Sean Lester - Sticking to the SeatMonday 16 September 2019
Monday 16 September 2019, 7pm - 9pm.
To complement an exhibition on the Carrickfergus-born diplomat Sean Lester, political historian Dr Éamon Phoenix and Lester Biographer Paul McNamara will present talks on Lester’s life and times. From his early journalistic and political career to his dramatic confrontation with the Nazi Party in 1930s Danzig, they will explore the significance and legacy of the man who was the last Secretary General of the League of Nations.
Exhibition on display Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre
Dr Éamon Phoenix
The career of Carrickfergus-born Protestant Nationalist, John Ernest (Sean) Lester spans that critical era in the making of modern Ireland from the Gaelic Revival to the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14 to 1916, the struggle for independence and partition.
This talk will set Lester's early journalistic and political career in the context of the political ferment in Ireland and in Ulster in the early 20th century: the rise of the Home Rule movement of Redmond and Devlin, the Republican revival in Belfast, in which Lester was centrally involved, Protestant Nationalism in Ulster, the rise of 'Carson's Army' and its impact on Irish nationalism. Lester's involvement in Irish separatism will be compared with that of other Ulster Protestants such as FJ Bigger, Ernest Blythe and Margaret Dobbs of Castle Dobbs in the run-up to 1916 and in its aftermath.
Dr Paul McNamara
Carrickfergus native Sean Lester was not only one of Ireland’s greatest diplomats but found himself in a key position to hinder the rise of Nazi power in Europe. Indeed, his confrontation with the Nazi Party in the Free City of Danzig as League of Nations’ High Commissioner from 1934 to 1936 was highly significant, both in the decline of the League of Nations, the rise of Nazi Germany and coming of the Second World War. Lester’s subsequent wartime battle to prevent the League itself from becoming a Nazi puppet organisation was equally momentous for world history. With his achievements now finally internationally recognised, it is time for Lester’s story to return home.
This project has received financial support from The Executive Office through Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's Good Relations Programme.