials. Clearly there were ultra-left elements, but again there is the question of how representative they were of the real powerhouse, which was at that stage undoubtedly still the military element. All the stuff about revolutionary councils based on Libya etc now looks very much like an historical oddity designed to elicit more weaponry and to use as a weapon in the internal power struggles than a principled political position that was later abandoned.


15. Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

I think that the key influences in the rethink stemmed from looking at the contemporary situation with the light of republican history in Ireland, as well as the influence of events elsewhere. It’s no accident that the first offshoots of the rethink were the Wolfe Tone Directories and then Wolfe Tone Societies. Although people didn’t want to use terms associated with the New Departure, it was also clearly a major influence, as well as the 1930s. The matter of timing here is key too. The rethink was underway before people were invited to contribute from outside, which is often missed by the proponents of the conspiracy/svengali theory.

The recent WP pamphlets on its history certainly stress the importance of relying on republican history as well as examples from abroad. MacGiolla for example was always very strong on the progressive aspects of Pearse’s politics in the period shortly before 1916.


16. Seán Ó Tuama - May 21, 2011

I find the references to Jack Bennett interesting.
While a member of the Wolfe Tone Society he had, or later developed, a line on the North much more similar to the PD/RMG/IRSP line than to the three stages theory of the WTS/CP.

In his introduction to “Freedom:The Wolfe Tone Way” (Sean Cronin and Richard Roche, Anvil Books,1973) he argues that the Northern State was structurally sectarian and irreformable, that partition had to be smashed for radical social change to become possible and that uniting the working class on the basis of purely economic demands was a dead end.

He was almost as critical of the PSF Dáil Uladh proposal as he was of left economistic approaches.


17. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Garibaldy, the rethink was underway and it was being driven mainly by people who had been locked up during the campaign and that included O Bradaigh.

It is interesting that Seán O Bradaigh is quoted in Treacy’s book in relation to a draft of the new programme – what basically later became Eire Nua – was ready by 1964 but that it was set aside, he claims,in favour of the strategy framed by Johnson and others which was more to do with changing the political tactics of the movement rather than ideological.


Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

I’d absolutely agree that the Ó Brádaigh brothers and others who went Provo were involved in the politicisation process. I would question the extent to which they were socialist, and the extent to which the political ideas of the likes of the Ó Brádaighs were reflected in the northern provisionals.

Has someone written somewhere that Johnston was involved in producing what became Éire Nua too?

I think there was a clear ideological difference, and that it came out (a) in the understanding of socialism/politics to which people were committed and (b) in attitudes towards the north, and especially the question of sectarianism. As far as I can see, there was more common ground than is sometimes thought, but there were also differences that the leadership was trying to avoid having to confront while working to change people’s attitudes or have the time to develop further its own strategy to a point where it couldn’t be effectively opposed by the minority that disagreed with it.


18. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Well I think that is the point, that ideological differences were minor. It was more to do with the political strategy moving towards standing down the IRA and entering parliaments. And there is no doubt but that on the ‘traditionalist’/’militarist’ side there was suspicion regarding the role Johnson and others.

It is interesting that when the old guard (McLogan, Magan et al) was displaced after 1962 that the O Bradaighs, Goulding, Garland and Costello were all on the same side.

There was a tragic element as Coughlan says in relation to Goulding and a sense that allof the actors were overtaken by events beyond their control and not of their making although of course the movement was a contributory factor in what led to 1969. Key element though was that northern nationalists had been emboldened by the CRM and the violent reaction of the unionists backed by the Brits.

So my view would be that simplistic interpetations such as ‘oh the Provos could have gotten the GFA in 1972’ or the ‘stickies were traitors’ are far too simplistic.History tends to be like that.


Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

I think what I was trying to say was that there were fundamental ideological differences – especially surrounding abstentionism, socialism and sectarianism – but that there were certainly people who were very close to each other politically but went in different directions, and that who went where could be unpredictable.

I think the fact that Ó Brádaigh caused a split in 1986 as well as 1969/70, as well as the evidence of the recent split in RSF, shows that he and his supporters always took those differences to be ideological and not strategic. I’d be inclined to agree with him there, that it was an ideological rather than a strategic difference.

As for whether something extremely similar to the GFA was available in the early 70s, we might agree to differ there, while agreeing things tend to be complicated.


19. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Garibaldy, what happened in 1969 was such that there was no conceivable way that any sort of compromise similar to 1998 and after was possible then. Mainly because the unionists and Brits were intent on putting the Fenians back into their box and that attitude persisted for a long time afterwards.

The Mallon (Seamus) quip that GFA was ‘Sunningdale for slow learners’ is facetious. That was in the middle of a war in which the Brits were up to their necks as proven by what their intelligence arm was up to in the north and down here.

Sunningdale was part of a counter insurgency strategy to keep everything as it was with a formal and meaningless role for an Irish state was part of that counter insurgency and was terrified of the threat of unrest spilling over the border.

Unfortunately it took a lot longer before something akin to GFA was possible.

Regarding how that relates to the ideological disputes of the late 60s, yes there is a case to be made both by the traditionalist (O Bradagigh) camp that the constitutional situation remainds as it was, and from the Offical side that the Provos ended up accepting a compromise that they suggested at that time.

However,the situation had changed radically in the mean time and unfortunately but perhaps inevitably that involved all those years of war.

What that did establish was that the Fenians were not going to be put down in the old way, but also on the other side that even if it was possible to defeat the Brits militarily or fight them to a standstill that you still had to deal with the ‘million Prods’ who were going nowhere.

Tragic as Coughlan says but perhaps historically inevitable working out of the disaster of 1921/22.


Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

I think it’s much too simple to say that what happened in 1969 made the following 30 years inevitable, and that to do so removes exactly the type of complexity we were talking about. Just to take one or two examples. If you look at the British government’s proposals in 1973, they share many of the fundamentals of both Sunningdale and the GFA; so it’s not that outlandish to say that something akin to the GFA might well have been available earlier (that Sunningdale was [and that the GFA is] part of a counter-insurgency strategy is a different argument that I’ll leave here). Of course, this would have meant the victory of pro-compromise unionism over the more reactionary elements which may have been possible given the first election result but would have necessitated firm action against the UWC which London proved unwilling to take.

I think we can pretty much all agree that the prison issues and hunger strikes played a massive role in promoting the rise of politics within the provisionals, and in garnering them a larger support base, especially among younger people who were radicalised by those events. And yet, had different decisions been made on different sides, that may never have happened.

