Fellow wins prestigious Royal Historical Society 2020 Whitfield Prize

0:00, Wednesday 22 July 2020

Dr Niamh Gallagher (2009), Fellow of St Catharine’s College and a lecturer in Modern British and Irish History at the Faculty of History, today won the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize for her book, Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History, published by Bloomsbury Academic Press. The prize is for an original and scholarly work of historical research which is the author’s first solely written history book.

Dr Gallagher was among a group of six authors in contention for the prize. Her book is the first work of Irish history to win it since it was established by the Society in 1976 at the bequest of Professor Archibald Stenton Whitfield. The Whitfield Prize is one of the Royal Historical Society’s two annual book awards.

The judges declared, “This is a bold and indeed audacious intervention in the historiography of Irish Catholic involvement in British and Allied action during the Great War. Niamh Gallagher’s sophisticated interpretation of the Home Front in towns across Ireland enables us to appreciate the ways in which individuals, families, businesses, civic and political leaders, and their supporters, understood Allied war aims and the reasons for contributing and remembering. Richly detailed and illustrated throughout, this is an unusually substantial contribution to the social and political history of Ireland and Irish communities abroad.”

Dr Gallagher added, “When I discovered that I had won the Whitfield Prize, I had to read the email several times to ensure that my eyes were not deceiving me. I am over the moon! It was a strong field, so I am especially flattered that the judges chose my book. It is an honour to know that 'Ireland and the Great War' is the first work of modern Irish history to win the prize and hopefully it won’t be the last.”

Dr Gallagher matriculated at St Catharine’s in 2009 for an MPhil in Modern European History. She returned to the College as a Fellow in 2018.

Read the official announcement.

About 'Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History' 

The book draws upon a formidable array of original research to offer a radical new reading of Irish involvement in the world's first total war. For many years, it was thought that Irish nationalists were not particularly supportive of the Allied war effort due to the rise of a radical nationalist movement that demanded independence from Britain. 'Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History' demonstrates that substantial support for the Allied war effort continued largely unabated not only until November 1918, but afterwards as well, and reveals a surprising degree of cross-confessional cooperation throughout the duration of the conflict, which has gone virtually unnoticed in existing scholarly accounts.

Visit the Bloomsbury website to find out more.


‘An outstandingly interesting monograph whose intelligent revisionism is grounded in impressive scholarship.’ 

'I believe it will come to be seen as a classic in the field and a standard reference point for all scholars working on Irish history in this period – whether they start from interests in the war or the Irish Revolution.’


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