The Irish in the Atlantic World

The Irish in the Atlantic World

The Irish in the Atlantic World

The Irish in the Atlantic World

Synopsis

The Irish in the Atlantic World presents a transnational and comparative view of the Irish historical and cultural experiences as phenomena transcending traditional chronological, topical, and ethnic paradigms. Edited by David T. Gleeson, this collection of essays offers a robust new vision of the global nature of the Irish diaspora within the Atlantic context from the eighteenth century to the present and makes original inroads for new research in Irish studies. These essays from an international cast of scholars vary in their subject matter from investigations into links between Irish popular music and the United States--including the popularity of American blues music in Belfast during the 1960s and the influences of Celtic balladry on contemporary singer Van Morrison--to a discussion of the migration of Protestant Orangemen to America and the transplanting of their distinctive non-Catholic organizations. Other chapters explore the influence of American politics on the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922, manifestations of nineteenth-century temperance and abolition movements in Irish communities, links between slavery and Irish nationalism in the formation of Irish identity in the American South, the impact of yellow fever on Irish and black labor competition on Charleston's waterfront, the fate of the Irish community at Saint Croix in the Danish West Indies, and other topics. These multidisciplinary essays offer fruitful explanations of how ideas and experiences from around the Atlantic influenced the politics, economics, and culture of Ireland, the Irish people, and the societies where Irish people settled. Taken collectively, these pieces map the web of connectivity between Irish communities at home and abroad as sites of ongoing negotiation in the development of a transatlantic Irish identity.

Excerpt

Paul Townend

Outside his native Ireland, Father Theobald Mathew would rank high on any list of the forgotten famous of the last two centuries. Yet in his own day, Mathew, along with Daniel O’Connell, was indisputably the most popular man in Ireland, and over the course of the nineteenth century, halls, statues, and towers were erected in his honor all over Ireland, Australia, Canada, Britain, and the United States. For more than a decade, beginning in 1838, the charismatic Capuchin friar led history’s most successful temperance movement. Mathew’s crusade transformed Ireland and then swept through the Irish diaspora communities in Britain and North America, converting millions of hard-drinking Irish men and women to the strict practice of total abstinence. In hundreds of emotional open-air meetings, Mathew affected an astonishing if ultimately shortlived cultural transformation. Massive crowds of tens of thousands of enthusiastic postulants waited as Mathew met with countless “batches” of dozens or hundreds, who made the sign of the cross and took a short pledge to abstain from alcohol for life. After pledging, Mathew’s disciples formed a vast, international network of vigorous local temperance societies, complete with meeting halls, reading rooms, burial societies, and bands. The scale of Mathew’s success amazed observers on both sides of the Atlantic. Mathew and his movement were much discussed in his day and captured the imagination of better remembered contemporaries such as William Thackeray, Thomas Carlyle, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglass. His cause’s success intrigued popes, monarchs, and presidents. Designated a “Commissary Apostolic” in 1841 by Pope Gregory XVI, Mathew was honored with a pension by Queen Victoria in 1847 and, on a visit to Washington in 1849, dined with President Zachary Taylor, becoming the first man since Lafayette to receive the privilege of honorary seats in both the U.S. House and Senate. Millions of his medals and cards were carried with pride, and . . .

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