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Connolly, Sean

Prof Sean Connolly

Professor Emeritus of Irish History; Visiting Research Professor in Irish Studies




Sean Connolly was born in Dublin, and studied at University College, Dublin, and what was then the New University of Ulster. He held posts at the Public Record Office of Ireland (now the National Archives of Ireland), St Patrick’s College, Dublin, and the New University of Ulster, before becoming Professor of Irish History at Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1996. He has held Fellowships at the Folger Library, Washington DC, and the European University Institute, Florence, and twice served as editor of the journal Irish Economic and Social History


Research Statement


Sean Connolly began his career as a historian of Irish Catholicism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, looking in particular at the relationship between the official doctrines and practices of the Catholic church and the beliefs and customs of lay men and women.  From there he went on to explore the very different world of the Irish Protestant elite, the so-called ‘ascendancy’, in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He remains interested in the many questions thrown up by the history of religion and popular belief in all their forms.  More recently, however, the main focus on his work has been on urban history, specifically on the development of Victorian Belfast, and he is now working on a new project, a general survey of the Irish diaspora, viewed in the context of the development of the world economy.




(with Dominic Bryan and John Nagle)  Civil Identity and Public Space: Belfast since 1780 (Manchester University Press)

For further details see



Connolly, S.J., ‘Settler colonialism in Ireland from the English conquest to the nineteenth century’ in The Routledge Handbook of the History of Settler Colonialism, Cavanagh, E. and Veracini, L. (eds), London: Routledge, pp 49-64



Connolly, S.J., ‘Patriotism and nationalism’ in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish History. Jackson, A. (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 27-44



Connolly, S.J. & Holmes, A.,'Popular culture, 1600-1914', Ulster since 1600: Politics, Economy and Society. Kennedy, L. & Ollerenshaw, P. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 106-20

Connolly, S.J., 'Religion and society 1600-1914', in Ulster since 1600: Politics, Economy and Society. Kennedy, L. & Ollerenshaw, P. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 74-89

Connolly, S.J., 'The limits of democracy: Ireland 1778-1848', in Re-imagining democracy in the age of revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland 1750-1850. Innes, J. & Philp, M. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 174-188



Connolly, S.J., 'Belfast: the rise and fall of a civic culture?', in  Belfast: The Emerging City 1850-1914. Purdue, O. (ed.). Dublin: Irish Academic Press, p. 25-48

Connolly, S.J., 'Improving town, 1750-1820', in Belfast 400: People, place and history. Connolly, S. J. (ed.). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, p. 161-198

Connolly, S.J. (ed.), Belfast 400: People, Place and History. Liverpool University Press.

Connolly, S.J., '”Like an old cathedral city”: Belfast welcomes Queen Victoria, August 1849’ In : Urban History. 39, 4, p. 571-589



Connolly, S.J., 'Cardinal Cullen’s other capital: Belfast and the "devotional revolution"’, in Cardinal Paul Cullen and his World. Keogh, D. & McDonnell, A. (eds.). Four Courts Press, p. 289-307



Connolly, S.J., 'Old English, New English and Ancient Irish: Swift and the Irish past' in Politics and Literature in the Age of Swift: English and Irish Perspectives. Rawson, C. (ed.). Cambridge University Press, p. 255-269



Bryan, D. & Connolly, S.J., 'Identity, social action and public space: defining civic space in Belfast', in Theorizing Identities and Social Action . Wetherell, M. (ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 220-237 

Connolly, S.J., 'Kingdom, crown and parliament: patriot myth and the origins of the Irish union' in Forging the State: European State Formation and the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707. MacKillop, A. & Siochru, M. O. (eds.). Dundee University Press, p. 133-152



Connolly, S.J., Divided Kingdom: Ireland 1630-1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Oxford History of Early Modern Europe)

Connolly, S.J., 'Swift and history' in Reading Swift: Papers from the Fifth Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift. Real, H. J. (ed.). Wilhelm Fink, Munchen, p. 187-202



Connolly, S.J., Contested Island: Ireland 1460-1630. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Connolly, S.J., ‘Religion and nationality in Ireland: an unstable relationship’, in Religion und Nation. Altematt, U. & Metzger, F. (eds.). Kohlhamer, p. 119-134



Connolly, S.J., 'The moving statue and the turtle dove: approaches to the history of Irish religion', In : Irish Economic and Social History. 31, p. 1-22



Connolly, S.J., 'Tupac Amaru and Captain Right: a comparative perspective on eighteenth-century Ireland', in  Refiguring Ireland: essays in honour of L.M. Cullen. Dickson, D. O. & Grada, C. (eds.). Lilliput Press, p. 94-111

Connolly, S.J., 'The Church of Ireland and the royal martyr: regicide and revolution in Anglican political thought c.1660-1745', In : The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 54 (3), 3, p. 484-506

Connolly, S.J., ‘Jacobites, Whiteboys and republicans: varieties of disaffection in eighteenth-century Ireland’, In : Eighteenth-Century Ireland. 18, p. 63-79



Connolly, S.J., 'A Woman's life in mid-eighteenth-century Ireland: the case of Letitia Bushe', In : Historical Journal. 42(2), p. 433-451

Connolly, S.J. (ed.), Political Ideas in Eighteenth-Century Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

Connolly, S.J., 'Reconsidering the Irish Act of Union', In : Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 10, p. 399-408

Connolly, S.J., 'The Irish Rebellion of 1798: an end or a beginning?', in  Religious Thinking and National Identity. Metzger, H-D. (ed.). Philo, p. 108-122



Connolly, S.J. (ed.), Kingdoms United? Great Britain and Ireland since 1500: Integration and Diversity. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

Connolly, S.J. (ed.),The Oxford Companion to Irish History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Connolly, S.J. (ed.), Conflict and Identity: Scotland and Ireland 1500-1939. Carnegie Publishing.



Connolly, S.J., Religion, Law and Power: The Making of Protestant Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Connolly, S.J., Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Ireland. Dublin: Economic and Social History Society of Ireland.



Connolly, S.J., Priests and People in Pre-Famine Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.