Posts Tagged ‘Peter Hart’

What use are historians anyway?

9 August 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It’s been a tough few months for history. In June, Diarmuid Whelan, lecturer in international politics at UCC, died at the age of just 37. The following month Peter Hart passed away in Newfoundland. And on Friday 6 August the profession lost Tony Judt, professor of European Studies at New York University, author of Post War: A History of Europe since 1945 (2005) and frequent essayist for the New York Review of Books, The New Republic, the TLS and the London Review of Books.

They left many friends, co-travellers, correspondents and discontents among history circles. Yet their work was also vitally important to a world beyond the gated communities of academia. Whelan’s searches through the Owen Sheehy-Skeffington collection in the National Library unearthed Peter Tyrrell’s Founded on Fear, a memoir of his life in Letterfrack Industrial School in the 1920s and 1930s and a vital contribution to the debate on child abuse in Ireland. The public view of Hart’s work may have, as one poster (Captain Rock) put it to Pue’s, ‘differed greatly from the academy’, but its findings and – most significantly – the debate it sparked were an important contribution to changing perceptions of Ireland and Irishness in the late 1990s. Judt’s contribution with Ill Fares the Land (2010) was a global one, but no less important to Irish society in its assertion that ‘something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today’. Read More

Peter Hart (1963-2010)

3 August 2010

Contributed by Fearghal McGarry

The death of Peter Hart at the age of 46 has deprived Ireland of one of its finest scholars: it is difficult to think of anyone who contributed more to the historiography of the Irish revolution, or whose work on the subject had a greater public impact.

Peter wrote three major works during his short academic career, and he was close to finishing several more at the time of his death. His first, The I.R.A. and its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-23 (1998), remains one of the most important studies of the period. It is a testament to the intimidating breadth of Peter’s scholarship that his second book – a collection of essays entitled The I.R.A. at War (2003) which explored the themes of his local study on a broader canvas – also serves as one of the best undergraduate textbooks on the Irish revolution. Mick: The Real Michael Collins (2005) was written for a popular rather than scholarly market. Peter had a refreshingly North American attitude about this: he wanted to write books that people would buy in airport bookshops, and he believed that academics should be able to connect with a mass audience (notwithstanding the hostility that their research could generate).

What made Peter’s work original? In part, his status as an outsider. Read More