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The Eternal Paddy

Irish Identity and the British Press, 1798–1882

Michael de Nie

Publication Year: 2004

    In The Eternal Paddy, Michael de Nie examines anti-Irish prejudice, Anglo-Irish relations, and the construction of Irish and British identities in nineteenth-century Britain. This book provides a new, more inclusive approach to the study of Irish identity as perceived by Britons and demonstrates that ideas of race were inextricably connected with class concerns and religious prejudice in popular views of both peoples. De Nie suggests that while traditional anti-Irish stereotypes were fundamental to British views of Ireland, equally important were a collection of sympathetic discourses and a self-awareness of British prejudice. In the pages of the British newspaper press, this dialogue created a deep ambivalence about the Irish people, an ambivalence that allowed most Britons to assume that the root of Ireland’s difficulties lay in its Irishness.
    Drawing on more than ninety newspapers published in England, Scotland, and Wales, The Eternal Paddy offers the first major detailed analysis of British press coverage of Ireland over the course of the nineteenth century. This book traces the evolution of popular understandings and proposed solutions to the "Irish question," focusing particularly on the interrelationship between the press, the public, and the politicians. The work also engages with ongoing studies of imperialism and British identity, exploring the role of Catholic Ireland in British perceptions of their own identity and their empire.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi

I would like to first thank James S. Donnelly, Jr., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his careful reading, suggestions, and encouragement in each of the phases of this project. Thanks are also due to Suzanne Desan and Johann Sommerville of Wisconsin-Madison, both of whom helped me to hone my rhetorical edges and reconsider my...

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pp. 3-35

OFFERING ITS SUPPORT for the proposed Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland, the Times predicted in April 1799 that "nothing can tend to humanize the barbarous Irish as an habitual intercourse with this country and the opportunities of observing the civilized manners of those who are from it." The Act of Union was widely regarded by...

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1. 1798 and the Union

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pp. 36-81

AS THE NEW YEAR ARRIVED IN 1797, it found Ireland a deeply troubled land. To many observers the country seemed on the brink of civil war, pitting the forces of order, stability, and loyalty against those of Jacobinism, anarchy, and (for some) popish conspiracy. Others saw the impending contest as one between the advocates of reform and the...

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2. The Great Famine, 1845–52

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pp. 82-143

IN EARLY SEPTEMBER 1845 a new and devastating fungal disease, phytophthora infestans, or potato blight, appeared in Ireland, probably arriving on ships from America, where it had appeared two years before. Although there had been previous outbreaks of potato diseases and resultant shortages, none was as virulent or widespread as the new...

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3. The Fenian Era, 1867–70

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pp. 144-200

By MOST ACCOUNTS THE LATE 1860s constituted a particularly eventful period in Anglo-Irish relations, with an unsuccessful armed rising in Ireland, terroristic violence in British cities, raids on Canada by Irish Americans, the disestablishment of the Irish church, and the first of William Gladstone's Irish land acts. These same years also witnessed...

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4. The Land War, 1879–82

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pp. 201-266

IN LATE 1879 IRELAND ONCE AGAIN demanded the attention of the government and the British press when agitation over the land question entered its most fevered phase following three years of bad weather, falling prices, and poor harvests. In some areas of the west and northwest the agricultural crisis in the winter of 1879-80 created...

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pp. 267-277

THIS STUDY HAS HIGHLIGHTED NUMEROUS disagreements over Irish policy between individual newspapers or groups of newspapers, especially those with a pronounced political identification. On some issues, such as the disestablishment of the Irish church, there was a clear divide between Liberal and Conservative newspapers. On many...


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pp. 279-310


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pp. 311-329


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pp. 331-339

E-ISBN-13: 9780299186630
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299186647

Publication Year: 2004