An unknown event: The Irish Convention

Eoin Purcell

What you learn
Reading history books is pretty impressive. For instance, yesterday as we worked through some issues in an upcoming Mercier title, The Donegal Awakening, I stumbled across a reference to the Irish Convention, a body I had not known about:

The new Prime Minister, David Lloyd George accepted Redmond’s suggestion for an Irish Convention to resolve the problem of Home Rule and to draft a constitution for Ireland within the British Empire. The convention met in July 1917 but had made little headway when Redmond died suddenly on 6 March 1918. Later that year, in the general election of December, Redmond’s party’s representation at Westminster collapsed, resulting in a Sinn Féin triumph.


In July 1917 an Irish Convention representing a broad spectrum of interests met in the vain hope that Irishmen might work out a political settlement satisfactory to all. Here the Anglo-Irish were represented and participated in an attempt to decide the destiny of their country.


So where can I read more?
Reading about it on the pages of wikipedia and UCC’s wonderful multi-text project I was intrigued and did some digging, discovering (on LibraryThing) that there is only one text published on the Convention. That is R.B. McDowell’s The Irish Convention 1917-18.

So unless you want to dig into the bowels of Abebook and pay for postage as well as the book, you can’t. Though maybe the libraries …

Overall this little tale just serves to remind us how the real story of our history is yet to be properly told and popularly.

John Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman

Eoin Purcell

From Flickr user <a href="">dvdbramhall</a>
From Flickr user dvdbramhall

Image owned by dvdbramhall, cc

Battles & Such
Some years ago I read a fascinating biography of John Hawkwood an English condottiero (mercenary) in 14th century Italy. His story was a fascinating one. It was called John Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman and it was written by Frances Stonor Saunders. I’d encourage anyone interested in the period of Italian history to read the book. It will help you get under the skin of a very, very complicated society.

The reason I raise this today is that I stumbled across an interesting note about today’s date on Wikipedia:

1387 – Battle of Castagnaro: English condottiero Sir John Hawkwood leads Padova to victory in a factional clash with Verona.

A little digging around the world of online material yields some interesting results. There is the preview version of John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in Fourteenth-century Italy by William Caferro. The book page on Google Books is full of information and really a very rich resource worth visiting. It certainly beats the pants off the book page for Frances Stonor Saunders’ book.

Worth reading more on Hawkwood I suggest, if only as a way to understand what was a very confusing period.

Guardian innovates

Eoin Purcell

Open Platform
In what seems like a smart play to me the Guardian has created an API and a data tool. The API puts articles and news features (and crucuially advertising from The Guardian) onto partner websites and the data tools allows access to a number of curated datasets. All very smart and digitally I think you’ll agree. From the piece:

Open Platform

The Cass Sculpture Foundation is using the service to add Guardian articles about British artists to its site.

Other partners for the launch of the service include web design firm Stamen and OpenStreetMap, a free, open alternative to commercial map data services. Stamen and OpenStreetMap developed a service that they hope will encourage Guardian readers to “geo-tag” the newspaper’s content, positioning every article, video and picture on a map so users can find news, commentary, video and other content related to their area.

Data Store

The Data Store launched with 80 data sets from trusted sources, including figures on child poverty in England and world carbon emissions by country. Simon Rogers, news editor, graphics, at the Guardian, will highlight some of the data sets in a Datablog, suggesting ways that the sets could be combined, or mashed up. It will also be a place where the Guardian highlights some of the best projects from its partners.

This seems like an intelligent play and I’d expect to see it copied by other major newspapers and media players. I can see the first mover being able to lock in considerable space from a program like this!

I’m sure there will be much more discussion on this!