Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Alan Ford


Dear Friends and Family,

Today I want to introduce you to the second of three Irishmen we have on faculty here at the University, Prof Alan Ford. Alan is now a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, but before he became such a big-wig in the upper echelons of academia, he taught Church history. Alan did his University training at Trinity College Dublin and St John’s College Cambridge, where he received his PhD. Alan came to the department here at Nottingham in 1999.

Alan’s work is primarily in reformation and modern era Irish history. Occasionally, when asked what he does, Alan says he studies the history of religious violence in Ireland. Alan understands well the emotional and sometimes even vitriolic nature of religious history and how it can divide, instead of unite as it is intended to. Alan does little teaching anymore, but he is always willing to talk to students, especially if there interests are in Irish church history. When I first arrived here working on Columbanus, Alan was incredibly fascinated and always willing to talk with me about my research.


  • FORD, A., 2013. Apocalyptic Ireland: 1580–1641 Irish Theological Quarterly. 78(2), 123-148
  • FORD, A., 2013. High or low? Writing the Irish reformation in the early nineteenth century Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. (In Press.)
  • FORD, A., 2011. Making dead men speak: manipulating the memory of James Usher. In: FORREST, S. and WILLIAMS, M., eds., Constructing the past: writing Irish history, 1600-1800 Boydell & Brewer. 49-72
  • FORD, A., 2011. Past but still present: Edmund Borlase, Richard Parr and the reshaping of Irish history for English audiences in the 1680s. In: MACCUARTA, BRIAN, ed., Reshaping Ireland 1550-1700 Irish Academic Press. 281-299
  • FORD, A., 2007. James Ussher: theology, history and politics in early-modern Ireland and England Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • FORD, A., 2006. ‘Force and fear of punishment’: Protestants and religious coercion in Ireland, 1603-33. In: BORAN, E. and GRIBBEN, C., eds., Enforcing Reformation in Ireland and Scotland, 1550-1700 Aldershot: Ashgate. 91-130
  • FORD, A and MCCAFFERTY, J., eds., 2005. The origins of sectarianism in early-modern Ireland Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • FORD, A., 2005. ‘Living together, living apart: sectarianism in early-modern Ireland’. In: FORD, A. and MCCAFFERTY, J., eds., The origins of sectarianism in early-modern Ireland Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1-23
  • FORD, A., 2005. ‘The Irish historical renaissance and the shaping of Irish protestant history’. In: FORD, A. and MCCAFFERTY, J., eds., The origins of sectarianism in early-modern Ireland Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.127-157
  • FORD, A., 2005. ‘That bugbear Arminianism’: Archbishop Laud and Trinity College, Dublin. In: BRADY, C. and OHLMEYER, J., eds., British interventions in early modern Ireland Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 135-160
  • FORD, A., 2004. Ussher, Robert (c.1592-1642) (642 words)Ussher, James (1581-1656) (8651)Ussher, Ambrose (c.1582-1629) (786)Travers, Walter (1548?-1635) (2,742)Ridge, John (1589/90-1637?)(771)Richardson, John (1579/80-1654) (702)Ram, Thomas (1564-: in New Oxford Dictionary of National biography
  • FORD, A., 2003. Criticising the godly prince: Malcolm Hamilton’s Passages and consultations. In: CAREY, V.P. and LOTZ-HEUMANN, U., eds., Taking sides? Colonial and confessional mentalites in early modern Ireland: essays in honour of Karl S. Bottigheimer Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 116-137
  • FORD, A., 2001. Martyrdom, history and memory in early modern Ireland. In: MCBRIDE, I., ed., History and memory in modern Ireland Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 43-66
  • FORD, A., 2001. ‘Firm Catholics’ or ‘loyal subjects’? Religious and political allegiance in early Seventeenth-century Ireland. In: BOYCE, D.G., ECCLESHALL, R. and GEOGHEGAN, V., eds., Political discourse in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth- century Ireland Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 1-31
  • FORD, A., 2001. Celtic Christianity: discovery or invention? Search. 24, 5-12
  • FORD, A., 2000. Religion: main feature or side show?. In: KENNEDY, D., ed., Forging an identity: Ireland at the millennium: the evolution of a concept Dublin: Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations. 28-33(In Press.)
