ISBN 10: 1781381429 / ISBN 13: 9781781381427
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Rezension: An original contribution to the historiography of Irish nationalism and press history in Ireland. -- Dr Michael Foley Based on much original research, this well written and very readable work is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the nationalist press and its central role in Irish political life over the period in question, making it a worthy contribution to the literature. -- Dr Mark O'Brien This is a useful contribution to the growing body of research on 19th-century Irish print media (it begins with a survey of academic literature on the subject). The title is misleading; despite occasional glances at 'Old Ireland' O'Connellite papers (hitherto almost completely unexplored), the English Catholic weekly Tablet (supportive of Daniel O'Connell's 1840s movement for the Repeal of the Union and the 1850s Tenant Right movement led by Charles Gavan Duffy; between 1850-8 the Tablet was published from Dublin (1)) and the tri-weekly (later daily) Freeman's Journal, this is essentially an account of the separatist press from the foundation of the weekly Nation in 1842 to the suppression of the Fenian Irish People in 1865. This in itself is a worthy project, given the influence of Young Ireland and Fenian literature on generations of Irish nationalists, and this book advances understanding of its subject through extensive research at the former British Newspaper Library in Colindale, in archives in London and Dublin and in published material (including parliamentary papers, most usefully the newspaper stamp tax returns which indicate the relative circulation of different titles). Unfortunately Andrews' broader analysis is less adventurous than her research. In autumn 1843 the Irish-born Whig-unionist journalist William Cooke Taylor gave the highbrow London weekly Athenaeum his thoughts on The Spirit of the Nation, a book of political ballads originally published in the Dublin Young Ireland nationalist weekly, the Nation (first published 15 October 1842). After contrasting these poetic offerings with old-style street ballads, Cooke Taylor suggested the Nation ballads, despite their political content, indicated that Ireland was becoming culturally assimilated to Britain, because they echoed English literary models and aimed at an audience educated in the Irish National Schools established in 1831 when Lord Stanley (later 14th Earl of Derby) was Chief Secretary for Ireland. Cooke Taylor believed political assimilation would soon follow cultural assimilation.(2) Over the remainder of the 19th century, Cooke Taylor's prediction was spectacularly falsified. Irish nationalism grew in strength, bringing with it innumerable cheap popular editions of The Spirit of the Nation and other writings associated with 'Young Ireland' and with successive incarnations of the Nation. The extensive memoirs of the Ulster Catholic Charles Gavan Duffy, proprietor of the original Nation and subsequently a prominent Australian statesman, did much to shape later perceptions of mid-Victorian Irish political history; the Ulster Protestant John Mitchel, spokesman of the more radical wing of Young Ireland (he described Duffy as 'Give-In Duffy') gave focus to the anger and resentment of later Irish nationalists; the patriotic ballads and essays of the Nation's first editorial-writer, Thomas Davis (a southern Protestant graduate of Trinity College Dublin) - whose high-principled idealism won the personal respect of an amazing range of ideologically-opposed contemporaries (including Cooke Taylor) and whose premature death in 1845 preserved him from later dissensions - continued to inspire believers in an Irish patriotism transcending sectarian divisions, while the Nation itself, having increasingly identified nationalism and Catholicism under the proprietorship of the Sullivan brothers, was superseded by the newly-founded Irish Catholic in 1888. Later separatists applied Young Ireland criticisms of the alliance between Daniel O'Connell and Whig governments as based on jobbery and corruption to later co-operation between Irish nationalist parliamentarians and British liberals. As Andrews points out, Arthur Griffith, founder of the first Sinn Fein party (the name Sinn Fein derives from a ballad 'Ourselves Alone' by John O'Hagan, originally published in the Nation) edited several selections of Young Ireland material and derived his prose style and many political opinions from Mitchel. When Patrick Pearse, the figurehead of the 1916 Rising, published a justification of the action he was about to take, he invoked 'four evangelists' of the 'Gospel of Irish Nationality': three 'evangelists' were Young Irelanders - Davis, Mitchel, and the land reformer James Fintan Lalor. The post-independence Irish state, and its school curricula, reading public and political factions, celebrated the Young Irelanders as heroes and role-models; later generations noted that in 1945 commemorations of the centenary of the death of Davis eclipsed the centenary of the outbreak of the 1845-9 Great Famine in which millions died or emigrated. By 1945, however, the Young Ireland style of didactic balladry was overshadowed, first by the more complex productions of the Irish Literary Revival and then by 'realist' reactions against the tradition of self-idealisation which the Nation in its various incarnations had helped to form, and the abstraction of the Young Irelanders from their historical setting by idealising anthologists contributed to perceptions that they were too good to be true. In recent years, some scholars have reassessed the significance of Young Irelanders by recontextualising them in their own times.