Ireland: Contested Ideas of Nationalism and History

By Hugh F. Kearney | Go to book overview

Chapter Three

Faith and Fatherland Revisited
(2000)

The life and death of certain memorable inhabitants of
the far off Atlantic archipelago that the Iceland-bound
voyager sometimes beholds as “a wonderful vision in
changing mist.”1

In 1997 Mary Kenny published her controversial book Goodbye to Catholic Ireland. If Brendan Bradshaw's recent historical work is any guide, however, “Catholic Ireland” is still very much alive, at least within the confines of Irish historiography. In two of the volumes under review,2 Dr. Bradshaw has contributed two substantial pieces, “The English Reformation and Identity Formation in Ireland and Wales,” and “The Tudor Reformation and Revolution in Wales and Ireland: The origins of the British Problem.” These essays taken together with an accompanying chapter by Marc Caball, “Faith, Culture and Sovereignty; Irish Nationality and Its Development 1588–1625,” contribute a powerful restatement of Bradshaw's “Faith and Fatherland” view of Irish history and identity. It seems appropriate therefore to devote the first section of this review to discussing them.

These essays will be of great interest to those following current debates about Irish history and identity. Bradshaw himself takes to task those with different views whom he calls “revisionists,” professors Nicholas Canny and Steven Ellis in particular. But the issues which these essays raise have a larger significance in the sense that Bradshaw's stress upon “a common faith and a common fatherland” finds obvious parallels in the history of European and indeed global nationalism. In Spain, for example, Catholicism

-97-

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