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How far do these sources support the veiw that Irish Nationalism was a 'curious blend of conservative Catholicism and political radicalism' between c1820 and 1921?

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Introduction

How far do these sources support the veiw that Irish Nationalism was a 'curious blend of conservative Catholicism and political radicalism' between c1820 and 1921? Sources 2 and 3 show 'Irish nationalism' is difficult to define. Hoppen views it as an "increasingly complicatedand many - branched tree." The Sources show that in the period of c1820 - 1921 there emerged two distinct factions under the same name of Irish Nationalism. One faction was the Fenian those who believed, in that violence was an acceptable method of making Ireland an independent republic. The other faction was constitutional, aiming to gain Irish independence. Indeed in source three E.Norman disputed who exactly deserved the name of Irish nationalist. He refered to "men like O'Connell, Parnell and Griffith" as "mere agitators" who should only be regarded as radicals whereas those like the "Fenians, Pearse and DeValera" are more properly designated as nationalists." Source 2 and 3 reinforces Garvins statement about the curious blend. Source 2 states "Though pratically ineffective Young Ireland...." So here we see the Fenian/violent tradition of Irish nationalism being proclaimed ineffective by the historian K.T Hoppen, indicating how the popular blend was with the constitutionalists at that time. In the main the sources presented would seem to agree with the notion that the form of Irish nationalism which gained popular support was a "curious blend of conservative catholicism", which was basically that the Catholic church in Ireland would support radical political policies that would ...read more.

Middle

Around 1880 Parnell had strong Fenian links, particularly as the president of the Land league. Parnell created and condoned a Land War (1879-82), but he tried to maintain the blend in talking about a "christian way" a "charitable way" and the use of "boycott." and here again is where the blend crosses over. But Parnell realised that he could not hold onto the popular mandate without the support of the catholic church. So when the land concessions had been given Parnell cut his ties with the Fenians around 1882, showing his pragmatism, and then played Gladstone to the advantage of the Irish cause, and further enhanced his relationship with the Catholic church through education in 1884. As source 5 shows there is an almost forty year long domination of the elections because they had the popular blend. To further confirm this, the other twenty or so seats were not being won by the extremists but instead by the Unionists, so here is a clear indication of the total lack of support the extremists had. However, this blend is not the popular blend throughout the entire period. One of the most important reasons why the revolutionaries lacked the popular support that the constitutionalists enjoyed was because the Roman Catholic Church, which was the religion for most of the Irish people, condemned the use of violence as a political tool and instead gave their backing to the constitutionalists, and when we look at the different stages ...read more.

Conclusion

Garvin and Hoppens view that it was exactly that. However, John Mitchel, who had the viewpoint of a staunch revolutionary nationalist, not a constitutionalist, percieved the blend as "fatal nonsense" rather than curious and degraded the supporters of it by labelling them as "West Britons". A view which could be compared to that of George Bernard Shaw, an internationalist who saw the idea of nationalism as "insufferable twaddle".It was the of a similar perception that E.Norman in source 3 dismissed O'Connell,Parnell etc. "Those Irish agitators who sought merely to redefine the direction of sovereignty." There were also times throughout the period in question where the blend was by no means fixed and alternated between the varying traditions as source 2 says Irish nationalism was to "oscillate between the shifting attractions of two traditions." A man which exemplified this was the pragmatic Parnell who was popular when the blend was a very unsettled thing, and Parnell had to alternate between policies to try and keep the various factions happy, and keep in power. This shows another aspect which should be taken into consideration - that of context. Over time the emphasis between the two different parts of the question change and the value of the sources differ over the time period. Source 7 only serves to quantify that the blend of conservative catholicism and political radicalism is no longer present by 1921 and shows that Sinn Fein now represents the will of the nation, but what the sources don't show is that Sinn Fein has done so since 1918. ...read more.

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