I am the Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History (1762) at Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the Irish Research Council.
I was the founding Head of the School of Histories and Humanities and Trinity’s first Vice-President for Global Relations (2011–14), becoming a driving force behind the 1641 Depositions Project and the development of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, which I directed (2015–20).
Since 2015, I have been chair of the Irish Research Council. I am the PI for ‘Shape-ID’, ‘Shaping Interdisciplinary Practices in Europe’, funded by European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. I am the author or editor of numerous articles and 13 books. I am currently working on a book about ‘Ireland, empire and the early modern world’ which I will give as the Ford Lectures at the University of Oxford (2021).
- 2015–21: Chair, Irish Research Council
- 2015–20: Director, Trinity Long Room Hub, Arts and Humanities Research Institute
- 2011–14: Founding Vice-President for Global Relations, Trinity College Dublin
- Since June 2003: Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History (1762)
- 1995–2003: University of Aberdeen
- 1994–95: Yale University
- 1992: The University of California at Santa Barbara
- 2021: Visiting Fellowship, All Souls College, University of Oxford [postponed due to COVID-19]
- 2017 & 2019: Visiting Professor, Ashoka University, New Delhi
- 2016: W. B. Yeats Visiting Professor, São Paulo University, São Paulo
- 2015: Visiting Professor, Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
- 2014–15: Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
- 2010: Visiting Professor, Ireland House, New York University
- 2005: Visiting Professor, École des hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
- 1997: Visiting Professor, Ireland House, New York University
- 1997: Fellow at the Folger Institute, Washington DC
- 1992–93: Fellow at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California
- 2021: The Ford Lectures on ‘Ireland, Empire and the early modern world’ at the History Faculty, University of Oxford
- 2020: Stand up for Research – Research Excellence Award, Trinity College Dublin
- 2018: Societal Impact – Innovation Award, Trinity College Dublin
- 2012–13: A ‘Choice Outstanding Academic Title’ for Making Ireland English
- 1994: Civil War and Restoration in the Three Stuart Kingdoms American Conference on Irish Studies (ACIS) book prize for History and Social Sciences
- 1993: Civil War and Restoration in the Three Stuart Kingdoms Whitfield prize: awarded Proxime Accesit for the best book on British history published in the United Kingdom
Over the course of my academic career I have had 13 academic books (2 monographs and 12 edited or co-edited) published with leading international publishers (Yale University Press, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Manchester University Press). In addition, the Irish Manuscripts Commission have published the 1641 Depositions in 12 volumes (2014–20); I am one of the four co-editors. I have published articles in peer-reviewed journals (including the very highly regarded Past & Present, American Historical Review and The Historical Journal), and chapters in edited volumes, anthologies and conference proceedings. Others have appeared in more popular outlets (History Ireland and History Today).
To date, I have been the Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI for 25 research and research infrastructure projects, with awards totalling c. €22 million.
Funders include the Horizon 2020, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions; Irish Research Council (IRC) and Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS); Higher Education Authority (PRTLI, Ireland); Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Ireland); Irish Legal History Society; Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK); Leverhulme Trust (UK); British Academy (UK); American Council of Learned Societies (USA); Folger Library (USA); Huntington Library (USA); the Mellon Foundation (USA); and the Volkswagen Foundation (Germany).
Research project highlights:
SHAPE-ID (2018–21), an EU-funded project that aims to improve inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation between the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
Human+ (2020–25), a ground-breaking project co-funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and undertaken in partnership with the Adapt Centre which places the human at the centre of technology innovation to serve the long-term and collective needs of society.
The Global Humanities Institute on the ‘Crises of Democracy’ (2017–19), funded by the Mellon Foundation, brought together a consortium of humanities scholars spanning four continents to explore the various threats to democracy through the lens of cultural trauma.
1641 Deposition Project (2007–10), a flagship technology project which digitised 8,000 witness accounts from the 1641 rebellion, making these controversial documents available online in a fully Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) compliant format.
Over the course of the last decade I have delivered over 50 keynote addresses, invited and memorial lectures at conferences, seminars and workshops on four continents: across Ireland, the UK, Europe (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Monaco, the Netherlands, and Sweden), North America (across the USA and Canada), South America (Brazil and Cuba), and Asia (China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam).
