English humanism against Gaelic
Degeneration, for Elizabethans and Jacobeans, meant leaving the
civil or political life of Englishmen and taking up the barbarous or
unpolitical life of Gaelic Irishmen. Richard Stanihurst wrote a
description of the process in the late 1570s while living in the
London household of Gerald Fitzgerald, eleventh earl of Kildare, as
tutor to the earl’s heir Garret.1 The instance which Stanihurst chose
took place when Gerald’s half-brother, ‘Silken’ Thomas Fitzgerald,
lord Offaly and tenth earl of Kildare, rebelled
Gaelic humanism against English
During the course of the seventeenth century a number of Gaelic
Irish radicals distinguished Catholic and therefore truly civil
Irishmen, from heretical and therefore truly barbarous Englishmen;
some even insisted that all those of English descent carried a natural
inclination towards heresy. This anti-English radical tradition
proceeded in an historical mode and rested on relationships between
law, custom, habituation, and religion. The natural law that rendered
present actions just or unjust, had also applied
In 1807, the Duchess of Bedford and several of her circle attended a performance of the opera The First Attempt at Dublin‘s Theatre Royal. Their hair was not coifed in the style of the day but rather swept up and fastened with golden bodkins in the ancient Irish manner. Soon this became all the rage in polite Irish society, and Dublin jewellers, struggling to compete, took out advertisements to accuse other firms of making less than authentic replicas. Indeed, the great demand in Dublin for these golden bodkins inflated the price of gold in Ireland. Drapers soon saw a business opportunity in this Celtic fashion renaissance and started producing the `Glorvina Mantle, a flowing scarlet cape, ideally secured with golden replicas of Celtic broaches. Eventually these ancient Gaelic styles made their way to London and became fashionable among ladies from the upper class. The popularity of this exotic dress resulted from a confluence of factors. While the growing interest in Irish antiquarianism, the European fascination with orientalism and the popularity of Gothic romance fed the fire, the spark that ignited the blaze was The Wild Irish Girl, a novel written by a young Irish governess. Not only does this fashion craze bear witness to the popularity of the text, but so do the sales figures. This popular novel, first published in 1806, went through seven editions in two years, and was even successful on the Continent, especially in Germany, where the young authors popularity almost eclipsed Scott‘s and Byron‘s and her sales figures surpassed those of her fellow Irish writers, Maria Edgeworth and Charles Maturin. In fact, the great Gothic writer Maturin openly borrowed from The Wild Irish Girl in his own work.
This study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, neglected, illegitimate and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to ‘cherish’ and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, breaking new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens. In foregrounding policy and practice as it related to poor, illegitimate and abused children, the book gives voice to historical actors who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population but who have been ignored and marginalized in the historical record. Moreover, it uses the experiences of those children as lenses through which to re-evaluate the Catholic influence in post-independence Irish society. The historiography on church and state in modern Ireland tends to emphasise the formal means through which the church sought to ensure that Irish social policy was infused with Catholic principles. While it is almost cliché to suggest that the Catholic Church exerted influence over many aspects of Irish life, there have been few attempts to examine what this meant in practical terms. The book offers a different interpretation of the relationship between and among the Catholic Church, the political establishment and Irish people.
The Irish mind has enabled the Irish to balance and accommodate imagination and intellect, emotion and reason, poetry and science. The notion of cultural difference is not just an Irish story, but a story of nations and ethnic groups all over the world. The story of modernity revolves around people coming to see and understand themselves as belonging to nations. Although there were other European nations that made Catholicism a keystone of national difference, there were many factors that made the Irish project different. The idea of creating a society that had a collective vision and commitment without being socialist became an ideal of the Catholic Church during the latter half of the twentieth century. The Church did, nevertheless, have a profound influence on Irish society and culture. The extent to which the Catholic Church shaped and influenced Irish politics has been the subject of much research and debate. The power of the Catholic Church in politics stemmed from the power it developed in the modernisation of Irish society and, in particular, the controlling of sexuality, marriage and fertility. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Irish developed a particular aversion to marriage. For many nations and ethnic groups, what binds people together is that they speak the same language. It may well be that for generations many Irish people identified the Irish language, music and sport as an inhibitor in embracing a less insular and more urbane, cosmopolitan disposition.
Divisions between north and south Ireland were prevalent since the 1920s. Yet, until the 1970s, nobody in public life in the Republic of Ireland argued that partition was justified. This book examines in detail the impact of the Northern Irish Troubles on southern Irish society during the period 1968-79. It begins with the aftermath of the civil rights march in Derry in October 1968 and traces the reaction to the events until the autumn of 1972. The impact of August 1969, the aftermath of internment and the response to Bloody Sunday are examined. The book looks at violence south of the border, particularly bombings and shootings and their human cost, and examines state security, censorship and the popular protests associated with these issues. A general outlook at the changing attitudes to refugees and northern nationalists is provided before describing the impact of the conflict on southern Protestants. The controversies concerning the Irish Republican Army and their activities are highlighted. The book looks at the question of revisionism and how debates about history were played out in academia as well as at a popular level. A variety of social and cultural responses to the conflict are examined, including attitudes to Britain and northern Unionists. For many southerners, Ulster was practically a foreign country and Northern Ireland did not seem very Irish. By 1979, the prospect of an end to the conflict seemed dim.
