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Forgetting the Civil War: 100 years of silence-breaking

On 26 April 2023, Dr Síobhra Aiken provided the annual William English Lecture to the Old Athlone Society in Lough Ree Yacht Club. The lecture forms part of Westmeath County Council’s Historian in Residence programme for 2023. Historian in Residence Dr Ian Kenneally provides a brief introduction to the lecture, which can be heard via the link below:


In this lecture, Dr Síobhra Aiken reflects on the codes of silence surrounding the Irish Civil War. She considers the many civil war testimonies that were published in the 1920s and 1930s but which were overlooked by contemporaries and subsequent generations. Among the figures discussed in the lecture is Anthony O’Connor, a Westmeath-based soldier in the National Army, whose later novel He’s Somewhere in There provides a remarkable account of violence and death during the Irish Civil War.

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Dr Síobhra Aiken is a lecturer in the Department of Irish and Celtic Studies at Queen’s University Belfast and has published widely on the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Ireland. A former Fulbright Scholar, her publications include the monograph Spiritual Wounds: Trauma, Testimony and the Irish Civil War (Irish Academic Press, 2022) and the edited volumes The Men Will Talk to Me: Ernie O’Malley’s Interviews with the Northern Divisions (Merrion Press, 2018) and An Chuid Eile Díom Féin: Aistí le Máirtín Ó Direáin (Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2018). Her current research project, funded by the Royal Irish Academy, considers multilingual responses to Ireland’s revolutionary period.

An audio recording of the lecture can be found here

Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 10/05/2023