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Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798

By: Tom Dunne

Publication Date: 15 Feb 2004

(1 customer review)

Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798 by Tom Dunne



This is a new, extended edition of an unusual book, which generated considerable interest and controversy when it was first published in 2004, and won the Ewart Biggs Memorial Prize the following year. In its original form it had three elements, a memoir giving the author’s intellectual and political formation and his family connection to 1798 in Wexford, a critique of the bicentenary of the rebellion and of writing about it, and a detailed account of the pivotal battle of New Ross and the massacre nearby at Scullabogue.

The new edition adds a fourth layer of exploration, analysing the reception of the book, by historians, by those involved in the bicentenary, and by the many individuals who wrote to the author. The most unusual response came from the Ryan Commission on child abuse, which explored with the author his experiences as a junior member of the Irish Christian Brothers, and quoted him extensively in its report. The new chapter focuses on the theme common to all of these responses, the conflict between emotional identification with a community’s history and the evidence for contrary realities.

A First Edition paperback of this title is available in the ‘Rare Books’ section of our website.

Rebellions is an autobiography, an astonishingly clear-sighted and lucid account of a tragic and disputed episode in Irish history and a polemic. The book’s importance, originality and real value arise from the way the personal, the political and the scholarly are each offered as passionate witness and not separated. The rebellion of 1798 in Wexford and its two hundredth anniversary have found a brilliant and fearless chronicler. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the arguments about how the past cut deeply into the way we live in Ireland now.‘- Colm Tóibín

‘In this ambitious and often deeply personal book, Tom Dunne offers his own perspective on Irish history, on the process of historical commemoration and on current interpretations of the 1798 Rebellion in Wexford.’ History Ireland


TOM DUNNE is Professor Emeritus of History, and part-time Lecturer in Art History at University College Cork. Read more.

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1 review for Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798

  1. Lilliput Press

    “A great book and effort by Tom Dunne to address the misguided attempts to make the 1798 Irish rebellion look less like the revolt against suffering and atrocity and more like the French & American Revolutions.

    While the intention was good, one of the worst things people can do with history is to tell the wrong version of it since this may be the only version of history some people ever get.

    As Irish Folk Singer Frank Harte once said:
    “those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs, and, given our history, we have an awful lot of songs.”

    There remains a lot of variables and question marks about what happened because much of the information/records from these times only offer you one side of the story, but as with all things – the point should be to offer everyone all the perspectives and let evaluate for yourself . It’s the epitome of free will.

    Tom Dunne may not be Hemingway, but I thought he did a good job of addressing the misrepresented history, offering all sides to consider, that it was Protestant vs. Catholic, and weaving some of his own families traditions in there… so for that, he gets 5 stars….. but I’m also 3rd Generation Irish, so I’m a hair biased.” A BROWN

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Publication Date

15 Feb 2004


eBook, 242pp