About me




I am currently Project Manager for the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project at National Museums NI. Between 2018 and 2021 we will digitise and catalogue over 5,000 recordings from the sound archive at the Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra.

I am also an historical researcher, writer, educator and consultant of two decades' experience.
A BA graduate of Queen's University Belfast and a PhD graduate of NUI Galway, I have authored one academic book, 'The Cups that Cheered' (2012), edited or jointly edited three collections, written several articles for peer-reviewed journals, and achieved considerable public impact through my dissemination of research, engagement with historical audiences from local to international, and extensive media appearances.
I have taught across various subjects at tertiary and secondary education levels, through English and Irish.

Areas of expertise

Audio Heritage and Oral History
The Linen Industry of Mid Ulster, 1750-1880
Leisure and the Law in Ireland, 1690s-1860s
The Origins and Development of Sport in Ireland, 1870s-1920s
Sunday Observance and Sabbatarianism in Ulster
The IRB in Ulster, 1860s-1910s
The Gaelic Revival / Stair na Gaeilge
Founders of the GAA
The First World War
Sport and the State in Northern Ireland, 1921-72
Local Government in Northern Ireland, 1921-72
An Irish Polymath: Dr George Sigerson, 1836-1925
Rev. Louis O'Kane and his recordings of Revolutionary Ulster
Higher Education in Ireland


Ulster, Ireland, Britain, Sunday, nationalist, unionist, local government, Stormont, sport, media, GAA, Gaelic games, camán, hurling, football, basketball, Cusack, Sigerson, Louis O'Kane, oral history, social history, local history, linen, revolution, war

Member Details

Full Name

Dónal McAnallen (Professional Historian)

Membership Type

Professional Historian



Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in History, NUI Galway.
Bachelor of Arts in Modern History, Queen's University Belfast.
Dioplóma sa Ghaeilge, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh.
Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) (History), University of Ulster
Teastas Iar-Chéime san Oideachas (TICO), Coláiste Ollscoile Naomh Muire, Béal Feirste.


2019- – Project Manager, UOSH, National Museums NI
2018-19 – Community Engagement Officer, National Museums NI
2015-17 – Outreach Officer, Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library and Archive
2012-15 – Cultural Education and Outreach Officer, Ulster Council, GAA
2012-15 – Lecturer (part-time) in Sports Studies, University of Ulster
2011-12 – Commissioned Researcher and Author, Higher Education Council, GAA
2008-11 – Education and Interpretative Officer / Archive Development Officer, Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library and Archive
2005-08 – Business sector employment / doctoral research
2003-04 – Freelance researcher and writer
2001-02 – Editor, 'High Ball' magazine

Consultancy work

• 2021 – Organiser and host of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough (ABC) Council's 10-week 'Decade of Commemorations' online lecture series, funded by PEACE IV.
• 2018-19 – commissioned researcher for the 'Forgotten Gaelic Volunteers' project at the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library and Archive
• 2016-17 – external consultant, BBC 2/TG4 documentary series, 'Níos mó ná cluiche' (Below the Radar Productions)
• 2015-16 – consultant for the design of the Blackwater Heritage Trail, which was formally launched in 2016.
• 2014-15 – commissioned researcher on the history of hurling in Derry City, funded by the City of Culture Legacy Fund and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland; my 25,000-word historical monograph, 'Camán Dhoire', was used as the text for the composition of a traditional music sonata, and performed at the Guildhall in April 2015.
• consultant / scriptwriter, 'Scéal ó Thuaidh' six-part documentary series for RTÉ 2 television (Zoogon Productions), 2006
• consultant, 'Cath 100 Bliain san Ultaibh' for TG4 (Scun Scan Productions), 2003

Management & Administrative experience

On the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Project at National Museums NI, I manage a team of 5 staff and 8 volunteers.

I have organised the following large academic conferences:
• ‘Reflections on the Revolution in Ulster: The Irish Volunteers in the North, 1913-23’, at the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library & Archive, 11/2015
• For Club, Community, County and Country: Celebrating 125 Years of the GAA’, two-day conference at the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library & Archive, Armagh, 3/2009

I have also considerable experience of various aspects of administration relating to lecturing undergraduate and postgraduate courses. This includes the design and delivery of course lectures and seminars, the management of online learning pages, and preparation and grading of course assignments and end-of-term exams.


