I was very sad to hear that my friend, Dr Shane Nagle, who served for several years as ASEN’s conference secretary, passed away in April at the age of only 35 after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2021.
Shane and I met when I was a masters’ student at the LSE and he was working for ASEN. As conference secretary, Shane was largely responsible for the administration of the conferences, from collating submitted abstracts, wrangling volunteers, compiling and printing schedules, and everything else needed for the conference to run smoothly. He seemed to be preternaturally unruffled, even when I knew he’d been burning the midnight oil to make sure that everything was ready to go. Many of the behind the scenes processes that we still use for organising our conferences were put together by Shane, a testament to how well he put them together. He was also on the ASEN Executive for several years, and I often sought his counsel – he was always calm and level-headed, and could step back to see the woods for the trees. He was one of the very first to drop me a message of congratulations when I was taken on in my current position at ASEN.
Shane was of Irish descent, and he was passionately proud about his heritage and his identity straddle the Irish Sea. It is no surprise, then, that much of his research looked at Ireland. His thesis, comparing history writing in Germany and Ireland, was published as Histories of Nationalism in Ireland and Germany: A Comparative Study from 1800 to 1932 by Bloomsbury in 2016. Received with acclaim, Shane’s book highlighted the close relations between history and nationalism and, particularly, between historians and nationalists; that nations are not as unique as their promoters might think; and that a comparative approach remains not just a useful, but an essential, part of understanding nations and nationalism.
His work was published in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, of which he was an editor, as well as History Ireland, European History Quarterly, Labour History Review, and the Irish Times.
It is never easy to write an obituary, and doubly so for someone who has passed away so young who had so much more to do and to give, both in academia and beyond. We mourn his passing.