All welcome to conference exploring themes relating to the Church during the Civil War

12 Sep, 2023 | Bishops, Church, News

A conference to explore the role of the Catholic Church and the Civil War in Ireland will take place on Saturday 23 September on Saint Patrick’s Campus of Dublin City University.  The conference is open to all and schedule and registration details are available on

Professor Alison Forrestal MRIA, Professor of History at University of Galway and one of the conference organisers (pictured), said, “many events have been held to commemorate the Irish Revolution, War of Independence and the Civil War during the Decade of Centenaries, and these have greatly challenged and enriched our understanding of the circumstances that determined the foundation of the Irish State.

“However, while the significance of the Catholic Church during these years has been raised on umpteen occasions – in relation to such issues as political ideology, gender and violence – remarkably, the role of the Church in society has never been the centre of the analysis.”

Professor Forrestal, who also serves as Secretary of the Catholic Historical Society of Ireland, continued, “This gap is all the more notable given the omnipresence of the Catholic Church in Irish society at the time, and for decades since.  It has also meant that our picture of the role of the Church during the revolutionary era remains frustratingly incomplete.  To respond to this oversight, the annual conference of the Catholic Historical Society of Ireland will this year be devoted to: ‘The Catholic Church and the Irish Civil War’.

“All are welcome to attend our conference, but it necessary to book in advance on the Eventbrite website.  Our gathering will be a day-long event to showcase new and emerging research in this under-explored dimension of modern Irish history.

“We will have a range of national and international scholars, all specialists in the field, who will share the fruits of years of research into themes that highlight the divisive nature of the Civil War among lay and clergy alike.  While the Church became one of the most important pro-Treaty organisations in the country, some individual clerics, and religious, offered support to the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War.  Talks on the day will assess the position of the Catholic hierarchy in respect to political and military developments, but also explore the role of religious orders in the conflict, as well as interactions between Church personnel, the laity and within families.”

Professor Forrestal concluded, “presentations will also examine international reaction to the War in terms of the circulation of news among the public and in government circles, and the enduring trauma of the war that was revealed in the subsequent testimonies of veterans.  The event will culminate with a roundtable discussion with commentators Dr Mary Harris, Professor Margaret O’Callaghan and Professor Oliver Rafferty SJ, as well as with audience participation.  Closing comments will be provided by the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, who will reflect on an extraordinary discussion relating the Church’s role during the Civil War era.”



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