Societies, landscapes and power

Researchers within the Societies, landscapes and power theme adopt a place-based approach to understanding society-environment interactions and the role of power structures – formal and informal – in shaping both urban and rural landscapes. Our research spans a number of different geographical and temporal contexts across Ireland, Europe and Asia. Drawing on our proud heritage as the home of Irish historical geography, a particular focus is placed on understanding the geographies of the island of Ireland and its relationships with the wider world. A range of social science and humanities methodologies, including GIS and other cartographic analyses, are used to investigate our core research questions. This is facilitated by a substantial map library (of over 15,000 paper maps spanning from the 17th century to the end of the 20th century) and dedicated geospatial technology laboratories. These labs are critical in our growing research profile on the urban environment and sustainability.

Our core areas of research include the:

  1. Role of power structures and policies in shaping and sustaining interactions between people, place and landscape.
  2. Interactions of human agency, collective memory and material culture in producing place-based contemporary human geographies.
  3. Historical evolution of landscape, life and society in Ireland.
  4. Growth, development and governance of Dublin.

Staff associated with this research theme include: Dr Christine Bonnin, Dr Joe Brady, Prof Anne Buttimer, Dr Arlene Crampsie, Dr Gerald Mills, Dr Niamh Moore-Cherry, Prof Anngret Simms, and Dr Zhao Zhang.

 Recent publications and research projects

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Brady, J. (2014) Dublin, 1930–1950: The emergence of the modern city. Dublin: Four Courts Press

Crampsie, A. & Ludlow, F (Ed.). (2015) Meath: History and Society - Interdisciplinary Essays on the History of an Irish County. Dublin: Geography Publications.

Mills G. (2014) 'Urban Climatology: History, status and prospects'. Urban Climate, 10 :479-489

Moore-Cherry, N., Healey, R., Nicholson, D. T., and Andrews, W. (2016) ‘Inclusive partnerships: Enhancing undergraduate student engagement in geography’. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 40(1), 84-103.

Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L. and Moore-Cherry, N. (2016) ‘Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching’. Higher Education. 71(2), pp. 195-208.

Moore-Cherry, N. and McCarthy, L. (2016) 'Debating Temporary Uses for Vacant Urban Sites: Insights for practice from a stakeholder workshop'. Planning Practice and Research, DOI: 10.1080/02697459.2016.1158075.

Moore-Cherry, N., Crossa, V. and O'Donnell, G. (2015) 'Investigating urban transformations: GIS, photo-elicitation and the role of the state in regeneration'. Urban Studies, 52 (12):2134-2150

Rooney, J., Tobin, K., Crampsie, A., Vajda, A., Heverin, M., McLaughlin, R., Staines, A., Hardiman, O. (2015) 'Social deprivation and population density are not associated with small area risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'. Environmental Research, 142 :141-147.

Rooney, J.; Vajda, A.; Heverin, M.; Elamin, M.; Crampsie, A.; McLaughlin, R.; Staines, A.; Hardiman, O. (2015) 'Spatial cluster analysis of population amyotrophic lateral sclerosis risk in Ireland'. Neurology, 84 :1537-1544

Using original census manuscript returns from the 1911 Census of Population of Ireland, the geography of Dublin City in 1911 focusing on the housing, demographic and socio-economic structures at the time was reconstructed by MA students working with academic staff. To read more about " Dublin 1911: A City in Distress", click here or watch the short documentary below.

The Irish Research Council is to fund projects themed to the 1916 centenary with 17 projects sharing a combined award of €144,000. Living with the Legacy of 1916, based in UCD School of Geography, is one of these projects and is led by Dr Niamh Moore-Cherry and Dr Christine Bonnin. The project explores how efforts to recognise the historical significance of buildings along Moore Street is having an impact on local trader livelihoods and urban redevelopment plans.

Moore Street market in Dublin comprises the city’s oldest food market. However, the area is also of significance to Ireland’s national history being deeply embedded in historical narratives of the 1916 Rising. Since 1998 the future of this street has been subject to speculation and recently Dublin City council have announced plans to redesign the area. We will investigate the interplay between national narratives of memory and identity around 1916, urban entrepreneurial agendas, and trader livelihoods and question whether a discourse of heritage and memory is being mobilized to justify “revanchist” (Smith, 1996) urban policy approaches that threaten trader livelihoods. 



While much has been written about the history of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), much less attention has been given to the geography of this Irish amateur sporting organisation. Through this project, Dr Arlene Crampsie seeks to redress this imbalance by exploring the relationship between the GAA and the evolution of Ireland’s physical, socio-cultural and political landscapes. As an all-island, sporting and cultural nationalist body, the GAA offers a unique lens through which to examine geographies of sporting organisations, community structures and place identity at a range of spatial scales. At the same time, mapping various facets of the GAA offers unique insights into contemporary and historical geographical variations in the strength of Gaelic games across the island. This project is ongoing and will be added to over time. Below are some examples from the work so far.

Video 1: A Geography of All-Ireland Senior Hurling Titles, 1887 - 2015


Video 2: A Geography of All-Ireland Senior Football Titles, 1887 – 2015

Mapping success in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling and Football championship from 1887 to 2015 illustrates a fascinating geography highlighting two key, rarely discussed, factors in GAA success. The first is the vital role played by strong, place-based, local rivalries – or the neighbourhood effect – and the second is for want of a better phrase ‘timing’. New teams have an opportunity to breakthrough in key periods when dominant teams are on the wane after a run of success. Both maps also emphasise the early strength of the GAA in a core area in the heart of Munster and Leinster. Football success has since expanded across the island, but hurling remains very much in that core.

Mapping more recent trends in the All-Ireland Senior Football Series highlights the continued existence of a diagonal corridor through the midlands which offers limited opportunities for All-Ireland success. Laois is the only county in this corridor that has even reached the final eight. Is it a coincidence that most of these counties lie at the intersection of provincial boundaries, where local place-based rivalries along at least one border are not developed to their full strength through frequent inter-county championship games? Or can this distinctive pattern be simply blamed on low populations and high emigration? The much decried weakness of Leinster football, outside of Dublin, is also clearly evidenced when compared with the other provinces.

All Ireland Football Quarter Finals, 2007-2016Map: Counties reaching All-Ireland Senior Football Quarter Final Stages, 2007-2016


Crampsie, A. (Forthcoming: 2016) ‘Playing identity politics – the GAA in modern Ireland’ in Koch, N. (ed), Critical Geographies of Sport, New York: Routledge

Crampsie, A. (2014) ‘For the love of the jersey’ – an oral history of the GAA in Mayo, 1884 – 2011’ in Moran, G. & Ó Muraile, N. (eds), Mayo History and Society, Dublin: Geography Publications

Crampsie, A. & Fitzpatrick, R. (2014) ‘Vigilance and Vigilantes: An Oral History of the GAA’s Ban on Foreign Games’ Proceedings of the International Oral History Association Conference, Barcelona, 1288 – 1298


Crampsie, A. (2016) ‘Level playing field still elusive in football and hurling’, The Irish Times, 2nd Sept.

Interview on the above piece on The Ray D’Arcy Radio Show (2nd Sept 2016)

Crampsie, A. (2015) ‘Provincial contests at heart of GAA’s enduring appeal’, The Irish Times, 27th August.