That is leaving aside discussion of all the varying instances at which large segments of the population were supposedly irretrievably alientated from the state (at least until the 1990s). Some of these include October 5th 1968, August 1969, the Lower Falls Curfew 1970, Internment 1971, Bloody Sunday 1972 – they can’t all be right.

So for these and other reasons, I don’t think we can simply draw a straight line of inevitability from 1969 to 1998, although I understand why that is an attractive option for those who supported what was happening up to 1994/97.


20. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Well, all sides can claim historical justification if you look hard enough!

Seriously though, in the context of the current debaate, what AC is really saying is that other people take a different view of or place greater or lesser emphasis on the same historical evidence. Such is history, especially when it is about events within living memory where there is bound to be an element of polemic.

My attitude would be just put it out there and let people make their own judgement. Which is why books like RJ’s, Swans, Hanley/Millar, Tracey, the WP pamphlets, the O Bradaigh memoir and indeed AC’s own contribution to the debate via the review (although I would question the vague threat of taking the debate into the Law Library!) are so welocme.


Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

The more info and argument the better, definitely. I hope for the author’s sake any references to law remain vague!


21. CL - May 21, 2011

Sean MacStiofain recounts engaging in housing agitation in Cork in the early 1960s after his release from jail in England. This agitation had nothing to do with the Wolfe Tone Society which appears to have been a talking shop for middle-class university students such as Eoghan Harris.


22. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Mac S – described in the media this week as ‘English born psychopath’!! – was also the main mover behind the direct actions of the IRA against foreign owned estates. More of a Bakunin type figure than a right winger! Harris was only peripherally involved prior to 69. His main claim to fame is that he read the paper written by Coughlan at the meeting in Maghera in 1967 that was to set the basis for republican intervention in NICRA.


Garibaldy - May 21, 2011

I’m liking the image of Ó Brádaigh and Mac Stíofáin as anarchists at heart. Not sure they would but!


23. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Whatever about Mac!, I think the O Bradaighs would be pretty au fait with that sort of stuff. Eire Nua is classic 19th century anarchism wrapped up in Comhar na gComharsan.


24. Jackson Way - May 21, 2011

The above it’s fantastic attempt to give an ultra Left gloss to a document actual written in the main by Roy Johnston and then hijacked by arch-Catholics to be used against serious socialist development by the Republican Movement.


25. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Well, according to S O B as referenced by Tracey (perhaps he invented it???), who was on the drafting committee, it was not written by the great man at all!

Love the oul ‘ultra left’ being thrown in with the ‘arch Catholics’ bit.

You would have made a great trial judge in Czechoslovakia or Poland in the 50s!!


26. Jackson Way - May 21, 2011

I won’t trust SOB recollections – unless I was out to prove something like Tracey. Its my understanding RJ till has the first draft.


27. Tumbles - May 21, 2011

Is this like all the other stuuf they have and they will ‘eventually’ deposit in the National Library?


28. Joe - May 21, 2011

75euros is very steep. I recommend heading down to that great socialist institution, your local public library, and filling out an order form for it. They’ll buy it and contact you when it comes in. It will belong to the people though so bring it back!


29. WorldbyStorm - May 21, 2011

Just as a general point, splintered sunrise once made an excellent observation that there is often a significant discrepancy between the written programme of a formation and its functional aspect. I think that thought has to be borne in mind in relation to all groups operating at this point in time. So therefore Éire Nua, which is in the Archive, can be judged against other PSF material from that period which seems to lack any strong left political content, and likewise OSF material doesn’t necessarily chime with what was happening on the ground. Same obviously is true of PD, etc, etc..

None of this is to cast aspersions at anyone in any of those groups, but just to point out that functionally they were operating for some purposes and the rationale for those purpose might be somewhat divergent or be a work in progress or whatever.


30. Brian Hanley - May 21, 2011

I should as a historian go on record here and state that threats, vague or otherwise to sue people (over historical analysis) are not acceptable. Let the discussion continue.


WorldbyStorm - May 21, 2011



31. Jim Monaghan - May 22, 2011

Something that should be reprinted. Roy Johnson wrote a sort of apologia (the latin term) in Hibernia when he left Official SF. Circa early 70s.


NollaigO - May 22, 2011

Roy Johnson wrote a sort of apologia (the latin term) in Hibernia when he left Official SF.

I remember that article well, Jim. Also the commentary on Roy Johnson’s Hibernia article written by Raynor Lysaght written in the Plough. Raynor’s analysis referred to an earlier essay of Roy’s written in the(London) Hammersmith communist party branch newsletter. The article written in the early 1960s contained an analysis of left wing developments in the republican movement influenced strongly by the Cuban revolution.


WorldbyStorm - May 22, 2011

Does anyone have a copy of that?


32. Tom Redmond - May 22, 2011

I was in the leadership of the Connolly Assocation from 1958 to 1968, and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and from 1968 was in the leadership of the Irish Worker Party then the united Communist Party of Ireland. I read Tony Cougnlin’s reply to Matt Treacy and can substaniate the facts and agree with most of the analysis.

When I get time I will reply to other details as far as they effect the communist movement.


33. Tumbles - May 24, 2011

Interesting reference in Tracey’s book to a meeting in August 1969 just after the north blew up. It was in London and had reps from CPGB, IWP (O’Riordan), CPNI and Greaves and Sean Redmond of Connolly Association who were there as representatives of the CPGB Irish Committee.That would seem to indicate coordination certainly on the CP side and their view was clearly influential in the immediate repsponse of the republican movement.


34. Eugene - May 24, 2011

It never ceases to amaze me the depth of anti-communism on the left. They see the hidden hand of Moscow everywhere. Communist manipulating everything as if we could not gain or win influence by our arguments. They should not judge us by their own past and current methods methods of work and practices.

It would be very surprising if Communists did not meet up and did not discuss matters of common interests with organisations and individuals who may have important insights into what is happening.

To internationalise and expose what was happening in the north at that time, as both unionists and the Brits where claiming its was an “internal” British issue.

It would be more of shock if the organisations mentioned had not met to discuss what was happening and how to inform and get the British labour movement more directly involved in the Irish question. As well as the international community.

Tony C can well speak for himself but the legal issue is not “over historical analysis” but actual facts.

As for “Keating was actually a member of both the Connolly Association and the Wolfe Tone Society; Michael O’Leary was a member of the former and spoke at WTS meetings” would be interested in what evidence people have for the above claims. They may be right I don’t know. But the fellow traveler is always lurking about.

