The Lives of Daniel Binchy: Irish Scholar, Diplomat, Public Intellectual


Prof. Tom Garvin

April 2016

The Lives of Daniel Binchy: Irish Scholar, Diplomat, Public Intellectual is the definitive biography of a preeminent thinker and diplomat, intrinsic to post-independence Irish society. Bestselling author Tom Garvin provides fascinating insights into the intellectual life of the new Irish state and the turbulent times Binchy lived through. The crucial interwar years of 1918-1939 are explored in light of Binchy’s experiences in Europe witnessing the rise of Hitler.

ISBN: 9781911024224 Categories: , ,


Tom Garvin’s definitive and fascinating biography explores the life of the indelible Irish public intellectual and diplomat Daniel Binchy, whose personal and public life, spotlights post-independence Ireland at its inception.

Binchy was Ireland’s ambassador to Germany from 1929 to 1932, promoting a modernising and independent Irish Free State while experiencing at first hand the disconcerting rise of Nazism and fascism. His meeting with Adolf Hitler and his landmark Studies article were a brave warning against the dangers of totalitarianism. It was not long, however, before he had reverted to the pursuit of medieval history, becoming perhaps the greatest Celtic Studies scholar of his day, advancing to hold senior positions in UCD, Corpus Christi College Oxford, Harvard and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Table of Contents

Chapter One – Introduction: The Discovery of the Past
The Cult of the Past
Dramatis Personae
The Death of the Past?

Chapter Two – Uncertain Beginnings, 1899 – 1929
Strange Encounter
Historian: Spies in Ireland, Diplomats in Madrid
The Spell of the Irish Language, 1925-1929
The Scholar turns Diplomat, 1929-1932

Chapter Three – A Lunatic With a Gift for Rhetoric, 1929 – 1932
A Reluctant Diplomat
Learning the Job
Binchy amid the Alien Corn

Chapter Four – Between Past and Present, 1932 – 1941
Old Laws and New Laws
The Cross and the Fasces
De Valera, Mathematics and Medievalism

Chapter Five – Seclusion and Scholarship 1942 – 1980
Post-war Accidie
Patricks and Paddies
Law in a Stateless Society
A Gaelic Heritage?

Chapter Six – Romanticism and the Irish Past,1945 – 1989
Imaginary and Real Pasts
The Breakers of Myth
The End

About the Author

Professor Tom Garvin is the author of several hugely influential and bestselling books on Irish history including Preventing the Future: Why was Ireland so Poor for so Long? (2004), Judging Lemass (2009) and News from a New Republic: Ireland in the 1950s (2010). He is the co-author, with Bryan Fanning, of The Books That Define Ireland (Merrion Press, 2014).