About R.J. Hunter

Robert John (Bob) Hunter was born in rural Meath in 1938 and was educated at Wesley College and Trinity College, Dublin. After graduation in 1960, he began research on the Ulster Plantation in the counties of Armagh and Cavan, 1608–41. This interest in the Plantation, and early modern Irish history generally, was to dominate his life.

In 1963 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in History at Magee College, thus beginning an association with the city of Derry/Londonderry that was to continue for the rest of his life. The creation of what was to become the University of Ulster also saw him teaching regularly in Coleraine. Through his meticulous research, he developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject, traversing such themes as the development of towns, the role of the English planters, the history of trade and migration and the intellectual and cultural life of Ulster more generally.

Though his untimely death in 2007 was to cut short his ambitions for further writing, he was nevertheless to leave behind more than thirty articles, essays, reviews, etc., which were the result of painstaking study conducted with a careful eye for detail and relevance.

RJ Hunter seated on bench


R.J. Hunter left an indelible impression on all who met him. This section will include tributes from those who knew Bob, whether colleagues, friends, former students, or the many people he encountered on his frequent forays into the Ulster countryside in search of relics of the past.

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Bob Hunter was known for telling great stories, many of them against himself; his friends and colleagues revelled in his ability to make light of setbacks, and find the humour in almost any situation. As John Morrill comments in his introduction to Bob’s collected essays:

He was a man with a deep sense of la comédie humaine and the ironies of human life. He could be a curmudgeon. He was a wry observer of his own paranoia. He was a man to whom things happened which were slightly sad and very funny, and he could turn any minor tragedy into a major source of laughter.

This section of the website offers anecdotes, some based on Bob’s own experiences, and those of the people who knew him and who shared the joke with him.