Ireland: A Military history since 1689 - HIST6108

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module covers a wide time period, but within this there will be a number of case-studies which will make this more manageable for students. Ultimately the module will revolve around the study of a number of military traditions within Ireland. The Protestant / Loyalist volunteering tradition, witnessed through those who defended Derry and Enniskillen in 1689, the Irish Volunteer movement of 1778-1792, the Yeomanry of 1796-1834, the Ulster Volunteer Force of 1913-1920, the Ulster Special Constabulary 1920-1970, Ulster Defence Regiment 1970-1992 and the various Loyalist paramilitary groups – Ulster Volunteer Force, Ulster Defence Association, Loyalist Volunteer Force, etc. which emerged from 1966. The Republican military tradition seen with the United Irishmen of 1792-1803, the Young Irelanders of 1848, the Fenian movement of 1858-1916, the Irish Volunteers of 1913-16 and the Irish Republican Army in the many forms it has existed since 1916. The 'Wild Geese' tradition of Irishmen serving in foreign armies was most noticeable with the Irish Brigades formed in the French and Spanish armies in the 1690s, but was also witnessed in the American Civil War and, indeed, South American Wars of Liberation. The tradition of Irish service within the British army as both regular and amateur soldiers will be considered in detail, with particularly a focus on the role of the Irish soldier in the British Empire.

Case-studies will also consider the First World War, when approximately 200,000 Irishmen and 10,000 Irish women served in the British forces and the Second World War when the contribution of Northern Ireland can be compared to the experience of Eire, the latter often described as an 'unneutral neutral' given the numbers of Irish citizens who served in the British forces during that conflict.

This module will end with a consideration of the recent Northern Ireland troubles of 1966-1998.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 88
Total private study hours: 512
Total module study hours: 600

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (3,000 words): 15%
Essay 2 (3,000 words): 15%
Individual seminar presentation: 5%
Group project: 5%
Examination 1 (2 hours, essay-based): 30%
Examination 2 (2 hours, Gobbet analysis): 30%

Reassessment methods :
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery (eds.), A Military History of Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)
Thomas Bartlett, David Dickson, Dáire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (eds.), 1798: A bicentenary perspective (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003)
Brian Barton and M. T. Foy, The Easter Rising (Stroud: History Press, 1999)
Alan Blackstock, An Ascendancy Army: The Irish Yeomanry, 1796-1834 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998)
J. W. Blake, Northern Ireland in the Second World War (Belfast: HMSO, 1956)
Timothy Bowman, Irish Regiments in the Great War: Discipline and Morale (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002)
Timothy Bowman, Carson's Army: The Ulster Volunteer Force, 1910-22 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Deploy advanced and sophisticated techniques of analysis and enquiry within military history, broadly defined.
2 Demonstrate an advanced ability to examine critically many different types of primary sources.
3 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the evolving historiography of Irish military history.
4 Locate the place of the Irish soldier within a transnational environment and communicate this effectively to a variety of audiences and/or using a variety of methods.
5 Demonstrate a critical awareness of the nature of paramilitarism and 'amateur soldiering' in Ireland.
6 Critically evaluate the extent to which Ireland witnessed 'total war' in 1914-18 and 1939-45.
7 Demonstrate a knowledge of the role of the military in a perpetually neutral state.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Interpret a range of primary and secondary sources in a sophisticated manner in order to create equally sophisticated assessment outputs.
2 Demonstrate an advanced level of research and interpretation and the flexibility to present findings in different ways.
3 Demonstrate the ability to work independently and in groups, and produce outputs likely to appeal to a broader audience.
4 Demonstrate the ability to manage time and work-load and produce consistently high level responses over a sustained period.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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