Ireland, Africa and the end of empire

Small state identity in the Cold War 1955-75

By Kevin O'Sullivan

Ireland, Africa and the end of empire


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8602-1
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2013
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, European history, Colonialism & imperialism, HISTORY / Military / General, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, The Cold War, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism


In the twenty years after Ireland joined the UN in 1955, one subject dominated its fortunes: Africa. The first detailed study of Ireland's relationship with that continent, this book documents its special place in Irish history.

Adopting a highly original, and strongly comparative approach, it shows how small and middling powers like Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and the Nordic states used Africa to shape their position in the international system, and how their influence waned with the rise of the Afro-Asian bloc. O'Sullivan chronicles Africa's impact on Irish foreign policy; the link between African decolonisation and Irish post-colonial identity; and the missionaries, aid workers, diplomats, peacekeepers, and anti-apartheid protesters at the heart of Irish popular understanding of the developing world.

Offering a fascinating account of small state diplomacy, and a unique perspective on African decolonisation, this book provides essential insight for scholars of Irish history, African history, international relations, and the history of NGOs, as well as anyone interested in Africa's important place in the Irish public imagination.


1. Unmistakably European: Ireland and the decolonisation of Africa
2. Ireland comes of age: Congo, peacekeeping and foreign policy
3. On the side of the angels: The birth of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement
4. Biafra: Ireland, Nigeria and the politics of civil war
5. Concern for Africa: The Biafran humanitarian crisis
6. 'Boks Amach': Southern Africa, popular protest and foreign policy
7. Re-shaping the relationship: Ireland, the EC and southern Africa
8. 'If we're Christians at all': Irish foreign aid


Kevin O'Sullivan is a lecturer in history at the National University of Ireland, Galway and an honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham

Ireland, Africa and the end of empire

By Kevin O'Sullivan

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

Paperback £17.99 / $26.95

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