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Ireland 1850-1920

[IIreland 1850-1920 Copyright 2005 by Desmond Keenan. Book available from and]

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            This is period in Irish history which has suffered most from the distortions of political propaganda. Just as nobody nowadays would consider writing German history from a Nazi point of view or Russian history from a Bolshevik point of view so nobody should consider writing Irish history exclusively from a nationalist or republican point of view. The represent political propaganda not history.

            The aim in this book has been to identify the major sociological dimensions of Ireland, economic, religious, administrative, leisure etc, and the major groups in Ireland, or involved with Ireland, and their objectives and the means by which they sought to attain those objectives. There is nothing unusual in this approach for it is to be found in standard school histories of Britain or the United States or indeed in any history of the ancient world whose political aims no longer affect us.

    Of primary concern when writing the history of a country is to describe the nature of the Government, and then the activities of the Government which is expressed primarily through legislation. Then the great interest groups are identified, the political parties, the Churches, and the agricultural, industrial, and commercial interests, as some of their activities are of national importance. A strike by trade unionists can affect an entire country. So too can the claims of Churches and other groups with regard to education for example. A co-operative movement may initially have only local importance but go on to be of national importance. The same is true of criminal organisations. The same is true of the education of girls and the right of women. Occasionally too a local institution comes to have a national or even international importance, for example, the Abbey Theatre.

    It is also necessary, to take into account contemporary movements for the sake of comparison. One cannot excuse in an Irish republican what one would condemn in a German Nazi. Not can one differentiate between the conduct of Irish Catholic nationalists in Ireland from that of those who were often their blood brothers in Tammany Hall in the United States.




Copyright Desmond J. Keenan, B.S.Sc.; Ph.D. ;.London, U.K.