Constance Bushe and mackerel salting in nineteenth-century west Cork

Constance Bushe (c.1843-1922) is a scarcely remembered artist from Castletownshend on the west Cork coast in Ireland. Among her watercolours is this depiction of members of her local fishing community salting mackerel on the seashore in the 1870s.

I have a short piece on this painting in the current issue of History Ireland (January/February 2024).

The online version can be found here://


‘Fight on to the last man’: Remembering the Irish Civil War

It was interesting to watch the commemoration yesterday of the hurried handing over by British forces of Dublin Castle in January 1922 to the Irish provisional government. As always, Michael D. Higgins handled the occasion with grace and dignity, and the residual parties of the subsequent civil war – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – seemed at ease
with each other. It will be fascinating to watch how that changes, as it inevitably will, when the various events of that conflict are marked. But better this than a fraudulent consensus. Beyond wishing it had never happened, an agreed perspective still isn’t possible because of profound differences, then and now, around social and political ambitions and intentions.

I have written almost nothing on this period myself, but I did publish a short piece some years ago on Liam Lynch (the IRA chief of staff) and the civil war.

‘”Fight on to the last man”‘: a letter to Liam Lynch, March 1923’ can be downloaded here.

- Fintan Lane

Saothar 46 (2021) book reviews available online

In a change of policy, the Irish Labour History Society is now posting book reviews from its annual journal Saothar online, where they are free to read or download.

This year they include a review by myself of Karina Holton’s excellent biography of Valentine Lawless (1773-1853), the United Irishman and liberal politician.

A PDF of the Saothar, vol. 46 (2021) reviews can be downloaded or read here: saothar-46-book-reviews-2021.


Support Gaza Kids to Ireland – coming again this August!

[A policy change at Chez Lane. Up to now, this website was for history posts only. Henceforth, it is for whatever I want to post, though I suspect it will mostly history-related. This is my first non-history post. – Fintan Lane ]

During the past two summers, Gaza Kids to Ireland – a project initiated by Gaza Action Ireland – has brought a team of young kids from the besieged, war-torn Palestinian enclave of Gaza to visit Ireland for a couple of weeks to travel around, enjoying the fresh air and playing an informal soccer tournament against local teen teams.

These visits have been a tremendous success and the kids have loved (almost) every minute of their time here!

They’re coming again in 2018. Due to delays, it will now be mid to late August when they arrive, but they are coming. However, some funds are still required, so please consider making a donation, no matter how small (or large), to help with costs.

You can find more information on the Gaza Action Ireland facebook page:

And donations can be made online here (go to ‘Donate’ at top of page):

Every euro counts, so – pleeease – do click that button :)



Studies in Irish Radical Leadership – Just published

Manchester University Press has just published a collection of biographical essays on Irish radicals - Studies in Irish Radical Leadership: Lives on the Left - edited by John Cunningham and Emmet O’Connor. Reminiscent of John W. Boyle’s Leaders and Workers, which appeared in the 1960s, this volume covers a cross-section of radical political and labour leaders, some almost entirely forgotten, from the early nineteenth century to the 1990s.

The hardback is a bit on the expensive side, but you could perhaps ask your local library to stock a copy.


Primitive rebels
1. Captain Rock, by Terry Dunne
2. The mayor/admiral of Claddagh, by John Cunningham
Early labour radicals
3. Patrick O’Higgins, by Christine Kinealy
4. William Upton, by Fintan Lane
Pioneering trade unionists
5. Michael McKeown, by Laurence Marley
6. Mary Galway, by Theresa Moriarty
7. Catherine Mahon, by Síle Chuinneagán
8. Seán Murray, by Emmet O’Connor
9. Betty Sinclair, by Patrick Smylie
Children of the revolution
10. Nóra Connolly, by Máirtín Ó Catháin
11. Seán Dowling, by Dominic Haugh
12. Bobby Burke, by Tony Varley
13. Paddy Devlin, by Connal Parr
Artists as socialists
14. Pádraig Ó Conaire, by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh
15. Harry Kernoff and Leslie Daiken, by Katrina Goldstone
Socialists in parliament
16. Tomás MacGiolla, by Brian Hanley
17. Justin Keating, by Lorna Siggins
Party leaders
18. William Norton, by Niamh Puirséil
19. Brendan Corish, by Barry Desmond

History Ireland on the Interweb…

The magazine History Ireland ( under the stewardship of the indefatigable Tommy Graham has made a tremendous contribution to Irish history studies since it was first published in 1993. Apart from bringing good history-writing to a popular audience, it has provided useful information and leads for many researchers,  especially students and general enthusiasts, as they began exploring aspects of Irish history.

