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Programme and speakers

Download the conference programme (PDF, 106KB). It promises a fascinating event with presentations from the following speakers:

Dermot Keogh

Emeritus Professor of History and Emeritus Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration Studies, University College Cork, Ireland

"The Catholic Church and the Irish Revolution, 1916 –1921" 

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The author and co-author of some 17 monographs including The Vatican, The Bishops and Irish State Politics (1986); Ireland and Europe 1919-1948 (1989); Ireland in World War Two: Neutrality and Survival (2004); The Making of the Irish Constitution, 1937 (2007); 1916: The Long Revolution (2007); The Catholic Church, Revolution and the Making of the Modern Irish State, 1916-1937 (2011); Ireland’s Long Road to Europe (2015), Dermot Keogh is also the editor of some 20 books, and author of numerous peer reviewed journal articles and reviews.

Lecturer and Professor, University College Cork, 1980-2010; Jean Monnet Professor, 1990-; Head of History, 2002-2009. Retired 2010.
First person to receive a doctorate in History and Civilisation from European University Institute, Florence; Fulbright Professor in California, 1983; Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Washington DC, 1988; Visiting Professor, History Department, Cornell University, 1989; Guest Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center, 1991; Arts Faculty Research Merit award 1999.

Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert for Boston College Chronicle.

James Belich

ONZM, MA Wellington, D.Phil Oxford, Beit Professor of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Balliol College, Oxford

"'Recolonization' and the Great War in New Zealand and Ireland"

James Belich - (1)

A former Rhodes Scholar and James Cook Fellow, James Belich has held Visiting Fellowships at the Universities of Cambridge and Georgetown. He wrote and, in 1998, presented the award-winning television series “The New Zealand Wars.”

He is the author of a number of award winning works including: The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict (1986); “I shall not die”: Titokowaru’s war, New Zealand, 1868-9 (1993); Making Peoples: A History of the New Zealanders from Polynesian Settlement to the end of the Nineteenth Century (1994); Paradise Reforged: A History of New Zealanders from the 1880s to the year 2000 (2001); Replenishing the Earth. The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-world, 1780s-1920s (2009) and the author of numerous book chapters, peer reviewed articles and reviews.

Jeff Kildea

“The Empire Strikes Back: Anzac and colonial troops in the Easter Rising 1916”

Jeff KIldea

In Easter week 1916, while the citizens of Australia and New Zealand were commemorating the first anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli, that monumental event in the emergence of their two nations, in Dublin, Anzac soldiers and other troops from the British Empire were battling Irish men and women fighting for the emergence of a nation of their own. This paper looks at the part played by Anzac and other “colonial” troops during the Easter Rising, particularly in the defence of Trinity College, and examines the question asked at the time as to whether those Anzacs added “lustre to the deeds of the heroes who fought and died in Gallipoli for the ‘Rights of Small Nations’?”

Jeff Kildea is an adjunct professor in Irish Studies at the University of New South Wales. In 2014 he held the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History at University College Dublin. He is the author of Tearing the Fabric: Sectarianism in Australia 1910-1925 (2002); Anzacs and Ireland (2007); and Wartime Australians: Billy Hughes (2008). He is the director of the Irish Anzacs Project and is currently researching a biography of Hugh Mahon, the Irish-Australian politician expelled from the Australian Parliament in 1920 for his criticism of British rule in Ireland.

Peter Kuch

"Play v Play – The 1916 Rising and the New Zealand Stage"


The symbiotic relationship between Theatre and the 1916 Rising is well known. Michael Collins's remark that the Rising 'had the air of a Greek tragedy about it' is frequently quoted. Indeed the Rising itself has been analysed for its theatricality. That an impetus to rebellion was given by the first performance of W.B. Yeats's Cathleeen ni Houlihan on 2 April 1902 has also been closely studied, an impetus confirmed by the fact that the play was restaged as a curtain raiser to the Rising itself. Finally, Yeats’s 'did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?' (VP, 632) has excited considerable comment ever since it appeared in "The Man and the Echo" in January 1939.