(3) This study contributes to this process, though over-identification with its subjects hinders Andrews from taking contextualisation far enough. The book consists of four well-structured chapters. The first outlines the development of the Repeal Movement and the role played by the nationalist press in publicising and reporting 'monster meetings' with the aim of clarifying their significance, providing ideological education on such issues as the land system Catholic-Protestant relations, and Ireland's historic cultural achievements, and promoting a self-image of Irish respectability and self-control in contrast to hostile stereotypes of subhuman degradation and moral irresponsibility. Newspaper reports and correspondence are mined for information on such matters as communal reading aloud of newspapers, the role of local activist 'Repeal Wardens' in promoting circulation (pp. 33-4), and female Repeal activism (e.g. instances of women Repeal Wardens - p. 34). The second chapter covers the divisions and decline of the Repeal movement after the brief imprisonment of its leaders in 1844, the impact of the Famine, the 1846 split between O'Connell and Young Ireland when O'Connell ordered that the Repeal Association repudiate physical force even in theory while the Young Irelanders accused him of seeking a pretext to pursue a corrupt bargain with the new Whig government and establish his son John as political heir rather than the prominent Protestant MP and Young Ireland sympathiser William Smith O'Brien and the role of the Nation in developing the Irish Confederation as a rival to the Repeal Movement. It details the subsequent split between radical and conservative Young Irelanders (over the question of whether they should continue to seek an union of all classes of Irishmen or adopt Lalor's strategy of writing off the landlords and using the land issue to mobilise the Irish masses) leading to the establishment of the United Irishman (edited by Mitchel) as a rival to the Nation in February 1848, and the role of the 1848 wave of European revolutions in escalating discontent and repression, leading to the trial and transportation of Mitchel in May, the failed Young Ireland rebellion of July, and the disappearance into exile of most leading Young Irelanders except Gavan Duffy. Here Andrews adds relatively little to what is already known, and her tendency to over-identify with Young Ireland is reflected in the fact that while she details evidence in support of the Young Ireland view of O'Connell's motives, she outlines (p. 93) but neither rebuts nor analyses the view of the Tablet editor Frederick Lucas - advocated by Professor Maurice O'Connell - that O'Connell was legitimately concerned that Young Ireland verbal militancy might lead to government suppression of the whole Repeal Movement and that the Young Irelanders were irresponsible in insisting on what they called a theoretical point when the country was starving and splitting the Repeal movement would weaken pressure for government concessions. (Andrews also overlooks the point - made by O'Connellites and Mitchelites - that Smith O'Brien and Gavan Duffy expelled Mitchel from the Irish Confederation on the same grounds that O'Connell expelled them from the Repeal Association.) Andrews should explore what the Young Ireland emphasis on ideological consistency, in contrast to Lucas - let alone O'Connell - says about their specific views on personal integrity and the role of the media in political education. The third chapter is particularly innovative and useful to students of 19th-century Ireland. It covers developments in the 1850s as Gavan Duffy and Lucas used the Nation and the Tablet to try to reconstruct a parliamentary movement based on the issue of tenant right and the maintenance of independent opposition to all British parties, and came into collision with clericalist 'whigs' supported by Archbishop Paul Cullen and financed by the fraudster-MP John Sadleir, while 'Mitchelite' radical-nationalists tried to maintain a press and an organisation which their numerous but impoverished supporters found it hard to sustain. The appearance and disappearance of journals such as the 1849-50 Irishman (with its associated Irish Democratic Alliance) and the 1855-6 Tribune (stimulated by the Crimean War, which seems comparable to the 1899-1902 Boer War in reawakening in Irish nationalists recovering from a political debacle a perception of Imperial vulnerability) is traced with meticulous attention to detail, and the analysis of how these groups (which had s...

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