History Ireland Apologises

There has been some great news over at Liam Hogan’s Limerick1914 Twitter feed. As you may remember, Liam was unjustly attacked by the ‘National Historian’ of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mike McCormack, in a letter in the pages of the magazine, History Ireland.

Now, the editor of History Ireland has apologised. I suspect that they realised how damaging this matter was to their reputation. While the apology is gracious and I am delighted for Liam Hogan’s sake, I am not sure if I will ever buy a copy of the magazine again. Robust debate is fine and personal attacks should be avoided in publications of that type (that’s what blogs like this are for!), but there is another issue which is in many ways far more important. Should Mike McCormack be allowed to publish a letter in a history magazine which contains claims about the existence of documents of parentage recording the breeding of Irish girls with Mandingo warriors, documents which obviously don’t exist? In other words, I wouldn’t publish a letter making fake claims like this, except to mock it and rip it to shreds, and I don’t think History Ireland should either. Anyway, here is the apology. Comhghairdeas leat, a Liam. Coinnigh ort leis an dea-obair!

Apology to Liam Hogan

In the September/October 2017 edition of History Ireland I published a letter from Mr Mike McCormack of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America headed ‘The Irish and slavery’. Mr McCormack’s letter took issue with an earlier article by John Donoghue but also made personal reference to Mr Liam Hogan, who co-authored an article published in the March/April 2016 edition of History Ireland entitled ‘The Irish in the Anglo-Carribean: servants or slaves?’.

I acknowledge and accept that Mr McCormack’s letter unfairly targeted Mr Hogan, denigrated his professional reputation and disparaged his motivations in carrying out his important research into the topical issue of the Irish slaves myth. Specifcally, I accept that Mr Hogan was accused of engaging in “Irish American bashing” and being a “bigot”.

I acknowledge that Mr Hogan is a respected librarian and historian who has carried out extensive and diligent research and work on this topic which has been fair, ethical and subject to the appropriate rigours of scholarly historical research. I acknowledge and agree that at no stage has Mr Hogan been in any way intolerant of others or bigoted and that the allegation to the contrary should not have been published.  History Ireland is committed to being a forum for robust academic discussion but does not condone personalised attacks such as was contained in this letter. We regret that we failed to live up to this principle on this occasion.

I apologise unreservedly to Mr Hogan on behalf of History Ireland. I acknowledge and regret the damage to his reputation that the publication of Mr McCormack’s letter has caused. Mr Hogan’s own response to the letter will appear in the November/December 2017 edition of History Ireland.

Tommy Graham

Editor

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