Irish Business History

University College Dublin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Irish Business History

  • Host University

    University College Dublin

  • Location

    Dublin, Ireland

  • Area of Study

    Celtic Studies, History, Peace and Conflict Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    2.5 - 3
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    3.75 - 4.5
  • Overview

    This module examines the forces that shaped the economic and social development of Ireland since 1800. It begins by examining the Act of Union, a controversial political and economic solution to a decade of turmoil when all shades of Irish political life became activated leading to a violent rebellion in 1798. The Union with Britain abolished Ireland's parliament in Dublin and became the focal point for Irish politics for the rest of the century and beyond. Those who opposed the Union at various points stressed Ireland's capacity for self-sufficiency and highlighted her cultural distinctiveness while those who defended it emphasised its economic benefits and Ireland's dependence on her larger and more prosperous neighbour. The most persuasive argument against the Union for many nationalists was the political and economic mismanagement that contributed to the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, an event that resulted in one million deaths from disease and starvation and even more economic migrants fleeing to the safety of the New World. The module will look closely at the Famine and consider the British response to alleviating the effects of the catastrophe.
    The Famine touched every aspect of Irish life in the second half of the nineteenth century and gave greater impetus to those seeking to loosen ties with Britain. The most important political expression of this was Home Rule ?a limited form of self-government ?and its most important political figurehead was Charles Stewart Parnell who, in the 1880s, succeeded inconvincing the British Prime Minister, W. E. Gladstone, of its political necessity. Opposition to Home Rule, both in Britain (mainly among the political class) and in Ireland (mainly in the protestant North-East), led to its failure both in 1886 and 1893.This module will examine the social, political and economic reasons that led to a nationalist consensus forming around Home Rule and consider the nature of the opposition to the measure.
    As the twentieth century began, new voices of opposition to the Union emerged. Sinn Féin, a party founded by the Dublin journalist Arthur Griffith, promoted a policy of self-sufficiency and argued for legislative independence and the promotion of indigenous industry. It remained a small and largely inconspicuous presence until after the Easter Rising of 1916, which expressed similar aspirations of independence but in the form of a sovereign republic. Griffith's party reformed in 1917, now led by Éamon de Valera, the most senior surviving officer of the Rising, promoting amilitant republican agenda and promising to vindicate the sacrifice made in 1916. The electoral success of Sinn Féin in the 1918 General Election set Ireland on a collision course with the British government resulting in the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) which led to a form of independence for 26 of the country's 32 counties, then called the Irish Free State. The module will consider how the Union was finally ended and why the partition of the country into two states was deemed the most expedient solution to Ireland's intractable divisions. It will also examine why a Civil War broke out after independence was gained through the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.
    This module will also closely trace the economic performance of the independent Irish state since independence. It will look at the economic policies adopted by the various governments that ruled the state since 1922. Undoubtedly the most significant of these rulers was Éamon de Valera himself; the party he founded in 1926, Fianna Fáil, enjoyed long periods of political supremacy and influenced much of what happened in the state. Unfortunately the story was not always a very satisfying one: emigration and unemployment blighted the state's economic credibility until at least the 1960s when a more pragmatic and more strategic set of policies were put in place.
    The 1960s also witnessed the beginning of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Sparked by a wave of peaceful demonstrations against the treatment of Catholics by the Unionist government and the fracturing of a Unionist consensus on the issue of how to accommodate the minority Catholic community within the Northern Irish state, it led to 30 years of violence and atrocities before negotiations in 1998 led to the creation of a power-sharing solution. The module will examine the main reasons why the Troubles started and consider why they lasted so long.
    The module ends by considering the fleeting success of the Celtic Tiger when many of the southern state's economic paradigms were overturned: unemployment was effectively eradicated; growth was consistently high; immigrants arrived in their thousands and production reached unprecedented levels. The economic collapse of 2008, however, saw Ireland suffer more than most and resulted in the ignominy of a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and the European Union. Many lamented the loss of the state's economic sovereignty and questioned the value of Ireland's hard-won political independence. This module will allow students to consider such issues in great detail and will equip them with the historical knowledge and appreciation of how Ireland's economy and society evolved over the previous two centuries.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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