Stair CCS - IHSA History

Some of the organisers of the association’s first congress—Niall Delargy (UCG), Cecil Smith (QUB), F. X. Martin (UCD), Laird Taylor (TCD) and Con O’Leary (UCC).
Some of the organisers of the association’s first congress—Niall Delargy (UCG), Cecil Smith (QUB), F. X. Martin (UCD), Laird Taylor (TCD) and Con O’Leary (UCC).

The Inaugural Congress of the Irish Inter-Varsity History Students took place at Newman House, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, on 17 February 1950. Niall Delargy (UCG, now NUI Galway), F.X. Martin (University College Dublin), Con O'Leary (University College Cork), Cecil Smith (Queen's University Belfast), and Laird Taylor (Trinity College Dublin) were instrumental in organising the first annual congress. Robert Dudley Edwards (1909-88), Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD, was a key figure in what became known as the Irish Universities History Students' Association, now called the Comhaltas na gCumann Staıre (CCS) - Irish History Students' Association (IHSA), serving as senior archivist and adviser to successive committees down to 1980 when he retired from the post.


From the beginning the objectives of the Association were threefold: to provide a forum for the exchange of views on historical matters between members of the affiliated history societies; to hold an annual conference hosted by one or more of the constituent history societies; and to publish the proceedings of each conference. In the early years, the Executive Committee, which was elected at an Annual General Meeting, consisted of the chairman, an editor and a business manager of the journal, a senior and junior archivist, along with congress liaison officers elected to represent each affiliated society.


In the early 1960s the association's membership comprised the student history societies of TCD, UCD, UCG, UCC, QUB and Magee College (now part of the University of Ulster). In 1962 the Annual Congress took place in Derry at Magee College, where the first time delegates studying in England, Scotland and Wales attended. In the late 1960s and 1970s membership increased substantially with the admission of societies from Carysfort College (Dublin), Mary Immaculate College (Limerick), St Joseph's College (Belfast), St Mary's College (Belfast), St Patrick's College (Dublin) and St Patrick's College, Maynooth (now NUI Maynooth). More recently, societies from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and the University of Limerick have joined the national association.


The 2010 conference was jointly hosted by TCD and UCD in Baile Átha Cliath in commemoration of their hosting of the first conference in 1950. Following the dedicated efforts of Dr Deirdre Mc Mahon the CCS-IHSA was able to establish four annual prizes for outstanding papers in selected categories to be awarded from the 2010 conference onwards. A fifth annual prize was added in time for the 2011 confernce and a total of six prizes were available for papers presented at the 2012 conference. From the 2013 conference onwards the number pf prizes available grew to the magical number of seven, covering a great array of topic areas.

Appropriately, the 2014 conference was hosted by Coláiste Mhuire Gan Smál, known to all as Mary I, the academic home of Dr Deirdre Mc Mahon. This was the first time the annual conference of the association had been hosted by MIC and was a great success. It also marked changing times in the CCS - IHSA with the retirement of Deirdre from her central role after many years of stalward service. She was rewarded with her appointment as Honorary President in the newly reformatted association. Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley was elected to the new position of Reachtaire - Chief Organiser while Dr Andrew Holmes, Tonaí Ó Roduibh and Dónal Ó Catháin remained in their respective positions.


Since its inception CSS - IHSA has performed an invaluable role in providing students with an opportunity to develop their interest in history in an enjoyable atmosphere and in promoting friendships between students of history from universities and colleges throughout Ireland for almost four generations.



Sixty years of the IHSA by Dr Deirdre McMahon in History Ireland Volume 18.