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Posted: 20 December 2007I

UCD historian tops the Christmas “best sellers”

Professor Richard Aldous, Head of the UCD School of History and Archives has achieved what is thought to be a first for an academic.  His recent publication, Great Irish Speeches, has topped the Irish best sellers list and is flying off the shelves of book stores throughout the country as an obvious gift for Christmas.

Full of passion, poetry, drama and conviction, this stirring anthology is a celebration of 50 speeches that have shaped Irish history.  From Henry Grattan’s 18th-century cry of freedom to Bertie Ahern’s declaration that Irelands hour has come, Great Irish Speeches includes eulogies and damnations, new beginnings and last words, threats of war and demands for peace.

Professor Richard Aldous's selection is comprehensive and diverse.  Alongside such a patriotic tour de force as de Valera’s commanding rebuff of Winston Churchill is a bishop’s outraged condemnation that hell is not hot enough for Fenian rebels. Parnell’s powerful declaration of national self-determination is counterpointed by a hurling captain’s impassioned lament for the Irish diaspora. And Gerry Adams’s call for democratic means to replace armed struggle stands next to Ian Paisley’s celebration of peace at the reopening of the Stormont assembly.

This is a collection with many voices playwrights and patriots, martyrs and men of God, rebels and Nobel Prize laureates.  Each speech is accompanied by a biography of the speaker and the story of why it was significant. Inspiring and thought-provoking, Great Irish Speeches offers a unique, first-hand perspective on these turning points in Irelands history.

The oratorical skills of the greatest names in Irish politics and culture are here: Henry Grattan, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, W.B.Yeats, Eamon de Valera, John F. Kennedy and Seamus Heaney, to name but a few.

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UCD historian tops the Christmas “best sellers”