New research grant for local historians

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., has announced a new research grant for local history, in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy.

The Commemorations Bursary Scheme has been established to encourage and support new local research and local history studies relating to the commemoration of events associated with the early years of the State as well as other significant historical anniversaries, events and themes.

Catherine Martin welcomed the new scheme:

I am very pleased to welcome the 2024 Commemorations Bursary in honour of our dear friendand valued member of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, Dr Éamon Phoenix.

Following the great success of the Decade of Centenaries Bursary, the new Commemoration
Bursary is a wonderful legacy of the programme and a fitting tribute to a champion of archives,local history and local communities, the late Dr Éamon Phoenix.

This new bursary scheme is a response to the continued interest from communities and historians from across the island of Ireland in their local history.

The Royal Irish Academy has to be commended for their considered and ambitious approach in the delivery of the bursary to date. I am delighted that my Department can continue to support the Royal Irish Academy in this new phase of Commemorations and the important and often unacknowledged work of local historians in exploring the complexities of our past.

Professor Pat Guiry, President of the Royal Irish Academy, reflected:

The Academy is delighted to be partnering again with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on this Commemorations Bursary Scheme. It is a great initiative that will allow local historians, independent scholars, and individuals working in local cultural institutions and libraries to bring to life the vibrant history of their local areas. The local histories that emerge will complement the earlier work that the Decade of Centenaries Bursary Schemes produced in 2022 and 2023 and enhance our understanding and appreciation of key historical developments.

It is anticipated that a number of awards under the scheme will be made annually. Understanding the varying financial requirements of projects, applications will be invited for amounts ranging from €1,500 to €10,000. The bursaries will be awarded to individual researchers across a wide range of themes which recognise the importance of the commemoration of events. Applications for the scheme will open on Thursday, 9 May. For further information and scheme guidelines, please visit the RIA website where you will also find a list of suggested research themes to assist applicants. The closing date for applications is Friday, 9 August 2024 at 5.00 pm.

The development of this scheme follows the success of the Decade of Centenaries Bursary scheme which was established as part of the Decade of Centenaries programme and ran in 2022 and 2023.

The Decade of Centenaries Bursary scheme saw support for a wide range of projects such as Medbh Gillard’s ‘Beekeeper, Bagpiper, Bombmaker; The life and legacy of Irish Patriot Donnchadh MacNiallghuis 1887-1954’; Brian Hanley’s podcast series entitled ‘Dirty War in Dublin’; and Síobhra Aiken’s examination of ‘Languages of Forgetting: Multilingual Responses to the Irish Civil War (1922-1923)’. Details of funded projects can be found on the RIA website

Potential Themes for the Commemorations Bursary Scheme:

Community-led commemoration and reflection;
Remembering local legacies, personalities,
places, events, and themes that had particular significance for counties and communities in 1924 and in the early years of the State. Exploring local connections with nationally important events and how these events were experienced or received locally.

Ireland and the Wider World;
Exploring the international dimension, including local connections, emigration, and the role of the Irish Diaspora in the events that occurred during the early years of the State. Exploring how events in Ireland were received and reported abroad.

Experiences of Women; Exploring the experiences of women during the early years of the State and their contribution to the events that occurred, including their changing role in society.

Democracy and Politics; Exploring the prominent personalities and local issues associated with elections during this period.

Establishing a New Order; Exploring the evolution of political and administrative structures at
national and local government level; Exploring the establishment and development of the various institutions of the State; Exploring the development of new infrastructure, e.g. transportation, communications, postal services, energy, etc.

Re-building a Nation; Reflections on healing, repairing and re-building in the context of the
traumatic legacy of the Civil War.

The partitioning of Ireland;
Exploring the impacts and legacies on communities living along the newly established border and further afield.

A changing society during the early years of the State; Exploring the themes below in the
context of the early years of the State.

  • Popular social, cultural, and civic movements;
  • Social class and gender;
  • The Irish language;
  • Social policies and welfare;
  • Education;
  • Family life and children in the early years of the State;
  • Labour and employment;
  • Land and rural life;
  • The role of religion and faith;
  • The significance of sport in communities;
  • Experiences of people in Ireland during this period who would today identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community;
  • Experiences of immigration to the local authority area and of minority ethnic groups in
  • Innovation and developments in the fields of industry, agriculture, science, commerce, health and medicine, communications, technology, recreation.

Emotions, experiences, and expectations; Exploring what was felt and what was hoped for
following the Civil War and in the developing Irish State.

Creative thinking and the arts; Exploring poetry, literature, music, theatre, and other art forms
from 1924 and the early years of the State.

Other significant local anniversaries, events and themes; Exploring other historical events
and related themes, and their significance for local areas (e.g. the Great Famine; the Catholic
Emancipation Act of 1829; the 75th anniversary of the Republic of Ireland Act).

About the Royal Irish Academy

The Royal Irish Academy, founded in 1785, is Ireland’s leading body of experts supporting and
promoting the sciences and humanities. As an all-island independent forum of peer-elected experts we recognise world-class researchers and champion Irish academic research.
We make a significant contribution to public debate and policy formation on issues in science, technology and culture. We bring together academia, government and industry to address issues of mutual interest by providing an independent forum.

We lead important national research projects, particularly in areas relating to Ireland and its
heritage. We represent the world of Irish learning internationally, have a unique globally recognised library and are a leading academic publisher.

Karen Muldowney, Head of Programmes and Engagement, Royal Irish Academy
Mobile: 085 8074544