Terence Dooley, MA, Ph.D. (NUI), H. Dip. Ed. was NUI Fellow in the Humanities 2001-03. He specialises in Irish social and political history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the history of Irish country houses and the landed class in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; land and politics in independent Ireland; the working of the Irish Land Commission from 1881 to 1992; the revolutionary period 1916-23; and local history in Ireland. (Source nuim.ie)
Where did you go to school and what is your earliest memories of it?
I went to school in Ballymackney and then on to what was then the Patrician Bros. High School in Carrickmacross. I was very fortunate to have been taught by teachers in both schools who were passionate about history – Peadar Cassidy, Padraig O Concubhair and Tom Flanagan. Padraig O Concubhair is a noted historian in his own right and the author of recently published The Fenians were dreadful men. These men had a passion about history, and in Peadar and Padraig’s case about preserving such important aspects of Irish culture from songs and literature and early Irish mythology down to the names of townlands and even individual fields.
Growing up in Killanny, the GAA played a massive role in my life. I have very fond memories of meeting at Kelly’s crossroads before heading off to play underage games under the astute guidance of the likes of Patsy Ward and ‘Cristo’ Hand. Winning back-to-back Treanor Cups in 1980 and 1981 (and in the same year as the 1981 final was postponed until 1982) are a highlight.
How did your interest in history come about, was it something in your surroundings that sparked it?
From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a history teacher. I went to Maynooth from where I graduated with the necessary teaching qualifications. Ironically, I spent my secondary teaching career teaching English and Business Organisation and never actually got a chance to teach History! However, I went back to NUI Maynooth to complete a Ph.D. and now am a Senior Lecturer in the History Department and Director of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates.
You have a number of publications, is there any one publication you are particularly proud of and why?
I suppose one’s first book always give one a great sense of pride and satisfaction. In my case The Decline of the Big House in Ireland (2001) helped establish my reputation as a historian and has since been regarded as an important work in changing political and public attitudes towards the Big House in Ireland. However, The Murders at Wildgoose Lodge is also very important to me because it grew out of a story I had often heard from my father when growing up in Killanny. He died about a week after it was launched in Carrickmacross; that he (and my mother) lived to see it makes it all the more special to me.
Is there a particular aspect of Monaghan or South Monaghan history that you are interested in?
Time and again I have gone back to Monaghan to write about aspects of its history. My most recent work on South Monaghan was a short biography of Bernard O’Rourke of Inniskeen, an important figure in the Irish revolutionary period from 1916 to 1923. I am at present researching a history of the county as a whole during that period. I know I will go back time and again to Monaghan for inspiration.
If people are interested in Monaghan history, or local big houses, where/what would you recommend as a starting point?
Monaghan is very fortunate because of the wealth of sources that are available for the study of aspects of its history, way too numerous to list here. It has, of course, been very well served by other historians and writers and by a fantastic museum in Monaghan Town, a wonderful county library in Clones and likewise the interpretive centre based in the workhouse in Carrickmacross where Kevin Garlan and his staff do such a great job of preserving Famine and other local history records.
Do you think the internet helps us to keep informed of our past accurately or do you think there is room for more research resources?
The internet has helped to revolutionise historical research, especially through the availability of digitised primary records such as the 1901 and 1911 census material, to take the most obvious examples. Obviously one has to be careful about the reliability of some sites but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
What would you like history to reflect about south Monaghan in 100 years time?
I would love to see the government and philanthropists make much more funding available to places such as the workhouse in Carrickmacross, the county museum and county library for projects such as the digitisation of their records. One of the key areas that needs to be developed in order to regenerate the economy is the heritage industry; it continues to have the potential to play a significant role in promoting local tourism. It would also be great to see the digitisation of the Northern Standard and Dundalk Democrat to be made available online. The amount of interest they would generate would be huge.
Thank you for your time and continued success
Web Master, Carrickmacross.ie
(1) The Irish Country House: Its past, present and future Terence Dooley & Christopher Ridgway, editors
(2) The Murders at Wildgoose Lodge: Agrarian crime and punishment in pre-Famine Ireland Terence Dooley
(3) Inniskeen, 1912-1918: The political conversion of Bernard O’Rourke Terence Dooley
(4) The Big Houses and Landed Estates of Ireland: A research guide Terence Dooley
These books are available to buy online via www.fourcourtspress.ie