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Westmeath County Council appoints new Historian in Residence

Dr Paul Hughes

As part of Westmeath County Council’s Decade of Centenaries programme, Dr Paul Hughes has been appointed Historian in Residence for the period March to July 2021.

The residency, the first of two such appointments in 2021, is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport, Media and the Gaeltacht. Last year, between August and November, Ian Kenneally was appointed to the initial residency, which focused on events in 1920.

Dr Paul Hughes, a native of Delvin who lives in Mullingar, holds a master’s degree from Maynooth University, and a PhD in history from Queen’s University, Belfast, under the supervision of Castlepollard native, Dr Marie Coleman. His PhD thesis dealt with the later career and activism of Laurence Ginnell (1852-1923), the maverick Irish nationalist MP and later TD. He is currently working on a biography of Ginnell.

Among Paul’s other projects are a chapter for Geography Publications’ forthcoming Westmeath History and Society, and a study of radical nationalist activism in the Irish Literary Society of London (1906-23). He is a frequent reviews contributor for Irish Historical Studies and Irish Studies Review, among other publications, and in 2019 he was a panel discussant for History Ireland’s Hedge School on County Longford’s Irish Revolution.

Paul works as sports editor with the Westmeath Examiner, and has written extensively for the paper on the history of 19th and 20th century Westmeath. In 2016, he edited the Westmeath Examiner/Westmeath Independent 1916 commemorative publication, Iarmhí ag Éirí, a project supported by Westmeath County Council.

“The aim of this residency is to reflect national policy on commemorations at a local level, accurately and creatively bringing 1921 to life for people in Westmeath through a variety of media,” says Paul.

“The first half of 1921 comprised the most intense phase of the Irish War of Independence, leading up to the Truce of 11 July.

“In the coming months, I look forward to shining light on the diverse individuals, events and subjects of relevance to Westmeath, and in doing so, enriching our understanding of the county’s place in these turbulent events leading to the birth of the State.

“I am also excited about the prospect of working with the co-ordinator of the centenary programme for the 1921 Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition, led by Lt Col Charles Howard-Bury of Belvedere House.”

Paul is eager for people in Westmeath to come forward with whatever photographs they have of ancestors who were active locally during the War of Independence, the Civil War or the broader Irish revolution, as a means of visually complementing the ever-growing pool of documentary evidence available to historians.

You can follow the Historian in Residence programme at Decade Of Centenaries: Main, and to get in touch with Paul, email historian@westmeathcoco.ie.

Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 22/03/2021