What is not known is the extent to which Irish Theatre in New Zealand was drawn into the controversies about patriotic duty, allegiance, self-determination and history that the Rising provoked.

Three weeks before the Rising, Dorothea Spinney, who had been performing scenes from Kathleen-ni-Houlihan [sic] and Riders-to-the-Sea, concluded her Dunedin season. Three weeks after the Rising the same theatres staged John Bull's Empire Party, a patriotic pageant intended to return Ireland to the Imperial family. The months that followed saw Dunedin performances of O'Leary, V.C., The Colleen Bawn, The Bold Soger Boy, A Bit of Irish and Peg o' My Heart with Sara Allgood in the starring role. Theatre thus became a Habermasian public square for a set of focussed debates about the conduct of and NZ attitudes to WWI.

This paper will examine the performance and reception of the 1916 Dunedin season in terms of the controversy generated by what the New Zealand press, in the context of WWI, termed the "Rebellion" and what the performance history of Irish theatre in New Zealand pre 1916 offers as an interpretative context.

Dianne Hall

"The Women of 1916 through Australian eyes"


There were a significant number of women involved in the 1916 Rising in Dublin; some victims of the violence, others as fighters, nurses, messengers and gun-runners. As Australians grappled with information about the Rising, women were noticed in the media in different ways; some as victims, others as evidence of womanly heroic sacrifice, and some, conversely, as showing unwomanly characteristics of fighters. Many of these popular narratives of the women of 1916 were then revised during the aftermath of the Civil War as the ardent republicanism of many of the women was viewed unfavourably by the Australian press, heavily influenced by the Irish and British coverage. This paper will analyse ideas of Irishness, violence and gender in the newspaper coverage of the activities of these women in 1916 through to the aftermath of the Civil War.

Dr Dianne Hall’s research interests are in histories of violence, gender, religion and memory with a particular focus on the Irish both in medieval and early modern Ireland and in the modern Irish diaspora. She is currently interested in the connections between 19th century ideas about race and Irishness. Dianne held post doctoral research fellowships in the School of History at University of Melbourne and School of Geography, Queen's University, Belfast before joining Victoria University.

Lisa Marr

"'It would really … Matter Tremendously': New Zealand Women and 1916"

Lisa Marr

News of the Easter Rising reached New Zealand homes two days after the first ANZAC anniversary. Women had played their part in ANZAC Day commemorations, paying tribute to fallen heroes and celebrating Empire. In 1916, most New Zealand women, including Irish women, supported the war effort and were involved in patriotic associations or activities such as fundraising. Thus, when news of the Rising reached New Zealand, women were shocked and saddened by the events in Ireland and detested the actions of Sinn Fein. Believing that the Rising was disloyal, irresponsible, and ill-timed, they reaffirmed their loyalty. As further details of the rebellion emerged and concerned that “the wrong people” were paying the price, some women called for the immediate execution of the traitor Casement, while others affirmed the loyalty of the Irish and remembered those Irish soldiers who had fought for the Empire but had fallen during the war. They sympathised with the Rising’s “innocent victims” and later supported the Irish Relief Fund. Moved by news of the arrests and deportations and especially by the executions of rebel leaders, their sympathy grew, and some women empathised with their Irish counterparts, knowing that “if Ireland were New Zealand and such a thing had happened [here] … It would really … Matter Tremendously.”

Lisa Marr lectures on and researches Irish literary and cultural history. Her major research interests are an extension of the work she accomplished in her doctoral thesis, History from the Poet's Hand: Thomas Flanagan's The Year of the French. In her thesis she explored the relationship between history and fiction in The Year of the French and identified historical and literary sources for this work. While much of her research has centred on late-eighteenth-century Irish history, Ireland's connection with France, and the spread of revolutionary ideas, Lisa has also lectured, tutored, and written on modern Irish drama and worked on major research projects on Samuel Beckett and the Irish Theatrical Disapora.

