The lecture for Carlow Historical and Archeological Society on 19 May at 8pm was titled ‘Elections and Propaganda in Ireland and Carlow 1917-1921: Votes, Violence and Victory’ and was delivered by Dr Elaine Callinan.  

The aim was to provide an informative discussion on the political (and some military) rivalry between all the major parties and movements during Ireland’s revolutionary years, and there will be a strong focus on Carlow. This period saw the last all-island elections and competition between parties on rival ideas for independence was extensive.  There was opposition between unionism and nationalism and within nationalism between old and new parties. The outcome of these elections altered the course of Irish history as the victors went on to dominate government across the island for the next fifty years.  It is from these elections that we can trace the true beginnings of Dáil Éireann and the Northern Ireland parliament; and, they set the scene for the war of independence and civil war that followed.  Carlow was impacted on and involved in all of these events.

Many today refer to the Easter Rising as the catalyst for change, but were there political arguments and propaganda that encouraged many people to switch allegiance to a new and unknown political party in 1918?  Far more people were involved in the election campaigns and in casting a vote so they impacted more than the military happenings.  The politicians, propagandists and their voluntary supporters instigated forceful campaigns to promote ideologies in an attempt to alter the mind-set of ordinary individuals, and the goal was victory at the ballot box. Elaine’s talk will place these elections within the wider contexts of the modernization of propaganda during the Great War and the expansion of consumerism to conduct an examination of election activity – from candidate selection and fundraising to door-to-door canvassing, and everything in between. Running alongside war and revolution were the political struggles, and they equalled any of the military upheavals that transformed Ireland.  

Dr Elaine Callinan Biography

Dr Elaine Callinan is a lecture in Modern Irish History at Carlow College, St. Patrick’s and has a particular interest in the Irish revolutionary era.   She teaches modules in Carlow College on Ireland: Insurrection to Independence 1917-1923; Ireland: Politics and Society 1923-1980; The Troubles of Northern Ireland, Public History and Cultural Heritage, and Memory and Commemoration.  She completed her MPhil and PhD at Trinity College Dublin.  
Elaine is the author of Electioneering and Propaganda in Ireland 1917-21: Votes, violence and victory (Dublin 2020) published by Four Courts Press. She has also published journal articles and book chapters in a number of publications.  The main focus of Elaine’s research is to examine how politicians and political parties campaigned in elections in Ireland during a time of political and military upheaval and just before the foundation of the Irish Free State.  She has a keen interest in local and regional Irish history, particularly in the south-east region.  To develop further interest in regional history, the historians at Carlow College have designed a new Master of Arts and Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Regional History which is starting this September 2021.  See for more details.

To view or listen to the talk follow these links Audio Video

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