In addition to historical research, I regularly speaks on topics that relate more generally to the humanities, the value of inter- and trans-disciplinarity, educational policy, and digital humanities, together with specific issues like Brexit.
I am a passionate teacher and have taught a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate history courses at Trinity, Yale, Aberdeen and New York University. I also co-taught courses on ‘Empire and After’ at Ashoka University in New Delhi to a group of postgraduate ‘Young India Fellows’, who came from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds.
Since 2004, I have mentored 9 Marie Curie Cofund Fellows, 6 IRCHSS funded postdoctoral fellows (including 1 IRCHSS/Marie Curie CARA postdoctoral fellowship), 1 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade research fellow and 1 philanthropically funded research fellow.
I have supervised numerous masters theses as well as 11 PhD students (8 to completion, 3 ongoing). 6 of my PhD students have secured IRCHSS funding and 2 others funding from the Canadian Research Council and the Japanese Funding Council.
I am committed to bringing history to the widest possible audience and was closely involved in the development and launch of History Scotland, an illustrated and interdisciplinary quarterly magazine that is aimed at members of the general public.
I have contributed to television (BBC, RTÉ, Channel 4, Channel 5) and radio programmes (BBC Radio 4 ‘In our time’, PBS, Radio Scotland, RTÉ, Newstalk, Near FM), largely dealing with current affairs, historical topics or advocacy for the humanities. I am an executive producer for a 6-part documentary series, ‘From That Small Island: The Story of the Irish’, and will work with the creative team that produced the award-winning 3-part documentary ‘1916’, which was viewed by 50M people around the world.
Public engagement was core to my directorship of the Trinity Long Room Hub, with the institute hosting over 300 research events a year. I took great pleasure in developing our ‘signature’ events as part of our public humanities initiative to demonstrate the relevance of Arts and Humanities research to current times. Our Behind the Headlines discussion series (since 2015, endowed by the John Pollard Foundation) was created in response to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack and I hosted 25 discussions on pressing and complex issues from same-sex marriage and abortion referenda to Brexit and COVID-19, with subsequent media coverage. I developed the profile of the Hub’s signature Annual Edmund Burke and Annual Humanities Horizons Lectures to include public intellectuals including Homi Bhabha, Robert Fisk, Roy Foster, Margaret MacMillan, Anthea Butler and Mary McAleese. I worked with our Arts and Humanities led research themes and colleagues in the Schools to introduce several lecture series including Trinity and the Changing City led by the Identities in Transformation theme, Out of the Ashes in conjunction with the Beyond 2022 project, Beyond the Book of Kells with the Library and Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures theme. The Hub is now a well-known contributor to public debate on pressing political, social and cultural issues.
- 2020–present: Non-executive director of Key Capital, an independent financial advisory firm
- 2018–present: Advisory Board, Council for European Studies (CES); also on the strategy group
- 2018–20: Advisory Board, University Based Institutes of Advanced Study (UBIAS)
- 2017–21: Scientific Advisory Board, Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (ACDH)
- 2017–20: International Advisory Board, Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes (CHCI)
- 2017–20: Scientific Advisory Board of the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki
- 2015–20: Scientific Board of DARIAH EU, a pan-European research infrastructure that aims to enhance and support digitally enabled research and teaching across the arts and humanities (http://dariah.eu).
- 2014–present: Mentor and on the advisory board of AHRC-funded project ‘Conflict, Welfare and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars, 1642–1710’ (https://www.civilwarpetitions.ac.uk)
- 2011–16: Member of the National Archives Advisory Council
- 2011–18: Non-executive director of the Sunday Business Post, a global independent news service
- 2010–present: A member of the EHRI advisory board (http://www.ehri-project.eu/).
- 2008–13: Trustee and Guardian of Marsh’s Library, Dublin
- 2008–13: Irish Member for the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, Member States Expert Group on Digitization
- 2008–10: Chair, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities Digitization Committee
- 2007–13: Irish Member, European Strategic Research Infrastructures (Social Sciences and Humanities Working Group)
- 2007–11: Irish Member, Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH)
- 2006–present: Member, Irish Manuscripts Commission, and chair of digital task force
- 2004–16: Council Member of the Irish Legal History Society and member of the Editorial Board
- 2001–08: Member of the Board of Governors for the Caledonian Research Foundation
- 2000–08: Trustee of the National Library of Scotland