Seán Brosnahan

"Rebel hearts: New Zealand’s fenian families & the Easter Rising"

Seán portrait 2

Irish issues played an unusually divisive role in New Zealand society between 1916 and 1922. Events in Ireland in the wake of the Easter 1916 Rising were followed closely by a number of groups in New Zealand. For some the struggle for Irish independence was scandalous; for others a source of embarrassment. It threatened the carefully cultivated accommodation between Irish ethnic identity, centred on the Catholic Church, and civic respectability amidst New Zealand’s Anglo-Protestant majority population. For one group, however, the rebellion was a stirring realisation of centuries-old hopes. This paper will discuss New Zealand’s fenian families whose ‘rebel hearts’ stirred to the news from Ireland and looked to promote Sinn Fein and the Republican cause in New Zealand.

Seán Brosnahan is a curator at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum and an adjunct member of the Centre of Irish and Scottish Studies where he has previously taught migration history. Descended from three major streams of Irish migration to southern New Zealand, he has a particular interest in Irish identity and its local permutations.

Stephanie James

"'If there is now a certain amount of sympathy with the rebels …': shifting Irish-Australian responses to Ireland, 1916-1918 in Adelaide’s Southern Cross newspaper."

Stephanie James

In 1916 South Australia was not only the state with the smallest Irish-Australian demographic, but also the only one with a continuously operating Irish Nationalist organisation. Furthermore, the editor of the Irish-Catholic paper in 1916 was a layman of Irish-German descent.
Examining Adelaide’s Southern Cross newspaper between the Rising and Sinn Fein’s electoral victory of 1918 reveals a strong, flexible commitment to Ireland that challenges generalisations about the role of the Easter Rising in igniting Irish nationalism in the Irish-Australian community. While there is evidence in the Southern Cross of initial local outrage and confusion among Irish-Australians in 1916, and early, careful acknowledgement that ‘there may be a small body of Sinn Feiners in Australia’, its pages also reveal a gradual, growing and painful recognition that Ireland’s future lay with Sinn Fein rather than the long and faithfully supported Irish Parliamentary Party.

Southern Cross editorials, articles and letters to the editor, augmented by details from surveillance files and censor comments, provide additional information about what was reported in an atmosphere where all cable news was London-filtered, and reliable international newspapers came weeks or months later.
This focus on one Australian Irish-Catholic newspaper shows how thinking and perspectives changed for many Irish-Australians between Easter 1916 and Christmas 1918.

Stephanie James is an adjunct research scholar at Flinders University in Adelaide. Her MA examined the paths Irish immigrants took towards becoming South Australians in the Clare Valley, while her PhD took on a transnational perspective. Using the Irish-Catholic press as a major source, it focussed on issues of Irish-Australian loyalty towards the Empire during times of crisis from the Fenians to the Irish Civil War. Recent articles include ‘From beyond the sea’: The Irish Catholic Press in the Southern Hemisphere’ and ‘The Drought is worrying people here far worse than the war’: Letters between Hamley Bridge [in SA] and Ireland during the Great War’, and she is co-editing a book on World War One to be published in 2016.

Jim McAloon

"Harry Holland, The Maoriland Worker, and the Easter Rising"

Jim McAloon print

Within a few weeks of the Rising, Harry Holland began a lengthy series of articles in the radical socialist newspaper, The Maoriland Worker (of which he was editor), entitled 'Historic Foundations of the Irish Rebellion'. Holland, Australian-born, had moved to New Zealand in 1912 and was becoming widely known as a socialist propagandist. From 1919 until his death in 1933 he would be parliamentary leader of the NZ Labour Party. His discussion of the Irish situation has been briefly noted by historians of the rise of Labour and of Irish dimensions of New Zealand politics, but this discussion is usually framed around 'ethnicity' or sectarianism, that is to say, the relationship between working-class Irish Catholics and the labour movement. Holland himself had been an adherent of the Salvation Army in his youth, but had long since ceased to profess any religious faith. This paper will consider Holland's writing on Ireland, and the Worker’s coverage of the Rising, in the context of Holland's own thought, which emphasized internationalism and anti-imperialism as general themes.

