INTRODUCTION: NATIONALISM AND IRELAND

In 1904 Eoin MacNeill, later to become Ireland’s foremost ‘scholar revolutionary’, 1 delivered a lecture in University College, Dublin, entitled ‘Where does Irish History begin?’ 2 For the student of Irish nationalism, the question is an equally pertinent one. Does he begin his exploration in the Gaelic period of Irish history, in the pre-Norman Ireland that is so often regarded as the custodian of the real Irish tradition? Or must he look to the revolts of the Geraldines or the Gaelic chieftains in the sixteenth century? Did the confederate Catholics of the 1640s, with their motto ‘pro Deo, prorege, propatria Hibernia unanimis’ lay the foundations? Or—in quite the opposite camp—were the Protestant patriots of the eighteenth century—Swift, Grattan, and, in his very different way, Tone—the forerunners? Or is Irish nationalism essentially a modern phenomenon, the product of social and economic change in the nineteenth century, the child of ‘modernization’ (however that currently popular phrase is understood), the rationalization of the urban and agrarian middle classes’ perception of what side their bread was buttered on—or, conversely, the romantic reaction in the early twentieth century against that bourgeois mentality? The historian of Irish nationalism thus finds himself poised between two contrasting but equally hazardous paths: either he can search the more remote past for ‘trace elements’ of his subject, and run the risk of writing history teleologically; or he can begin his analysis in the modern period, at the time of the French Revolution perhaps, and accept an unsatisfactory, and equally unhistorical, discontinuity between tradtionalist and modern phases: 3 nationalism, like rugby football, begins when somebody suddenly decided to pick up the ball and run with it. But historical phenomena do not begin in that way; and neither, possibly, did rugby football.

The difficulties surrounding the attempt to locate the origins of Irish nationalism, or of any country’s nationalism, are reinforced by the wider question of what the term nationalism means anyway. To Professor Hugh Seton-Watson nationalism ‘is a phenomenon less than two hundred years old, essentially subsequent to the French Revolution’. 4 John Plamenatz agrees that ‘there was little or none of it in the world until the end of the 18th century’. 5 Eugene Kamenka, while agreeing that nationalism ‘is a modern and initially a European phenomenon,

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Nationalism in Ireland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Contents 5
  • Preface to the Third Edition 6
  • Preface to the Second Edition 8
  • Preface 9
  • Introduction: Nationalism and Ireland 15
  • 1 - Colony and Nation 25
  • 2 - Intimations of Nationalism in Tudor Ireland 46
  • 3 - For God, King and Country 68
  • Notes 91
  • 4 - From English Colony to Irish Nation: the Protestant Experience 94
  • 5 - The Irish, Properly So Called 123
  • 6 - Patterns of Nationalism, 1842-1870 154
  • Notes 187
  • 7 - The Making of Parnellism and Its Undoing 192
  • 8 - The Battle of Three Civilizations 228
  • 9 - What Home Rule Stood For, 1891-1918 259
  • 10 - Nationalism, Socialism and the Irish Revolution 295
  • 11 - State and Nation in Modern Ireland 339
  • Notes 370
  • Conclusion: Ireland and Nationalism 375
  • Epilogue: History, Politics and Nationalism 391
  • Appendix: the Downing Street Declaration , 15 December 1993 433
  • Maps 438
  • Bibliography 443
  • Supplementary Bibliography 477
  • Index 488
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