Alternative Protestants & the Spirit of 1798

Date Sunday 26 March 2023
Time 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM


Claire Mitchell in conversation with Andrée Murphy.

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Alternative Protestants & the Spirit of 1798


Imagine Festival

This March we are excited to welcome Imagine Festival as they bring to The Crescent a whole host of events.


In her new book The Ghost Limb, Claire Mitchell retraces the steps of the United Irishmen, who worked for the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter over two hundred years ago.

Where did the spirit of 1798 go?
Did northern Protestants forget their history?
Who are the keepers of the flame?

In a quest to reconnect with this lost heritage, her interviewees walk and talk their way through the landscapes of County Down and Antrim. They go to political meetings, take Irish language classes, visit graveyards, pubs, churches and protests. They commune with radical ghosts and personal ancestors. And they chalk messages on walls.

As they search for the spirit of 1798, they bring a new politics alive in the present. They begin to imagine a different future.

This talk discusses history, politics and personal stories to bring alternative Protestant identities back into the light. 

Claire Mitchell is a writer based in Co. Down. A former sociologist at Queen’s University Belfast, she continues to write about politics and everyday life. Claire is the author of two books and a wide range of journalism, essays and prose.

Andrée Murphy hails from Dublin but has lived in Belfast since 1994. She is the Deputy Director of Relatives for Justice, a national victim support NGO which provides advocacy and therapeutic support for the bereaved and injured of the conflict. Holding a Master’s Degree in international human rights law, Andrée is a columnist for the Belfast Media Group and is a regular contributor to broadcast media, providing political analysis and commentary.

Reviews of The Ghost Limb

“Frustrated by silence and ablaze with hope, generosity, and the stubborn love she has for home, Claire Mitchell looks back to 1798, then forges on to map brave new 21st century ways to be a northern Protestant dissenter.” Susan McKay

“Claire manages to articulate the frustration and sadness I have often felt as a Protestant who prefers the radicalism of 1798 to the ‘No surrender’ of 1690, and offers a positive vision for the future.” Linda Ervine

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