The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

6 February 1922: Pius XI Ascends to the Papacy

06 February 2022

Read Laura McAtackney's essay on 'Religion, Graffiti and Political Imprisonment' on Century Ireland.

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, features 50 essays from leading international scholars that explore a turning point in history, one whose legacy remains controversial a century on. Building on their own expertise, and on the wealth of recent scholarship provoked by the Decade of Centenaries, each contributor focuses on one event that illuminates a key aspect of revolutionary Ireland, demonstrating how the events of this year would shape the new states established in 1922. Together, these essays explore many of the key issues and debates of a year that transformed Ireland.

In collaboration with Century Ireland, we are making the 50 essays freely available online. Today's essay is by Laura McAtackney and it covers Pius XI’s papal reign, which began on 6 February 1922:

Pius XI’s papal reign (1922–39) officially began on 6 February 1922. It may seem an unlikely event to tie into Irish history, but there are a number of compelling reasons as to why it is a date of symbolic and material value. The role of religion in the so-called revolutionary period has been explored in a number of ways by historians. In recent years there have been contentious debates about the role of religious sectarianism in the targeting of people and places in the south of Ireland during the War of Independence and the civil war. In the north of Ireland, the ‘Belfast pogroms’ (1920–22) and associated civil disturbances, riots and orchestrated attacks demonstrably had a sectarian motive, with religion functioning primarily as an identifier. There have also been thoughtful reflections on the role of rank-and-file priests, as well as the policies of the Catholic hierarchy, in their active support or rejection of the various sides during the conflict. Continue reading (you will be redirected to the website of Century Ireland)

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, is published by the Royal Irish Academy with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

Stay up to date with the Royal Irish Academy newsletter

Sign up now