The School of History Congratulates Conor Spain on the Award of the Mansion House Prize in Irish History

The School of History is delighted to share the news that Conor Spain, who graduated in 2021, has been awarded the Mansion House Prize for his paper on Irish-Canadian relations from the foundation of the Canadian Department of External Affairs in 1909 to John A. Costello’s declaration of a Republic in Ottawa in 1948.

‘When it comes to the field of Irish history’, Conor writes, ‘the School of History at University College Dublin is without parallel. While undertaking my BA, I have had the opportunity to study under some of the best academics in the field and expand my horizons by undertaking an Erasmus exchange through the School of History at Sciences Po in France.’

‘While I have always possessed an interest in Irish history, studying at UCD presented me with a wealth of opportunities to deepen my knowledge. As I took modules on Irish nationalism, emigration, society, foreign policy, the Great Famine, and Northern Ireland, among others, I was presented with challenging yet ultimately rewarding learning opportunities from first year right through to graduation.’

‘In my final year, I researched a paper on the history of Hiberno-Canadian diplomatic relations during the first half of the twentieth century, which ultimately resulted in me receiving the National University of Ireland’s Mansion House Prize in Irish History 2021. To receive a prize such as this is an honour and is testament to the high academic standard and renowned reputation of the School of History at UCD.’

‘Historians of Irish foreign policy and of the British Commonwealth have long debated the nature of Irish-Canadian relations during the period of Irish state formation in the 1920s’, notes Dr Susannah Riordan, who teaches the module on Irish foreign policy, 1919-1973: A Place among the Nations. ‘Conor’s outstanding essay not only broadens this discussion, but deepens. In particular, he highlights the significance of long-serving Canadian premier Mackenzie King’s personal interest in Irish affairs and his close, effective relationship with John Hearne, who served as Irish High Commissioner to Canada between 1939 and 1949.’

It is the second year in succession that a student from Dr Riordan’s module on the history of Irish foreign policy has won the leading student prize in Irish history. ‘These prizes’, William Mulligan, head of the School of History, notes, ‘reflect Susannah’s ability to get students to think through complex historical questions, while mastering a wide range of primary sources. Over the course of the History degree, students benefit from a wide range of modules in Irish history, providing the basis for more intensive research in their final year.’