A New History of Ireland

A New History of Ireland

A New History of Ireland

A New History of Ireland

Excerpt

This volume completes the text of the New history to 1984. The year 1984—in which the final report of the New Ireland Forum appeared—has been taken as the latest practicable date at which to end this volume. In selecting this date, we had to take into account the problems of dealing with Irish history so close to the present. In addition to the greatly increased flow of scholarly and other writing on this period since the compilation of the New history began, the course of events covered by later parts of the text has been subject to constant and dramatic change. The perspective in which the whole period appears has been similarly affected.

Coincidentally, the year 1984 was marked by the death on 11 February of T. W. Moody, without whom the development of Irish historiography in general since the mid 1930s would have been very different; and without whom the New history itself, in particular, would never have taken shape. His career, achievements, and personal qualities have received fitting recog- nition from F. S. L. Lyons and in obituaries by F. X. Martin, Helen F. Mulvey, and others whose work is listed in the bibliography to this volume, though a full account has not yet been written, and even an adequate tribute is impossible in the space available to us here.

Theo Moody launched the New history with the aim of making more widely accessible the fruits of a generation of specialist scholarship—partly to redress a shortage of good general histories of Ireland, partly to act as a stimulus to wider study and further research, and also because, in his own words, 'if history at its best is not made available to the educated public as a whole, it fails in one of its essential social functions'. In the years since he did so, the output both of good general histories (indebted in some degree to the example, even to the mere existence, of the New history) and of specialist research has increased to such an extent that a member of the educated public today may find it hard to appreciate the importance of his concept and his achievement. No one, however, should underestimate the extent to which the New history, as it now stands, depends on his personal investment of thought and effort. Up to his death, he was the impelling and directing force of the organisation that brought the work of scores of scholars together.

His successors as editors have tried to carry on what he established, and in doing so were perhaps more aware of his ideals than he was himself. The New history has certain characteristics, which were not the result of accident, serendipity, or fashion. One is the breadth of the work. This is best demon- strated by the inclusion of chapters on painting, architecture, and the decora- tive arts. The chapter on women's history in volume VII, we consider an . . .

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