The Irish Experience: A Concise History

The Irish Experience: A Concise History

The Irish Experience: A Concise History

The Irish Experience: A Concise History

Synopsis

This volume addresses the political, cultural and economic dimensions of Irish life, presenting Ireland as a hybrid of cultures and peoples. Coverage includes: an explanation of how the literature and folklore reflect the desire for national independence in both political and cultural forms; an analysis of how the Gaelic, Norman English, Elizabethan English, Ulster Planter English, Scots, Cromwellian English and Williamite English conflict and meld into the present character of Ireland and the Irish; a discussion of how the English impact, Catholicism, the Land Question, emigration, literacy and Gaelic cultural nationalism coalesce to create Irish nationalism; emphasis on the influence of British presence on Irish values and personality; an examination of how the Irish question moved Britain in the direction of liberal democracy and the welfare state; and an exploration of Ireland as a paradigm case of a country fighting imperialism and colonialism to move from colony to nation state, accomplishing the latter through one of the 20th century's most notable guerrilla wars of liberation.

Excerpt

"Some nations, like the Irish, are too historically minded, in the sense that they cannot get out of the past at all," observed the twentieth-century English historian G. M. Trevelyan. But his friend and countryman, G. M. Young, in his now classic Victorian England: Portrait of an Age (1936), called English policy in Ireland "the one irreparable disaster of [English] history" and concluded that what England "could never remember, Ireland could never forget." And how true both statements are for the "losers" and "winners" in various stages of history, for the diverse array of small nations and the domineering great powers, for the pessimists and the optimists in history. One can view Irish history from the perspective of the Anglo-Irish stage as the beginning and the end of English colonialism. But The Irish Experience is much broader than that and ultimately and ironically a microcosm of the human experience.

Indeed, the reader will discover that it is very difficult over the centuries to define an "Irishman" in an ethnic, racial, or religious sense. And it is equally difficult to ponder "the Irish question" for, as various wits have noted, every time one gets the answer, the Irish change the question. At various times the answer has been religious, economic, political, geographic, and even psychological.

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