1

COLONY AND NATION

Modern Irish nationalists would perhaps be surprised to learn that they had anything in common with Cromwellian Englishmen; but, like the radical thinkers of the English Revolution, they believed that ‘our very laws were made by our conquerors’. 1 And, just as those Englishmen appealed to Anglo-Saxon rights against seventeenth century encroachment, so did Irish nationalists appeal to Gaelic tradition against foreign innovation. ‘Foreign’ applied to anything which followed the Normans in 1169; and the Gaelic dispossession of the earlier inhabitants of Ireland was conveniently forgotten. The Gaels have been described as ‘conquering castes’ with camp followers of ‘various breeds’, 2 and their shaky title to Ireland is further vitiated by their failure to retain any significant degree of racial purity. Indeed, it was impossible for them to do so: they would have had to exterminate a native population which had been established for over five thousand years, and they would have had to resist any intermarriage with the Scandinavian seafarers who came to Ireland in the ninth century, first to raid and then to settle. 3 Nevertheless, later generations of Irishmen, whatever their political or religious complexion, have all found it necessary to come to terms with the belief that the Gaels in some sense represent ‘the Irish in the infancy of their race’. 4

The Goidelic Celts were comparatively recent invaders of Ireland. They entered Ireland between 500 and 300 BC as a war-like race of conquerors; 5 and it may well be that the tacit assumption by many nationalist historians that this last Celtic invasion was ‘good’, and all post-Celtic incursions and invasions ‘bad’ was because the later invaders were unfortunate enough to have their misdeeds chronicled, 6 while the Gaels were able to compose their own, more flattering, version of their history. They were also able to claim that the Gael had been in occupation of Ireland since time immemorial, and that all Irish families of any importance were of Goidelic origin. 7 It might seem, however, that any investigation into the nature of pre-Norman Ireland is superfluous: if the Gaels were but one wave of successive invaders of Ireland, then to the historian, as distinct from the politician, Gaelic Ireland has no special significance. Moreover, if it is also bad history to regard the modern Irish nation, or what is usually considered the Irish nation, as in any real sense the direct descendants of the Gaels, 8 then there scarcely

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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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