It would be very natural for political forces who share certain goals to meet up and if possible work in a united approach to secure some or all of those share common goals.

Just as in the 70’s – 80’s – 90’s the CPI did neither support the armed campaign of the IRA nor did we support the suppression of republicans.

But, we did attempt to actually engaged with republicans to argue for an end to the armed campaign and for the advancement of a political struggle and engagement as they way forward. Just as we have done from the 20’s – 30’s – 40’s – 50’s and the 60’s.

No we did not cheer on the use of arms actions over the bodies of dead IRA volunteers unlike the ultra-left nor brand them as “terrorists” as others on the left did.

Tracey, seeing communist manipulation of republicans is nothing new and is old stew re-heated. It does not say much for the leadership of the republican movement or the strength or depth of their thinking if a one or two former communist had such a profound impact.

No, it was more to do with a process of shared work, common goals, the impact of external events, the period was one of awakening and openings to alternative ideas, not just in Ireland but around the world.

The role and impact of the national liberation movements and the de-colonisation taking place around the world and the role of the Soviet Union had in backing and supporting those liberation forces.

“Movement for Colonial Freedom as a CP front and yet there is at least one academic article is claims that that is exactly what it had become in the 1960s when it was dominated by CPGB members.”

Shock horror one academic has written a paper claiming communist control only one!!!! Once again the hidden hand of Moscow undermining the British empire. What a terrible thing to do. Implying that somehow academics are above the cut and trust of ideological struggle. That they are all objective without ideological baggage? My oh my.


35. Tumbles - May 24, 2011

I think the fact that two leading members of the CA, and also of the CPGB Irish Committee, were at the meeting referred to in the book points to a closer relationship between the CA and CPs than Coughlan seems to admit.


36. Tom Redmond - May 24, 2011


If academic historian like Treacey had actually spoken to communists who were involved it might have helped him get his facts and the implications correct. Hence his politics.

The Connolly Association (CA) was a broed democratic organisation of mainly Irish emigrants some of whom – a minoriry, were also members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). Thus I was one and Tony Couglhin was not.

The Irish Committee of the CPGB was an advisery committeee of the International Department of the CPGB. That was its role – to advise the Executive Commitee of the CPGB on Irish affairs. It did not and had no brief to discuss the policies and internal affairs of the CA or indeed those of the fraternal Irish CPs. I was on the Irish Committee for a few years in the early 60s. In the 69 meeting Sean Redmond and Desmond Greaves were the advisers the CPGB brough with them as members of the CPGB’s Irish Committee.

Therefore the meeting that Treacy speaks of, was to discuss a common approach to the crisis in 69 and what forms of solidarity was needed from the CPGB. In the jargon its called international solidaity, to others (who should know better) its called the evil design from Moscow.

A five minute talk with Sean or I would have clarified a ” conspiracy” But perhaps it reads better in a Phd.


37. Tumbles - May 24, 2011

There is nothing in the book at all about any conpsiracy! The only comment Tracey makes on the meeting referred to is that it was agreed that they ought to continue with campaign for a Bill of Rights.

He then goes on to state that a similarview wasput forward by Anthony Coughlan in a pamhhlet entitled ‘The Northern Crisis.’ Coughlan commended the disciplined response by republicans in contrast to the more militant elements in the civil rights movement.

He also quotes a Commonwealth Office official who stated that Coughlan had given a balanced view.

Indeed far from proposing a conspiracy Tracey note that MI5 rejected the RUC Special Branch claim that the ‘Communist IRA’ had deliberately engineered the crisis, or that it controlled NICRA.


38. Andrew Madden - May 24, 2011

Seen some of that book – “private information” is the reference to some of the more juicy hackneyed claims in it, is that academic history? Also seems to give a lot of credence to Bishop and Mallies Provo IRA book, how is such a jounralistc account a source for academic history? Seems very skewed altogether and based on a handful of interviews. Isn’t that guy O’Haulpin that worked on the PhD some form of neo-con spook lover? That might explain some of the book’s mistakes.
From the chapter I read in more detail the book seems to base its conceptualisation of 1960s international communist movement on the film “Invasion of the Body-snatchers.”


39. Tumbles - May 24, 2011

Just had a quick scan through my copy. Six of around 700 references are to ‘private information’!
Only one that I can see to Bishop and Mallie whose book in any event only deals cursorily with the period covered by this book.

Seems to me to be a pretty comprehensive academic review of existing sources. Doesn’t seem to me to be pushing any particular line. Maybe that is what is annoying some people?


40. Tom Redmond - May 24, 2011

Tumbles – are you Matt Treacy ? Just asking !


41. eugene - May 24, 2011

Ah Tom you got in a head of me with the obvious question.


42. yourcousin - May 24, 2011

I would say that if it turns out that Tumbles is Matt Treacy that that is fine. CLR exists for people to argue their corners (whatever those corners may be). There’s nothing wrong with using psuedonyms so long as there’s no sock puppeting.


43. Jackson Way - May 24, 2011

Saw the book today. Seems heavy on the Provo appolgia side. Attempts to dismiss some stuff in the TLR on the basis it would seem of 16 interviews, fairly risky stuff I would have thought when the TLR seems to make use of over 120 interviewees and greater internal documents. Some interesting stuff all the same but will interesting what Hanley, Millar and Swan have to say.


Ramzi Nohra - May 25, 2011

i liked Swann’s book but i havent heard much from him in the last couple of years (ie post TLR). I think he’s in American now.
That is, I am wondering how much he will contribute to this debate.
I would also certainly be interested to read a review of the book by Dr Hanley.


44. EamonnDublin - May 25, 2011

I think Tumbles is actually “factual” from politics.ie


shea - May 25, 2011

or matt tracy is factual, maybe we’ve just cracked a bigger argument than the 69 split.

congratulations any way to matt on getting it published.


45. Tumbles - May 25, 2011

Jackson Way, there is no attempt to ‘dismiss’ TLR! Brian Hanley is mentioned in the acknowledgements, the book is referred to favourably elsewhere, and the only place where the author differs is in regard to their conflicting interpetations of the 1969 Berry memo on internal differnces within the republican movement.


46. Tom Redmond - May 25, 2011

When I asked Tumbles whether he was Matt Tracey I was not trying to “out” him, rather I thought it better to engage it a more meaningful debate.
I have not got Matt’s book yet, as I can’t affoed it and will have to wait for the local library.

