Essay Prize

The Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland Annual Essay Prize 2023/2024


The Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland (SSNCI) is pleased to announce the opening of its annual essay prize that recognises a piece of written work of superb quality on any aspect of nineteenth-century Ireland (see guidelines below). This prize is intended to highlight the high quality research of an early career researcher or someone in a profession outside of the academy. The recipient will receive a cash prize of £250/€250/$300 and formal recognition at the Annual Conference of the Society, which takes places every summer. In keeping with the mission of the society, scholars of any disciplinary background are encouraged to submit their work for consideration.

Please submit entries to: Dr. Jay R. Roszman at


Entrants should submit their work, and submission form, for consideration by 1 March 2024. The winner will be announced in late Spring 2024 with a formal presentation at the Annual Conference in June 2024.


SSNCI Essay Prize Submission Form


Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland Annual Essay Prize Guidelines 

  • The prize is intended for early career researchers, non-tenure track academic staff, and researchers not affiliated with an academic institution who have published or undertaken original scholarship.
  • The essay must be a piece of original scholarship, such as a chapter of a completed PhD dissertation or MA thesis, or a chapter, article, or essay published within the last two years in an edited venue (e.g. scholarly journal, magazine, or edited website). For MA and PhD students, therefore, the dissertation should have been submitted no earlier than January 2021; similarly, for non-academic entrants or early-career researchers the entry should have been published no earlier than January 2021.
  • The essay should be ~7,000 – 10,000 words in length. For recently completed PhD dissertations, we envision the entry would be equivalent to one chapter. Please include an abstract of the dissertation’s overall argument and where the chapter fits into the dissertation.
  • Deadline for submission is 1 March 2024. Please include the essay and a completed copy of the submission form with relevant details. The email address for submission is Queries should be directed to SSNCI Treasurer Dr. Jay R. Roszman (
  • Entrants must be current members of the SSNCI at the time of entry.
  • The prize will be judged by a multi-disciplinary panel. The winner will be notified in the late Spring 2024, with formal recognition at the Annual Conference in June 2024.  The prize is worth €250/£250/$300 depending on the winner’s preference.

Judging Criteria

Given the diversity of scholarship the panel of judges will prioritise work based on its originality, innovation, clarity, and potential impact to the study of nineteenth-century Ireland. The final judgment will recognise a piece of scholarship that makes the greatest contribution to the study of nineteenth-century Ireland, that demonstrates an awareness of issues in related disciplines within and without Irish Studies more broadly, and that demonstrates the excellence of scholarship on nineteenth-century Ireland to the wider scholarly community.




The SSNCI Essay Prize 2023 has been awarded to Dr Sophie Cooper (QUB) for their article ‘Something borrowed: women, Limerick lace and community heirlooms in the Australian Irish diaspora’, which was published in Social History.

The judges noted:

“This article provides a fresh perspective on the material culture of faith, ethnicity and gender through an innovative transnational lens. Drawing on the case of Limerick lace veil, the author examines the ways in which Irish female religious orders used Catholic materiality to maintain connections between former students and the wider Irish Catholic community within Australia. In doing so, the article recasts Limerick lace around a set of practices predominantly shaped by women in Ireland and in Australia and with implications for the study of material culture in Irish and wider diasporic contexts. [We] appreciated the way the article broke new ground in combining a novel focus on materiality with that of gender, diaspora and religion, bringing new concepts and approaches into conversation with major themes in Irish and diasporic historiography.”

The SSNCI Committee also wished to acknowledge for special commendation two other submissions:

Dr Chris Cusack
‘”Seanachie to the New World”: Seumas MacManus and the Transatlantic Appeal of Irish Local Colour’


Dr José Brownrigg-Gleeson Martínez
‘Fighting an Empire for the Good of the Empire? Transnational Ireland and the Struggle for Independence in Spanish America’




The SSNCI Essay Prize 2022 has been awarded to Dr Peter Hession for his article ‘Imagining the Railway Revolution in Pre-Famine Ireland: Technology, Governance, and the Drummond Commission, 1832-39’, which was published in the SSNCI volume Dreams of the Future in Nineteenth-Century Ireland, edited by Dr Richard Butler (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021). The article explores the Irish Railway Commission (1837-9) and its chairman, Thomas Drummond, who was undersecretary at Dublin Castle until his death in 1840. The article demonstrates how Drummond personified a shift in the early nineteenth century away from aristocratic governance towards a technocratic one based on scientific and professional knowledge. Administrators hoped for improved social relations and economic progress through technological advances that required the state’s intervention in unprecedented (and ultimately unpalatable) ways. The SSNCI Committee appreciated the way the article used official sources in innovative ways and the article’s ability to introduce important theoretical concepts without losing its narrative focus.


The SSNCI Committee also wished to acknowledge for special commendation two other submissions:


Dr Myles Campbell for his article ‘”A subject for History”: Maria, Marchioness of Normanby as Vicereine of Ireland, 1835-9’, published in Myles Campbell (ed.) Vicereines of Ireland: Portraits of Forgotten Women (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2021).


Dr Fiona Lyons for her essay ‘The Transatlantic Context of revival content in Irish-American media’.



The article explores the role of the Dublin Art(s) Club and the ways members of the club demonstrated ‘the participation of arts in Ireland with a broader British and European artistic world’, thus exhibiting a thoroughly cosmopolitan outlook. This history complicates existing narratives that have focused on Irish art that built on themes of national identity and cultural revival. The committee was impressed by the article’s persuasive argument, as well as the way Katy weaves together a variety of sources to recover a hitherto overlooked aspect of cultural and social life.

The SSNCI Committee also wish to acknowledge for special commendation two other submissions:

Dr Edward Molloy for his article ‘Democracy, Disestablishment, and Repeal: John Cornelius O’Callaghan and Irish Nationalist Periodical Culture from the Comet (1831) to the Nation (1842)’, published in Victorian Periodicals Review in 2020.

Catherine Healy for her essay ‘Ethnic Jokes: Making Fun of the Working Irish Woman’.


In November 2019 the SSNCI launched a new essay prize for early career researchers and individuals in a profession outside the academy. The prize committee was bowled over by the varied, immersive, and innovative research in nineteenth-century Irish Studies we assessed from the fourteen entrants. The future of nineteenth-century Irish Studies looks very bright.

We are very pleased to announce the winner of our inaugural SSNCI essay prize is Dr Ciarán McCabe for his essay ‘”The Going Out of the Voluntary and the Coming in of the Compulsory”: The Impact of the 1838 Irish Poor Law on Voluntary Charitable Societies in Dublin City’, which appeared in issue 1 of vol. 45 of Irish Economic and Social History in 2018. The article details the impact the Irish Poor Law had on charitable voluntary giving in Dublin City by focusing on two charitable societies. The article contributes to our understanding of the culture of charity and almsgiving before the Famine, as well as the ways the imposition of direct welfare provision affected almsgivers, charity recipients, and the chequered landscape of poverty relief in Ireland’s largest urban centre. The committee was impressed with the sources McCabe marshalled in his analysis, the blending of qualitative and quantitative materials, and the author’s clarity of expression.

The committee also felt two other entries warranted special commendation:

Dr Mary Hatfield, ‘Fashioning Childhood: Gender, Dress and Childhood in Ireland, 1800-1860’ in Historical Perspectives on Parenthood and Childhood in Ireland (Arlen House, 2018)

Dr Lindsay Janssen, ‘Diasporic Identification: Exile, Nostalgia and the Famine Past in Irish and Irish North-American Popular Fiction, 1871-1891‘, published in Irish Studies Review 26:6 (March 2018)