Researchers

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Eugenio Biagini

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Eugenio Biagini is an alumnus of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. He first came to Cambridge (at Sidney Sussex) in 1985, before becoming a Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College in 1987. After spending two years at the Department of History of the Newcastle upon Tyne, he became an Assistant Professor of Modern British History at Princeton. In 1996 he came back to Cambridge as a College Lecturer at Robinson College. He then became a University Lecturer in 1998 and a Reader in 2000. In 2008 he moved back to his old College, Sidney Sussex, in 2008. In 2011 he was appointed to a personal chair and he is now Professor of Modern and Contemporary History.

His research focuses on the social, economic and political history of democracy. He has written on Gladstonian liberalism and the Italian Risorgimento, but Ireland is his main area of research. His British Democracy and Irish Nationalism, 1876-1906 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007) examined the way the Irish Home Rule campaigns affected the making of democracy in the two islands. He has recently published (with Daniel Mulhall), The Shaping of Modern Ireland (Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 2016) and he is currently editing (with Mary Daly), The Cambridge Social History of Ireland since 1740 (Cambridge, Cambridge University press, 2016). His current research focuses on the history of religious and ethnic minorities in twentieth-century Ireland.


Simon Gallaher

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My PhD project is entitled ‘The welfare of children and childhood under the Irish Poor Law, 1850-1914.  I consider how changing social conceptions of childhood and poverty shaped poor law policy towards pauper children.  My research covers the family background of children admitted to the workhouse, their industrial and religious education, health and medical relief, and the debate between institutional and family-based care models.  The ‘appropriate childhood’ for state-reared pauper children, viewed simultaneously as victims and threats, was a contested subject in Ireland.  My thesis examines the varied perceptions of poor law authorities and social reformers of children’s experience of poor relief to understand the ambiguous position of impoverished children within welfare policy and society.

I graduated in 2013 with a BA in History from Queen’s University Belfast and then completed an MPhil in Economic and Social History from the University of Cambridge.  My supervisors are Professor Eugenio Biagini and Dr Samantha Williams.


Hugh Hanley

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I graduated from University College Dublin in 2015 before completing the Modern British History MPhil at Cambridge in 2016. I have been awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s & Judy and Nigel Weiss Scholarship to undertake doctoral study. My previous research focused on the Irish Free State’s pursuit of sovereignty in the realm of international and inter-imperial relations, and in 2015 I published an article drawn from my undergraduate dissertation in Irish Studies in International Affairs. My MPhil dissertation dealt with how the Cumann na nGaedheal elite confronted partition and state-building and looked at the role of international relations and diplomacy in a ‘continuing Irish revolution’.

My PhD project will explore the Irish state’s interactions with the international and commonwealth spheres during the first decade after independence but will move away from the diplomatic and constitutional arenas. Handling a range of sources through the prism of the ‘Irish Empire’, I take a world-history, cultural approach to investigate how elite hyphenated-Irish policy makers, such as heads of state, members of legislative assemblies, diplomats, journalists, and intellectuals in the Anglo-world influenced the Irish state’s pursuit of a more perfect form of independence.


Trisha Oakley Kessler

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My area of research is the Jewish Community in Ireland. For the last three years I have taught on a Special Subject Paper, ‘An alternative history of Ireland: religious minorities and identity in the 26 Counties, 1900-1959’ led by Professor Eugenio Biagini. I graduated in Theology and Religious Studies from Leeds University and a Masters in the study of Jewish-Christian Relations from the Woolf Institute, Cambridge.

Presently, I am a PhD Candidate at the School of History, University College Dublin, supervised by Dr Lindsey Earner-Byrne. My research uses as a prism Jewish refugee industries in provincial Ireland to explore the complexities of Fianna Fáil’s policy of protectionism during the 1930s. I examine how protectionism began to shape Ireland in unusual and unexpected ways, raising contested questions of national identity, change and modernity during a period of a heightened nationalist approach to the economy. Rather than viewing protectionism solely as a doomed economic policy, the arrival of Jewish refugees industries with new manufacturing skills to develop a high-fashion hat industry, calls for a reassessment of protectionism as a political, economic and cultural encounter by the Irish nation.


Christopher Morash

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I am a graduate of Maynooth University, Exeter College, Oxford, and Trinity College, Dublin. I have been awarded a National University of Ireland Travelling Studentship to study the interconnectedness between two events in 1867 that initially appear to have little in common. In Canada, Confederation was seen as the culmination of a long-running campaign for responsible government in British North America. In Ireland, a rebellion by the Irish Republican Brotherhood sought to establish an Irish Republic. Yet both saw in their future a changed conception of the state.

My research explores the relationships among these events and the common political formation of key principal actors.  For instance, among the Irish active in Canada were Viscount Monck, (the Governor General of Canada) and Thomas D’Arcy McGee, (a “father” of Confederation), both linked to James Stephens (an IRB founder) through their involvement with nationalist movements in Ireland in 1848.   Such webs of connectedness can be multiplied to create a new understanding not only of the Fenian rebellion in Ireland and of Confederation in Canada; but, more widely, of the wider development of the idea of political representation in the British Empire.