Being irredeemably and somewhat regretfully habituated to paper myself, I’ve a very large black canvas bag under the stairs loaded down with hardcopies of pretty much every back issue of the magazine (for reference purposes, you understand), so I don’t use the History Ireland internet resource very often, but I should. The website is fully searchable and allows free access to almost all of the articles and reviews published over the years, with the exception of material from the most recent issues. It’s a fantastic resource and well worth a browse.

Here are some of my own pieces published in the magazine at various times:

  • A lengthy review of Emmet O’Connor’s new edition of his classic A Labour History of Ireland. From the July/August 2013 issue.

  • An article on the handful of anarchists and social revolutionaries active in Dublin in the late 1880s. From the March/April 2008 issue.

  • A review of David Lynch’s book on the Irish Socialist Republican Party of the 1890s. From the May/June 2005 issue.

  • An article on the English artist and poet William Morris and his political connections to Ireland in the 1880s. From the spring 2000 issue.

  • A related letter on Morris and Ireland. From the autumn 2000 issue.

 Fintan Lane


William Thompson, bankruptcy and the west Cork estate, 1808–34 – new article in I.H.S.

An article by Fintan Lane on the Irish social radical and political philosopher William Thompson (c.1775–1833) has been published recently in the May volume of the journal Irish Historical Studies.

Using a wide range of sources, the article traces Thompson’s business career, his falling out with his family and his increasing financial reliance on his small estate in west Cork. It is argued that this financial dependence greatly constrained his practical involvement with the Owenite movement and ruled out the establishment of a cooperative community on his land during his lifetime. Thompson was considerably less wealthy than has often been suggested.

The volume also contains an analysis by Michael Turner of the prominent Irish-born Chartist Bronterre O’Brien.

Vol. XXXIX, no. 153 (May 2014)
Timothy D. Watt – ‘The corruption of the law and popular violence: the crisis of order in Dublin, 1729′
Fintan Lane – ‘William Thompson, bankruptcy and the west Cork estate, 1808-34′
Michael J. Turner – ‘Ireland and Irishness in the political thought of Bronterre O’Brien’
Caoimhin De Barra – ‘A gallant little “tirin”: the Welsh influence on Irish cultural nationalism’
Peter Smyth – ‘”The right flower to stick to”: the Unionist Party’s questionable choice in 1959′
Stuart C. Aveyard – ‘”We couldn’t do a Prague”: British government responses to loyalist strikes in Northern Ireland 1974-77′
Mark Empey – ‘Select documents: Sir James Ware’s bibliographic lists’
Joost Augusteijn – ‘Review article: New work on the Irish Revolution’


Lonely Planet endorses Long Bullets: A History of Road Bowling in Ireland

The current edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Ireland has retained a very decent blurb on the Irish sport of road bowling and highlights Fintan Lane’s book Long Bullets (2005) for those who want to read some more about the history of this unusual pastime.

It appears that the past few editions of Lonely Planet have done likewise…mmh, too bad the book is currently out-of-print. Still. Time for a reprint, perhaps!



Parnellism and James Joyce

This short article by Fintan Lane – free to download – was published in the James Joyce Quarterly in 1999. It traces the friendship between James Joyce’s father and the Parnellite and agrarian radical Daniel Hishon (1851-1919), who was born in County Limerick but lived out his final years in Portobello, Dublin. Hishon died at his home at 4 Kingsland Parade on 25 June 1919.

Click here for the article: hishon

Some information on James Joyce’s father: