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Magee Historian Sheds New Light on Plantation of Ulster

29 November 2012

University of Ulster academic has helped shed new light on theUlster Plantationand how it shaped identity inUlster, Ireland and beyond.

The Magee basedhistorian, Dr Éamonn Ó Ciardha isco-editor of ‘The Plantation of Ulster Ideology andPractice’, a collection of essays that make up thefirst major academic study of the Ulster Plantation in over 25 years.

Dr Ó Ciardha is a senior lecturer in Irish History and internationally recognised as a leading authority on early modern Irish History and Literature. He described the collection as a ‘who’s who’ of early modern Irish history and literature and said it offers an important redress in terms of previous coverage of the plantation.
“The essays are by leading scholars in the field and cover a broad range of historical and literary topics, moving away from an exclusive colonial perspective to include the native Irish perspective.”

According to Dr Ó Ciardha, who has just completed a year as Gastprofessor Europaicum (Visiting Professor) at the Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrucken in Germany, it is difficult to overstate the pivotal importance of the plantation to the shared histories of Ireland and Britain.

“The Plantation of Ulster helped secure the English conquest of Ireland, and dramatically transformed Ireland’s physical, demographic, socio-economic, political, military, religious and cultural landscapes.

“In effect, it became the City of London’s and England’s first successful attempt at empire, providing the template for future colonial expansion in the Americas, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent.

“Moreover, the plantation’s historical, political, cultural, environmental and visual legacies impacted heavily on developments in both Ireland and Britain for 400 years and continue to do so today.”

Those legacies, continued Dr Ó Ciardha, are still contested today.

“The divisions between the descendants of the native and settler communities continue to underpin Irish and British politics. As the peace process evolves and the violence of the previous 40 years begins recede into memory, vital space has been created for a timely reappraisal of the plantation process and its role in identity formation within Ulster, Ireland and beyond. ‘

The Plantation of Ulster Ideology and Practice’, is published by Manchester University Press. Co-edited by Micheál Ó Siochrú, Associate Professor of History,Trinity College Dublin,it emerged from the first two of three AHRC-, British Academy- and IRCHSS- funded conferences hosted in 2009 by Goldsmiths, University of London, the University of Ulster and Trinity College Dublin to mark the 400th anniversary of the Plantation of Ulster.

The conferences helped focus international attention on the historical significance of the Walled City and were an important springboard for Derry City Council’s successful bid for UK City of Culture status.

‘The Plantation of Ulster Ideology and Practice’ is dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Jim Allen, Provost of Magee and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Dr Ó Ciardha described Professor Allen, who died in October 2011, as ‘a proud son of Derry, a staunch defender of its rich history and heritage and a generous patron of academic initiatives’.

Caption Dr Éamonn Ó'Ciardha