Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh Recollects

UCG History Society, 1985-91

I arrived in UCG in October 1985 and immediately joined the history society, along with the athletics club and the literary and debating society; all three have fed into my activities for the last quarter of a century. Before long, I was first year class rep of the history society and busy announcing the many activities of the society to our 100 plus first year classes. Apparently, luminaries such as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were doing first year history, since they occasionally signed sheets seeking names for society tours to exotic spots such as Dublin and Durham.

I will never forget the first lecture I heard which was hosted by the society and chaired by the marvellous auditor, Marie Boran. He was medievalist from UCC. Zen he had not. He appeared to be dressed entirely in tweed, tie, suit, perhaps even his knickers. He had also enjoyed the society’s hospitality prior to his talk, and his shirt sported some blood stains. As he detailed equine fornication efforts in late medieval West Muskery, I sat there and wondered, ‘are they all like this?’ They were not. In fact, I remember outstanding lectures by David Fitzpatrick of Trinity on ‘Fraternity, Ireland’s solution to liberty and equality’ as well as Alan Titley, a future colleague at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, on language change in nineteenth-century Ireland.

The highlight of the year was the organisation of the Arts Ball. In my last year at UCG, 1991, we gave the department, 1,596 pounds, old money, I always remember the amount because it was two years before the death of Philip II of Spain. The outstanding auditor, Nora Flemming, was also a member of the Karate Club so we saved plenty of money on bouncers.

Having been business editor of Stair in 1990, I was editor the following year. Thankfully the journal received a very positive review in Retrospect, the Journal of the Irish History Students’ Association, 1992, this was relief as I was chair of the IHSA that year. Due to the generosity to Guinness, we made a profit on our journal as a copy could be bought for 50 pence and this deal included a pint. The journal included an excellent article in Irish by Tom Bartlett on William of Orange or Liam Oraiste, plus a section historical truths, culled from history papers. This included such insights as Magellan circumcised the globe with his forty-foot clipper, and, de Valera told O Buachalla, ‘you are abolished’, ‘you are one yourself’, replied O Buachalla. The history society had lots of fun, I hope it still does.

Dr. Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh is the author of Kathleen Lynn, Irishwoman, Patriot, Doctor (2006, reprinted, 2011), Edward Hay, Historian of 1798, Catholic Politics in an era of Wolfe Tone and Daniel O’Connell (2010), based on her NUIG MA, Quiet Revolutionaries: Irish Women in Education, Medicine and Sport, 1861-1964 (2011) and, with Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh, NUIG B.Comm, 1988, Business Archival Sources for the Local Historian (2010). She is currently working in Harvard University, and her most recent books are Gender and Medicine in Ireland, 1700-1950, co-edited with Margaret Preston, which was published in New York and His Grace is Displeased. The Selected Correspondence of John Charles McQuaid, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, 1940-72, co-edited with Clara Cullen, which has been reprinted several times.