5

‘THE IRISH, PROPERLY SO CALLED’

Throughout most of its existence, the Protestant nation was secure in the knowledge that the Roman Catholic majority of Ireland was politically non-existent; and, as nightmares of a Catholic uprising faded into insignificance, Protestant willingness to acquiesce in toleration of Catholics grew. 1 But toleration was, in one important respect, more easily preached than practised; for, inevitably, it involved Protestants in what one contemporary called ‘political algebra’. 2 Given the fact that Catholics were a majority, how could concessions to them be reconciled with the security of the nation? The religious indifference of the eighteenth century was not altogether without impact, even in Ireland; a preface to an edition of Molyneux’s Case, published in 1770, noted the decline of religious bigotry, and declared that ‘the two sects are insensibly gliding into the same common interests’; ‘commercial and not religious interests are the object of almost every nation in Europe’. 3

But the problem in Ireland was that religion was not merely a question of worship; it had political implications which, however much in abeyance, could not finally be set aside. Thus Flood, Charlemont and Lucas, while believing in toleration, drew the line at admitting Catholics to political power. Charlemont held that at least a century must pass before Catholics would be sufficiently assimilated by education with their Protestant fellow-countrymen to enable them safely to be granted civil rights. Flood was convinced that the existence of an independent constitution in Ireland depended upon its resting on an exclusively Protestant basis; a total convulsion must follow if the vast, anarchical Catholic element was admitted to equal power with Protestants. Even Henry Grattan, whose liberalism went so far as to espouse political rights for Catholics, and who proclaimed that ‘I love the Roman Catholic; I am a friend to his liberty’, assured Protestants that his friendship was conditional upon Catholic liberty proving compatible with Protestant ascendancy. 4

The dilemma implicit in Grattan’s position was concealed by the political submergence of the vast bulk of the Catholics, and the declared loyalty of those few Catholics who played any part in politics. Catholic political organization first assumed a definite shape in 1759 with the founding of the Catholic Association under the leadership of

-123-

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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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