My research is concerned with Irish and British history, with particular focus on the Tudor period (1485-1603) and the relationship between England and Ireland. My early work considered Ireland as a frontier region of the English state and the clash of civilizations which resulted from the piecemeal extension in Tudor times of English government, law and culture to areas inhabited by independent Irish clans. The cornerstone of this research was the book of my doctoral thesis: ‘Civilizing’ Gaelic Leinster: the extension of Tudor rule in the O’Byrne and O’Toole lordships (Dublin, 2005) which was awarded the Irish Historical Research Prize by the National University of Ireland in 2005. I also co-wrote, with Steven Ellis, the textbook The Making of the British Isles: the state of Britain and Ireland, 1450-1660 (London, 2007) which allowed me to explore my interest in state formation in the early modern period on a broader canvas.
The themes which I touched upon in my first two books I developed in a number of articles, book chapters, reviews and ultimately in my next book: William Cecil, Ireland, and the Tudor State (Oxford, 2012). The book represented the culmination of a decade of thinking and writing about the relationship between Ireland and England in the Tudor period. William Cecil, Lord Burghley, was Queen Elizabeth I’s principal advisor and much the most important figure in England after the queen herself. Its analysis of William Cecil’s decades-long relationship with Ireland sought to reconsider Anglo-Irish interaction in the Tudor period, and showed that this interaction was characterized by more than the basic binary features of conquest and resistance. At another level, the book demonstrated that the second half of the sixteenth century witnessed the political, social, and cultural integration of Ireland into what was a multinational Tudor state, and that it was Cecil, more than any other figure, who consciously worked to achieve that integration. Writing and researching this book laid the foundation for my most recent book: The Tudor Discovery of Ireland (Dublin, 2015). This book argues that the rapid acquisition of knowledge about Ireland in Tudor times constituted a discovery of no small importance for the development of the early modern English state. How the Tudors, and the most influential members of the political establishment who served them, came to be acquainted with Ireland –with its history, with its politics and economy, with its peoples and with its geography – and how that acquired knowledge was put into practice is the subject of The Tudor Discovery of Ireland.I spent much of 2014 writing The Tudor Discovery of Ireland at the National University of Ireland, Galway where I was the Irish American Cultural Institute/NUIG Fellow in Irish Studies at the Center for Irish Studies and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Moore Institute.
At Fordham, I offer courses on the history of early modern Europe with a range of upper-level and graduate courses devoted to British history in the Tudor and Stuart periods. The history of Ireland is a special interest of mine, and I teach courses on Irish history from earliest times to the present. I am a past Director of Fordham’s Institute of Irish Studies and am presently Associate Chair of History at our Lincoln Center campus.