On 1 December 2018, Iceland celebrated the centenary of its status as a sovereign state. In the autumn of 1918 an agreement with Denmark was reached, the Union Treaty Bill, later ratified by parliament and a popular vote. Iceland and Denmark still shared a king and initially Denmark continued to handle foreign affairs. Yet as Spanish flu raged and in the coldest winter in its history, Iceland Iceland became a free and sovereign nation for the first time since 1262.
On 5 December, scholars and writers from UCD Dublin and University of Iceland commemorated this momentous event in Icelandic history with a series of talks at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The event – Celebrating a Century of Icelandic Sovereignty: History, culture and Irish connections – was organised as part of the project Cultural Memory and Contemporary Europe: Ireland, Iceland and the Atlantic Periphery, a collaboration between UCD and University of Iceland.
The event, which was recorded for podcasting by Real Smart Media, featured:
- Keynote lecture by Valur Ingimundarson, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Iceland. His lecture: ‘Unarmed Sovereignty versus Military Rights: Enforcing the Icelandic-U.S. Defense Agreement, 1951–2018’ was introduced by Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir.
- Reading by Icelandic writer Sjón from his novel ‘Moonstone’. Sjón was introduced by Anne Enright.
- Roundtable which concluded the event. The discussion ‘Iceland and Ireland: cultural dialogues and parallel histories’ featured John Brannigan, Fionnuala Dillane, Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir, Valur Ingimundarson, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Sjón. The chair was Gerardine Meaney.