Today is the 130th anniversary of the murder of Dr Patrick Cronin. On 4 May 1889 an anxious young man ran in a doctor’s surgery in north Chicago. He was agitated and desperate for help. A man had been seriously injured and needed immediate attention. The doctor packed his medical case, hopped into a waiting carriage and was never seen alive again.
Taking the slow and very scenic road from Doagh Famine Village to Fort Dunree, Donegal
I’ve been busy visiting Dark Tourism sites, teaching and talking about convents & nuns at conferences so haven’t had time to blog recently…but I’ve seen lots of great sites in Sligo, Donegal, Derry & Tyrone and I will get round to writing something about them soon. I’m back on the road again in a couple of weeks so if anyone has suggestions for Dark Tourism places in Tipperary, Westmeath, Kilkenny & Limerick do let me know either here or via twitter (@gillianmobrien) or instagram (gillianmobrien) or email (email@example.com). Continue reading
RTE Brainstorm recently published a version of my recent blog post about my Dark Tourism trip around Ireland, or ‘Ireland in the Shadows’. You can find it here: How my Grandmother inspired a fascination with Dark Tourism. The blog version is here.
RTE Brainstorm is a great resource – full of interesting and accessible reports, opinion pieces and articles written by academics and researchers. The thing I enjoy most about it is that it has introduced me to a whole range of new perspectives on topics that very often are discussed by non-experts in print and on air. It provides an insight into fascinating research that’s being conducted by academics in Ireland and beyond. In a world of ‘fake news’ and the same old voices it’s a very refreshing addition.
Jim Carroll (the editor of Brainstorm) had a piece explaining the rationale behind Brainstorm in the Irish Times on Saturday. You can find the article here.
(I’m not praising the website just because one of my pieces was one of the ‘Editor’s Picks’…but you can read that one here!)
Last week at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland I gave a speech to help launch an online exhibition based around The Dictionary of Dublin: A Guidebook to the city – for visitors and locals which was first published in 1895. Hopefully this online exhibition will introduce many people to both the images and content of this wonderful resource.
The book, written by Ephraim MacDowel Cosgrave & Leonard Strangeways, is lavishly illustrated with wonderful photographs and illustrations. Continue reading
I had a hectic few days in Dublin last week where I helped launch an exhibition, spoke at the Royal Society of Antiquaries, spent a day in a convent archive, heard three fascinating papers at the National Museum of Ireland, saw three exhibitions and had a really nice chat with Neil Delamere about Dark Tourism on Neil’s Sunday Best on TodayFM
We did a very quick (and very partial) world tour of Dark Tourism sites, but mostly focused on sites in Ireland. My interest in Dark Tourism has grown out of a number of separate projects that have allowed me to look at Dark Tourism from several angles. My involvement in the development of sites such as Spike Island has has strong impact on developing my interest in Dark Tourism but so too has my research for books and articles on nineteenth-century America. One aspect of Gilded Age America that fascinated me was the growth of Dime Museums which were often complete with Chambers of Horror. Continue reading
I returned to Cobh on Friday and took a boat out to Spike Island for the launch of the Spike Island guidebook. My co-authors Simon Hill and Gerry Moore were also along for the event.
The island has been transformed since my first visit there about 18 months ago. Then it was hard to imagine the changes that were to take place. The before and after images below give some idea of the work that was undertaken. Continue reading
Just as I began this blog entry I discovered that the Financial Times included Blood Runs Green in its list of Books of the Year. I’m really delighted about this. The murder of Cronin is, according to Tony Barber (who is obviously very discerning!), recounted ‘with enormous verve’.
Financial Times’ Books of the Year
I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences this year while promoting Blood Runs Green. I made my TV debut, did a lot of radio interviews, wrote some articles for publications including the Irish Times, History Ireland, TIME.com and HNN. I also did an ‘Ask Me Anything’ for reddit (I’ll confess to never having heard of reddit before I was asked to be involved). I enjoyed the experience though remembering to keep checking in was quite a challenge!
Ask Me Anything – reddit
I’ve spoken at a lot of conferences over the years, but in September I was involved for the first time with an arts festival – the inaugural Farside Festival in Athlone. It was lots of fun. I went along to a wonderful gig by The Driftwood Manor in the Methodist Church and braved a historical walking tour of the town which, despite the torrential rain (and fact that the guide failed to mention the house my father was born in – Dad rectified that by posing outside), was really interesting. I hadn’t known that Harry Clarke studios were responsible for the wonderful stained glass windows in Church of St Peter and St Paul in the town.
Instead of a talk I was interviewed by Seamus Dooley, the Secretary of the NUJ. I really enjoyed it. Seamus had clearly read the book very closely and asked really interesting questions. His own experience as a journalist and his familiarity with more recent versions of secret Irish republican organizations made for a lively discussion.
I also did a few podcasts during the year. – a recent one was with Dan Zupansky for his True Murder podcast hosted by BlogTalkRadio. I think it’s by far the longest interview I’ve done about the book. It was all a bit hair-raising at the start as my online connection didn’t work so I had to phone in which means that the first few minutes of the recording are a bit frantic and the sound quality isn’t great, but it was fun to be allowed to talk about the Cronin murder and the investigation at great length!
The view from our friend’s apartment in Berlin
This week’s been pretty hectic. I spent two days in Berlin seeing friends and checking out how Berlin museums deal with a complicated past, then had a couple of days in Dublin looking at various artefacts in Kilmainham Gaol before returning to Liverpool for a Postgraduate Open Day and a Faculty Research Day. No rest for the wicked!
The trip to Kilmainham was interesting and I got a sneak peak at the work that’s been done on the East Wing which will reopen to to public very soon. The new glass in the roof allows remarkable light into the chamber and recreates what it would have been like to have been in the East Wing when it first opened in
I did an interview for KSCJ radio in Sioux City, Iowa which was fun. The sound quality isn’t top notch which is a bit of a shame.
Faculty Research Day
Yesterday I attended a Faculty Research Day at Liverpool John Moores University where I gave the keynote address. There was a big crowd and it was fun to talk about both my museum work and the Blood Runs Green book. It was an invigorating day with a lot of postgraduate students showcasing their work in talks and on posters. I was one of the judges for the poster competition and it was very stimulating talking to the students about their research. The range of work (and the high quality) that’s being undertaken by the postgraduates is remarkable and it was great to have an opportunity to meet with students and colleagues working on all sorts of different projects from a wide-range of disciplines.
There was a nice review of Blood Runs Green in the most recent edition of the ‘New Hibernia Review’. It might be behind a paywall for some of you but the reviewer’s conclusion is:
‘Thoroughly researched, overall Blood Runs Green brings together the many and varied angles of this sinister story in a compelling narrative—one that affords the suspense we associate with the best of the True Crime genre, and with the care and discrimination we expect to find in good historical writing’.
I’m really delighted with the review as it’s the first in an academic journal and I found it a difficult balancing act trying to ensure that book was both academic and accessible so it’s nice to see that Jack Morgan (who reviewed the book) thinks that it works.
I had a chat with Emma from the Modern Notion website the other day. You can listen back to the podcast. It’s quite a lengthy and detailed chat (starts at about 13mins and goes to 45mins in). If you don’t want any spoilers stop when it gets to the first break…otherwise there might be a few secrets revealed! Continue reading