At the inauguration of the Northern Irish parliament (22 June 1921) King George V delivered his famous plea for reconciliation between ‘all Irishmen’. In its local setting, it was a decidedly optimistic invitation: indeed, 1922 was to see the most intense period of political killing in Belfast’s entire history.
This talk examines the 1920s Troubles: the concentrated nature of the violence, but also its distinctive rhythms and limits. No account of the emergence of Northern Ireland can afford to ignore this human cost: and yet the 1920s Troubles have only recently begun to be studied in any depth at all.
Dr Tim Wilson is the current Director of the Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at University of St Andrews. His research interests and media appearances range widely over the past, present and future of terrorism and political violence. He is especially interested in why such horrors take the particular forms that they do. His first book Frontiers of Violence – an ambitious comparison of violence in the contested borderlands of Ulster and Upper Silesia between 1918 and 1922 – was nominated for the Royal Historical Society’s prestigious Whitfield Prize in 2010. Killing Strangers: How Political Violence Became Modern appeared in September 2020. Both were published by Oxford University Press.
Glennon, From Pogrom to Civil War: Tom Glennon and the Belfast IRA (Mercier Press, 2013)
Lynch, The Northern IRA and the Early Years of Partition 1920-22 (Irish Academic Press, 2006)
Magill, Political Conflict in East Ulster, 1920-22 (Boydell, 2020)
Parkinson, Belfast's Unholy War: The Troubles of the 1920s (Four Courts Press, 2004)
Wilson, '"The Most Terrible Assassination that has yet stained the name of Belfast": The McMahon Murders in Context', Irish Historical Studies, Vol. 37, 145 (2010)