In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

115 3 “His­ tor­ i­ cal Facts” and “Stu­ pen­ dous False­ hoods” An Irish In­ sur­ rec­ tion at the Lim­ its of Schol­ ar­ ship, c. 1865–c. 1965 Em­ i­ nent Vic­ to­ rians? To­ ward the end of the nine­ teenth cen­ tury, in the twi­ light of his life, the re­ nowned Dub­ lin law­ yer John Pat­ rick Pren­ der­ gast re­ flected on the times in which he had lived and wrote a me­ moir that, among other ­ things, con­ tained an ac­ count of what he ­ termed his “lit­ er­ ary work and ex­ pe­ ri­ ences.” The me­ moir ­ marked a new de­ par­ ture for him, as his “lit­ er­ ary work” had until then been his­ tor­ i­ cal in na­ ture. His inter­ est in Irish his­ tory had orig­ i­ nally been ­ prompted by his in­ volve­ ment in a chan­ cery case in the 1840s that had ­ touched on as­ pects of the­ eighteenth-century penal laws. To ­ satisfy his bur­ geon­ ing cu­ ri­ os­ ity he began to dig ­ through the co­ pi­ ous pamph­ let hold­ ings of the li­ brary of ­ King’s Inns and­ slowly began, as he put it, to “per­ ceive the im­ por­ tance of the land set­ tle­ ment” of the 1650s.1 Since no­ body ­ seemed to know any­ thing about this par­ tic­ u­ lar sub­ ject, by Sep­ tem­ ber 1848 Pren­ der­ gast was por­ ing over the Com­ mon­ wealth doc­ u­ ments held in Dub­ lin Cas­ tle, “and here I found the ­ record of a ­ nation’s woes.”2 His en­ thu­ siasm in­ ten­ sified as he “ran­ sacked other de­ pos­ i­ to­ ries.”3­ Through the op­ por­ tu­ nities pro­ vided by his ­ travels on the legal cir­ cuit and­ through var­ i­ ous con­ nec­ tions and ac­ quain­ tances, he ac­ cu­ mu­ lated more and 116 “Historical Facts” and “Stupendous Falsehoods” more ma­ te­ rial until he even­ tu­ ally con­ cluded that “all the in­ for­ ma­ tion that could be hoped for had now been ob­ tained; and if not ­ brought forth, the sub­ ject might sleep for an­ other pe­ riod as long as the last.” Fur­ ther­ more, he re­ marked, “much of it had been col­ lected with the view of being able some time or other to treat the sub­ ject of the set­ tle­ ment of ­ landed prop­ erty in Ire­ land his­ tor­ i­ cally con­ sid­ ered be­ fore the bar of Ire­ land.”4 This is what Pren­ der­ gast even­ tu­ ally did; the fruit of his la­ bors was the pub­ li­ ca­ tion in 1865 of The Crom­ wel­ lian Set­ tle­ ment of Ire­ land. Pren­ der­ gast is not eas­ ily pi­ geon­ holed. A mem­ ber of the ­ Church of Ire­ land (an an­ ces­ tor con­ formed in the eigh­ teenth cen­ tury) who in later life was ve­ he­ mently op­ posed to Home Rule, he was none­ the­ less a na­ tion­ al­ ist whose ex­ pe­ ri­ ence as the ad­ min­ is­ tra­ tor of the Clif­ den es­ tates made him a ­ strong pro­ po­ nent of ten­ ant right. ­ Prendergast’s opin­ ions on con­ tem­ po­ rary ­ events, how­ ever, were by no means di­ vorced from his schol­ arly pre­ oc­ cu­ pa­ tions; ­ rather, the two went hand in hand, and this could be said for vir­ tu­ ally all who ­ sought to en­ gage with the Irish past amid the tu­ mul­ tu­ ous up­ hea­ vals of the later nine­ teenth cen­ tury. The book that es­ tab­ lished ­ Prendergast’s schol­ arly cre­ den­ tials cor­ re­ sponded to a Cath­ o­ lic inter­ pre­ ta­ tion of Irish his­ tory. In­ deed, the com­ po­ si­ tion of The Crom­ wel­ lian Set­ tle­ ment was ­ prompted by con­ tem­ po­ rary con­ cerns, for the epon­ y­ mous set­ tle­ ment, hav­ ing al­ leg­ edly been de­ signed “rather to ex­ tin­ guish a na­ tion than to sup­ press a re­ li­ gion,”5 was quite sim­ ply “the foun­ da­ tion of the ­ present set­ tle­ ment of Ire­ land.”6 To reach this point Pren­ der­ gast had some pre­ lim­ i­ nary­ ground to cover, and ­ within...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.