Marc Mulholland is a college fellow and university lecturer in History at St. Catherine's College, University of Oxford. His publications include Northern Ireland at the Crossroads: Ulster Unionism in the O'Neill Years (2000) and Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservativism (2012).
Terence O'Neill came to power as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1963 with a bold plan to 'literally transform the face of Ulster'. For the next six years O'Neill proved himself to be Stormont's most controversial leader. Though born of the gentry, he was determined to break from the past. Motorways replaced railways, a New City was planned, and a New University built. By meeting with Taoiseachs of the Irish republic, O'Neill intended no less than to end the long cross-border Cold War. Most audaciously, he worked to end the centuries old political divide between catholic and protestant, even if this meant plunging his own Ulster Unionist Party into crisis. O'Neill stirred up passion and anger. While many saw him as Ireland's great hope, Ian Paisley denounced him as a traitor and Unionist ministers plotted his downfall. When the civil rights movement took to the streets in 1968, O'Neill's response was prophetic: 'it is a short step from the throwing of paving stones to the laying of tombstones.'Confronted by demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, pressure from London and rebellion in his own party, O'Neill gambled all on in a bid to re-cast the very shape of politics in the province. When finally he was 'literally blown from office' in April 1969, in the midst of rioting and loyalist bombs, thirty years of violence had begun. Marc Mulholland's study of O'Neill argues for the centrality of O'Neill to modern Irish history. Based upon exhaustive research, it brings to focus a period when Northern Ireland really did stand at the crossroads.
Chronology of O'Neill's Life and Times
- The Making of the Politician
- Into the Premiership
- O'Neillism and Paisleyism
- O'Neill's PEP
- The North explodes
'Marc Mulholland of the St Catherine's College in Oxford, an established expert on both O'Neill and on the mysteries of the new Conservatism, provides a succinct account of the man and his trials which should be essential reading for anyone concerned to understand the nuances of Northern Ireland rather than the broad stroke treatments we are so often treated to.’
Irish Catholic, Feb 2014
'We are indebted to Marc Mulholland in this cogent and well-written reassessment for a glimpse of what “might have been”'
Dublin Review of Books, 16 December 2013
‘Bookworm [History Ireland] is always on the lookout for publications that appeal to a particular type of reader: Leaving Cert and A-level student, languid undergrad, or general readers whose enthusiasm for history is not matched by the necessary leisure time to plough through academic monographs … A case in point was the ‘Life and Times’ series published by the Historical Association of Ireland in the 1990s, which aimed ‘to place the lives of leading figures in Irish history against the background of new research’. The good news is that the series is back, with the same mission statement, this time published by UCD Press.’
History Ireland March/April 2009
‘Also welcome is the new series of the Historical Association of Ireland’s Life and Times concise biographies, which started out some years ago under the Dundalgan Press imprint. It has now been taken over by the excellent UCD Press and given a makeover and smart new livery, keeping the bright blue colour scheme of the originals. The aim of the series is to provide scholarly and accessibly brief biographies of major figures in Irish history by experts in the field, suitable for Leaving Certificate, A level and undergraduate students but also for the general reader.’
Irish Democrat November 2009