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Making the Irish European: Gaelic Honor Politics and Its Continental Contexts


This article looks at Irish attempts to fashion Gaelic elites as members of a European-wide aristocracy. Historiographical consensus holds that a modern Ireland, defined by a confessionalized sense of national consciousness, emerged from the ashes of the Gaelic political system's collapse ca. 1607. Central to that process was the exile experience of Irish nobles in Counter-Reformation Europe. This article reads two Irish texts —Tadhg Ó Cianáin's Imeacht na nIarlaí and Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh's Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill —to argue that inclusion in a pan-European nobility was not antithetical to traditional Gaelic cultural norms. In doing so, it attempts to soften the contrast between medieval and modern Ireland, to study the relation between provincial elites and central authority in this period of European state formation, and to explore the interplay between new international identities and traditional local authority.