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Dr William Sheehan

Profile summary

Professional biography

I have a BA from University College Cork, a Masters in History from the Open University and a PhD in History from Mary Immaculate College.

I am a member of the International Centre for History of Crime and Policing and the HERC Network at the Open University.  I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, the Royal Historical Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Outside the Open University, I volunteer with Civil Defence Ireland.

Research interests

My main area of focus in historical criminology, with a particular interest in forms of state control.  This covers areas like counterinsurgency and political policing.  I also have an interest in the history of detection. 

I published on the British campaign in Ireland from 1919-23, namely British Voices from the Irish War of Independence and A Hard Local War: The British Army and the Guerrilla War in Cork, 1919-22.

I am interested in supervising dissertations which focus on areas of colonial policing and colonial military operations in the 1920s and 1930s and crime and policing in Ireland and the UK during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.


A Hard Local War: The British Army and the Guerrilla War in Cork,, 1919-21, The History Press, (2011 & 2017)

The Western Front: Irish Voices from the Great War, Gill and Macmillan (2011)

Hearts & Mines: The History of the 5th Division in Ireland, 1920 to 1922, Collins Press (2009)

Fighting for Dublin: The British Battle for Dublin 1919-1921, Collins Press (2007)

British Voices from the Irish War of Independence, Collins Press (2005)

Riotous Assemblies: Riots, Rebels and Revolts, Mercier Press (2011)


The British Army in Ireland 1919-21 for the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, Cork University Press, (2017).

Biography of Sir Edward Peter Strickland for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, (2008).

Teaching interests

I have taught several modules with the Open University as an Associate Lecturer, namely Y031, Y032, A111, DD102, DD105, A326, A825 and A826.  I am currently a member of the DD105 Module Team, the DD311 Module Team, and the DD105 Mid-Life Review Team

Impact and engagement

I was a guest historian on Creedon’s Cities, an RTE programme in 2012.  I was the lead historian for the BBC Radio 4 Document programme broadcast on 29 October 2012. This programme called “The British Gunner and the Irish Civil War” was the subject of two articles in the Irish Times and was covered in the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner.  I was a guest historian on Who Do You Think You Are, a BBC programme on Brendan O’Carroll in 2014. I was a guest historian on The Brigade, a television series on the War of Independence which aired in June 2019. My books have been reviewed in the Sunday Times, the Irish Independent, Magill, and the Sunday Business Post.