But drawing on Tony Counglin’s critique there were a number of things which disturbed me.
The discredited and false notion that the Republican movement was infiltrated by a group of individuals acting with/for outside influence smacks of anti-communism and insulting to the cardes of the RM.
To understand the processes working in the political/social/economic changes in the 60s and 70s one has only to read Eoin O Brion’s book on Left Republicamism. Left Republicanism or socialist republicanism has its roots in Connolly to Mellows to O’Donnell/Gilmore to the Republicanism Congress. Is it not obvious that it would resurface again in a new generation even if Greaves, Johnston or Coughlin never existed ?


Budapestkick - May 25, 2011

I’d largely agree, though frankly, I found O’Broin’s analysis of the 60s to be very weak.


Garibaldy - May 25, 2011

I think the WP would see its roots as lying in elements of the 1790s, but also the New Departure, rather than just Connolly.


47. Jackson Way - May 25, 2011

If I’ve read the TLR correctly there are two Berry memos. The second talks of an increased need to divide the RM due to members of the IRA carrying out the largest armed robbery in Ireland until that date. It is now incumbent on those who have access to these documents to make them available to be read and discussed by interested others. There is no better place for this than the CLR.


Budapestkick - May 26, 2011

I’m dying to get my hands on a copy. From what I’ve heard he seems to be putting forward an interpretation that is completely at odds with, well everything I found when I was doing my own research on the period.


48. Jackson Way - May 25, 2011

That robbery at Dublin airport took place in early 1969 and couldn’t find a reference to it in the new book, yet. Will continue looking.


49. Tumbles - May 26, 2011

The new book does refer to the May 1969 airport operation in the context of Seán Garland having been out of the country in September 1969 when it was claimed that one of the conditions of further money being passed to the IRA would be that Garland would replace Goulding in the leadership. Which doesn’t quite fit with the theory that the state/FF faction was trying to displace the left wingers.

The Berry memos are all available in the National Archives in Justice Department files.


50. Jock McPeake - May 26, 2011

Is the book on sale outside the Free State? I would be interested in seeing what the author states on the split. There is no doubt that fianna fail encouraged some of those in Belfast to leave the movement and promised them guns and money. Indeed I believe some honestly thought FF would help, send troops north etc, as I’m sure some in FF honestly wanted to do. that was the atmosphere of the time. some were convinced anti-communists and remember the man with his missle and prayerbook, daily mass-goer, warning about the ‘reds’…the first provo O/C in Belfast.


51. Jock McPeake - May 26, 2011

Also remember another leading provo, whose brother ‘big Frank’ stayed with the movement, claiming that the commies were founded by the jews!


52. pangur bán - May 26, 2011

there is a small bookshop in parnell street just opposite rsf where review copies of such books can sometimes be got at cut price.
speaking of MUP pricing of this and similar volumes suffice it to say that at least dick turpin had the good grace to wear a mask when he was relieving people of money


53. Tony Mason - June 6, 2011

EURO 75 is a competitive price for an academic book published in hardback.


54. Terry McDermott - June 7, 2011

‘EURO 75 is a competitive price for an academic book published in hardback.’

If the competition is the Book of Kells. No criticism of the author implied here, but what do academic publishers think will happen to books at that price? I saw a book on Tyrone during the early 20th century on sale last week, 80 euro…how can that be justified?


Mark P - June 7, 2011

They publish a small print run and expect to make their sales to libraries, in particular academic libraries, professionals in the field, and a small number of enthusiasts.


55. Terry McDermott - June 7, 2011

So the great unwashed arn’t even expected to be interested?


56. Tony Mason - June 7, 2011

When the book comes out in paperback, twelve months or so down the line when the book has covered its high production costs, it will be priced far more reasonably and then the “great unwashed”, as you put it, will be able to purchase it. If academic publishers could afford to release this type of book in paperback from the outset they would do so without hesitation but as you know, the digital age has meant that research is available online to students for free resulting in very low sales of original academic research which unfortunately, means that publishing high priced hardbacks is the only viable way for academic presses to remain in existence. MUP is a not for profit organisation and the margins on books of this nature are tiny.


57. Terry McDermott - June 7, 2011

‘If academic publishers could afford to release this type of book in paperback from the outset they would do so without hesitation but as you know, the digital age has meant that research is available online to students for free resulting in very low sales of original academic research which unfortunately, means that publishing high priced hardbacks is the only viable way for academic presses to remain in existence.’
Were academic books really cheap 20 years ago then? There is an elitist element to this as well. Don’t tell me a book on the IRA wouldn’t sell in Ireland.


incredulous - June 7, 2011

Academic books produced by UCD Press, Cork University Press, Irish Academic Press and Four Courts are around one-third of the price of Manchester University Press, but have ‘one-third’ of the stature of Manchester University Press, Rutledge, or Oxford.

Academics are an unbelievably shallow lot. They treat prestige in much the same way as the Guardian Weekender treats tables or bookshelves – it’s all about the shape and contours.


ejh - June 7, 2011

It might, but whether it would sell enough is the question.

What Mark P says above is basically right. Academic publishers have small print runs. If an author seriously hopes to reach a wide public with a book, they probably won’t go to an academic publisher.

Of course – as everybody’s aware – this has a restrictive effect, as most people just don’t have the money to buy these books. (Or, indeed, hardback books generally. I wrote a book myself, in the Nineties, which had low sales that were partially attributable to the fact that it was only issued in hardback and was therefore too expensive for many people. As one of the themes of the book was high ticket prices for football matches, there was a certain and not entirely amusing irony about this.)


58. incredulous - June 7, 2011

There is a wonderful irony, of course, in an Irish republican going to an English publisher in order to gain ‘prestige’.

It almost justifies the exorbitant price tag.


59. N Jackman - June 7, 2011

It is true that books on the IRA have a ready market in Ireland, but this isn’t a ‘trade’ book aimed at the general readership which would allow for a large print-run and expectations of high sales. That doesn’t mean it is elitist, it means that it is a work of original high-level academic research and therefore will not have the sales that you seem to expect. Don’t you think that a publisher would produce as many books as it can hope to sell? A small hardback print run to cover costs is the unfotunate position of most academic book contracts with university presses. paperbacks follow when universities across the world have bought enough to allow for a paperback version. the good news is that print-on-demand technology can allow for that to happen sooner without the onerous overheads that are attached to big paperback runs. But the hardback is still required to cover peer review, copy-editing, typesetting, design and printing. These prices continue to rise and academic book sales continue to fall- even in Ireland. It’s a real shame. And most of all for the general reader who would, on average, not be able to consider buying a book of this price. But blaming the publisher is misguided.


incredulous - June 7, 2011

But it was the decision of the author to go with Manchester University Press.

