The winners of the 2016 History Bursary:
Conor Heffernan, Castleknock, Dublin 15
Conor has obtained his Masters Degree in MPhil in Historical Studies in University of Cambridge. He is commencing his PhD in History in University College Dublin.
Conor’s research will be based on Ireland’s Physical Culture Movement 1898-1930
Research Question at a Glance: What produced the physical culture movement in Ireland and what did it mean for Ireland’s burgeoning nationalist movement? Understanding physical culture as the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century concern with the ideological and commercial cultivation of the body, this proposal focuses on the rise of Ireland’s physical culture movement from 1898 to 1930. A period of time that encapsulates a rich tapestry of Irish history, beginning with the 1898 performance of Physical Culturist Eugen Sandow in Dublin and covers the concurrent spread of physical culture and nationalist sentiment around Ireland. Furthermore, extending the period of study to 1930 allows the study of not only interactions between physical culture and military warfare in Ireland but also the use of physical culture practices by the incumbent Irish Free State to improve the health of the Irish citizenry. A form of exercise more akin to bodybuilding than organized sport, the proposal seeks to discover how physical culture fed into wider nationalist ideals, thereby examining the extent to which physical culture was used as a subterfuge for training Irish nationalists for armed conflict. Similarly the intense interest exhibited by Irish nationalists in improving the physical prowess of Irishmen and women through physical culture will be considered. Given the interest of key nationalist figures, such as Patrick Pearse, in physical culture, it seems impertinent not to study Ireland’s nationalist movement with reference to this specified form of exercise. Aside from military matters, the proposal is concerned with understanding lay interest in physical culture. Specifically, what motivated numerous Irishmen and women to establish and attend physical culture clubs, which emerged in Ireland from the 1900s onwards? Were their motivations different from those exhibited by Irish nationalists and if so, why? Furthermore how many emulated Ulysses’ Leopold Bloom in taking to Sandow’s exercise courses privately in their own homes away from the public sphere?
Shane Browne, Ballytruckle, Waterford
Shane has obtained his Masters Degree in Arts History (Modern Irish History) at University College Dublin. He is commencing his PhD in Moore’s Military: Understanding Maurice Moore and the National Volunteers in Irish History, 1914 – 1918, ( A critical analysis of the National Volunteer movement in Ireland and the Great War) in University College Dublin.
Shane’s research will be based on Moore’s Military: Understanding Maurice Moore and the National Volunteers in Irish History, 1914 – 1918. A striking aspect in the historiography of Ireland’s revolutionary decade is that John Redmond’s National Volunteers are still overlooked. While a full-scale history of the Irish Volunteer movement also remains unaccomplished, there is far more information concerning the radical and separatist element that would ultimately change the course of Irish history. Historians often tend to encompass the narrative of the National Volunteers in conjunction with their post-split counterparts, rather than focus on the movement as a standalone entity. Therefore, this project shall examine the National Volunteers, the forgotten paramilitary who have been overlooked in the revolutionary narrative to this day. The hypotheses to be tested will be to conduct a critical analysis of the National Volunteer movement in Ireland, while also incorporating an analysis of National Volunteer recruits to join the British Armed Forces. My area of research shall focus on the militarisation of Irish society from the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, with the National Volunteers as the primary focus. I shall also look at the various machinations of the Irish Parliamentary Party that were detrimental in the organisation and running of the movement.
The winner of the 2015 History Bursary:
Gerald Maher, Strokestown, Co Roscommon
Gerald has obtained a BA in English & History from the University of Limerick. He is commencing his PhD on Militant Irish-American Organisations and the Irish Revolution, 1912-23 in September in the University of Limerick.
The primary aim of Gerard’s research is to assess and quantify the impact of militant Irish republicanism in the United States on the military landscape of Ireland during the revolutionary period of 1912-1923. Particular attention will be given to Irish-American organisations that had a distinct physical force outlook. How these organisations operated during Ireland’s revolutionary period and how they usurped the popularity of more constitutionally minded Irish-American organisations in the United States will be a significant aspect of the research as it will attempt to ascertain the tone of Irish-American support for Ireland’s war for independence. The critical matter of the research material will be the effect of Irish-American physical force organisations’ on Irish republican military development and strategies. The project will investigate the logistical, tactical and financial support for Irish republican forces that was both directly and indirectly forwarded from Irish-America. Areas such as gun running, military training and exercises and methods used to raise finances for republican military campaigns in Ireland will be examined in detail, along with the operational relationship between militant Irish-American organisations and Irish republican forces. It is hoped that the project will contribute to the currently underdeveloped historiography of the highly sophisticated republican military campaigns in Ireland and their deep-rooted links with Irish-America.
In 2017 Universities Ireland will award four bursaries to students undertaking post-graduate study on a topic relating to the 1912-1923 period in Ireland, the decade of the First World War and the division of the island into the states of Ireland (Irish Free State) and Northern Ireland. Applications in 2017 are particularly welcome from students undertaking work on the impact of the events in 1917 on this island.
Applicants are required to write a short essay of 2,000 words outlining their proposed research topic in an area related to the 1912-1923 period in Ireland. The bursaries are worth €6,500 and were open only to students commencing post-graduate study at an Irish or British university.
Please see the Guidance for Applicants.