Jim McAloon is Associate Professor in History at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published widely on New Zealand social and economic history. His recent works include a share in Brad Patterson and Tom Brooking, et al, Unpacking the Kists: The Scots in New Zealand. A history of the New Zealand Labour Party, co-authored with Peter Franks, will be published in the middle of 2016, on the occasion of the party’s centenary. Jim’s interest in labour history goes back to his MA thesis, written at the University of Canterbury in the mid-1980s.

Charlotte Bennett

"'The rebellion is too important an event to pass by without notice': The 1916 Rising and Catholic Boys’ Secondary Colleges in Ireland and New Zealand" 

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The 1916 Rising, despite being relatively restricted in geographical scope and participant numbers, impacted educational establishments across the British Empire. This event resonated in New Zealand as well as Ireland due to pre-war migration patterns and transnational religious affiliations. Drawing on periodicals produced by prestigious boys’ colleges, this paper explores how Catholic staff and students responded to Irish revolutionary developments within their wartime contexts. The Easter rebellion not only disrupted understandings of what the conflict meant, but also how particular schools and their adolescent cohorts were viewed more widely. In both countries, the Rising coincided with other events – such as conscription – that brought questions of loyalty and citizenship to the fore. Some institutions consequently encountered a significant backlash in public opinion, especially in the Antipodes. Yet, while shared cultural traditions and political leanings were of continued importance throughout the 1910s, male Catholic views were far from uniform. It is argued that both age and locality were critical in determining reactions to 1916 and its war-related ramifications.

Charlotte Bennett is a third-year history DPhil student at Oxford University. She has a longstanding interest in children’s experiences of global crises during the early twentieth-century, especially the First World War and the 1918 influenza pandemic. Her doctoral project examines Irish and New Zealand secondary schools for boys between 1914 and 1918. Her work has been published in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and an edited collection by David Monger, Sarah Murray and Katie Pickles, Endurance and the First World War: Experiences and Legacies in New Zealand and Australia.

Brad Patterson

"'A most cruel and bitter campaign of slander and vituperation': Easter week and the rise of the Protestant Political Association"

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The later World War One years witnessed arguably the most virulent outbreak of sectarian hysteria in New Zealand's history, with anti-Catholic and anti-Irish prejudices being vigorously fanned by the newly formed Protestant Political Association. What made the Association stand head and shoulders above other dissonant wartime organizations was both the extremism of its messages and the rapidity with which it transformed itself from a small, tight-knit, activist pressure group into an intimidating mass movement. By the war's end it claimed a membership of over 200,000. While there has been a tendency to link the Association's emergence to the Easter Rising, this paper seeks to demonstrate that, however much events in Ireland may have contributed to the escalation of sectarian feeling, the foundations for the movement were already in place.

Formerly founding Director of Victoria University of Wellington's Irish-Scottish Studies Programme, Brad Patterson is currently an Adjunct Research Fellow in the University's Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies. The author or editor of eleven books, his publications include The Irish in New Zealand: Historical Contexts & Perspectives (2002), Ulster-New Zealand Migration and Cultural Transfers (2006), and most recently he co-authored - with Tom Brooking and Jim McAloon - Unpacking the Kists: The Scots in New Zealand (2013). His ongoing research projects include detailed studies of the survivals of migrant identity in the nineteenth-century New Zealand settlements of Katikati (Ulster Protestant) and Turakina (Highlands Scottish), while he is presently completing a book on the dynamics of settler capitalism in the early decades of the Wellington settlement.

Malcolm Campbell

"'Too great to be unconnected with us': New Zealand reactions to risings in Ireland and India" 

malcolm-campbell Update

The events of Easter 1916 constituted both a threat to British rule in Ireland and a challenge to the constitution of Britain’s empire. Unsurprisingly, given the importance of its place in Irish history, scholarly attention has focussed principally on the immediate challenge posed by Easter 1916 for Ireland’s relationship with Britain rather than on the wider imperial ramifications of the Dublin rising. However, a body of recent historical writing has refocused attention on the importance of Ireland’s position within the British Empire and in doing so drawn attention to the wider significance of political developments there. However, Ireland was not the only site of armed resistance to British control. During the nineteenth century acts of rebellion occurred in various locations across the empire, including in the jewel in the crown of Britain’s empire, India. Yet if Ireland and India were both sites of rebellion, and nationalists in the two locations sometimes found common cause in their objections to empire, it is less clear how these acts of resistance were regarded within the white British colonies of settlement. Were Irish and Indian acts of opposition to the authority of empire viewed similarly in these settlements, or were Irish and Indian challenges to British rule understood as fundamentally different? This paper investigates New Zealand reactions to developments in Ireland and India, focussing in particular upon the ways in which these acts of rebellion were viewed from the fringes of the empire.