The implied snobbery, though, that high-level research is not for the masses…. I mean, please.

We are not talking about an esoteric argument of a niche subject. This is a book which covers the formative years of one of the most high-profile paramilitary organisations in the world. It is narrative-based, a balance of description and interpretation, with little theory.

The decision of the author – or maybe the supervisor? – to go with Manchester University Press is what turned the book into a niche.


60. N Jackman - June 7, 2011

Incredulous- I can see why you would think that but the author is, I imagine, trying to forge a career. If you don’t place your work with a respected university press then your work isn’t as likely to be distributed across the globe to academics working at the top end of your subject. Peer review is the key to the respectability of academic publishing-not some notion of elitism. For instance, if you work in a UK academic institution and your work is not published with a peer-reviewed journal or press then you don’t receive REF points. This affects not only your own employability but the reputation and, potentially, the budget of your department. The REF doesn’t apply in Ireland but the principle is the same- a book with a peer-reviewed press denotes the testing of its intellectual rigour a number of times before it gets to print. Therefore I would argue that the author is not practicing snobbery, but laying some solid groundwork for a career in academia should he want to pursue one.

I would also point out that I am not criticising the quality or importance of trade books on this subject-they are a different animal entirely and should be valued very highly. Ireland’s ability to support an accessible and intelligent history/politics book market puts other countries to shame.


incredulous - June 7, 2011

I agree with you there N Jackman – I just don’t see any contradiction between what you are saying and the levels of snobbery within academia.

Terry’s point above seems to be the logical conclusion of what you are saying.

Just on peer-review – that has shifted in the last ten years here in the UK since they tied departmental funding to ratings – with publishing records of staff linked to those ratings.

Nowadays, the pressure is on having books under your name, and lots of them. Ever wonder why it takes three people to edit a book? names, names, names.


61. Terry McDermott - June 7, 2011

‘It is true that books on the IRA have a ready market in Ireland, but this isn’t a ‘trade’ book aimed at the general readership which would allow for a large print-run and expectations of high sales. That doesn’t mean it is elitist, it means that it is a work of original high-level academic research and therefore will not have the sales that you seem to expect.’
Are these imcompatible? A book costing 75 euro is simply unaffordable to most people and therefore won’t sell, good, bad or indifferent.


Tony Mason - June 7, 2011

We know from experience that it will sell to libraries. A book of this nature needs to sell around 350 copies worldwide at this price point to cover the initial production costs involved and that is what it will sell. All the costings and forecasts involved in publishing a book of this nature are based on it selling this number of copies at this price. The reason that is the case is that all other books published to the same model sell this number of copies at this price point. It allows the publisher to recover the initial financial outlay. Thereafter, a more price sensitive paperback version can be released.


Mark P - June 7, 2011

The economics of specialist publishing and mass market publishing are very different.

They can get their money back and make a small profit by publishing an expensive hardback aimed primarily at the small market for such expensive books.

If it sells enough to make that money back and also sells enough at the high rate to make it look like there’s some wider interest sales at 75 quid from non-institutional purchasers, you might see a cheaper paperback edition at some point in the future.

I wouldn’t bet on it though.

The Lost Revolution made the Irish non-fiction bestseller lists, but (a) it doesn’t take a vast number of sales to do that and (b) it had a significantly larger potential audience. It was the first book to deal with the history of the Officials (Swan’s book, which dealt with a much shorter period aside). It dealt with the political pasts of a large number of people still prominent in Irish society today, and so was the kind of thing that could be and was serialised in a newspaper. And of course there are thousands of former Sticks still around and probably curious.

It made sense to publish the Lost Revolution as a mass market book, but even then I doubt if anyone was getting rich from it. A book on the pre-split IRA, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent doesn’t have the same wider appeal and doesn’t have predictable inbuilt sales.


Tony Mason - June 7, 2011

I would bet on there being a cheap paperback edition within eighteen months. Print on Demand technology means that this will almost definitely happen.


Mark P - June 7, 2011

That may be so. I haven’t really kept up to date on the impact of Print on Demand.


62. Terry McDermott - June 7, 2011

‘A book on the pre-split IRA, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent doesn’t have the same wider appeal and doesn’t have predictable inbuilt sales.’

Both Tim Pat Coogan’s ‘IRA’ and JJ Bowyer-Bell’s ‘IRA-Secret Army’ were mass market paperbacks, and have been through several editions over 30 years. But point about appeal taken.


Budapestkick - June 7, 2011

It’s slightly different though. The period covered by Swan (1962-1972) and by Treacy (1956-1969) are much more contained and relate to a period where there isn’t a huge ammount of interest. Add to that that Swan’s book is essentially an unaltered political science phd thesis and Treacy’s is intended purely as an academic rather than popular work and it is quite a narrow appeal. Coogan and Bell’s stuff covered a much wider period and were intentionally written for a mass market.

Incidentally, was Swan’s book self-published? I had to get my copy on Amazon as it wasn’t available in either the UCC or the national library. It’s worth reading btw just for the entertaining attack on Harris in the final chapter.


Ghandi - June 8, 2011

If I recall correctly Swan’s is one of those print on demand books, I can’t remember what site I got it on, it came from the US.


Ramzi Nohra - June 8, 2011

you can pick up a copy for kindle for just over £4. (I appreciate the Kindle is a fairly heavy outlay though)

I agree with the chapter on Harris. I do wonder if thats why he didnt contribute to The Lost Revolution.


ejh - June 8, 2011

I need to know more about this attack.


Budapestkick - July 2, 2011
63. mandel - June 7, 2011

The point has been lost here. Not all academic books are +70 euro. Some are 20 euro, some 30 euro, and some, like Tracey’s, are 70 euro.

Reading the comments here you get the impression that there’s only one price for academic content – i.e. expensive.

That is not the case at all. It depends on the publisher and the audience the author is aiming for. would a softcover 18.99 euro edition from Irish Academic Press really have damaged Dr. Tracey’s career?

Mind you, the book has gotten a lot of free publicity on this site, and the author hasn’t even given cedarlounge a review copy! Not bad at all.


