We are pleased to announce the winners for our 2023 awards and bursaries, which will be presented at the Embassy of Ireland on 16th May. BAIS would like to acknowledge the valuable support of the Embassy of Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Cambridge University Press and the Irish Studies Review.
The 2023 BAIS Book Prize winner is Aidan Enright’s Charles Owen O’Conor, the O’Conor Don: Landlordism, Liberal Catholicism and Unionism in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Four Courts Press). Enright is an associate researcher and lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. He specializes in British and Irish Catholic history and earned his PhD from Queen’s University Belfast. The chair of this year’s judges, Dr Clíona Ó Gallchoir, said that Enright’s political biography is ‘an illuminating and well-written study’ that ‘an apparently minor figure whose complex affiliations of class, religion and political outlook led him to become increasingly marginalized as politics in Ireland became inexorably polarized along nationalist and unionist lines, and generates from it a fascinating window on the history of the period. The book offers both detailed texture in relation to its subject and an assured command of the wider historical and political context, drawing on a wide range of sources to generate a narrative that is both compelling and nuanced and makes a significant contribution to the understanding of nineteenth-century Ireland.’
Highly commended is Jack Quin’s W.B Yeats and the Language of Sculpture (Oxford University Press). Quin is a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham. Dr Ó Gallchoir praised this book for offering ‘not only an original perspective on the work of W. B. Yeats across the full range of his long career but also a valuable reappraisal of aspects of the history of visual and material culture in Ireland…. In addition to creating a new context from which to consider key questions in Yeats studies, Quin’s richly-contextualized study generates fresh perspectives on the Literary Revival period by highlighting the importance of visual and material arts and emphasizing the “panaesthetic vision” of Yeats and other key figures of the period such as George Russell, Dora Sigerson, Ella Young, and Maud Gonne.’
The 2023 Essay Prize winner is Fearghal Grace for his essay on ‘‘Irish ex-servicemen, Post-war Reconstruction and the Empire Settlement Act’. Grace is a PhD student at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. His essay considers Irish participation in schemes for empire settlement, and its place in broader visions for reconstruction based on wartime promises and pledges. With Southern Irish independence in 1922, Irish ex-servicemen were subsequently excluded from reconstructive activities as it concerned emigration, and this became a key advocacy point for Legion activity in Ireland. Grace’s study of the history of Empire Settlement in the Free State reveals the tensions that existed between moral and financial interest set against a backdrop of progressive separation of Irish national destinies from the U.K. and its Empire.
Highly commended is Will Fleming’s ‘Policed by Narrow Networks of Patronage’: A Case Study in Irish Poetry and State Funding’. Fleming is a PhD student at University College, London. Taking the Dolmen Press and New Writers press as exemplars, his essay examines the political and cultural dynamics that informed the policies of the newly established Arts Council of Ireland, An Chomhairle Ealaíon, as it promoted poetry in its first thirty years.
Each year BAIS distributes up to £3,000 in Bursaries to assist research students working on an Irish topic and registered with British institutions of higher education by financing expenses such as travel, accommodation, and costs incurred in consulting archives or conducting interviews. Our 2023 recipients and their research projects are:
Sarah Mason (University of Edinburgh), ‘Bin Lid Brigades and Mummy’s Little Helpers: An Oral History Investigation of Communal Networks amongst the Women of West Belfast between 1970 – 1985’
Peter Bothwell (University of St. Andrews), ‘Ulster Loyalists and the British White Working Class: An Exploration in Modern Alienation’
David Glover (University of Liverpool), ‘Seán Cronin: Reflecting and developing republican thought as an activist intellectual, observer and influencer 1956-1973’
Hellen Cullen (University of East Anglia), ‘A Second-Hand Life: A resurrection of Iseult Gonne (1894-1954) from the footnotes of literary scholarship’
Henry Theakston (University of Leeds), ‘The Irish Front? : The Easter Rising and the First World War’