Kells Archaeological & Historical Society

Alice Stopford Green

Irish Historian and Nationalist (1847-1929)


On 28 May 2012, the society hosted a lecture by Dr Angus Mitchell of Limerick on Alice Stopford Green (1848-1929), a native of Kells, who became an eminent nationalist historian and writer. By total coincidence the date was the 83rd anniversary of Alice's death. Speaking to a full house and aided by a power point presentation, Dr Mitchell, who is writing Stopford Green's biography, gave a comprehensive and stimulating account of the various dimensions of Alice's interesting life, including her commitment to the cause of colonial reform in Africa and her friendship with such notables as Roger Casement and Erskine Childers. Following the lecture a lively question and answer session ensued during which several members of the audience proffered useful insights and ideas in the course of an interesting and stimulating discussion. In introducing Dr Mitchell chair Danny Cusack drew attention to the fact that Alice's father, Edward Stopford (1810-74), then Archdeacon of Kells, had been manager of the then Carrick School (now the Kells People's Resource Centre - venue of the lecture) when it had applied to join the National Board of Education in 1847. Prior to the lecture Dr Mitchell, partner Cailfhionn Ní Bheacháin and two members of the society were given a tour of Blackwater House, Alice's birthplace on the outskirts of Kells, by current owners Norman and Ann Ormiston.

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Alice Sophia Amelia Stopford was born in Archdeaconry House, Kells, Co Meath, on 31st May 1847. Her father Edward AdderleyStopford was Rector of Kells and Archdeacon of Meath. His father was the Church of IrelandArchbishop of Meath. Alice was educated at home and after the death of her father the family moved to London. From 1874 to 1877 she lived in London where she met and married the historian John Richard Green. He died in 1883. She had become collaborator in his work as an historian. Her first book Town Life in the Fifteenth Century was published in 1894. John Morley published her first historical work Henry II in 1888.

In the 1890s she became interested in Irish history and the nationalist movement. She was vocal in her opposition to English colonial policy in South Africa during the Boer War and supported Sir Roger Casement's Congo Reform movement. Her 1908 book The Making of Ireland and its Undoing argued for the sophistication and richness of the native Irish civilisation. Stopford Green was active in efforts to make the prospect of Home Rule more palatable to Ulster Unionists. She was closely involved in the Howth gun-running.

She moved to Dublin in 1918 where her house at 90 St Stephen's Green became an intellectual centre. She supported the pro-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War and was among the first nominees to the newly formed Seanad Éireannin 1922, where she served as an independent member until her death in Dublin on 28th May, 1929 aged 81.

• Henry the Second (1903) first published 1888
• Town Life in the Fifteenth Century Vol. I (1894)
• Town Life in the Fifteenth Century Vol. II (1894)
• The making of Ireland and its undoing, 1200-1600 (1909) first pub 1908
• Irish nationality (c1911)
• The old Irish world (1912)
• Loyalty and disloyalty: what it means in Ireland (1918?)
• A History of the Irish State to 1014 published in 1925 was her last major work
• R. B. McDowell, Alice Stopford-Green: A Passionate Historian (1967)
Léon Ó Bróin, Protestant Nationalists in Revolutionary Ireland, The Stopford Connection (1985)