Lecturer in Ulster Sports Academy, University of Ulster
• 2014/15 - Lecturer on B.Sc. in Sports Studies and B.Sc. in Sports Science courses:
– reading & comprehension skills;
- developing academic writing;
– understanding & writing abstracts;
– collaborative learning
• 2013/14 - Lectures on research methods for the M.Sc. Sports Development and Coaching course
• 2012/13 - Lectures on sports sociology and history for the B.Sc. in Sports Studies course

Outreach activities

• 'Ireland's Lost Railways', TG4, 2021
• 'Nuacht TG4', Bloody Sunday 1920 centenary
• 'Nuacht TG4', 'Unlocking Our Sound Heritage' project, October 2020
• 'I Lár an Aonaigh', BBC 2 NI, November 2019 – Michael Cusack
• 'Newsline', BBC 1 NI, November 2018 – First World War
• 'Éire sna Nuachtscannáin, TG4, 2017 – Ireland in old newsreels
• '1916: Every County has a Story – Armagh', RTÉ 1, 2016
• 'Newsline', BBC 1 NI, Oct. 2015 – the decade of centenaries
• 'Green is the Colour: a History of Irish Soccer', RTÉ 2, May 2012
• 'The Sunday Game', RTÉ 1, Sept. 2010 – All-Ireland final history
• 'Newsline', BBC 1 NI, Feb. 2010 – plaque for John McKay
• 'GAA@125', TG4, 2009

• 'An tSeachtain le Máirín Ní Ghadhra', 'Díghlasáil ár nOidhreacht Fuaime', February 2021
• 'Evening Extra', BBC Radio Ulster, November 2020 – Commemoration on sporting jerseys.
• 'Evening Extra', BBC Radio Ulster, October 2020 – 'Unlocking Our Sound Heritage' project.
• 'The Hidden Reservoir', BBC Radio 3, October 2019 – art and the Troubles
• 'Evening Extra', BBC Radio Ulster, November 2019 – the First World War
• 'Mark Patterson Show', BBC Radio Foyle, November 2018 – Troubles Art exhibition
• 'The History Show', RTÉ Radio 1, November 2015 – discussing the Rev. Louis O'Kane collection of revolutionary recordings with Myles Dungan
• 'Blas', BBC Radio Ulster, regular contributor, 2009-14
• frequent contributor to 'Off the Ball', Newstalk radio – e.g., feature on 1947 All-Ireland final (11/2008)

2/2021 – 'Sport & Partition in Ulster', Libraries NI online lecture
2/2021 – 'Montiaghiasms: the local lingo of South Lough Neagh', ABC Council
10/2020 – (with Jonathon McBride & Dr Barry Lynn), 'Saving Sounds & Making Noise in Ulster: the Challenges of creating Access to dormant Audio Collections', at the International Association of Sound Archives conference, online.
9/2020 – 'The GAA in the Revolutionary Period', for Louth History Festival
11/2019 – (with David Baldwin (LMA) and Katie Scaife (Bristol)), 'Engaging Audiences with Sound Recordings: Case Studies from UOSH', at the British and Irish Sound Archives conference at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.
9/2019 – 'Partition, Sport and Education in Ireland, 1921-72' (keynote) at Sport and Education in Ireland and Britain conference, PRONI.
4/2016 – ‘Rev. Louis O’Kane and his Recordings of Irish Volunteers from County Antrim’, PRONI, Belfast
5/2015 – ‘The GAA and the First World War’ at Gallipoli 100 conference, Kells, Co. Meath.
11/2013 – ‘The Nationalist Party of Northern Ireland and Political Opposition through Sport, 1921-72’ at 'Sport and Protest' conference, NUI Galway.
9/2013 – ‘Sport, History and Commemoration in the Decade of Centenaries’ – keynote speaker, Sports History Ireland conference.
11/2012 – ‘Amateurism in Irish Sport, 1880-1990’, 'Amateurism in Britain and Ireland' conference, Boston College Ireland
9/2012 – ‘Revolution on the Park and in the Boardroom: Sport and the Radicalisation of Ireland, 1912-22’, ‘A Terrible Beauty is Born: Ireland, 1912-22’, annual conference, Irish World Centre, Manchester.
6/2012 – ‘Bowlers, Hurlers, Peelers, Gaolers: The law & the curtailment of popular sport in nineteenth century Ireland’, at ‘Leisure and the Irish in the Nineteenth Century conference’, Mater Dei Institute, Dublin
11/2009 – ‘Northern Irish Newspaper and the Politics of Sports Coverage, 1921-72’, at Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland conference, Dublin Institute of Technology
9/2007 – ‘Portraying the Irish at Play: British Cinema Newsreels of Gaelic Games, 1920-39’, CESH (European Committee for Sports History) conference, Lorient, France
8/2006 – ‘Michael Cusack’s “Invasions” of Ulster, 1887-1903’, Merriman Summer School, Lisdoonvarna

Committees & Associations

O'Neill Country Historical Society committee member, 2015-
GAA National History and Commemorations Committee, 2015-24

Oral History Network of Ireland executive committee, 2015-16
Sports History Ireland, 2013-15
Ulster Sports Museum Association trustee, 2013-21
Comhairle Lucht Féachána TG4, 2010-15
Eglish Historical Society, 2005-11


Winner of McNamee Award for 'Best GAA Publication in 2012' for 'The Cups that Cheered'
Winner of McNamee Award for 'Best GAA Publication in 2019' for 'Forgotten Gaelic Volunteers'

Other activities

Peer-reviewer for 'Sport in History'
My research, with that of Kieran McConville, discovered the story of GAA co-founder John McKay, which led to the erection of a gravestone on his grave in London, and a blue plaque on the Irish News offices, Belfast.