WorldbyStorm - June 7, 2011

Recently a book I have some acquaintance with was published by Cork University Press [it’s not my book I hasten to add but I had an input]. Cost of book, less than 50 euro. You’re dead right, academic books certainly don’t have to be so expensive.

Re review copies. That’s a fair point. And I think the publishers should be much more cogniscent of that fact given that sites like this actually do drum up business for them. Some publishers in fairness have sent us books. I know that can seem transactional, but if reviewed we surely wouldn’t hide any flaws we came across.


mandel - June 7, 2011

don’t get me wrong, it’s good that Dr. Tracey’s book is being talked about – but it would be better if it was being discussed. 🙂

He could at least send you a copy – even if he gets six sales out of cedarlounge, that’s still 420 euro of business.


WorldbyStorm - June 7, 2011

When you put it like that… 😉


ejh - June 8, 2011

You’re dead right, academic books certainly don’t have to be so expensive.

They do vary a lot. (Having worked for some years as an Acquisitions Librarian in a university library, I’m better placed than most to know this.) I do think there’s sometimes some price-gouging, but I don’t really know the economics of it. I would note that the author is not usually in charge of determining the price of a book nor the format in which it’s issued.


64. Tommy Gavin - June 8, 2011

‘If you don’t place your work with a respected university press then your work isn’t as likely to be distributed across the globe to academics working at the top end of your subject. Peer review is the key to the respectability of academic publishing’
Maybe people outside academia do not realise the order of these things. If you are a historian working in ireland your chances of a job are governed largely by your publishing. Anyone who publishes with Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester etc will have a much better chance of being employed than someone who doesn’t. These are peer-reviewed, whereby your book manuscript will be sent to several academics, who will review it anonoymously (they are not suposed to know who you are, and you do not know them). You are also expected to publish in peer-reviewed journals such as Past and Present, the Historical Journal, History, English Historical Review, Irish Historical Studies etc…same process here, your article is sent to three (usually) reviewers before publication. They comment on it and recommend publication or not.
This is how historians are judged. Not on articles in History Ireland, which is not taken seriously by the academy. Similarly a book like ‘Lost Revolution’ mentioned above, written by a historian and a journalist, for a popular publisher, does not carry much academic kudos.
There are problems with the process. Firstly academic books, especially from Oxford etc, can cost 70-80 euro. Secondly the peer review process can go on for more than a year, and your manscript can be rejected after all that. The anonymous part is a bit of a joke, because in Irish history everybody knows everybody else and if you say, write about women in Galway in the 1930s, the article or manuscript will be sent to historians who work on this area. They will know you and you will know them. if you have pissed one of them off in the past, it will affect you. Everyone knows this. Hence young historians try not to piss their peers off.
The process can also be dependent on the reviewers being professional and getting the manuscripts back in time, edited etc. This does not always happen. Inevitably if you have a powerful supervisor or mentor you can go further than if you have a supervisor who isn’t pushed about your progess. Twisting arms and special pleading happens. Good articles by an author who doesn’t do the required networking go unpublished. Mediocore stuff by someone who knows how the game works gets published and in the most prestigious journals as well.
Finally one of the most important parts of an academics work is teaching: lecturing, tutoring etc. This plays little or no part in their being judged by the academy. A good lecturer and teacher will lose out in the pecking order to someone who has the book from Oxford.


clio watts - June 8, 2011

“Anyone who publishes with Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester etc will have a much better chance of being employed than someone who doesn’t..”

highly simplistic view of things. you’ll see as many with UCC Press, UCD Press, Irish Academic Press as with Oxbridge. Also, you have staff taken on these days who don’t have ANY books under their belt. There’s a lot more going on than publishing records. UCD and Trinity hstory departments, for example, are dominated by staff who got their PhDs from Oxbridge. That’s the main gig there.

There’s also the nature of what is studied.

Tell me, how many academics working in the Republic have as their area of specialty Irish republicanism? How many have as their area of specialty the Irish working class? The Irish labour movement? It’s a handful compared to other, less contentious, subjects

There are more people employed by Irish history departments to study the Big House in Ireland than the Irish working class.

There’s a reason why there’s no E.P. Thompson or Christopher Hill working in an Irish university, nor has there ever been. And it has little to do with peer review or Manchester University Press.

With regard to Dr. Tracey, the fact that he works for Sinn Fein is going to outweigh the publisher of his book each time. If he worked for Fine Gael, now, or Labour or Fianna Fail, the PDs in their time….


65. LeftAtTheCross - June 8, 2011

I got my copy from Lulu.com, which is print-on-demand self-publishing:



LeftAtTheCross - June 8, 2011

That comment was supposed to be under comment 62 above in relation to Swan’s book.


Ghandi - June 8, 2011

Same here that the name I could’nt remember


66. Andrew Madden - June 8, 2011

This book was quite clearly peer reviewed by people who know nothing about the subject. Our socialist-republican history is being judged and decided upon by Brit academics and Free Staters, sad very sad.


Mark P - June 8, 2011

I’ve yet to see, let alone read, the book but isn’t it centrally from a republican rather than a republican socialist perspective? Or to put it another way, my impression is that it’s a more sophisticated than usual apologia for the “traditional republican” side of the split.


pangur bán - June 8, 2011

there are a few copies in hodges figgis- which contain a label stuck to the title page disclaiming anthony coughlans membership of the CPI or CPGB
that must have been a costly exercise


Andrew Madden - June 8, 2011

Yes – a conservative veto on our history.


67. Tumbles - June 8, 2011

Whose veto are you talking about Andrew?


68. Tommy Gavin - June 8, 2011

‘With regard to Dr. Tracey, the fact that he works for Sinn Fein is going to outweigh the publisher of his book each time. If he worked for Fine Gael, now, or Labour or Fianna Fail, the PDs in their time….’
I’m not sure what point you are making here (though I agree that there are other factors than publishing houses that come into play).
Dr. Treacy has had a book published with MUP, peer-reviewed, under the supervision of the Bank of Ireland Professor of Contemporary History at TCD. I don’t see how his politics have hurt him there.
The Michael Smurfit Professor of History at the Irish college of a major American University is a noted critic of revisionism and a self-professed republican. The former head of history at the University of Limerick speaks on Sinn Fein platforms. This is not about the Irish v. the west Brits, or the republicans v. the revisionists.
With regard to staff, there may be people in short-term contract positions without peer-reviewed publications but certainly not in secure jobs. The UK system was originally devised so that academics would have to produce original work throughout their careers, rather than write one book and lecture on it for the next four decades. However it is open to abuse and much of what is published under peer-review, especially in articles, adds very little to our knowledge of the world. A clever academic can reproduce much of the same stuff in maybe three different journals. Some are very good at this.
(I don’t understand Andrew’s points re brits/free-staters, so I can’t comment).


clio watts - June 8, 2011

“Dr. Treacy has had a book published with MUP, peer-reviewed, under the supervision of the Bank of Ireland Professor of Contemporary History at TCD. I don’t see how his politics have hurt him there.”

