Ivan Gibbons

‘notable for [its] sobriety and their attention to detail’
Financial Times 

‘excellent expositions of how the border came into existence… a short, very readable and clear overview’
Times Literary Supplement

‘an accessible, well-written concise history of partition’
History Ireland 

‘For any reader looking to learn more about how and why the Irish border came into being, this book is an excellent starting point.’
Irish Political Studies Journal



‘A must-read to understand why the Irish Border continues to cast such a jagged shadow over the island of Ireland, from party politics to implementing Brexit.’
Peter Hain, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

‘Thoughtful and well written study of a difficult problem.’
Paul Bew

‘Ivan’s lifetime interest and research into the tortured history of the Irish border has produced a vivid account of the historic twists and turns that resulted in partition.’
Nicholas Jones, former BBC political correspondent


A hundred years ago, Ireland was partitioned into a unionist north and a nationalist south. What began as an expedient and temporary political device to resolve conflicting tensions inside the United Kingdom was to become a permanent international frontier between two sovereign states, and Britain’s only land border with the European Union.

The passion and emotion felt about partition has not only dissipated in the intervening century; it is as controversial now as it was then. To mark the centenary, this concise introductory history explains why Ireland was partitioned and how the two states on the island were created.

IVAN GIBBONS is a lecturer in modern Irish and British history specialising in the relationship between the British Labour Party and Ireland. He was lecturer and MA and BA Programme Director in Irish Studies at St Mary’s University. Among his publications are The British Labour Party and the Establishment of the Irish Free State (2015) and Drawing the Line: The Irish Border in British Politics (2018).

Ivan Gibbons article in the Irish Times

Interviews: The Number 10 Podcast, Iain Dale’s Book Club Podcast

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