Event—Adult Education

From De Valera to Varadkar: The Transformation of Ireland since 1950


How did Ireland transform over the past 70 years?

For Irish Unity End Partition, London Embankment, (circa 1979). Source: Gillfoto, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Class Description

Using Fintan O’Toole’s acclaimed personal history of Ireland since 1950, this class will survey the country’s remarkable transformation over the past 70 years from an insular, Church-dominated, backward-looking culture to a proudly European and modern society with more cosmopolitan values.

Topics will include scandals in the Catholic Church and political establishment; the Northern Troubles, including the Peace Process and Belfast Agreement; the Celtic Tiger “boom” and subsequent “bust” in the economic crisis of 2008; and the consequences of Brexit for both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

Frank Biletz received his PhD in history from the University of Chicago, with a primary specialization in modern British and Irish history. He is currently Adjunct Instructor in History at Loyola University Chicago and has taught classes at the Newberry since 1994.

Materials List


First Reading

  • For the first class meeting, participants should read the prelude and chapters 1 to 5 of the Fintan O'Toole book.

Cost and Registration

Eight sessions, $320 ($288 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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