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Episode 2 - Partition and the Two Irelands

The Partition of Ireland talks programme in partnership with BBC Logo
Professor Mary E. Daly
University College Dublin
Date: 03/05/2021
Talk 2

Partition and the Two Irelands

Partition was a key defining force for the two Irish states that were founded in the 1920s. It fostered polarised identities, accentuating the differences, and eroding that they had in common.

The major losers were those who did not identify with the majority, north or south. Yet in other respects partition was an enabler; it made it possible for an independent Ireland to remain neutral in World War Two, and it strengthened the sense of Britishness within Northern Ireland. With the exception of essential services such as the Dublin Belfast railway line there was very little interaction between the two governments.

Partition damaged longstanding economic and personal links between border communities, but for many people, north or south, the other Ireland was, ‘A Place Apart’.

Watch the talk above or on the BBC website


About Professor Mary E. Daly

Mary E. Daly is Professor Emerita in Irish History at University College Dublin. Educated at University College Dublin and Nuffield College Oxford, in 2017 she was awarded an honorary D. Litt. by Queen’s University Belfast.  She is a member of the Expert Advisory Group that advises the Irish government on the commemorative programme for the Decade of Centenaries 2012-23. In 2014 she was one of the first women to be elected as President of the Royal Irish Academy, (founded 1785).  Her extensive publications cover many aspects of the history of Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Further Reading
  • Mary E. Daly, Sixties Ireland,  Reshaping the economy, state and society 1957-1973, (Cambridge 2016), chapter 14 
  • Ronan Fanning, ‘Playing it cool: the response of the British and Irish government to the crisis in Northern Ireland, 1968-69, Irish Studies in international affairs, 12, 2001, pp 23-38. 
  • Alvin Jackson, Ireland 1798-1998, (Oxford: Blackwells, 1999), chapters 6-8. 
  • Stephen Kelly, Fianna Fail, partition and Northern Ireland, 1926-1971 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2013).  
  • Michael Kennedy, Division and consensus.  The politics of cross-border relations in Ireland, 1926-1968, (Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 2000).  
  • Margaret O’Callaghan, ‘Old parchment and water: the Boundary Commission of 1925 and the copper-fastening of the Irish border’, Bullan: an Irish Studies Review, vol. 4 no 2, 2000, pp 27-55.