Eoin MacNeill

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Eoin MacNeill, around 1916

Eoin MacNeill ( Irish Eoin Mac Néill , born May 15, 1867 in Glenarm , County Antrim as John MacNeill , † October 15, 1945 in Dublin ) was an Irish nationalist, politician and professor of Irish history.

MacNeill attended St Malachy's College in Belfast and the Royal University of Ireland . His interest in Irish history, which he immersed himself in, began while working as a clerk at the Four Courts . In 1893 MacNeill was one of the founding members of the Gaelic League , alongside Douglas Hyde , of which he became vice president. He also published the Gaelic Journal, the association's newspaper. The following year he founded Feis Cheoil . In 1908 MacNeill was appointed the first professor of Irish early and medieval history at University College Dublin ; a post he was to hold until 1941.

Through the Gaelic League, MacNeill came into contact with members of the Sinn Féin . In 1913 he was one of the group of people who founded the Irish Volunteers . MacNeill, who was Chief of Staff of the Irish Volunteers, was not informed of the planned uprising as he opposed any high-risk rebellion . The Irish Republican Brotherhood , which provided much of the volunteer leadership, therefore hoped to either win him over or simply bypass him. The IRB had little success with either plan. For example, after learning of Roger Casement's arrest, MacNeill tried to reverse the mobilization. After the Easter Rising, he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. However, he was released in 1917 after a general amnesty.

In the 1918 elections MacNeill was not only elected as a Sinn Féin candidate in the House of Commons , he also managed to win a seat for the Dáil Éireann . Following the policy of his party, he did not take up his mandate in the House of Commons. In the first dail he held the offices of finance minister and industry minister. MacNeill advocated the Anglo-Irish treaty and served as Ceann Comhairle during treaty debates . He later became a Minister without Portfolio in the Provisional Government and then from 1922 to 1925 Minister of Education in the Executive Council of the Irish Free State . When in 1924 a commission was created to determine the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, he was appointed to this commission. After the Commission report was published in a newspaper, he resigned from the Commission and refused to accept the Commission report. Notwithstanding the outcome of the commission, MacNeill faced strong pressure from Irish nationalists. He resigned from his ministerial post and lost his seat of parliament in the 1927 elections. MacNeill now withdrew from politics and devoted himself to teaching. Among other things, he published several books on Irish history.

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