About me




I did my doctoral research at Maynooth University under the supervision of Professor R.V. Comerford. My thesis examined the response of Catholic priests to the use of political violence during the War of Independence (1919-21). A monograph based on the thesis was published in 2014 by Manchester University Press ('Freedom and the Fifth Commandment. Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21'). From 2010-2014 I researched a book on the modern history of the Augustinian order in the Netherlands, which was published in 2015 by Verloren ('Een kleine orde met allure. De augustijnen in Nederland, 1886-2006'/'A small order with a presence. The Augustinians in the Netherlands, 1886-2006').

Areas of expertise

-Religious history; modern Catholicism in Ireland and the Netherlands
-Transnational history
-Religious orders
-Mission history


Early twentieth-century Ireland; Irish Revolution; War of Independence; political violence; religious history; Catholicism; Roman Catholic Church; clergy; religious orders; Ireland and Europe; the Netherlands; Dutch history; mission history

Member Details

Full Name

Brian Heffernan (Professional Historian)

Membership Type

Professional Historian



-PhD History (2011), Maynooth University
-BA Theology (2007), Tilburg University (the Netherlands)
-MA History (2003), Leiden University (the Netherlands)


-Researcher for the Dutch province of the Order of St. Augustine (2010-2013); affiliated to Ruusbroec Institute, University of Antwerp, as postdoctoral researcher (2011-2013)
-Lecturer, Institute for History, Leiden University (January-June 2016)

Consultancy work

-Advisor for KRO (Dutch broadcasting corporation) for television documentary on clerical abuse (2010); interviewed on KRO Kruispunt radio programme (2009).

Management & Administrative experience

-Conference organising (co-organiser of Irish History Students' Association conference, Maynooth, and 'Life on the fringe? Ireland and Europe, 1800-1922' conference, Belfast, 2009)


-Tutor, Department of History, National University of Ireland, Maynooth (2007-2008)
-Lecturer, Institute for History, Leiden University (January-June 2016): modules on 'Missions, Empires, and Nations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century' (MA Political Culture and National Identities) and 'Western missionary movements, 1780-1980' (2nd year BA History), tutor for three first-year BA History groups (General Contemporary History).

Committees & Associations

-Member editorial board, 'Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Kerkgeschiedenis' (Journal for Dutch Church History) (2011-2014)
-Corresponding member, Augustinian Historical Institute (Rome)


-Government of Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship, IRCHSS (2008)
-John and Pat Hume Scholarship, NUI Maynooth (2007)
-Robert Fruin Prize, Department of History, Leiden University (2003)

Other activities

-Translator and editor (Dutch and English) for academics (mainly historians and theologians), Tilburg University, and for business clients (2004-present).



-Een kleine orde met allure. De augustijnen in Nederland, 1886-2006 ('A small order with a presence. The Augustinians in the Netherlands, 1886-2006') (Hilversum: Verloren, 2015)
-Freedom and the Fifth Commandment. Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2014) (paperback edition to appear in September 2016)
-Life on the fringe? Ireland and Europe, 1800-1922 (Dublin and Portland, OR: Irish Academic Press, 2012) (edited with Marta Ramón, Pierre Ranger and Zsuzsanna Zarka)

Book Chapters

-‘"Spiritus ordinis nostri paulatim reviviscere incepit". Augustinian revival in the Netherlands, 1886-1920’, in Luis Marín de San Martín (ed.), La ripresa dell’ordine. Gli agostiniani tra 1850-1920. Congresso dell’Istituto Storico Agostiniano, Roma 15-19 ottobre 2012 (Rome: Institutum Historicum Augustinianum, 2012), pp. 349-73.

Other Journals

-'Discerning the spirits. The Irish Jesuits and political violence, 1919-21', Studies. An Irish Quarterly Review, 103, 412 (2014/2015), pp. 552-61.
-‘Dutch Augustinian theologians and the Second Vatican Council’, Analecta Augustiniana, 76 (2012), pp. 415-45.
-‘"It is for a nation of martyrs to cultivate constant self-restraint". The Irish Catholic bishops’ attitude to the IRA campaign, 1919-21’, Leidschrift. Historisch tijdschrift, 23, 1 (2008), pp. 151-69.