  • FORD, A., 2000. Review of Christopher Elwood, ‘The body broken’ Reviews in Religion and Theology. 7, 63-65
  • FORD, A., 1999. James Ussher and the godly prince in early seventeenth-century Ireland. In: MORGAN, H., ed.,Political ideology in Ireland, 1541-1641 Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 203-228
  • FORD, A., 1999. Parr Lane: ‘Newes from the holy ile’ Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature. 99, 115-156
  • FORD, A., 1999. The Reformations in Ireland: tradition and confessionalism, 1400-1690, by Samantha A. MeigsReformation. 4, 274-275
  • FORD, A., 1999. Review of Tony Claydon and Ian McBride, ‘Protestantism and national identity: Britain and Ireland’Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 50, 164-166
  • FORD, A., 1999. Review of A. Morton, ‘A turning point in Ireland and Scotland? The challenge to the churches and theology today’ Expository Times. 110, 415
  • FORD, A., 1999. Devoted people: belief and religion in early, modern Ireland by Raymond Gillespie Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 50(1), 164-166
  • FORD, A., 1998. Review of Micheline Kearney Walsh, ‘An exile of Ireland: Hugh O’Neill, prince of Ulster’ History. 83,331
  • FORD, A., 1998. Who went to Trinity? The early students of Dublin University. In: ROBINSON-HAMMERSTEIN, H., ed., European universities in the age of the Reformation and Counter Reformation Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 53-75
  • FORD, A., 1998. Reforming the holy isle: Parr Lane and the conversion of the Irish. In: BARNARD, T., Ó CRÓINÍN, D. and SIMMS, K., eds., A miracle of learning: studies in manuscripts and Irish learning: essays in honour of William O’Sullivan Aldershot: Ashgate. 137-163
  • FORD, A., 1998. Parry, The trophies of time: English antiquarians of the seventeenth century Irish Historical Studies. 121, 141
  • FORD, A., 1998. James Ussher and the creation of an Irish Protestant identity. In: BRADSHAW, B. and ROBERTS, P., eds., British consciousness and identity: the making of Britain, 1533-1707 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.185-212
  • FORD, A., 1997. Review of T.H.L. Parker, ‘Calvin’s preaching’ Scottish Journal of Theology. 50, 504-505 (In Press.)
  • FORD, A., 1997. The Protestant Reformation in Ireland, 1590-1641 2nd ed.. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
  • FORD, A., 1996. Review of Philomena Kilroy, ‘Protestant dissent and controversy in Ireland, 1660-1714’ English Historical Review. 111, 1288-1289
  • FORD, A., 1996. The origins of Irish dissent. In: HERLIHY, K., ed., The religion of Irish dissent, 1650-1800Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 9-30
  • FORD, A. and WATSON, B., 1996. Using hypertext courseware to teach the New Testament Computers and Texts.13, 2-4
  • FORD, A., 1995. Dependent or independent? The Church of Ireland and its colonial context, 1536-1649 The Seventeenth Century. 10(2), 163-187
  • FORD, A., 1995. Standing one’s ground: religion, polemic and Irish history since the Reformation. In: FORD, A., MCGUIRE, J. I. and MILNE, K., eds., As by law established: the Church of Ireland since the Reformation Dublin: Lilliput Press. 1-14
  • FORD, A., 1995. The Church of Ireland 1558-1634, a Puritan Church?. In: FORD, A., MCGUIRE, J. I. and MILNE, K., eds., As by law established: the Church of Ireland since the Reformation Dublin: Lilliput Press. 52-68
  • FORD, A., 1995. Review of Brian MacCuarta, ‘Ulster 1641 – aspects of the rising’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 46,337-339
  • FORD, A., 1995. The Reformation in Kilmore to 1641. In: GILLESPIE, R., ed., Cavan: essays on the history of an Irish county Blackrock: Irish Academic Press. 73-98
  • FORD, A., 1994. The European Reformation, Euan Cameron History of European Ideas. 18(4), 634
  • FORD, A., 1994. Review of Julian Davies, ‘The Caroline captivity of the church – Charles I and the remolding of Anglicanism, 1625-1641’ Irish Historical Studies. 29, 140-141
  • FORD, A., 1994. Zwingli: an introduction to his thought, W. P. Stephens History of European Ideas. 18(4), 615
  • FORD, A., 1994. Review of Gillian Evans, ‘Problems of authority in the Reformation debates’ Scottish Journal of Theology. 47, 419-420
  • FORD, ALAN, 1956- and MCCAFFERTY, JOHN., The origins of sectarianism in early modern Ireland At: Glasgow – Main Library, Level 8 ; History DY850 ORI, Leeds – Brotherton Library Main Building, level 2 ; Modern History R-2.3 FOR, University of London – ULRLS – Senate House Library HISTORY 6th Flo


