Robert Dudley Edwards


Life
1909-1988 [Robert Walter Dudley Edwards]; historian; son of English teacher and mother from Clare; ed. Synge St. CBS and St. Enda’s; ed. UCD and King’s College, London, completing doctorate on church and state in Tudor Ireland; fnd. Journal of Irish Historical Studies with T. W. Moody to 1977; lecturer in mod. Irish history, UCD, 1939; Professor of Mod. Irish History, 1945-79;
 
he was a party to the founding of the Bureau of Military History, and a strong proponent of oral records among living participants in events surrounding 1916; issued Church and State in Tudor Ireland (1935); a key early contributor to the New History of Ireland (1972) - the flagship project of the Irish Historical Society; he issued Daniel O’Connell and His World (1975) and Ireland in the Age of the Tudors (1977); also fnd. the UCD Archive Dept. and encouraged the National Archives Act (1988); d. 5 June 1988. DIW

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Works
  • “The History of the Penal Laws Against Catholics in Ireland from 1534 to the Treaty of Limerick (1691)” [PhD diss.] (London U., 1933).
  • Church and State in Tudor Ireland: A History of the Penal Laws Against Irish Catholics, 1534-1603 (Dublin 1935) [q.pp.];
  • ‘Church and State in the Ireland of Mícheál Ó Cléirigh’, in Measgra i gcuimhne Mhícíl Uí Chléirigh, Syvlester O’Brien (Dublin 1944), pp.1-20.
  • The Destruction of Hiberno-Norman Civilisation (1977);
  • ed. with Desmond Williams, The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History 1845-52 (Dublin:Browne & Nolan 1956), 517pp. [contribs. incl. R. B. McDowell, Kevin B. Nowlan, Thomas P. O’Neill, Oliver MacDonagh, Roger McHugh], and Do. [facs. rep.], with intro. & add. bibl. by Cormac Ó Gráda (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1995), 555pp.;
  • A New History of Ireland (Dublin & London: OUP/Clarendon Press 1972) [early vol. of this series];
  • Daniel O’Connell and his World (1975);
  • Ireland in the Age of the Tudors, the Destruction of Hiberno-Norman Civilisation (1977);
  • with Mary O’Dowd, Sources for Early Modern Irish History 1643-1641 (1985);
    [... et al.]
Miscellaneous,
  • ‘The Beginnings of Municipal Govt. in Dublin’, in Dublin Historical Record (March 1938), p.2-10.

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Criticism
Aidan Clarke, ‘Robert Dudley Edwards’ (1909-1988), Irish Historical Studies, XXVI (1988-89), pp.121-27.

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Commentary
Sean O’Faoláin (The Irish, 1947): O’Faoláin cites Edwards’s Church and State in Tudor Ireland (1935), on the decadence of the Irish Church in the pre-Reformation period, but adds in a ftn. his remarks about the Normans bringing armour and stone fortresses to Ireland, as well as the burning of churches, &c.; to which O’Faolain answers that the Irish had no need of instruction in this matter and that ‘It is tiresome when nations blame one another for their own faults.’ (The Irish, 1947, p.69.)

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Colm Tóibín, ‘Let us lay these ghosts to rest’, in The Guardian, [Sat.] (10 July 1999): "[...] In the early 1940s Eamon de Valera, who had been brought up in County Clare, a part of Ireland deeply affected by the famine, realised that there was a need for a definitive single volume on the famine by serious historians, and, as Taoiseach, he decided to make public money available for this. The project was taken on by Robert Dudley Edwards from University College Dublin, who promised that a book, 1,000 pages long, made up of essays by various experts, would be in print by 1946. / The government released a grant of £1,500. It finally appeared in 1956, with 436 pages of text. It was the first serious work about the famine by modern historians, and it tells us a great deal both about the famine and about the historians.’ [Cont.]

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Colm Tóibín (‘Let us lay these ghosts to rest’, Guardian, 10 July 1999) - cont.: ‘In his essay on the saga of this book, which is included in Interpreting Irish History: The Debate on Historical Revisionism [ed. Ciaran Brady], Cormac O’Gráda writes: “It reads more like an administrative history of the period, with the core chapters dwelling on the tragedy mainly from the standpoint of the politician, the Poor Law administrator, those who controlled passenger movements, and the medical practitioner ... Few of the contributors relied on the wealth of manuscript sources available even then on the famine years.” / De Valera was out of office by the time the book was published. “Later,” O’Gráda writes, “he expressed unhappiness with the book, presumably because it seemed to downplay those aspects of the tragedy that had been etched in his own memory. Almost three decades later, that ‘definitive history’ remains to be written, though a great deal of work has been done in the interim.”’

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Notes
Kith & Kin: three children, Mary, Owen (Edinburgh University), and Ruth, author of biographies of Patrick Pearse, Victor Gollancz, et al.

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