Right. And Dr. Tracey is lecturing in which Irish university exactly?

If you ever get a chance to talk to Ruan O’donnell I’m sure he’d find it funny your inference that Irish republican historians are part of the mainstream of Irish academia.


69. The disappointed professor - June 8, 2011

Matt Treacy can no doubt talk for himself, but he has never tutored or lectured in an Irish university so why would he lecture in one now?
As for Ruan, well I can think of other academics who would never get to be heads of department, and he was/is head of UL. So what’s your point?
A former member of the CP/GB is head of history at UCC: what does that prove? (And he probably personally knew Hill and Thompson).
Most of the dept at UCD got their degrees from Irish Universities. The best known, Diarmaid Ferriter, got his from UCD itself.
But….if you were on a temporary contract at an Irish University, and had been for a few years, and a job came up- it would still go to a candidate with a book from Oxbridge, or articles in the HJ etc, no matter how long you worked there.
I thought this discussion was originally about the price of a book: it’s very dear, end of. The paperback will be cheaper.


clio watts - June 8, 2011

Unbelievable. I make my point – twice – and each time I get ‘what’s your point?’ thrown in my face, followed by ‘end of.’

what is this? Vicky Pollard hour?

so. for those who can’t read comments, my point (again) is that Irish history departments are very conservative institutions that do not deal with Irish working class history at any level, pay lip-sevice to Irish labour history, and are still dominated by revisionists when it comes to Irish republicanism. The idea that having a book published by MUP would somehow overcome all of that – as was suggested earlier on – is not the case.

so Cork was a former member of the CP/GB on its payroll – well boo-hoo for it. where are the courses on Irish working class history then?

‘end of.’

what an asshole.


clio watts - June 8, 2011

By the way, my point about ruan O’donnell:

first of all, I did not bring him up, someone else did to use him as an examle of the inclusiveness of Irish history departments – something that you also been to believe.

I found that highly amusing because, having talked to ruan O’donnell about this very topic, I find it hard to believe that he would share your views on the broad-mindedness of Irish academic historians when it comes to republicanism.

end of indeed.


70. The disappointed professor - June 8, 2011

Low 2:2 Clio, very poor responses, won’t be recommending you for the Masters in Historiography.


clio watts - June 8, 2011

that’s your response? That’s it?


71. clio watts - June 8, 2011

Where are the courses in Irish working class history within the academy?

somehow, you seem to believe that someone meeting a historian of the English working class somehow passes for teaching/researching Irish working class history.

how is that the case? Under which area of historiography does that fall?

The courses which teach Ireland as a post-colonial state? Where are they within Irish history departments?

We’ve seen courses which teach that Ireland was itself a colonial empire, but the ones which give the other side, where are they?


Budapestkick - June 8, 2011
72. The disappointed professor - June 8, 2011

‘Ruán O’Donnell B.A. (N.U.I.), M.A. (N.U.I), Ph.D. (A.N.U.) Sabbatical 2010-11
Senior Lecturer in History

on sabbatical 2010-11: Patrick B O’Donnell Chair in Irish Studies, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, Notre Dame, USA’

The marginalisation! the oppression! Nobody, but nobody, is teaching our youth about republicanism!


Ciarán - June 8, 2011

Two people, wow. They really are the exception rather than the rule.

On labour history, Emmet O’Connor lectures in Derry, and he’s probably one of the few progressives you’ll find in any institution in the Six Counties when it comes to Irish history. Queen’s history department especially has a notorious reputation.


73. Tommy Gavin - June 9, 2011

My point was only that if Matt Treacy wishes to pursue a career in academia then a book with MUP gives him an advantage (as does his supervisor and his influence). I have no idea as to whether he is bothered about this or not. (Another major factor in getting jobs, which I should have mentioned, is the ability to secure funding: authors of academic peer-reviewed books are usually better able to do this also).
On radicals and republicans, well what proportion of the population are they? Are they under-or over-represented in academia? (You are correct if you mean class and background determine who ends up in academia of course). But once there, power and relation to power within departments is more important (in my humble opinion). Hence a fairly straight-down the line Sinn Fein supporter is a prominent historian at TCD and teaches on the modern troubles: he is very well got with the powers that be at TCD. (He is not the only republican in the TCD history dept. One Crossmaglen man is fairly prominent).
On radicalism, well Donal O’Drisceoil teaches a course on this at UCC, brian Hanley teaches one at St. Pats, John Cunningham at NUI Galway, Emmet O’Connor at Magee, martin Maguire at Dundalk…now there is obviously room for more on this, but it is not a rarity. Does Maura Cronin not work on class at Mary I? Does Ferriter or Paul Rouse do anything on popular politics at UCD?
Not taking away from your point on the overall, but it’s best not to claim that there’s nothing happening. You’ll find no end of radicals in sociology departments, but whether you want them is another question. Big Irish-American money behind some of our anti-revisionists, you have plenty to say about 1798, but you don’t see to many of them criticising Irish capitalism.
Is the academy revisionist? (in the anti-republican sense). Yes, generally. Most historians, funnily enough, tend to find the traditional nationalist line somewhat wanting. Whether they have replaced it with a pro-unionist line themselves is arguable. But be careful what you wish for. A historian who is republican or left-wing might also be lazy, and not a good lecturer and deal with students badly. They might do a bit of crowd pleading brit-bashing and then never read any of their students work properly (not mentioning any names). Sometimes left-wing students will tell you that ‘such and such was a complete free-stater but he was a great teacher’. it might be better to have your opinions challenged at university. (Of course many academics will fail on all these counts.)
On Queens Ciaran, you might want to ask some of the ex-IRA prisoners who have done degrees there, especially in the Politics dept, about their views. You’ll find they are usually impressed with lecturers like Bew and English, who despite their politics are seen as good teachers and supervisors. Several ex-prisoners have done PhDs with those two.
it’s getting into the departments that’s the problem, and writing a book with a university press is a good start, hence my original comments.


