A History of Ireland in International Relations


Owen McGee

February 2020

Fresh perspectives on a century of global Irish diplomatic relations.


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This essential new history of the Irish state is a study of Ireland’s international profile on the world stage, rather than its party politics. Against a global backdrop, it offers a fresh and analytical study of the origins of the Irish state, the Irish revolution and the growth of Irish diplomacy, from just six consulates in the 1920s to over sixty embassies by the 2010s. Through original research and analysis, historian Owen McGee explores how Ireland’s economic performance formed a perpetual context for its role in international relations, and also locates Ireland’s place within evolving European, American and United Nations debates, resulting in the first comprehensive and incisive overview of a century of Irish diplomacy.

By focusing on Ireland’s struggle for independence in a global context, McGee examines how the Irish state slowly came to find a distinct role on the world stage, and raises questions regarding its evolving geopolitical, cultural and economic identities, as it sought to find its place within a globalised economy, not only politically but also in terms of the world of ideas.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Has Ireland a Significant International Story to Tell?
1. Ireland’s Place in World History: From the Fianna to the First World War
2. A Republican Moment: Ireland’s Independence Struggle in a Global Context, 1919–1922
3. Financial Quagmires and Legal Limits: Irish Free State Diplomacy, 1922–1938
4. A Spirit of Non-Alignment: Ireland in and out of the British Commonwealth, 1938–1955
5. Introducing Ireland to the United Nations and the European Community, 1955–1968
6. Small Worlds: Globalisation, the Northern Question and Irish Crisis Diplomacy, 1968–1982
7. Ireland and the Reinvention of the European Political Order, 1982–1994
8. Beyond Hegemonies: Ireland in the EU and on the World Stage Since 1994
Conclusion: The Evolution of Ireland’s Role in International Relations, Past and Present

About the Author

Dr Owen McGee is a historian who has contributed articles to Irish Studies in International Affairs, Éire-Ireland and other academic journals. His previous books include Arthur Griffith, the award-winning study The IRB, and a revised edition of Souvenirs of Irish Footprints Over Europe.

Praise for A History of Ireland in International Relations

‘A very interesting and ambitious study’
Irish Independent

‘[A] valuable addition to Irish historiography’
The Irish Times

‘In this book the author takes up the challenge of the late Garret FitzGerald to future historians that the international economic context behind Irish political history should be fully integrated into the narrative of both the Irish state and its international relations.’
The Irish Catholic

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