Taoiseach to address conference to mark centenary of Anglo-Irish Treaty talks

Descendants of those involved in 1921 talks in London also to speak at UCC

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will join with the British ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnston in addressing a historical conference at University College Cork next month that will mark the 100th anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty talks.

Mr Martin, who has written on the politics of the period in his book, Freedom to Choose: Cork and Party Politics in Ireland 1918-1932, will give an address on the closing day of the Negotiating the Negotiations conference hosted by UCC's School of History on October 1st and October 2nd.

Dr John Borgonovo of UCC's School of History said the conference will also host the oral history of the families of members of the Treaty Delegation and will feature descendants of those who took part in the talks which began 100 years ago next month in London.

"While this Treaty may be viewed through the prism of the Irish Civil War and the later Northern Ireland Troubles, the negotiations themselves, which began on October 11th and concluded on December 6th, 1921, produced their own dynamics," said Dr Borgonovo.


“The talks reflected evolving positions on issues such as empire, citizenship, identity, free trade, minorities, defence and democratic representation. Our conference will explore the complexities of the talks and how the outcome has shaped the history of our island for the last 100 years.”

The virtual conference will also seek to understand the involvement of the men and women who formed the Irish delegation, and their counterparts on the British side and will hope to illuminate the challenges facing the negotiators and the ways in which they sought to resolve them, he added.

Prof Richard Toye of the University of Exeter, author of Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness will be the plenary speaker on the conference's opening day and will address the role both British politicians played in the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Other speakers will address topics such as the influence of women on the negotiations, the role of Irish-America, the representation of the Treaty in British political cartoons, the legal implications of the Treaty, and its ramifications for Ulster, and Southern Loyalists, said Dr Borgonovo.

The second day of the conference, when Mr Martin will deliver his address remotely, will host an oral history of the families of members of the Treaty Delegation, featuring descendants of those who took part in the talks, he added.

Meanwhile UCC president Prof John O’Halloran said: “University College Cork has been committed to robust public engagement throughout the Decade of Centenaries. By hosting this conference we hope to help illuminate this critical episode in Anglo-Irish relations.”

The conference is being held in collaboration with the Steering Group of Descendants of the Irish delegation sent by Dáil Éireann in 1921, and funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in association with Cork City Council, Cork County Council, and UCC.

To register online for the conference,please visit conference.ucc.ie.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times