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D.P. MORAN AND THE LEADER: WRITING AN IRISH IRELAND THROUGH PARTITION* PAUL DELANEY for readers of Irish literature D.P. Moran (1869–1936) is best remembered as a pugnacious journalist who, at the turn of the twentieth century, coined an increasingly exclusivist form of cultural politics under the rubric “Irish Ireland.” However, critical accounts of Moran are scanty, and apart from a short monograph by Patrick Maume, his work has rarely received serious scholarly attention in its own right.1 Moran’s views have been frequently summarized by the aphorism “the foundation of Ireland is the Gael, and the Gael must be the element that absorbs,” and critics have typically focused on the ideas expressed during the early years of his career.2 Moran himself has been criticized for employing chauvinistic images and crudely sectarian terminology; commentators have variously described him as a bigot, a xenophobe, a racist, and as “a great hater” of anything that might be deemed non-Catholic or non-Irish.3 D.P. MORAN AND THE LEADER 189 * An earlier draft of this paper was presented to the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research, at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Many thanks to Eugene McNulty for providing me with this opportunity. Thanks also to Lyn Innes, Thomas Docherty, and Declan Kiberd for commenting on a previous version of this essay. 1 See Patrick Maume, D.P. Moran (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press, for the Historical Association of Ireland, 1995). Maume has also written a brief pamphlet on D.P. Moran and Daniel Corkery entitled The Rise and Fall of Irish Ireland (Coleraine: University of Ulster CCILB Pamphlet, 1996). 2 D.P. Moran, The Philosophy of Irish Ireland (Dublin: James Duffy & Co., n.d. [1905]), 37. 3 Conor Cruise O’Brien, Ancestral Voices: Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (Dublin: Poolbeg Press, 1994), 35. For descriptions of Moran as a bigot, a xenophobe, and a racist, see F.S.L. Lyons, Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1890–1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 59; Maume, Moran, 23; and Cruise O’Brien, Ancestral Voices, 51, 92, respectively. Anticipating such charges, Brian Inglis has argued that, “though not himself a bigot, Moran, by his language, sometimes conveyed the impression that he was.” See Brian Inglis, “Moran of The Leader This essay rises out of this tradition of critical neglect. It explores ideas which appeared in Moran’s 1905 text The Philosophy of Irish Ireland and the early issues of The Leader—the newspaper he founded in 1900—and demonstrates how these ideas were to resurface in the context of later editorials in the run-up to independence. A series of editorials, essays, and cartoons appearing in the years surrounding partition reveal Moran’s continuing interest in the politics of identity formation, morality, and the Irish language . They also reveal his continuing interest in the delineation of a wholesome “Irish Ireland” identity. However, Moran’s model of identity was riddled with irony and ambivalence: He repeatedly argued for a return to Irish (a language which he never mastered) through the medium of English (a language in which he wrote with facility, but which he claimed to despise); he also pressed for the coterminous existence of the Catholic and Gaelic, and excluded Irish Protestants as “resident aliens,” even as he argued that Irish Catholics were an inherently tolerant people, incapable of bigotry. Moreover, Moran declared in support of the Treaty while he simultaneously retained his belief in a united Irish Ireland. He equivocated about the presence of the border, seeing it as both an imperial imposition to be resisted and a cordon sanitaire that provided for policies of cultural and economic protection; he also equivocated about the place of the North (and Belfast in particular), seeing the North and its inhabitants as simultaneously native and foreign. Reading Moran’s later work against the backdrop of the Treaty and partition suggests that his return to the argument of The Philosophy of Irish Ireland in the early 1920s is neither simply “irrelevant” nor incongruous , as Brian Inglis suggests.4 Rather, Moran’s later work for The Leader provides a critical expression of ambivalence and the problematic of identity formation, and reveals some of the discursive strategies...


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