A History of Ireland in International Relations


Owen McGee

February 2019

Fresh perspectives on a century of global Irish diplomatic relations.


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Concentrating on Ireland’s international relations rather than domestic party politics, this essential new history of the Irish state synthesises existing research with new findings, and adopts fresh perspectives based on neglected European and American debates. It examines the evolution of Irish diplomacy from six consulate officers in the 1920s to sixty ambassadors in the 2010s and provides an overview of a century of Ireland’s diplomatic history that has previously only been examined in a piecemeal fashion.

The author’s original research findings are focussed particularly on Ireland’s struggle for independence in a global context, and his original analysis gives an account of how the economic performance of the Irish state formed a perpetual context for its role in international relations even when this was not a priority of its diplomats.

Equal attention is paid to the history of international Irish trade, the operations of bilateral Irish relations, and multilateral diplomacy. It highlights how the Irish state came to find its role in international relations mostly by means of the UN and EU and analyses this trend in the light of international relations theory and European history.

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

Owen McGee has published widely on Irish history, including Arthur Griffith (2015), while his first book, The IRB: The Irish Republican Brotherhood from the Land League to Sinn Féin, won the NUI Centennial Prize for Irish History.

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Paperback ISBN



340 pp