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Sean Michael Farrell
Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL 60115-2828)
The Trillick Railway Outrage: Making Sectarianism in Victorian Ireland

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on religious conflict in 19th century Ireland.

This book examines an 1854 assassination attempt in northwestern Ireland. One of the world’s first “train wreckings,” Trillick received widespread newspaper coverage. Commentators assumed this was a sectarian crime, and seven Catholic railway workers were arrested soon after the crash. Despite their best efforts, officials determined there was insufficient evidence to go to trial and released the men, who quickly left the region, disappearing into Ireland’s global diaspora. The first book-length study of this dramatic event, my work highlights the constructed nature of Catholic-Protestant division in nineteenth-century Ireland. I do this by focusing on the ways that Trillick impacted four individuals linked to the crash. This microhistorical approach is designed to detail the ways that sectarian narratives conceal the complexity of human experience. This Irish story has obvious contemporary relevance, given the prevalence of religious violence in divided societies around the world.

Project fields:
Cultural History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2018 – 9/30/2018