Westmeath County Council has announced the re-appointment of Dr Paul Hughes as its historian in residence as its Decade of Centenaries programme continues in 2022. Dr Hughes’ residency will continue from April to July, and is the first of two such appointments this year.
Last year, Dr Hughes oversaw the production of two mini-documentaries pertaining to events in Westmeath during the height of the War of Independence, namely the arrest of Longford IRA commandant Seán Mac Eoin in Mullingar, and the burning of Moydrum Castle. He also produced a video podcast series, and initiated and contributed to a transatlantic conference to mark the centenary of Laurence Ginnell’s Dáil mission in Buenos Aires. He is currently working on a biography of Ginnel.
He also wrote a chapter for the recently-published Westmeath: history and society volume. Using new source material, he charted the military and community experiences of 1st Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment during their stay at Mullingar military barracks from 1919 to 1922.
“The focus of the residency is to reflect national policy on the Decade of Commemorations at a local level, and to accurately and creatively bring 1922 to life for people in Westmeath through a variety of media,” says Paul. “The first half of 1922 was dominated by debates over the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the departure of British forces from Ireland, barrack handovers, elections and, as all of this played out, the emergence of a rupture in Irish society which culminated in the outbreak of civil war.“
Another important milestone which will be looked at during the residency, apart from the outbreak of the Civil War and its conventional phase, will be the ‘pact’ election in Longford-Westmeath (June 1922 ), which Dr Hughes studied as part of his PhD thesis. He is looking forward to providing the people of Westmeath with more multimedia content in the coming months. He can be contacted at [email protected], and invites people to follow the Westmeath Decade of Centenaries account on Twitter, @WestmeathDoC.