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Dr Tommy Dolan
Postdoctoral Research Fellow



I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow on the Leverhulme-funded project ‘Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique’. I hold a First Class Honours Degree (2010); MSc. by Research (2011); and PhD (2016), all in History and all from the University of Edinburgh. Between September 2014 and May 2015, I was a tutor for the core undergraduate course at Edinburgh ‘British History 1: 1603–2000’. On completing my PhD I worked as a humble shelving assistant in the University of Edinburgh’s Main Library, frequently to be found ‘shelving’ in the history section. Following a successful PhD and Early Career Workshop I co-organised in Edinburgh in September 2017, I became co-editor of the Writing the Troubles. This blog provides a safe space for authors to reflect critically on the challenging methodological and theoretical issues raised when writing the contested history of Northern Ireland.




Hitherto, my postgraduate research has explored the influence of history – Irish and otherwise, ancient and modern – upon the influential strands of political thought exhibited by the key architects of the Northern Ireland Peace Process: Gerry Adams, Tony Blair, John Hume, Ian Paisley and David Trimble. I have sought to demonstrate how ideas of history – so commonly depicted as somehow to blame for precipitating and sustaining violence upon the island – informed the consensual ideologies forged by these individuals. I have published an article on the intellectual influence of Hume’s studies in Modern History at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the National Roman Catholic Seminary of Ireland, during the mid-1950s, in the Historical Journal and I am revising my doctoral thesis for publication. 

My fellowship at York is focused upon ideas of civil society within twentieth-century Catholic thought. As part of this, I am exploring the intellectual origins and influence of a discourse of what might be termed ‘civic patriotism’ that emerged amongst Ireland’s Catholic intelligentsia in the run-up to the convening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. Articulated by influential clerics and politicians, this emphasised the necessity of undramatic toil on the social and economic planes, as opposed to radical constitutional change (i.e. the undoing of the partition of the island) so as to generate true national unity and prosperity. At the beginning of the 1870s, Pope Pius IX became the self-styled ‘prisoner of the Vatican’. I am increasingly interested in the conceptual influence exerted by, and the ultimate shedding of, the Catholic ‘siege mentality’ throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am currently co-editing with Dr Andrew Phemister (NUI Galway) of a special edition of the Journal of the History of European Ideas exploring the theme of ‘Religion and the Irish Imagination’. This will feature an article in which I use St. Patrick – once held captive in Ireland – as a conceptual via which to explore visions of the island; of imprisonment; and of imperialism within the Irish political imagination. 

I am interested, above all, in conceptually-driven and comparative approaches to the study of history and thought.



Selected publications

  • ‘Islands, imprisonment, and imperialism: Patrician dimensions of the Irish imagination’, in Thomas Dolan and Andrew Phemister (eds) Religion and the Irish Political Imagination: Journal of the History of European Ideas Special Edition (forthcoming, 2020).
  • Maynooth, History, and the Intellectual Origins of John Hume’s Political Thinking’, Historical Journal (October 2018).
  • Review of S. C. Aveyard’s No Solution: The Labour Government and the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1974–79 (Manchester University Press, 2016), Irish Studies Review, 26, 3 (2018), pp. 413 –415 (2018) 
  • Review of Maurice Fitzpatrick’s, John Hume in America: From Derry to D.C. (Dublin, 2017), Irish History Review (April 2018)
  • ‘Writing the Troubles’, Writing the Troubles
  • Did Gerry Adams Believe in Hunger Strikes as a Weapon? The Record Suggests Not’, Irish Times (16 Dec 2015)

External activities


  • Organiser of ‘Two Films by John Hume: A City Solitary (1963) & John Hume’s Derry (1969) Introduced by Dr Thomas Dolan’, Edinburgh Filmhouse, 5th October 2018.
  • Panel Member for ‘Conflict and Reconciliation: Political Ideas and the History of Northern Ireland’, Concluding Roundtable Discussion, 21st Conference of Irish Historians in Britain, University of Northumbria, September 2018.   
  • Religion and the Irish Political Imagination, Visions of Democracy: Religion and the Irish Political Imagination, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, May 2018. 
  • 'The Rise of Political Consensus in Northern Ireland’, Agreement20 Conference, Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester, April 2018 (videorecording).
  • Realising the ‘mini-Republic’: Prison, Partition, and the Past in the Republican Vision Gerry Adams articulated as ‘Brownie’ in Republican News’, Cambridge/Edinburgh Joint Irish History Workshop, Sydney-Sussex College, University of Cambridge, December 2017.
  • Fraternité’: Maynooth, History, and the Intellectual Origins of John Hume’s Political Thinking’,
  • Cambridge/Edinburgh Joint Irish History Workshop, University of Edinburgh, December 2016.
  • Visions of History in the Thought of the Architects of Peace in Northern Ireland, Modern Irish History Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, March 2016.
  • Historical Thought of the Architects of Peace in Northern Ireland, 19th Conference of Irish Historians in Britain, University of Edinburgh, June 2014.
  • The Siege of Derry in the Thought of John Hume and David Trimble, Siege: Context and Consequence – The Siege of Londonderry and the Emergence of the Modern World, Derry/Londonderry, May/June 2013.
  • In Search of a City Prosperous and Proud: How John Hume Tried to Live his own History as Minister of Commerce, Modern Irish History Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, May 2012.
  • Questioning Biographical Representations of John Hume and Gerry Adams, Heroes, Villains and Scapegoats: The Role of the Individual in Irish History, Queen’s University of Belfast, December 2011

Editorial duties

Co-editor, with Roseanna Doughty (UoE) and James Bright (UoE), of Writing the Troubles 

Contact details

Dr Tommy Dolan
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of York
Heslington Lane
YO10 5DD