HST6082: Imagining the Republic: Irish Republicanism, 1798-1998

15 credits (Semester 2019-20: Autumn)

Module Leader: Dr Colin Reid

Module Summary

Irish republican politics are associated with violence. There is a long lineage of organisations that have waged armed campaigns against the British state in Ireland, from the United Irishmen of the 1790s to the Provisional Irish Republican Army of the modern 'Troubles'. While the violent, anti-state activism is Irish republicanism’s most obvious feature, this has obscured the nature of republican ideas in Ireland. What was distinctly 'Irish' or 'republican about Irish republicanism? How was the 'Republic' imagined? Which political languages did Irish republicans deploy to articulate their worldview? This module offers an intellectual history of Irish republicanism to examine various republican thinkers and organisations in context, and question the extent to which we can speak of a singular and unbroken 'tradition' of Irish republicanism across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  1. Introduce students to the history of Irish republican ideas, ideology and political language between 1798 and 1998;
  2. Critically examine primary and secondary sources about Irish republicanism between the rebellion of 1798 and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement;
  3. Familiarise students with the local, national and international contexts within which Irish republicanism operated.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able to:

  1. Engage with Irish republican ideas in their wider contexts (Aims 1,2, 3);
  2. Understand continuities and changes within the intellectual history of Irish republicanism across time (A1,2, 3);
  3. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the historiography of Irish republicanism between 1798 and 1998 (A2);
  4. Demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate complex arguments in verbal and written form (A1, 2, 3).


Learning hours
Seminar hours Tutorial hours Independent Learning
10 1 139

The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. The first seminar will provide an overview of Irish republican history (LOs 1, 2) and historiography (LO3) between the rebellion of 1798 and the Good Friday Agreement. Subsequent seminars will involve individual and group work on four case studies concerning republicanism in Ireland (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4). You will have the chance in seminars to discuss progress and gain formative feedback on your final essay. You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader in order to discuss your written work for the module (LO4).



Assessment methods
Assessment % of final mark Length
Coursework 100% 3000 words

You will prepare a 3,000-word paper on a topic agreed with the tutor. The essay will be expected to include discussion of the key historiographical debates surrounding the topic and the use and critical analysis of appropriate secondary literature and primary sources (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4).


Selected reading

  • Adams, Gerry, Selected Writings (Dingle, 1997)
  • Augusteijn, Joost, Patrick Pearse: The Making of a Revolutionary (London, 2010)
  • Comerford, R. V., The Fenians in Context: Irish Politics and Society, 1848-82 (Dublin, 1985)
  • Elliott, Marianne, Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence, 2nd edn. (Liverpool, 2012)
  • Honahan, Iseult, Civic Republicanism (London, 2002)
  • Honohan, Iseult (ed.), Republicanism in Ireland (Manchester, 2008)
  • Honahan, Iseult, and Jeremy Jennings (eds.), Republicanism in Theory and Practice (London, 2005)
  • Kinealy, Christine, Repeal and Revolution: 1848 in Ireland (Manchester, 2009)
  • McGarry, Fearghal (ed.), Republicanism in Modern Ireland (Dublin, 2003)
  • McGarry, Fearghal and James McConnell, (eds.), The Black Hand of Republicanism: The Fenians and History (Dublin, 2009)
  • Patterson, The Politics of Illusion: Republicanism and Socialism in Ireland (London, 1989)
  • Pettit, Philip, Republicanism (Oxford, 1997)
  • Porter, Norman (ed.), The Republican Ideal (Belfast, 1998)
  • Smyth, Jim, The Men of No Property: Irish Radicals and Popular Politics in the Late Eighteenth Century (Dublin, 1992)
  • Quinn, James, John Mitchel (Dublin, 2008)
  • White, Robert W., Provisional Irish Republicans: An Oral and Interpretative History (Westport, CT, 1993)



*The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.