On Wednesday 15 June 2016 Queen’s University Belfast hosted a one day conference entitled ‘Re-examing Irish nationalism in Ulster’. Irish nationalism was strong in the province of Ulster, but the complexity and diversity of northern nationalism has been reduced due to the more recent perspectives on the ‘Troubles’. This one-day conference explored Ulster Nationalism at the turn of the twentieth century – the Irish Parliamentary Party tradition, the republican tradition in the form of Sinn Féin/Irish Republican Brotherhood, and cultural traditions. The conference used historical figures and their narratives to explore the role of constitutional nationalism (Joe Devlin); cultural nationalism (Alice Milligan) and the complexity of nationalist experiences (Eoin MacNeill). The role of the literary cultural experience, class and gender was central to this debate. Similarly, the reasons why Nationalism is traditionally associated with, and confined to, Catholicism were examined. While the primary focus of the conference was on Northern Nationalism – a diverse tradition which included Protestants and Catholics – the conference concluded with a session that explores Ulster Unionists’ response to Ulster Nationalism.
The conference was organised by the Irish Humanities Alliance, Royal Irish Academy and Queen’s University Belfast, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s Reconciliation Fund and Ireland 2016.