Its long history as a colony and the long-term effects of that history make the Irish struggle for and subsequent but problematic realization of nationhood, both imaginatively and politically, a major component of Irish identity. The nationalist struggle for independence, gathering force in the latter half of the 19th century and culminating in (some would argue partial) success in 1921, is an integral part of the island’s recent history and was a core movement around which centered not only political activists but writers, poets, and artists who attempted to give voice to an Irish national spirit.
I would like to look at three literary works that are framed around the years closely preceding and following the creation of the Irish Free State and that touch on some of the issues and problems associated with the Irish nationalist struggle and its aftermath. These will be the short story by James Joyce entitled Ivy Day in the Committee Room, the poem by William Butler Yeats called Easter, 1916, and the short story Rock-in-the-Mass by Daniel Corkery.
Colonial History of Ireland However, before discussing these works, it might be useful to present a brief synopsis of the political situation in Ireland from the 1600’s until the period of the first story, Ivy Day… , which is set between 1900 and 1910, since an understanding of these historical conditions can only deepen an appreciation of the chosen works.
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Ian Lustick points out in his study State- Building Failure in British Ireland & French Algeria that “few historians of British imperialism include Ireland within the purview of their studies” and tend to treat Ireland and the Irish question as idiosyncratic, or as “the great exception” (77); this, I suppose, because Ireland has neither successfully assimilated into the British state as Wales and Scotland have nor completely broken with Great Britain in a successful bid for independence as most of Britain’s former colonies have (British troops still occupy Northern Ireland).
Lustick’s explanation for Ireland’s unique situation is clarifying and intriguing. He writes that as early as 1557 under Henry the VIII, the English Crown desired ultimately to incorporate Ireland into the realm of British authority and the vehicle for this was seen to be the implantation of British settlers into Ireland who would Anglicize the natives (6-7).
There were successive waves of these settlers until the 18th century but the effect was not to legitimize British rule among the Catholic majority but rather the large settler populations interrupted the processes of the British co-option of the local elites and the extension of political rights to the native population that Lustick maintains is necessary to redirect loyalty to new central authorities and are processes essential in successful state-building (8).
Lustick agrees with the assessment of the Irish situation given by British politician Sir John Davies in a book he wrote in 1612, “… that those great English lords did to the uttermost of their power, cross and withstand the enfranchisement of the Irish” (Lustick, 17), because they rightly perceived (as the Protestant Ascendancy would later) that the native elites, who commanded the loyalty of the native majority, were threats to their own privileged economic and political positions (Lustick, 18).
Thus, despite periodic attempts by the central British authority to assimilate Ireland into the British state and, Lustick maintains, corresponding interest on the part of the local Irish elites to form a political alliance with Britain, the English settlers continually opposed and frustrated these efforts. The settlers succeeded in enacting laws in the 18th century that prevented Catholics from political participation and made it difficult for the “descendants of Catholic landowners to maintain their families’ estates ntact” (Lustick, 32).
Political Unrest in Ireland There has been a continuing conflict in Ireland that has been going on for decades, and affects the world to this day. It is essentially a political and religious struggle between several groups. The British have played a key role in the situation since the early 1900's, and even more distant into the past. Origins of the Conflict The conflict in Ireland has its roots ...
Restrictions were placed on Catholic land ownership, education, and voting and the wealth and influence of the Anglo-Irish settlers grew proportionately. At the end of the 18th century, a resurgent Catholic rebellion took place which prompted the British government to offer full and permanent union between Ireland and Britain and in 1800, the Union was approved.
But the accompanying promise of full Emancipation for the Catholic majority was never implemented due to the influence of Irish Protestant opponents (Lustick, 36-7).
Thus, the full incorporation of Ireland into the British state sought by Britain for centuries existed in name only due to the steadfast refusal of the Anglo-Irish settlers to agree to extend the full rights of British citizenship to the Irish Catholic majority.
Though the government finally and grudgingly conceded voting rights in 1829, Catholics began to conceive the loosening of the ties to Britain as the solution to their problems and this view fueled the Movement for Repeal of the Act of Union in the 1840’s, the Home Rule movement that occupied center stage in Irish politics from 1874 until 1913, and finally the independence struggle, waged explicitly from 1916 “until-and beyond-the secession of southern Ireland in 1921” (Lustick, 38).
