My research focuses on Irish American history and the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. I am also interested in the history of migration, transatlantic history, and labor history.
In February 2015, the University of Wisconsin Press published my book, A Greater Ireland: The Land League and Transatlantic Nationalism in Gilded Age America. This book is a study of transatlantic nationalism in the Gilded Age and its impact on Irish immigrants in America. During the early 1880s a continual interplay of events, ideas, and people in Ireland and the United States created a “Greater Ireland” spanning the Atlantic that profoundly impacted both Irish and American society. By examining the Land League, a transatlantic organization with branches both in Ireland and the United States, my work demonstrates how this “Greater Ireland” presented new opportunities for groups like the working-class and women to contribute within Irish-American society. In the United States participation in the Land League deeply influenced a generation of Irish-American men and women and shaped the future direction of Irish-American nationalism
In my current research I have continued to place the history of the United States in a broader world context and to examine larger global and regional connections. An in-progress article that I am working on, “Building an Irish Village: Ireland, Irish America, and Representations of Ireland at the World’s Fair,” examines the creation of an Irish village at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Through this exhibit, Irish leaders attempted to exhibit to the world their own vision of what Ireland represented and what future they hoped to create for their people. Not yet an independent nation, the Irish represented an “in-between” people caught between their desire for self-rule and British control. But this narrative was complicated by the efforts of the Irish in America who presented their own view of Ireland that matched their own American-based concerns and oftentimes led to conflict with Irish leaders.
I am also working with a group of scholars in the United States and Ireland on a digital humanities project “Exhibiting Ireland” which looks at Irish exhibitions in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere from the 1850s to the 1960s. Combining primary sources, photographs, music, ephemera, and various other sources alongside scholarly analysis, we hope to create a multi-media platform to present this topic to both a scholarly and general audience.