McCracken, Donal

McCracken, Donal

Emeritus Professor

Discipline Centre for Communication, Media and Society
Contact Number 031-260-3809
Campus Howard College Campus
Office Address Memorial Tower Building, Ground Floor, G023
Last Updated 2 years ago

Other Positions

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Degrees Held

  • BA (Hons), D.Phil. (University of Ulster


Originally from Ireland, Donal McCracken has been an academic for nearly 40 years, with a research interest divided between environmental history, media history and the Irish diaspora in Africa. Books to his credit include nine sole-authored, two joint-authored and six edited. He was Dean of Humanities between 1994 and 2009, and is at present Academic Leader for Community Engagement and AL for Psychology Howard College (SAHS) 2018. He is a former chair of the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archive Advisory Board. He has been named South African Genealogist of the Year and won the Zululand Historical Society Award. He was the founding chair of the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust; is a former president of the Irish History Students’ Association; and was Irish Universities’ Debating Champion.

 Positions at University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa:     

  • Academic Leader: Community Engagement (AHS): (2018)
  • Academic Leader: Psychology (Howard College), (2018)
  • Senior Professor of History: Centre for Communication, Media & Society
  • Dean of Humanities (1994-2009)
  • Dean of Research (Acting, various: 2014-2015/2016)
  • Dean & Head of School of Arts (Acting, 2015/2016)


Junior Research Fellow at Queen’s University of Belfast.

History lecturing staff: Rhodes University; University of Natal; University of Durban-Westville.



Accredited Books

  • The Angry God: Brigadier-General John Nicholson. Contract signed with the History Press of Ireland, Dublin.
  • (Ed.) Media and empire (with Ruth Teer-Tomaselli). Routledge, London & New York, hbk, ISBN: 978-1-138-18432-9 (2016) & pkb, ISBN 13: 978-1-138-30935-7 (2017). [Articles published in Critical Arts, 28.6/29.1, 2014/2015].
  • Teddy Luther’s War: The diary of a German-American in an Irish-Boer commando, 30° South Publishers, Johannesburg, 2013, 168pp. ISBN: 978-1-920143-76-3.
  • (Ed.) ‘Essays and source material for Southern African-Irish Studies’, as vol. IV, Southern African-Irish Studies, (2012), 188 pp. ISBN 978-0-620-52008-9.
  • Inspector Mallon: Buying Irish patriotism for a five-pound note, Irish Academic Press, Dublin and London, 2009, 248pp, ISBN 978 0 7165 2993 4 (cloth) and 978 0 7165 2994 1 (paper).
  • Saving the Zululand Wilderness: An early struggle for nature conservation, Jacana Media, Johannesburg and Cape Town, 2008, 176pp, ISBN 978-1-77009-596-0.
  • South Africa’s Irish Heritage, 1787-2007,  Pretoria South African Heritage Council, 2008, 96pp.
  • Forgotten Protest: Ireland and the Anglo-Boer wars, Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 2003, 206pp, 1-903688-18-3, [Revised 2nd edition of The Irish Pro-Boers, 1877-1902].
  • A history of Mitchell Park and Jameson Park, and of the Zoological Gardens, Durban, Durban Parks Department, 2001, 110pp, ISBN 0-9584125-3-7.
  • MacBride’s Brigade: Irish commandos in the Anglo-Boer war, Four Courts Press, Dublin 1999, 208pp, ISBN 1-85182-499-5.
  • Gardens of Empire: Botanical institutions of the Victorian British empire, Cassell Academic/University of Leicester Press, London and Washington, 1997, 241pp, ISBN 0-7185-0109-8.
  • A new history of Durban Botanic Gardens, Durban Parks Department, 1996, 125pp, ISBN 0-9584125-1-0.
  • (Ed.) ‘Ireland and South Africa in modern times’, as volume III, Southern African‑Irish Studies, (1996), 312pp.
  • (Ed.) ‘The Irish in southern Africa, 1795-1910’ as volume II, Southern African‑Irish Studies, (1992), 290pp.
  • (Ed.) ‘Ireland and southern Africa Conference papers’, as volume I, Southern African-Irish Studies, (1991), 195pp.
  • The Garden Colony: Victorian Natal and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, (with P.A. McCracken), Frandsen, Sandton, 1990, 99pp, ISBN 0-9583124-1-9.
  • The Irish pro-Boers, 1877-1902, Perskor Books, Johannesburg and Cape Town, 1989, 183pp., ISBN 0-626-03284-6.
  • The way to Kirstenbosch (A history of South African botanic gardens: with E.M. McCracken), Annals of Kirstenbosch series, vol. 18, National Botanic Gardens of South Africa, Cape Town, 1988, 142pp, ISBN 0-620-11648.
  • (Ed.) A register of trees for Co. Londonderry, 1768 – 1911, introduction and appendices, (with E.M. McCracken), (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 1984), 80pp.

Scholarly articles

  • Working on a life of the controversial Irish soldier General John Nicholson (1822-1857).
  • 70 articles, monographs and chapters published in such periodicals and series:

    • Archives of Natural History
    • Bothalia
    • Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa
    • Cliohres historical book series (European Union Cultural Programme, 2005-2010)
    • Chicago Botanic Garden Encyclopedia of Gardens
    • Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies
    • Dictionary of Irish Biography
    • Eire-Ireland
    • Encyclopaedia of Ireland
    • Encyclopaedia of Empire
    • Études Irlandaises
    • Familia
    • Garden History
    • Historia
    • History Ireland
    • Irish Economic and Social History Journal
    • Irish Historical Studies
    • Journal of Gender & Religion in Africa
    • Journal of South African Theology
    • Natal and Zulu History
    • Natalia
    • Nomina Africana
    • Oxford Companion to the Garden
    • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    • Scientia Militaria – South African Journal of Military Studies
    • South African Forestry Journal
    • South African Journal of Science
    • Southern African Irish Studies
    • Veld and Flora

Successful supervision CCMS from 2014

  • 5 PhD (2 joint)
  • 9 Research Masters of Social Sciences


  • Other

  • Chair: Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archive Board (2008-2015)

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

  • Irish Historical Studies international editorial committee

  • Judge for Undergraduates Awards (History)

  • National Research Foundation of South Africa rated scientist

  • Founding chair of the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust

  • iGumatane Village Development Committee member

  • Director of the Ireland and Southern Africa Project

  • Past President of the Irish History Students’ Association

  • Zululand Historical Society Award

  • South African Genealogist of the Year

  • Applied Human Sciences (UKZN) Award for Distinguished Service

  • The Honourable, The Irish Society’s History Award

  • Guinness Memorial Irish Universities’ Debating Trophy

  • Honorary Member of the Ladysmith Historical Society

  • Corresponding Member of the Instituto Argentino de Ciencias Genealogicas

  • Heritage and botanic gardens; battlefields of South Africa; and Ireland-South Africa cultural links.