Dublin Festival of History goes global


History festival moves online, broadening its reach beyond Dublin and Ireland for the first time

Dublin Festival of History is to move online for the first time in 2020, it was announced today (26.08.2020). The announcement came as the festival was officially launched at the Edward Worth Library, Dublin 8 by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu. The festival, an initiative of Dublin City Council, will take place from Friday, 11th September to Sunday, 4th October, with all events free to attend. 

The festival, organised by Dublin City Libraries and now in its eighth year, will take place largely online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but will still play host to an international and domestic line up of speakers and panels. Topics covered with will be as broad as ever and will Irish and international historical topics. As well as online talks, there will be a number of socially distanced walking tours of historical places such as St. Anne’s Park, Raheny, Croke Park, and Richmond Barracks, Inchicore.

The festival will shine a light and fresh perspective on topics such as the construction of the notion of race, Ireland’s last great pandemic and the history of Ireland’s partition.

Some of the highlights from the 2020 programme include:

  • The Road to Black Lives Matter: The Construct of Race, from Juneteenth to George Floyd with Cecelia Hartsell

This talk will examine the history of the construct of race in the United States, tracing it from slavery, including the protection of slavery in the U.S. Constitution; through blackface minstrelsy; Red Summer 1919; the Tulsa Massacre of 1921; the history and public memory surrounding Confederate monuments; and the legacy of that construct, whch undergirds the systemic racism that led to the death of George Floyd.

  • Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends with Anne Applebaum

Anne will pose and explore the question of why so many of those who won the battles for democracy or have spent their lives proclaiming its values are now succumbing to liars, thugs and crooks on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen with Greg Jenner in conversation with Anna Carey

The history of ‘celebrity’ spanning from the Bronze Age to Hollywood’s Golden Age, this discussion assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity’s historical roots.

  • Stacking the coffins: Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19 with Ida Milne in conversation with Sarah-Anne Buckley

The 1918-19 influenza epidemic killed more than 50 million people, and infected between one fifth and half of the world’s population. Like COVID-19 there was no preventative vaccine for the virus. In this work, Ida Milne tells how it impacted on Ireland, during a time of war and revolution.

Speaking today (25.08.2020) at the festival launch, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, said: “We’re living through such historic times. Thoughts turn to how our current experience will be recorded for future generations, so what an interesting time to look back to the history of past times. From health epidemics to the history of race, these are obviously hugely relevant to our lives today. How far have we come?  How were similar challenges dealt with in the past? What lessons can we pull from the events of the past?

“History teaches us many lessons, and I’m delighted to be launching the festival today with such a huge range of topics being covered and stories being told. The programme is filled with many highlights and I look forward to tuning in to lots of the events online.”

Also commenting today was Dublin City Librarian Mairead Owens, who added: “This year marks a huge departure for the festival. We have always prioritised the ‘in person’ experience of attendees at the festival, bringing people together to hear stories from our shared and diverse history. This year however, for reasons that we all know only too well, we are moving online. This also presents a whole new opportunity for the festival, opening it up to people across Ireland and the world.

“Previously, people from around Ireland might have had to travel to Dublin for one day, or two. Now they can join the festival from the comfort of their own home, for as many events as they wish. Our own home-grown historians can also share their incredible historical research with people from anywhere in the world. It’s a very exciting time for the festival and we look forward to sharing what we have created here with communities beyond our traditional reach.”

The full programme of events will be published in the coming weeks at www.dublinfestivalofhistory.ie  


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