To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Even though violent popular protest was a common feature of life in early eighteenth-century Dublin, the riots that broke out in 1729 were exceptionally severe and long-lasting and resulted in the worst disorder to occur in the capital in decades. Over a ten-month period rival gangs rioted against each other or against government forces, causing a considerable degree of destruction, injury and death. At the height of the disorder, in late spring and summer, ‘vast numbers’ of people were reportedly beaten and abused by rioters, and residents of the city became fearful for their personal safety. According to the Dublin Intelligence citizens moved ‘mostly in a kind of hurry’ on account of the riots; parts of the city became no-go areas, and gangs of ‘reprobates’ gathered on the outskirts of the city to rob travellers and rape women. The political elite voiced their concerns too, in particular at the length of time the disorder was lasting. The archbishop of Armagh, Hugh Boulter, wrote to the secretary of state, the duke of Newcastle, from Dublin in March 1730 complaining that they had ‘suffered very much from riots and tumults in this town last summer and even during the present sitting of the parliament’.
Historians of socialist thought have rated the Irish political philosopher and radical economist William Thompson (1778–1833) as the most influential theorist to emerge from the Owenite movement in early nineteenth-century Britain. Indeed, Gregory Claeys has judged him to be that movement's ‘most analytical and original thinker ... and a writer whose subsequent influence upon the history of socialist economic thought has been long established’. Furthermore, stressing Thompson's democratic values, Claeys insists that the Irishman ‘may rightfully be considered the founder of a more traditionally republican form of British democratic socialism’. While Robert Owen is remembered for his ambitious co-operative experiments, he was not a theoretical or deeply reflective writer and his intellectual legacy was minimal. The Corkborn Thompson, on the other hand, wrote assiduously on the theory and practice of early socialism, reputedly influenced Karl Marx and became a key figure in the history of feminism; nonetheless, our knowledge of this important Irish intellectual remains deficient.
Chartism, though weak in Ireland, was the most significant popular political mobilisation in nineteenth-century Britain. Among its main architects was the Irish-born radical journalist and orator, Bronterre O'Brien. This article will describe and explain a key element in O’Brien’s politics. Dubbed ‘the schoolmaster of Chartism’ because of his contribution to the movement's intellectual foundations, O'Brien was one of the few Chartist leaders who had celebrity status, though he broke with other leaders and with the mainstream movement in the early 1840s. His influence waned thereafter and his reputation among historians of Chartism is mixed, but his thoughts about Irish issues circulated widely for a time and they offer suggestive revelations about Ireland's importance to radicals of the Chartist era, about wider debates concerning Irish society and its problems, and about contemporary concepts of Irishness.
Throughout the Irish cultural revival of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Wales was held up as an example by some Irish nationalists of how a nation could revive its traditional culture and language. These writers told their audience of the heroic deeds of the Welsh in restoring their language to show Irish language revivalists that their task was not impossible. The Welsh example was studied by enthusiasts to see what steps were needed to improve the position of Irish. Organisations such as the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (S.P.I.L.) and the Gaelic League noted with envy the levels of literacy among Welsh speakers. Revivalists believed that literacy had prevented Welsh from disappearing, and they hoped to boost literacy rates in Irish to save that language. They noted how successful the eisteddfodau were in instilling pride among the Welsh people in their culture. Accordingly, members of the Gaelic League established the Oireachtas to encourage the people of Ireland to celebrate their own distinctive characteristics. Yet while the example of the Welsh language was regularly discussed, this did not reflect a deep understanding of linguistic developments in Wales.
In 1959 the Ulster Unionist Party (U.U.P.) abandoned the idea that relations between the government in Belfast and the two main parties in Westminster should be maintained with a semblance of impartiality. Hitherto, although the Unionist M.P.s at Westminster had taken the Conservative whip, overt criticism of Labour had remained comparatively muted, if only to ensure that those with socialist sympathies would remain under the Unionist umbrella rather than defect to the Northern Ireland Labour Party (N.I.L.P.). In the run-up to the 1959 Westminster general election, however, the U.U.P. not only made offers of unconditional support to the Conservatives, but accompanied them with disparagement of Labour policies and objectives. The logic of that choice was not only contrary to the experience of inter-governmental relations with London since 1945, it also carried a high risk at a time when key areas of the Northern Ireland economy were becoming dependent on support from the British government, and a Conservative victory in the election was by no means certain. It therefore raised the inter-related questions of whether relations with the Labour party had been so toxic, and whether the attitude of the Conservatives, who had been in government in Westminster for most of the decade, had been so benevolent as to justify abandoning the approach which formerly had prevailed. Support for the Conservatives was the U.U.P. default setting, but unless carefully managed, that support carried with it the danger of alienating the Labour party which, given the rotation of power at Westminster, was bound someday to form the government with which Northern Ireland ministers would have to work.
In May 1974 the Ulster Workers' Council (U.W.C.), comprising loyalist trade unionists, paramilitaries and politicians, mounted a general strike backed by widespread intimidation. Their target was the Sunningdale Agreement, which produced a power-sharing executive for Northern Ireland and proposed a crossborder institution with the Republic of Ireland. After a fortnight the U.W.C. successfully brought Northern Ireland to a halt and the Executive collapsed, leading to the restoration of direct rule from Westminster. Three years later the United Unionist Action Council (U.U.A.C.) adopted the same strategy, demanding a return to devolution with majority rule and the repression of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (P.I.R.A.). This second strike was defeated. Many contemporary politicians were critical of the Labour government's failure to put down the U.W.C. strike. William Whitelaw, formerly secretary of state for Northern Ireland in Edward Heath's Conservative administration and the minister responsible for the bulk of the negotiations prior to Sunningdale, believed that the prime minister, Harold Wilson, and the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, did not have the same attachment to the political settlement and were less willing to support the Northern Ireland Executive in its hour of need. Paddy Devlin of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (S.D.L.P.) argued that the unwillingness to arrest those involved, ‘more than any other single action by the authorities ... caused thousands of law-abiding people who had earlier given support to the executive to switch loyalties’.
At first glance the low yield of books produced by the Dublin printing presses for circulation in early Stuart Ireland could lead to two hasty conclusions: first, that Irish society was unreceptive towards reading; and second, that the printing presses had to contend with a very small (literate) target audience. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In recent years Raymond Gillespie has done much to dispel these suppositions. His appraisal of English port books, printing press accounts from the continent and library borrowing lists plainly demonstrates the appetite of an interested reading public in Ireland. The value of analysing book loaning lists was further underlined by William O'Sullivan when he partially revealed the borrowing records belonging to the historian and antiquarian, Sir James Ware. In so doing, he drew attention to the potential of a deeper exploration of Irish cultural and intellectual life.
The centenaries of events around the Irish Revolution are inevitably bringing forth a spate of new publications. What is remarkable about the existing historiography on this period is that detailed studies of various aspects, particularly regional studies, are plentiful but that there are very few synthetic works. The two books under review here are therefore very welcome additions written by two eminently qualified historians. The works indeed do not disappoint: both go much further than simply putting together the fruits of existing works but rely on a substantial amount of original research. The relatively recent opening up of the archives of the Bureau of Military History, which inevitably means the bringing to light of new facts and insights, made this easier for Charles Townshend, who deals with the Irish side, than for Ronan Fanning, who analyses the British government's attitude to the Irish revolution.