The relationship between nationalism and the land, observes Philip Bull in his recent study of the Irish land question, “formed a nexus which was so strong that the one issue became effectively a metaphor for the other.” Any student of nineteenth-century Irish politics can appreciate the force of this eloquent conclusion. Nevertheless, the preoccupation with the land by contemporaries and historians alike has relegated an important strand of economic nationalism devoted to manufacturing industry to a footnote in Irish history. The fate of manufacturing industry in the aftermath of the Union of 1800 is the subject of controversy among scholars suggesting, at the very least, substantial regional and sectoral variations. Contemporaries, however, were in little doubt that Irish manufacturing industry was suffering from terminal decline, a perception that had formed a regular reprise in public comment throughout the previous century. As John O’Connell wrote in 1849 “the question of Irish manufacturing has been, for more than a century and a half, one of the chief grounds of bitterness and bickerings” between Ireland and England.