Malcolm Campbell is Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. A graduate of the University of New South Wales, he was awarded a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Missouri in Columbia and has also held visiting fellowships at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Liverpool, and the Australian National University. He was Giovanni Costigan Visiting Lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2007. Campbell has published widely on the history of Irish migration and settlement in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. His books include Ireland’s New Worlds: Immigrants, Politics and Society in the United States and Australia and The Kingdom of the Ryans: the Irish in Southwest New South Wales 1816-1890.

Peter Burke

"Irish resistance to conscription in New Zealand in WWII – the untold story"

Peter Burke

When New Zealand introduced conscription in 1940 a group of about 300 young Irishmen living in NZ refused to be drafted into the armed forces. Technically they were British subjects and liable for service. However, they formed the Eire Nationals Association (ENA), and six of their members volunteered to appeal their conscription as a test case for their colleagues. Their appeal was based on the grounds that as citizens of Eire, which was neutral, they should be exempt from military service. They also stated that to fight for Britain would be a betrayal of their loyalty to Eire given the terror they had personally seen inflicted on their fellow countrymen during the war of independence.
This paper will reveal details of the interaction between the New Zealand, British and Irish governments and the ENA to deal with this situation and to overcome this impasse. This is a unique and as yet untold piece of Irish/New Zealand social history which will form the basis of a book to be hopefully published in late 2016. One of six leaders of the ENA was my late father, Matthias Burke of Moycullen, Co Galway, which adds a personal touch to this story.

Peter Burke has worked as a journalist in television, radio, print and public relations for nearly fifty years. He has won numerous awards, including three Mobil Awards and in 1987 was named the inaugural Agricultural Communicator of the Year. He is a life member of the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists and the Science Communicators Association of New Zealand. Peter has travelled widely overseas in the course of his work covering major political and trade talks in Europe, Asia and North America. He is currently employed as senior reporter by the Rural News Group and also works part time for a Maori Trust. His writing interest outside agriculture is modern NZ/Irish history and his paper is based on the book he is currently writing.

David Tombs

"Blood Sacrifice, Trauma, and the Birth of a Nation: Reactions in New Zealand to Gallipoli and the Easter Rising"  Joint Session 

david-tombs Update

This paper will explore responses to the traumatic experience of Gallipoli 1915, and the extent to which the human costs of war were framed in terms of blood sacrifice. To examine this further, it will investigate narratives of blood sacrifice and nationhood from the Easter Rising of 1916, and whether these might have directly or indirectly influenced the sense of sacrifice and subsequent renewed sense of national identity in New Zealand.

David Tombs is Howard Paterson Professor of Theology and Public Issues, and Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago. David studied theology and philosophy at Oxford University, Union Theological Seminary (New York), and London University. Previously David taught theology at the University of Roehampton (1992-2001), and then taught conflict resolution and reconciliation in Belfast for the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin (2001-2014). His research focuses on public, contextual and liberation theologies, and their engagement with political, social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. He is interested in the interface of faith, values and public life in theology, and how theology can contribute to a common good in a shared society and in a connected world.

John Milnes

Joint Session

John Milnes

Dr John Milnes works at the University of Otago as Operations Manager within Research and Enterprise.

His research interest is New Zealand during World War One. He completed a PhD from the University of Otago in 2015 entitled ‘The Church Militant: Dunedin churches during World War One’ focussing on the Anglican, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches.

He has previously completed an MA from the same university on the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and their campaigns in Sinai and Palestine 1916-1919.