Interview: Andrew Smith, Education and Outreach Department, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin

Interview date: 21 May 2009

pue-with-microphoneWhat book do you wish you had written?

I really wish I had written a book on duelling in Ireland. Unfortunately people like Prof. James Kelly beat me to the punch. It’s a fascinating subject with colourful stories and fascinating insights into Ireland in the 18th and 19th Century. Ireland was also a unique case in this respect owing to the quantity of duels fought, the frequency of deaths, the massive gun industry and the high profile examples. I think there is still more work which could be done.

What would you do if you were not working with the National Museum?

I would probably be teaching history in secondary schools as I was before I started work here. I would still love to move around a little more within the subject though.

When was the last time you looked at Wikipedia?

Yesterday. It’s obviously not ideal but I think it is still an extremely powerful tool.

What event had the greatest impact on history in Ireland?

This is actually a funny question as I was asked exactly the same in my interview for this job! I am sure with more thought I could come up with numerous inventions which changed peoples lives irrevocably. It’s hard to see beyond the obvious 1170, 1916, Famine etc, however I will give the same answer as I did when I was asked before, probably the outbreak of the First World War. This event led to the involvement of over 200,000 Irish men in one of the most horrific wars in history and also of course set off a chain of events which led to the creation of modern Ireland. I usually pick this event because it is so often overlooked.

What are you reading now?

At the moment I am doing research on Military buildings in Dublin as I am hoping to run a course in UCD some time later this year on the subject. I have been trawling through editions of “An Costantoir” looking for articles on the Magazine fort in the Phoenix Park.

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