In the last decade Irish society has visibly changed with the emergence of new immigrant communities of black and ethnic minorities. This book draws upon a number of academic disciplines, focusing on the relationship between ideological forms of racism and its consequences upon black and ethnic minorities. Media and political debates on racism in Ireland during this period have tended to depict it as a new phenomenon and even as one imported by asylum seekers. Ireland was never immune from the racist ideologies that governed relationships between the west and the rest despite a history of colonial anti-Irish racism. Citizenship reproduced inequalities between nationals on the basis of gender and race and ethnicity. The book explores how the processes of nation-building which shaped contemporary Irish society and the Irish state were accompanied by a politics of national identity within which claims of social membership of various minority groups were discounted. It examines the exclusionary and assimilationist consequences of Irish nationbuilding for Protestant, Jewish and Traveller minority communities. The book also considers anti-Semitism in Irish society from independence in 1922 until the 1950s. It examines how contemporary responses to refugees and asylum seekers have been shaped by a legacy of exclusionary state practices. Finally, the book talks about anti-Traveller racism, the politics of Traveller exclusion, the work of SPIARSI, and the efforts to contest racism and discrimination faced by minorities in Ireland as expressions of multiculturalism.
Motherhood is a complex issue involving the mechanics of pregnancy and childbirth and the life experience of mothering and rearing children. This book provides a detailed account of the history of maternity and child welfare in Dublin between 1922 and 1960. It places maternity and child welfare in the context of twentieth-century Irish history. The book offers accounts of how women and children were viewed, treated and used by key lobby groups in Irish society and by the Irish state. It explores the development of female 'social rights of citizenship' during the first forty years of Independence. Maternity and child welfare often provided the pretext for debate on issues quite apart from mothers and children, which related to the deep-seated fears regarding the power lines in Irish society. In Britain, awareness on infant mortality led to a series of investigative committees, including the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration and the National Conference of Infant Mortality. A constant theme throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s was how the standard of maternity and child welfare services varied throughout the country. The book discusses the Dublin experiment. In the early part of the twentieth century, the ignorance of Dublin mothers was blamed for the high rate of infant mortality in the city. The stringency of the Emergency period, the sustained atmosphere of deprivation throughout the 1940s and the British White Paper, A National Health Service stimulated a debate in Ireland regarding the public health services.
Incidences of suspected infanticide were reported on a weekly basis in the latter half of nineteenth-century Ireland. Infanticide cases also reveal much about Irish society and the complex relationships that existed in post-Famine localities. This book is based on a sample of 4,645 suspected cases of infanticide, attempted infant murder and concealment of birth. The book first provides a general overview of the crime of infanticide in the second half of nineteenth-century Ireland, using statistical evidence gleaned from annual returns and the findings. In the case of newborn infants, the men of the coroners' courts had to establish that the infant was born alive and determine that the baby had been murdered. Other than infant murder, the other alternative criminal charges that could be brought on were manslaughter or desertion. Child murder was most frequently associated with puerperal insanity in its three forms: melancholia, depression and mania. The book looks at the attitudes of judges and juries in the Irish courts. It presents four case studies to highlight the response of the police and the attitudes of the community to infanticides and concealment of birth. While some members of the community were only too willing to report their suspicions to the police, others sought to protect the perpetrator from discovery. The press portrayed the female suspect as an object of sympathy as well as the lesser-used representation of an evil mother. The book also traces the lives of several women after their release from prison.
This book analyses and critiques Irish society in the early twenty-first century, but seeks to do so by consciously avoiding myth-making and generalisation. It invites readers to revisit and rethink twelve events that span the years 2001-2009. It shows that all of these events reveal crucial intersections of structural power and resistance in contemporary Ireland. The book shows how the events carry traces of both social structure and human agency. They were shaped by overarching political, economic, social and cultural currents; but they were also responses to proposals, protests, advocacy and demands that have been articulated by a broad spectrum of social actors. The book also explores how power works ideologically and through policy instruments to support dominant models of capital accumulation. Identities are constructed at the interface between public policy, collective commitments and individual biographies. They mobilise both power and resistance, as they move beyond the realm of the personal and become focal points for debates about rights, responsibilities, resources and even the borders of the nation itself. The book suggests that conceptions of Irish identity and citizenship are being redrawn in more positive ways. Family is the cornerstone, the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society. Marriage is the religious, cultural, commercial, and political institution that defines and embeds its values. The book presents a 2004 High Court case taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan for legal recognition of their marriage as a same-sex couple, which had taken place a year previously in Canada.