The Seán MacDiarmada weekend was a great success and very enjoyable. I went there quite nervous because I have been out of the history scene for so long and because I was the only speaker not presently working in a history department. Also I wasn't confident that my presentation was exactly suitable.
As it happened the presentation went down well, the other speakers were a great bunch, the organisation was terrific, the attendees were enthusiastic and the north Leitrim countryside was beautiful in the sunshine.
Because the summer school is named for Seán MacDiarmada who was born in Kiltyclogher and was executed after the Easter Rising there is the feeling that maybe the weekend should be in some way be a celebration of what he stood for. In fact the academic programme organised by Leitrim native Dr Jennifer Kelly of the History Department, Maynooth University, is nothing of the sort. Last year the topic was the Rising, this year the War of Independence. Speakers interpreted the theme freely. My talk dealt with politics in the 1914 to 1918 period and the complete change in Sligo from support for the Irish Party to support for Sinn Féin.
Others spoke on the treatment of Protestants in North Connacht, the Intelligence war in Limerick, The National Aid Association and the attitude of Catholic clergy to the war. The final speaker, Dr John M Regan, spoke of the way the "troubles" in the North of Ireland affected the way historians deal with the earlier conflict. This led to a lively debate on "revisionism".
The audience was invited to ask questions after each session and contribute to a round table at the end. Their participation was lively and sharp and contributed a lot to the debates.
Above: The monument to Seán MacDiarmada in Kiltyclogher by Irish sculptor Albert Power RHA (1881-1945).
I think I've got the history bug again!