Why study church history?

Why Study Historiography?

Why Study Irish Church History with Alan Ford

Why Study James Ussher?

Theologians in Conversation: Is Religion Divisive? With Tom O’Loughlin and Alan Ford

Watch any one of these videos and you will see just how passionate Alan is about both history and Irish history. Make sure you check these videos out and peruse his bibliography for anything that might interest you.


Related Posts

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Simon Oliver

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Mary Cunningham

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Alison Milbank

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Tom O’Loughlin

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Richard Bell

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Roland Deines

A Guide to Knowing Your Saints: St Patrick


Dear Friends and Family,

Today many people will be putting on massive amounts of green, buying Guinness, or some other beer that is or has been made to look green, will put on some Flogging Molly, the Dubliners, the Irish Rovers, or the Dropkick Murpheys and will get completely hammered celebrating what they’ve come to call St Paddy’s Day, the day for celebrating all things “Irish”. There are so many problems with this.

I could give you a detailed (or perhaps rather vague) history of who St Patrick was (below you’ll see a video giving you some background on our understanding of Patrick today). Instead I just want to focus on a two key aspects.

Patrick was not Irish

We forget this all the time, but Patrick was born and raised in Britain some time in the fifth century. He may have been part Roman and part Briton, but he was certainly not at all Irish. I’m not saying that St Patrick’s day should not include a celebration of positive aspects of Irish culture, but it isn’t an occasion to wear so much green (or orange if you’re supporting the Northern Irish) it’s offensive and to dwell purely on Irish stereotypes. It ought to be a day of reflection on how one man, even if only in myth, could have such an impact on an island as to have his death remembered.

Patrick was a Christian

Somewhere along the line this has been forgotten. Patrick was a monk who, earlier in life, had been taken as a slave to Ireland and later in life returned as a priest and monk to spread the news of Jesus Christ. He potentially combatted heretical Christians and antagonistic pagans to show them that the God of Jesus Christ is the true God and that Christ is his Son and the Spirit is his Spirit; that each is a person and yet is still one God. Today ought to be a celebration of a life of devotion to Jesus Christ. Yes, let’s celebrate (this should be no solemn affair), but remember what it is we are celebrating: the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ.

I recommend you check out my friend Peter’s post from last year: St. Patrick’s Day.

Let me leave with a video on St Patrick from Thomas O’Loughlin and a passage from Patrick’s Confession.

From his Confession Part II, 16 on his learning to pray:

But after I had come to Ireland,
it was then that I was made to shepherd the flocks day after day,
and, as I did so, I would pray all the time, right through the day.
More and more the love of God and fear of him grew strong within me,
and as my faith grew, so the Spirit became more and more active,
so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers,
and at night only slightly less.
Although I might be staying in a forest or out on a mountainside,
it would be the same;
even before dawn broke, I would be aroused to pray.
In snow, in frost, in rain,
I would hardly notice any discomfort,
and I was never slack but always full of energy.
It is clear to me now, that this was due to the fervor of the Spirit within me.

May we all find ourselves so filled with the fervor of the Spirit.