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Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin MRIA: Historian

19 April 2023

Professor Ó hAnnracháin’s research into the religious culture of Early Modern Europe explores how Irish events and processes can illuminate and provide fresh perspectives on the wider history of the European reformations.

Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin MRIA is professor of history and former head of the School of History at UCD.

I joined UCD as a lecturer on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ireland, and the history of the island during this period has remained an important focus of my work. Most of my research over the past thirty years, however, has explored aspects of the religious culture of Early Modern Europe, but I have consistently attempted not merely to place Irish events and processes in a wider comparative context, but to investigate how they can in turn illuminate and produce fresh perspectives on the wider history of the European reformations.

My first monograph Catholic reformation in Ireland: the mission of Rinuccini, 1645–49 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) was an attempt to understand the profoundly influential career in Ireland of GianBattista Rinuccini, papal nuncio to the proto-state of the Confederate Catholics of Ireland during the 1640s. It considered why Rinuccini first dominated the politics of the Confederates but was then rejected and expelled from Ireland, and, through analysis of his formation and career in Italy, investigated what motivated his behaviour. His mission provided an opportunity to explore both Irish participation in the profound changes that occurred in European Catholicism and the factors that rendered it a peculiar outlier among mainstream Catholic European societies.

During my career I have been lucky to have enjoyed a very productive working relationship with my colleague in Trinity College Dublin, Robert Armstrong. I have benefitted from the extraordinary breadth and depth of his knowledge in general, and his expertise in the history of Protestantism in particular has complemented my own concentration on Irish and European Catholicism. Together we have initiated four major thematic and collaborative projects, which primarily investigated different aspects of the religious history of the archipelago of Britain and Ireland. The findings were published in four co-edited volumes, Community in early modern Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), Insular Christianity: alternative models of the church in Britain and Ireland c. 1570–c. 1700 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), Christianities in the early modern Celtic world (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) and The English Bible in the early modern world (Leiden: Brill, 2018).

My second monograph, Catholic Europe, 1592–1648: centre and peripheries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), examined the processes of Catholic renewal in a highly unusual fashion. Taking advantage of my knowledge of the sui generis evolution of confessional change in Ireland, it focused primarily on how Catholicism adapted and developed in a series of societies on the periphery of Europe—Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, East-Central Europe and the Balkans. The chronological focus of the book was uncommon. Because the timing of Catholic reform occurred differently on the periphery of Europe than in the more studied heartlands of Italy, Iberia, much of present-day Germany and France, I argued that the critical epoch of religious change in these areas did not occur until the late sixteenth and the seventeenth century.

My third monograph, Confessionalism and mobility in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), examined the evolution of different religious communities in Ireland through the prism of mobility. The religious transformation of the island was mediated by individuals with very significant migratory experiences, and a variety of mobilities affected and inflected the confessional self-understanding and practices of the Irish population. In addition to highlighting the vital importance of transnational experiences in the formation of different Irish clergies, this book emphasised the amenability of some of the most important identity texts of Early Modern Ireland to reading as the products of a migrant sensibility.

In addition to these seven books, I have published over fifty shorter peer-reviewed articles of various kinds, which have utilised an extensive source basis in six different languages—English, Irish, Latin, French, Italian and Hungarian.


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