Budapestkick - June 9, 2011

There are very few Labour or Social history courses in Irish Universities though. I wouldn’t overstate this as even some conservative historians like Dermot Keogh have delved into labour history, so there isn’t some kind of deep, in-built hostility to studying the history of the working-class . Donal O’Drisceoil and Sarah Ann Buckley teach a course on the state and childcare in UCC that is taught from a very left-wing and class-conscious direction. There is also an oral history course in UL, which I believe is the first and only one in Ireland. The main problem isn’t the lack of labour or social history (though this is certainly a problem) but the Rankean empiricism that infests almost every history department in the country. Imagine if Hobsbawm or Thompson had studied the working-class without a theoretical framework to guide them? The results would have been dull and uninsspiring. The main problem is the lack of theory in Irish history courses, with lack of labour or social history coming in second. Arguably, the former presents more of a challenge.


74. Tumbles - June 9, 2011

Good points Tommy. To be honest, and apropos the book we are discussing, I would be far more concerned about certain ‘progressives’ than a reactionary academy.

The old impulse to suppress books people do not like seems to be alive and well.

But, it is not Warsaw 1951 so Tracey does not need to pack his Winter woolies for the log chopping season 😉


75. Jackson Way - June 9, 2011

More anti commie shit talk I see.


76. Tumbles - June 10, 2011

How eloquent 🙂

Are you related to the Vyshinskys of Odessa by any chance?


77. WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

Please, could everyone desist from this sort of sterile approach? This site is about engaging with issues in a more serious way than the Politics.ie approach and this thread deserves better than this.

Any more and I’ll close the thread.


78. Tumbles - June 10, 2011

Apologies 😦


WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

I’m not directing this personally at you or anyone, but the tone of some of the discussion here has in gone a bit off the topic. just the book deserves that if people have a critique.positive or negative it demands more than being seen as anti commie or references to Stalinists no one here thankfully has any connection with. This is a useful addition to our understanding, many of the comments above on how republican and socialist approaches are marginalised in the academy are thought provoking, so unless people have genuine critiques based on the book itself or related areas all else is a waste of time.


79. Pedantic Patriot - June 14, 2011

Having secured a copy I was eager to see how this much-vaunted ‘peer-review’ works in practice. I presume that the publishers and various academics combine their talents to ensure that errors and potential mistakes are eradicated before publication.
I have a couple of minor points about errors.
The airport robbery was in May 1969, not May 1968.
Sam Dowling was the Newry NICRA man, not Seamus Dowling.
Liam (Billy) Sutcliffe claimed to have blown up the Pillar, not Phil Sutcliffe (who is a Dublin boxing promoter).
Errors can creep into any book, but the editors and advisors should ahve spotted these.
More seriously, I am surprised the publishers and academic peer reviewers allowed an assertion by Dr. Treacy that members of the 1969 IRA Army Council were special branch agents to pass without question. The membership of this body is quite well-known. Many of these men continued in republican politics until recently. This casts an unfounded slur on men of the character of Ruairi O Bradaigh, Sean Garland, JJ McGirl, Cathal Goulding, Mick Ryan, Malachy McGurran and Sean MacStiofain. Some years ago a Sticky journalist ran a story claiming that MacStiofain had been informing the Free State SB about Saor Eire. This story was an obvious smear and was recognised as such: but journalists can write what they like about the dead. To resurrect this type of allegation, with no real evidence is not the mark of a serious work.
To my recollection that only 1960s IRA officer to have been unmasked as an informer was George Poyntz of Monaghan, who helped set-up several IRA and INLA activists in the 1980s, before absconding.
The much vaunted peer review process clearly has its gaps.


80. malachysteenson - July 28, 2011

Interview by Michael Fitzgerald on NEAR FM last thursday, with Matt Treacy and Malachy Steenson available here



81. ‘Rethinking the Republic’ – redux… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - July 30, 2011

[…] while back we marked the launch of Matt Treacy’s book ‘Rethinking the Republic’. In the interim there were various issues, but these have now been dealt with. So, for those of you […]


82. Tumbles - August 17, 2011

Treacy is on Newstalk ‘Talking History’ this Sunday.


83. Rethinking the Republic – Matt Treacy on Newstalk on Sunday 8 pm. « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - August 21, 2011

[…] what I believe will be a very interesting programme Matt Treacy, author of Rethinking the Republic is on Newstalk on ‘Talking History’ this Sunday at 8 pm. Definitely well worth a listen for any […]


84. Tumbles - August 27, 2011

Well Jackson Way. I am loathe to respond again to someone whose intellectual level seems the same as the people who screamed that Bukharin et al were rabid dogs.

But 🙂 How does it feel when history makes you look like a bit of an imbecile?


WorldbyStorm - August 27, 2011

That’s all very well, but I notice that you’re unwilling to engage with the critique that people like myself and others are putting forward.

It’s fairly evident how little respect you have for the opinions of others on this site. Worse still is the sense that you are quite content to attack people as regards political positions they do not hold because they critique the argument you put forward.

Given how efforts have been made to engage with your arguments by everyone here, which you don’t bother to respond to it’s difficult not to be left with the impression that you’re simply arriving here to vent steam at the left in general – and not just the ‘Stalinist’ left either.

That’s a pity in the sense that it would be interesting to explore these issues with you more deeply, but it also points up the fact that you’re acting in bad faith.

I think I’ll let others draw the necessary implications as regards your contributions to the discussions around this book.

I’ve certainly read quite enough of your assertions, and worse still your approach, to come to my own conclusion.

And I’m not now, and never have been a “Stalinist”.


85. Brian Patterson - May 14, 2012

Fascinating view of so many perspectives on the northern conflict and the dearth of simplistic’Provies good Stickies bad’ (or vice versa) analysis. would like to see it continue and reach some kind of synthesis. Can we all agree thet ‘the Republic’ we all aspired to is as far away as ever and that ‘all the bright dreams that we cherished (in the late 60’s) went down in disaster and woe’.


86. petey - July 11, 2012

i found the prose style odd in places, but the book was very informative. there is a sticker on the publication page saying (not quite literally, i haven’t it in front of me) “anthony coughlan was never a member of the irish or british CPs and any statement otherwise herein is incorrect”.

one question: it seems the gardai and/or the RUC knew of the IRAs plans almost the day they were made. a source called HORSECOPER is mentioned in the book. treacy doesn’t claim to know who that was. is there any information on this?


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