Silenced Stories: The Protestant Experience of 1916 and After

Silenced Stories: The Protestant Experience of 1916 and After
Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 09:30 to 17:00
Renehan Hall, South Campus, Maynooth University

Silenced Stories: The Protestant Experience of 1916 and After

Although Irish Protestantism has many historic links with various aspects of Irish Nationalism, by 1916 the nationalist movement had become overwhelmingly, although not exclusively, a Catholic phenomenon. In the years that followed, Catholicism and the Irish identity became ever more inextricably intertwined. Largely inadvertently, in the process alternative or other experiences of Irishness and identity have often been overlooked.

This one day event is an invitation to consider and explore the experience of the Irish Protestant minorities of 1916 and the years that followed, particularly elements within Protestantism that are rarely mentioned in popular narratives about the Rising and its aftermath, including the urban and rural poor and minority denominations within Protestantism. The conference also invites participants and guests to contemplate the past with a view to building a better, stronger future and to think about the experience of minorities of all kinds in a world that often doesn’t seem to see them.

The event will be facilitated by Lynda Gould

Lynda is a freelance facilitator and has also worked as a consultant on peace and reconciliation, good relations and youth work since 2010. Her experience and expertise include group work, experiential learning, simulation games, community and strategic development.

Lynda obtained a Bachelor of Social Science degree from Queen’s University and subsequently attained a Diploma in Youth and Community Work at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown. Having worked with marginalised young people with the YMCA, she spent eight years working with adults in the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland, where she mainly engaged in cross-community peace and reconciliation projects. Her work then moved to transforming conflicts in organisations, and community development. She has worked across Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Sweden, Latvia and the United States. Lynda currently teaches youth work skills at degree level and maintains her own practice through volunteering.
Over the years she has developed creative styles of facilitation and seeks to ensure that participants benefit from the dynamic of the community they enter while attending a conference or course.


Primary Speakers:


Roddy Cowie, Queen’s University, Belfast.

A sense of identity is:A knowledge of who one is, where one has come from, and how one is placed in the world.
Individuals need a sense of identity. Communities have similar needs!
Shaped not just by the present, but also by the past.
Found not only within the reaches of oneself but is also negotiated in relationship to others.

The human psyche is:

How one tends to use personality traits to think about and evaluate what is going on in the world or the immediate environment.
How a person thinks, learns, solves problems, remembers or is able to forget.
Not just a collection of problem solving or analytical mechanisms within an individual. It includes their motives and desires – the things they aspire to, desire, fear and believe are necessary for life.

Prof Roddy Cowie will look at the impact of 1916 for the Protestant psyche in Ireland.

Roddy Cowie was born in Scotland and educated at the Universities of Stirling, UCLA, and Sussex. He has lived and worked in Belfast since 1975, and is now Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Queen’s University. For the past few decades, his main research has been on emotion, particularly the low-level emotion that colours most of everyday life. He has worked on techniques for measuring it and describing it, aimed at charting its ebbs and flows, and applied them in areas including music, human-computer interaction, and peacemaking. He is currently trying to put academic work on the subject into a form that people can apply to everyday situations. He is also a lay reader in the Church of Ireland, and one of the areas where he aims to apply his research background is in exploring Christian understandings of emotion. For more information, see his own website.

Ben Levitas, Goldsmith’s University, London.


Few accounts of the Irish revolution remain as influential as Sean O'Casey's 'Dublin Trilogy', and as we approach 2016, The Plough and the Stars retains its capacity to surprise and provoke. Looking beyond the view of this play as the culmination of the Trilogy, this lecture considers The Plough in conjunction with The Silver Tassie, that innovative and experimental work mapping Ireland's involvement in a parallel history of conflict, World War One. In doing so, O'Casey's confrontation of the limits of the Irish revolution, of social change - and of his own form of drama and identity as an Irish writer - are examined as an emerging critique of modern Ireland and its place in the world.

Dr Levitas is a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmith’s University in London. He specialises in an interdisciplinary approach to theatre, in particular integrating theatre history with cultural and political history; an approach that is informed by a broad training. After gaining an MA in Modern English Literature from Queen Mary College, University of London, he was awarded a D. Phil from the History Faculty, Oxford University, and went on to teach at the School of Politics at Queen's University Belfast before joining the Drama Department at Goldsmiths in 2001. His first book, The Theatre of Nation: Irish Drama and Cultural Nationalism 1890-1916 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002) was awarded the Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language or Culture by the American Conference for Irish Studies. Together with Dr Ian McBride of Kings College and Professor Clair Wills of Queen Mary College, he runs the interdisciplinary London Irish Studies Seminar.

Miriam Moffitt, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth


The violence and subsequent political upheavals that occurred in Ireland in the early decades of the last century impacted on all segments of society. In estimating the impact of these events on the Protestant population of Ireland, historians have largely focussed on the fortunes and misfortunes of persons of considerable wealth and influence. The stories of persons lacking in wealth or influence have rarely been publicly told.

This paper will outline how Protestants of more modest means fared during these turbulent years and will concentrate on the experiences of the Protestant community of County Leitrim which was mostly comprised of farmers and shopkeepers. It will look at the intersection of religion, politics and conceptions of identity, and at how these tensions and accommodations regarding these concepts were played out at local level.

Dr Moffitt obtained a PhD in History from NUI Maynooth. She has also studied History and Church History at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Wales Lampeter and the University of Nottingham. Her work focusses on the history of religion in Ireland, particularly the issue of how conceptions of identity and ethnicity have been influenced by the manner in which the religious history of Ireland has been written and interpreted.

Her publications include Soupers and Jumpers, the Protestant Missions in Connemara, 1848-1937 and Clanricarde’s Planters and Land Agitation in East Galway, 1886-1916. In conjunction with Professor Alan Ford and Dr Mark Empey, she is co-editing a book on the manner in which the Church of Ireland interpreted and described its past. Dr Moffitt teaches Church History in St Patrick’s College Maynooth and St Patrick’s College Thurles.

Lunch and Entertainment

Lunch is provided for all at no additional cost (please see booking information below).

The conference will also feature a brief theatrical presentation from the Newbridge Youth Drama Society.

Booking Information

Silenced Stories: The Protestant Experience of 1916 and After is open to members of the public and all interested parties. The rates are as follows:

Full ticket for the day: €30
Unwaged: €20
Retirees: €20
Students: €20

To book, please email, or book online at this link
Please note that the date on the booking form refers to the last day on which one can purchase a ticket and not the date of the event, which is the 14th), and post a cheque made out to the Centre for Studies in Irish Protestantism to Earl Storey c/o Maynooth University, Department of Adult and Community Education, Education House, North Campus, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.Silenced Stories: The Protestant Experience of 1916 and After is open to members of the public and all interested parties.

A limited number of bursaries is available, depending on applicants’ circumstances. Please email if you would like to apply

The Centre for Studies in Irish Protestantism is committed to the exploration of the totality of Protestantism in independent Ireland in the context of its social, historical, cultural and spiritual dimensions. 'Journey in Self-Belief’ is a project of the Centre for Studies in Irish Protestantism. Prof Ron Heifetz (Harvard) says “The real heroism of leadership involves having the courage to face reality—and helping the people around you to face reality. The 'Journey in Self-Belief’ project creates space for self-reflection within the Protestant community in both jurisdictions to face reality – to create the future.