Robbie McVeigh and Bill Rolston

Haymarket Books (November 14, 2023)

Trade paper • ISBN-13: 9781642599749 • US $24.95 • 6 in x 9 in • 480 pgs.


Colonialism is at the heart of making sense of Irish history and contemporary politics across the island of Ireland. And as Robbie McVeigh and Bill Rolston argue, Ireland’s experience is central to understanding the history of colonization and anti-colonial politics throughout the world.

Part history, part analysis, Ireland, Colonialism, and the Unfinished Revolution charts the centuries of Irish colonial history, from England’s proto-imperial engagement with Ireland in 1155 to the Union in 1801, and the subsequent struggles for Irish independence and the legacies of partition from 1921. A century later, the plate tectonics of Irishness are shifting once again. The Union is in crisis and alternatives to partition are being seriously considered outside the Republican tradition for the first time in generations. These significant structural changes suggest that the coming times might finally see the completion of the decolonization project – the finishing of the revolution. In the words of the revolutionary Pádraig Pearse: Anois ar theacht an tSamhraidh – now the summer is coming. 


“This book brilliantly analyzes the history and legacy of colonialism and resistance in Ireland and beyond. In this moment where the whole planet is in flux, this powerful account offers indispensable insights for us all.”

Barbara Ransby Professor of Black Studies and History, University of Illinois, and author of Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century

“An excellent and critically important book…The empire has no clothes and stands naked, ugly, bloated, blood-stained and exposed – which side are you on? Reading this fine book might help you pick one.”

Dr Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh, Irish News

“Teaching any course on Ireland, Irish history, race and Ireland, as well as colonialism and decolonization without using this crucially necessary book as a key text will from now on be impossible; it is theoretically complex, comprehensive and a practical guide for Marxists wishing to finish Ireland’s unfinished decolonization.”

Ronit Lentin, Race & Class

“…one of the finest works of Irish and anti-imperialist historiography written to date.”

Chris Beausang, Liberated Texts

“Timely, vital and necessary, a most powerful and captivating account of the continuing pull of colonialism – and its dark, lingering legacies.”

Philippe Sands International Human Rights lawyer, and author of East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity.

‘With an 800 year history of harsh and often murderous foreign domination, Ireland provides ample evidence for the interplay of imperialism, colonialism and colonial state structure, along with race, class, and religion, topics explored here with subtlety and insight both in Ireland’s specific colonial experience and quest for decolonization, and in global history more generally. A very impressive contribution to understanding our world, how it arose, and why it must dramatically change.

Noam Chomsky Social critic and political activist, and author of Consequences of Capitalism: Manufacturing Discontent and Resistance

‘The election of Joe Biden as President of the United States reminds me of the old adage that Ireland is the only country in the world where English is spoken and the Irish don’t rule. Biden’s term in office will focus minds on Ireland and its peace process. Why such a peace process was necessary, why it needs protection, and why the authors believe that ultimately Ireland’s future depends on breaking the colonial link, is at the core of this audacious and fascinating book.’

Albie Sachs Anti-Apartheid activist and former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and author of The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter


Bill Rolston is an emeritus professor at Ulster University and former director of the Transitional Justice Institute. He has researched and written on a wide range of topics over the years, from media reporting of conflict to political wall murals, from reproductive rights to political imprisonment, and from unemployment to justice for victims in the North of Ireland. He has also been active on connected extracurricular issues including organizing, with others, debates and discussions at the annual Feile an Phobail/West Belfast Festival and acting as chair of the victims’ group Relatives for Justice.

Robbie McVeigh is a researcher and writer based in Edinburgh. He has published extensively, with a particular focus on race and equality. He has worked with statutory and community organizations across Ireland on issues of education, human rights and racism and sectarianism. He has also worked internationally on issues of race, equality, peace and independence including research on Roma Rights across the EU and self-determination in Papua New Guinea. His most recent research publication is Irish Medium Education and the ‘Statutory Duty’ in NI: A rights perspective (CAJ and Conradh na Gaeilge 2022). 


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