Lustick concludes that just as “the powerful influence of the settlers in [London] politics… prevented permanent incorporation by blocking treatment of the native inhabitants of peripheral territories as equal citizens of the state, their influence also insured that Ireland could not be disposed of in a straightforward way” (84), i. e. granted full independence since the settlers depended on the protection and power of the central state. One result is the partition situation that exists in northern Ireland today which seems endless and unresolvable.
Matt Heisman IS 260 Dr. Jackson 11-9-01 A World of Hate A world of hate supports many conflicts in modern society. Strings of hatred entangle all walks of life. Oftentimes, the most disheartening part of most ongoing hatred is the fact that the people involved do not even know how it began. Since 1170, nothing but hatred, intolerance, and death has surrounding the culture of Northern Ireland. ...
Yet, though some aspects of Ireland’s situation were and are still unique compared with other British colonies, Lustick makes clear that it is neither impervious to analysis nor beyond comprehension. One of the devastating results of the shutting out of the Irish Catholic majority from participation in political and economic life until the 19th century was that “Ireland came to occupy a different period of time to that occupied by England;” what Brian Cleeve refers to as the “time-warp factor” (16).
Cleeve goes on to point out that in 17th century England “Newton was abandoning alchemy for science, the agricultural revolution as soon to begin, in turn making possible the Industrial Revolution; [but] Ireland was untouched by any of this” (18).
Robert Welch agrees that as a colony of England, Ireland was “cut off,” and experienced the modern period, from about 1600, through an English transmission; “Ireland, unlike most other European countries, did not have the opportunity of fully experiencing the experiments of individualism, enterprise, collectivity and modernization that are known as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment” (1).
But the cultural effects of Ireland’s isolation were even more dramatic. The native Irish did not have a system of representation in the larger society that could reflect their way of life and show it to be of value so “the tendency will be to invent ceaselessly, to contradict, to venture as many versions as possible, anything rather than try to face the absence, the emptiness, the lack of continuity” (Welch, 18).
Welch’s analysis is particularly applicable to a reading of Joyce’s short story Ivy Day in the Committee Room.
This story is pregnant with the atmosphere of futility, distress, trauma, patience, and steadfast waiting that Welch sees occurring between the active period of Home Rule campaigning led by Parnell and the final push for independence begun in earnest in 1916 (287).
Yet, to understand the depths of loss and aimlessness felt by the characters in Joyce’s story, one must understand who Parnell was and what he meant to many Irish nationalists. Between 1869 and 1900, Irish politics was dominated by the Home Rule movement.
The essay is about the reasons why the government decided to send in the British troops to Northern Ireland on the 14 th August 1969, we look here at the origins and the history of the conflict. The most obvious reasons we think of are that riots started to break out and the Northern Ireland police lost control, this was because from the beginning, Catholics in Northern Ireland were a ...
Initially arising from conservative Irish Protestants, the movement was rapidly transformed into a radical mass-based, nationwide Catholic organization dedicated to the destruction of Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland (Hutchinson, 151).
(Protestant Ascendancy refers to the encoding in law of the right of only Protestants to govern within the British state dating from the brief period when, led by Cromwell, Puritans ruled England (1640-1660).
But though these laws were repealed in England after the Restoration of the monarchy, they were not done so in Ireland for almost three hundred years. ) Led by Charles Stewart Parnell, the movement coordinated a campaign of parliamentary disruption at Westminster and agrarian agitation in Ireland (Hutchinson, 151), “conducting a virtual war against British legitimacy in Ireland between 1879 and 1882” (157).
Parnell’s sweeping electoral success in Ireland in 1885 led to a balance of power favoring the ationalists in the House of Commons yet Parnell’s very success heightened divisions in the country between Protestants and Catholics, clerics and radicals, revolutionaries and constitutionalists (Hutchinson, 158); the Catholic land war caused Protestants to fear a Catholic social revolution and the Catholic Church began to fear the agrarian radicals would turn against the clergy. Parnell’s party formed an alliance with British Liberals and seemed on the verge of pushing through a Home Rule bill when he was involved in a public divorce scandal in 1890.