‘An Irish Empire’?

Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire

Editor: Keith Jeffery

The notion that the British Empire was in any way an 'Irish Empire' is not one that will cut very much ice on the contemporary island of Ireland, north or south. This volume explores aspects of the experience of Ireland and Irish people within the British Empire and addresses a central concern of modern Irish scholarship. The paradox that Ireland was both 'imperial' and 'colonial' lies at the heart of this book. One of the themes which emerges from the studies in this book is the irrelevance of the Empire to some Irish concerns. Popular culture, sport and film are investigated, as well as business history and the military and political 'sinews of Empire'. In cinematic terms, the image of Ireland has been largely in the hands of the British and American film industries. Analogies between Ulster loyalists and zealous British settlers are frequently drawn. The book examines the views of that region's businessmen on the British Empire, including their perception of Empire, the role of Empire as an economic unit and views the status of Northern Ireland within the Empire. The eventual choice of both flags illustrates that pre-partition strands of both loyalism and Unionism continued to survive among leading politicians within Ulster during the 1920s. The British Empire Union of 1915, established to make the Irish more Empire-minded, included the energetic promotion of imperial history in schools and of the idea of Empire Day within the population as a whole.

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