Sean Farrell

Current Research 

My research has focused on the interplay between religion and popular politics in modern Ireland. My first book, Rituals and Riots: Sectarian Violence and Political Culture in Ulster, 1784-1886, examined the relationships between Catholic/Protestant rioting and the emergence of a divided political culture in the north of Ireland. I have also co-edited two volumes of essays on aspects of the modern Irish experience (with Danine Farquharson and Michael de Nie) and co-authored a book (with my former Ph.D. student Mathieu Billings) entitled The Irish in Illinois. My latest book, Thomas Drew and the Making of Victorian Belfast, uses the public career of a populist Orange cleric to re-evaluate aspects of the history of nineteenth-century Belfast. I am currently working on two book projects: a synthetic essay on the challenge of sectarianism in nineteenth-century Ireland; and a research monograph on the Blackstaff Nuisance, a study of an environmental disaster in Victorian Belfast. I am a former President of the American Conference for Irish Studies and currently an international representative for the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland. 

Major Publications


  • Sean Farrell, Thomas Drew and the Making of Victorian Belfast (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2023). 

Articles/Book Chapters

  • "The Trillick Railway Outrage: The Politics of Atrocity in Post-Famine Ulster," in E.G. Bouwers, ed., Glaubenskämpfe: Katholiken und Gewalt im 19. Jahrhundert (Battles over Belief: Catholics and Violence in the 19th Century)(Berlin: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2019), 217-40.
  • "Going to Extremes: Anti-Catholicism and Ant-Slavery in Early Victorian Belfast," European Romantic Review 28: 4 (Summer 2017): 461-72.
  • "Contested Histories: Richard Mant and Religious Politics in Early Victorian Belfast," in Alan Ford, et al. eds., The Church of Ireland and its Past: History, Interpretation, and Identity. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017. 95-107.
  • "Irish Rebel, Imperial Reformer: Charles Gavan Duffy and Australian Federation, 1857-1871," in Michael de Nie, Timothy G. McMahon and Paul Townend, Ireland in an Imperial World. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017. 69-89.
  • "The Reverend Thomas Drew and Protestant Children in Early Victorian Belfast," New Hibernia Review, 19: 2 (Summer 2015), 43-58.
  • "Building Connections: The Mant Controversy and the Church of Ireland in Early Victorian Belfast," Irish Historical Studies, 154 (November 2014), 52-71.
  • "Providence, Progress and Silence: Writing the Irish Famine on Sandy Row," Canadian Journal of Irish Studies (Winter 2013), 101-113.
  • "Ulster Sectarianism and the Lessons of South Asian Historiography," History Compass, 8/9 (2010), 1023-35.
  • "The Burning of Freeduff Presbyterian Church, 1743," New Hibernia Review/Irish Eireannach Nua, Volume 9, Number 3 (Autumn 2005), 72-85.
  • (Editor) Eire-Ireland, Volume 39: 1 and 2 (Earrach/Samradh; Spring/Summer 2004), special issue on unionist identities.
  • "Recapturing the Flag: The Campaign to Repeal the Party Processions Act, 1860-72," Eire-Ireland XXXII (Summer/Fall 1997), 52-78.

Teaching Interests

As a historian of the British Isles, I teach survey courses on Late Medieval and Early Modern England, Scotland and Wales, Modern Britain and Modern Ireland. In my upper division and graduate courses, I'm particularly interested in exploring questions of empire and nation, so most of my courses revolve around those broad themes.

Courses Taught

  • HIST 171 The World Since 1500
  • HIST 295: Historical Methods
  • HIST 356 Modern Ireland
  • HIST 357 History of the British Isles, 1066-1688
  • HIST 358 History of the British Isles, 1688 to the Present
  • HIST 395 Historical Methods
  • HIST 452 Nation and Empire in Modern Britain
  • HIST 454 Industry, State and Society in Modern Britain
  • HIST 495 Senior Thesis
  • HIST 498 Ireland and India



Sean Farrell

Sean Farrell
Zulauf 701

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Modern Europe (Britain and Ireland)

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1996

Office Hours

Tuesday/Thursday, 1-3 p.m. (in person) and by appointment