• Forgotten Gaelic Volunteers: GAA Members who fought in World War One (2019)
• The Pursuit of Perfection (Penguin Random House, 2017)
• (with Pearse Lawlor), The GAA in Lisburn (Belfast, 2016)
• The Cups that Cheered: A History of the Sigerson Cup, Fitzgibbon Cup, and Higher Education Gaelic Games, 1911-2012 (Collins Press, 2012)

• Reflections on the Revolution in Ulster: The Irish Volunteers in the North, 1913-23 – conference proceedings (2016)
• (with Wolsley Knox & Rose Mary Logue), The Book of Eglish: where the Oona Flows (Belfast: Nicholson & Bass, 2011, 512 pp).
• (with David Hassan & Roddy Hegarty), The Evolution of the GAA: Ulaidh, Éire agus Eile (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2009).

Book Chapters

• ‘The GAA, Partition and Unionism’ in Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh (ed.), The GAA & Revolution in Ireland, 1913-23 (Collins Press, 2015)
• ‘The Sigerson Cup’ in Ken McGilloway, George Sigerson: Poet, Patriot, Scientist and Scholar (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2011)
• ‘Irish Sport Collection’ in Treasures from the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library (Armagh, 2010)
• ‘“The Greatest Amateur Association in the World”?: The GAA and Amateurism’ in Mike Cronin, William Murphy & Paul Rouse (eds.), The Gaelic Athletic Association, 1884-2009 (Irish Academic Press, 2009)
• (with Seán Crosson), ‘Portraying the Irish at Play: Cinema Newsreels and Gaelic Games, 1920-39’ in Laurent Daniel (ed.), L’Art et le Sport: Actes du XIII colloque international du Comité européen pour l’histoire des Sports (2009)
• (with Art Ó Maolfabhail & Roddy Hegarty, 'From Cú Chulainn to Cusack: ball playing, camán, shinny, and hurling in Ulster before the GAA' in The Evolution of the GAA: Ulaidh, Éire agus Eile (Belfast, 2009)
• 'Cén fáth a raibh Cúige Uladh chomh lag chomh fada sin?' in The Evolution of the GAA (2009)

Peer Reviewed Journals

• ‘The Radicalisation of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ulster, 1912-23: the Role of Owen O’Duffy’ in International Journal for the History of Sport, February 2014
• (with Seán Crosson), ‘“Croke Park goes Plumb Crazy”: Cinema Newsreels and Gaelic Games, 1920-39’ in Media History, May 2011
• ‘Michael Cusack and the Revival of Gaelic Games in Ulster’ in Irish Historical Studies, May 2010'
• (with Peter Mossey & Stephen Moore), ‘The Temporary Diaspora at Play: the Development of Gaelic Games in British Universities’ in Sport and Society, May 2007

Other Journals

• 'Maydown, Benburb: a Millennium of History in an Armagh Townland', in Dúiche Néill: Journal of the O Neill Country Historical Society, 2018
• ‘Rev. Louis O’Kane & Revolutionary Recordings of Irish Volunteers: Aspects of South and East Tyrone on Tape’ in Dúiche Néill: Journal of the O Neill Country Historical Society, 2016

Electronic Publications

'Writing Sports History', on http://www.writing.ie, 2013
'The Story of Gaelic Games in Ulster', http://www.ofiaich.ie, 2010


• Richard McElligott, 'Forging a Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry, in History Ireland', Jan./Feb. 2014.
• Gerard McAtasney, 'Tom Clarke: Life, Liberty, Revolution' for Dúiche Néill: Journal of the O’Neil Country Historical Society, 2013.


• 'The GAA and the 1916 Easter Rising in Ulster' in National Football League final programme, 24 April 2016
• 'Armagh Conference to reflect on Northern Voices of the Irish Revolution', History Ireland, Sept. / Oct. 2015

• 'In Mem'ries View: Profiles of Irish Volunteers from Ulster 1913-23', educational resource pack published by the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library and Archive, 2017
• 'C.L.G. in Ulaidh: Na Cumainn & na Páirceanna' – a directory of the names of Ulster GAA Clubs & Grounds', 2013