Historian Pádraig Yeates conferred with NUI’s highest degree

Former journalist recognised for research on Irish social and labour history

President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina congratulate Pádraig Yeates after he was conferred a degree of Doctor of Literature by the National University of Ireland. Photograph: Tom Honan.

President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina congratulate Pádraig Yeates after he was conferred a degree of Doctor of Literature by the National University of Ireland. Photograph: Tom Honan.

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Pádraig Yeates, a historian and former journalist, has been awarded the National University of Ireland’s (NUI) highest degree for his extensive research on Irish social and labour history.

At a ceremony on Tuesday evening, NUI chancellor Dr Maurice Manning conferred Mr Yeates with the degree of Doctor of Literature (DLitt) on published work. President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins were guests of honour at the conferring ceremony.

His first book Lockout: Dublin 1913, a historical study of the conflict, received critical acclaim. It was followed by a number of other significant works on the social, cultural and trade union history of Dublin.

They include A City in Wartime: Dublin, 1914-1918, A City in Turmoil: Dublin, 1919-1921, and A City in Civil War: Dublin, 1921-1924.

UCD historian Prof Diarmuid Ferriter said Mr Yeates had demonstrated “exceptional commitment to the research and writing of Irish social and labour history”.

“Pádraig continues to play an indispensable role in the decade of commemorations we currently inhabit…. anyone with an interest in our social and labour history owes him deep gratitude and respect,” he said.

In Mr Yeates’s address after his conferring, he appealed for a more intelligent use of history.

“If historians do nothing else, they can at least question more profoundly the course on which we are set and the ideological strait jackets that prevent us from confronting our fate, whether these strait jackets sanctify economic dogmas, celebrate tribal victories or sustain unjust social hierarchies,” he said. “We don’t need to love it, and we certainly don’t need to be owned by it, but we do need to use history more intelligently.”

Degrees on published work awarded by the NUI are higher doctorates and are the highest qualifications awarded by the university. They are typically awarded to scholars who have published a substantial body of ground-breaking and influential work in a field of specialisation.

Mr Yeates was previously a journalist with The Irish Times between the early 1980s and early 2000s, where he worked as industry and employment correspondent, and community affairs correspondent.

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