- Editors' Introduction
In this issue of Éire-Ireland several contributors seize opportunities offered by unexplored sources or approaches to challenge or refine received assumptions. The issue begins with two articles that address questions stemming from the post-1968 Northern Ireland conflict, followed by several essays that enrich historical knowledge through new empirical investigations or the study of ideology. On occasion we receive, as if by serendipity, a cluster of submissions that together offer a substantial contribution to a specialized area or period. The last three essays in this issue consider literary texts that belong, in varying degrees, to the repertoire of the Irish Gothic, a genre that has only recently been expanded to include the work of Catholic as well as Protestant authors.
Although "the troubles" in Northern Ireland since 1969 have been assessed from a wide variety of perspectives, Laura Weinstein and Richard Rankin Russell offer readings of historical events or representations of the conflict that have been insufficiently investigated. Bringing the perspectives of feminist and women's studies to bear on the "dirty protest" conducted by a group of republican women in Armagh prison in 1980-81, Weinstein analyzes a campaign mounted in roughly the same period as the more widely reported protest of male republican prisoners in Long Kesh. She reveals not only how the treatment accorded to these militant women provided the material for effective republican propaganda, [End Page 4] but also how their campaign helped the republican movement to advance in its positions on women's rights. Russell's exploration of the drama of Stewart Parker, on the other hand, draws attention to the working-class Protestant community of the North. The essay demonstrates how Parker focused on the experience of dispossession in that community by raising the ghosts of a violent past and exposing a history that must be appeased before sectarian reconciliation can be achieved.
Just as the voice of the Irish Protestant working class has been, until recently, underrepresented in literature, the republican tradition in modern Irish history has persistently projected a one-dimensional view of the role of the British army in Ireland—as an inassimilable garrison or an army of occupation. Addressing some of the extensive gaps in our knowledge of military-civilian relations in modern Ireland, Neal Garnham explores the region of south Ulster between 1887 and 1890. He finds a British military regiment whose social and cultural activities and economic role earned it genuine popularity in and around four Ulster towns where its members were then stationed. This force was so well integrated into society that many of its members married local women. Garnham observes, however, that by removing these women from their own communities, such marriages reduced the Anglican population on a scale that "fundamentally changed" the nature of south Ulster society. In the following article Robert McLaughlin interrogates yet another assumption of historical scholarship, in this case the contention that Canadians of Irish descent, Catholic as well as Protestant, came to be thoroughly assimilated into Canadian society by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—exchanging their Irish concerns for Canadian ones by World War I. Taking issue with this prevailing view, McLaughlin argues that the Irish in Canada in fact maintained a strong interest in the tumultuous political events in Ireland between 1912 and 1925; his evidence demonstrates how in that period numerous Canadian Protestants aligned themselves with unionism, whereas many Canadian Catholics supported Irish nationalism of one shade or another.
Tying Irish political history to theories of neo-colonialism, Charlie McGuire examines the writings and ideas of James Connolly and his son Roddy Connolly. McGuire reveals how Roddy Connolly [End Page 5] expanded his famous father's socialist and anti-imperialist views into a formulation that pilloried the nationalist bourgeoisie that had led the Irish revolution of 1916–21. Aligning itself politically and economically with British interests in Ireland after independence, the pro-Treaty nationalist bourgeoisie, according to Roddy Connolly, remained alienated from the true interests of the workers and small farmers who constituted the mass of the southern Irish population. Through their ideas the two Connollys made signal contributions, McGuire maintains, to the theory of neo-colonialism...