Member Profiles: Eoin Magennis

Eoin Magennis is President of the Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society and Economist and Policy Research Manager in InterTradeIreland, the cross-border trade and business development body. His research focuses on Ireland of the ‘short’ mid-eighteenth century, 1725-1785 and its politics, economy, improvement and protests. For further information see his webpage,

Favourite archive:
The Armagh Public Library: venue for this year’s conference and like using someone’s private library.

Favourite museum, gallery or heritage site:
One museum I had the good fortune to fall across several years ago is the People’s History Museum in Manchester but the oddest one and well worth a visit is the DDR Museum dedicated to East Germany that you can find in Berlin.

Most exciting place or time in the eighteenth-century:
Boston in the 1770s.

Best online resource:
Definitely ECCO which has opened up a whole world of primary printed material in English to the eighteenth-century researcher.

Best book/history of 18th century interest:
I still go back to read E.P. Thompson, Making of the English Working Class, for all of its many flaws.

What eighteenth century figure would you most like to have a drink with:
I’d like to spend a bit of time with Martha and Sam McTier of Belfast – her letters to her brother William Drennan open up a whole world of cards, books and various drinks.

What’s so great about the eighteenth-century?
At the present time it is an exciting period to be working on with the sheer variety of experiences and histories that are now coming to light. In Ireland, for example, long-forgotten novels are being brought back to life and whole swathes of the Irish language-speaking world are being opened up to us. There are still many other topics and issues still to be explored and the fact that the sources are manageable and becoming more accessible all the time means it is an attractive period for the younger scholars starting out.

What’s so great about being part of ECIS?
I joined the Society after attending a conference in the University of Limerick back in 1994 or 1995. I had gone to do a paper, partly at the prompting of my late supervisor, Peter Jupp, and found (a little to my surprise) a very welcoming bunch of people who seemed interested in what I had to speak about. The reason I joined then was the friendliness of those involved and I have missed only two annual conferences since then and see the same welcome and camaraderie today. Whether big or small there is always old friends to meet and new ones to make at the conference and I expect Armagh to be the same this year. The other advantage of ECIS has been its committee members down the years. I’m thinking here of Andrew Carpenter, Alan Harrison, Geraldine Sheridan and this is something that you can see among members of the current committee too. They were serious about what they do and very encouraging of younger (and older) academic and independent researchers. They have ensured the continued quality of the journal and of the experience provided by the conference, two things that are crucial for the longevity of any Society. In time I joined the committee, became reviews editor, then editor and now president and will then pass the baton to someone else to ensure the Society keeps to the high standards of the past 30 years.