11

STATE AND NATION IN MODERN IRELAND


Had de Valera eaten Parnell’s heart
No loose-lipped demagogue had won the day,
No civil rancour torn the land apart.
Had Cosgrave eaten Parnell’s heart, the land’s
Imagination had been satisfied…

W. B. Yeat’s lines 1, written in 1935 in the middle of what was perhaps the most turbulent decade in Irish politics since independence, expressed his disappointment at the quality of life in the new Ireland that he, like other literary men, held himself in part, at least, responsible for bringing to birth in the 1916 rising. Cheap patriotism, demagoguery, internecine quarrels, threats to law and order and, above all, the absence of any great, heroic figure who could, by his nobility and inspiration, dominate the Irish people, provoked in Yeats a revulsion of feeling, a sense almost of betrayal. National freedom had proved an aesthetic disappointment; the drab, anti-intellectual atmosphere of the country disgusted him; the high hopes embodied in nationalism seemed to have evaporated; and the outlook for the new state, after only a few years of its existence, seemed bleak and unpromising.

The outlook from the political point of view appeared scarcely more optimistic: ‘In Ireland in 1922’, declared Kevin O’Higgins, minister for justice in the free state government ‘there was no state and no organised forces…. No police force was functioning through the country, no system of justice was operating, the whole wheels of administration hung idle, battered out of recognition by the clash of rival jurisdictions’. 2 Putting these statements, that of the poet and of the practical man of affairs, together, it seemed that Ireland lacked two essentials if she were to make a success of freedom, and not succumb to her enemies’ slanders that she was a banana republic, or, what was worse in the eyes of many, a banana non-republic: she lacked any kind of firm, solid administrative and political base; and she did not possess the necessary charisma to gather to her the loyalty, the affection and the respect of all her citizens.

Certainly the new regime was confronted with problems and difficulties arising both from the nature of the revolution that brought it into being, and from the nationalist ideology that inspired that revolution in the first place. From the beginning the Irish Free State was

-339-

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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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