Alternative Ascendancies: Anglo-Irish Identities in the Nineteenth Century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The common perception of the Anglo-Irish, or the Protestant Ascendancy - the Anglophone, predominantly Church-of-Ireland, and essentially Britocentric aristocracy, gentry, and professional class, which played a dominant role in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of Ireland from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century - is of a community which, despite its privileged position in Irish society, was nonetheless, in consequence of its colonial roots and its isolation from and distrust of the country’s Catholic majority, paradoxically always a community in decline, passively clinging to the memories of the past and unable to play a constructive role in the formation of the cultural identity of a modern, independent Ireland. The paper takes an issue with this interpretation of the contribution of the Ascendancy to Irish culture, particularly in the nineteenth century; taking the examples of three Romantic and Victorian Ascendancy writers, Lady Morgan, Sir Samuel Ferguson, and George Moore, it argues that their vision of Ireland was much more open-minded, inclusive, and progressive than the popular myths of the Ascendancy, such as in particular the tradition of Big House fiction, would lead most readers to believe.
LanguageEnglish
JournalPolish Journal of English Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Aug 2019

Fingerprint

Ireland
Ascendancy
Irish Identity
Irish Culture
Colonies
Economics
Victorian Era
Cultural Identity
Aristocracy
George Moore
Anglophone
Reader
Isolation
Fiction
Gentry
Writer

Keywords

  • Anglo-Irish
  • Protestant Ascendancy
  • Ireland
  • nineteenth century
  • identity
  • literature

Cite this

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title = "Alternative Ascendancies: Anglo-Irish Identities in the Nineteenth Century",
abstract = "The common perception of the Anglo-Irish, or the Protestant Ascendancy - the Anglophone, predominantly Church-of-Ireland, and essentially Britocentric aristocracy, gentry, and professional class, which played a dominant role in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of Ireland from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century - is of a community which, despite its privileged position in Irish society, was nonetheless, in consequence of its colonial roots and its isolation from and distrust of the country’s Catholic majority, paradoxically always a community in decline, passively clinging to the memories of the past and unable to play a constructive role in the formation of the cultural identity of a modern, independent Ireland. The paper takes an issue with this interpretation of the contribution of the Ascendancy to Irish culture, particularly in the nineteenth century; taking the examples of three Romantic and Victorian Ascendancy writers, Lady Morgan, Sir Samuel Ferguson, and George Moore, it argues that their vision of Ireland was much more open-minded, inclusive, and progressive than the popular myths of the Ascendancy, such as in particular the tradition of Big House fiction, would lead most readers to believe.",
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N2 - The common perception of the Anglo-Irish, or the Protestant Ascendancy - the Anglophone, predominantly Church-of-Ireland, and essentially Britocentric aristocracy, gentry, and professional class, which played a dominant role in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of Ireland from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century - is of a community which, despite its privileged position in Irish society, was nonetheless, in consequence of its colonial roots and its isolation from and distrust of the country’s Catholic majority, paradoxically always a community in decline, passively clinging to the memories of the past and unable to play a constructive role in the formation of the cultural identity of a modern, independent Ireland. The paper takes an issue with this interpretation of the contribution of the Ascendancy to Irish culture, particularly in the nineteenth century; taking the examples of three Romantic and Victorian Ascendancy writers, Lady Morgan, Sir Samuel Ferguson, and George Moore, it argues that their vision of Ireland was much more open-minded, inclusive, and progressive than the popular myths of the Ascendancy, such as in particular the tradition of Big House fiction, would lead most readers to believe.

AB - The common perception of the Anglo-Irish, or the Protestant Ascendancy - the Anglophone, predominantly Church-of-Ireland, and essentially Britocentric aristocracy, gentry, and professional class, which played a dominant role in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of Ireland from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century - is of a community which, despite its privileged position in Irish society, was nonetheless, in consequence of its colonial roots and its isolation from and distrust of the country’s Catholic majority, paradoxically always a community in decline, passively clinging to the memories of the past and unable to play a constructive role in the formation of the cultural identity of a modern, independent Ireland. The paper takes an issue with this interpretation of the contribution of the Ascendancy to Irish culture, particularly in the nineteenth century; taking the examples of three Romantic and Victorian Ascendancy writers, Lady Morgan, Sir Samuel Ferguson, and George Moore, it argues that their vision of Ireland was much more open-minded, inclusive, and progressive than the popular myths of the Ascendancy, such as in particular the tradition of Big House fiction, would lead most readers to believe.

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