The Irish History Students’ Association comes to Maynooth!

The History Department at Maynooth University is happy to play host to the 2021 Irish History Students’ Association Conference (IHSA). The IHSA is the national association for third level history students in Ireland and has sought to promote the study of history on an all-island basis since its establishment in 1950. The IHSA’s annual conferences portray the future of Irish historical research – along with those interested in Irish history internationally – and allows them to present papers to a learned audience of undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers, academics and many others. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year will mark the IHSA’s first ever virtual conference taking place from 11-13 March 2021 via Zoom.

It is a long-standing tradition of the IHSA to invite work from students researching any historical period or theme and, therefore, acts as the only platform in which history students can come together to exchange ideas and form networks with their fellow third-level students regardless of institutional affiliation or historical speciality. Organised by students, the IHSA’s annual conferences are renowned amongst academics as being a vital early milestone for students of history.

The organising committee at Maynooth University are delighted to bring you a thoroughly insightful and diverse range of papers that deal with an array of historical themes and periods, truly representing the ethos of the IHSA. Given the current global health situation – and barriers to social interaction and travel it has engendered – we are proud to bring together students of history from fifteen institutions located across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and the United States of America. We believe that it is more important than ever to maintain the support base that researchers can find amongst their peers, even if this is, at present, through virtual means.

In the initial stages of the conference planning, we – as the organising committee – felt that it was fundamentally important to highlight the opportunities for learning that a conference of this kind can provide. With this in mind, we are delighted to announce two special panel discussions that will undoubtably make great additions to the conference and provide the attendees with invaluable insights that they may use moving forward.

On Saturday 13 March at 4:00pm (Irish Time), we will be joined by Dr David Spreen from Harvard University, Dr Hannah Murphy from King’s College London, Dr Darragh Gannon of Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Ann-Marie O’Brien from Maynooth University as they take part in a panel discussion that centres around the challenges and realities of post-PhD life. Recalling their own experience to date, the panellists will chart the many obstacles and setbacks that they endured – along with their achievements and successes – as they offer guidance to the audience on how they might go about navigating the roads of an early academic career. All graduating from their PhDs within the last ten years, the panellists have excelled in their respective historical fields with a wide variety of publications, conferences and research projects to their names. We have no doubt that their individual presentations and collective discussion will provide excellent advice to all who attend.

We are also proud to host a panel discussion with the Ambassador of Ireland to the Kingdom of Spain, Síle Maguire; the Ambassador of Ireland to the United States of America, Daniel Mulhall; and former Senior Diplomat of the Irish Foreign Service and former Secretary General to the President of Ireland, Tim O’Connor. All former students – and graduates – of history, Ambassador Maguire, Ambassador Mulhall and Mr O’Connor will join us on Friday 12 March at 5pm (Irish Time) to discuss how they are utilising the skills they acquired during their study of history in their professional careers as diplomatic representatives of Ireland at home and abroad.

Síle Maguire, Ambassador of Ireland to the Kingdom of Spain

Born in Dublin, Síle studied History and Politics at University College Dublin before joining the Department of Health. Following this, Síle began her career with the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1992 and has held positions in regions such as Mexico, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, South Sudan amongst others.

Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States of America

Originally from Waterford, Daniel studied history at undergraduate and postgraduate level at University College Cork specialising in modern Irish history. In 1978, Daniel took up a position in the Department of Foreign Affairs and has since occupied positions in Germany, Britain, Malaysia and India to name but a few. Committed to his interest in Irish history and literature, Daniel has gone on to publish books, newspaper and journal articles that relate to his keen interest in the history of Ireland.

From Limerick, Tim was educated in St. Munchin’s College, Limerick before moving on to St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was a Seminarian for the Limerick Diocese from 1969-72. He graduated from Maynooth with a BA in 1972, and a Higher Diploma in Education in 1973 after which he taught for two years at the Holy Family Convent, Newbridge, Co. Kildare before joining the Civil Service in July 1974.

Former Senior Diplomat of the Irish Foreign Service and former Secretary General to the President of Ireland, Tim O’Connor. Photo source:

Full biographies for all of our special guests can be found at the official webpage of the 2021 Irish History Students’ Association Conference. Further details and updates for the conference can also be found on this page.

We are very much looking forward to a rich and insightful three-day display of historical research. The organising committee would like to express our deepest thanks to the History Department – and the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates – at Maynooth University for their support, guidance and encouragement in organising this conference; the Department of Foreign Affairs for its diligence and cordial assistance in helping to organise the special talks; the National Committee of the Irish History Students’ Association for the opportunity to host the conference and their help throughout the planning process; and all of our special guests, speakers and chairs for supporting the first ever virtual IHSA conference. We very much look forward to welcoming you all from 11-13 March 2021.

Veronica Barry

Government of Ireland Postgraduate Award Holder

Tom McGrath

John and Pat Hume Doctoral Award Holder


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