Another Irish Jingo

When, I wrote some weeks ago that Patrick Pearse was an Irish Jingo, I thought I was rather pushing it. I thought, frankly, that I was going a bit far, and that I might be accused of stirring the pot.( And so, of course, I was! )

But in fact I wrote more truly than I thought. In the great heyday of patriotism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Jingoism was not restricted to the inhabitants of the great imperialist nations such as Britain, Germany, and France. Serbia is of course a case in point. We should perhaps not forget that it was the patriotism of one of Europe’s smallest nations which provided the match which ignited the explosion of 1914.

Judged against this background, neither Pearse nor anybody else, for example the Dublin born Edward Carson, can be blamed for being patriotic.240px-Healy_5208804261_b3652c6b32_o Nevertheless I was surprised to discover T.M. ( Tim. ) Healey ( 1855-1931 )  who went on to be the first Governor General of Ireland under the new dispensation, announcing in the House of Commons, that:-

“If  I  were an Englishman,  I  would be proud of the position England occupied before the world [ Hear! Hear! ]; I would be a Jingo in British politics, as he was a Jingo in Irish politics. An English Nationalist was commonly called a Jingo, and in the same sense an Irish nationalist was one; I do not make much distinction between them.” House of Commons, 13th Feb. 1896 [ I have converted the indirect speech of the record back to direct speech.]

Healy, of course, came from a very different strand of Irish nationalism than Pearse. However the lines quoted do challenge the comfortable assumption that liberalism and Irish nationalism fit easily together. Indeed they could even be taken to suggest that the marriage of liberalism and Irish nationalism is at the best one of convenience, and at the worst a public relations device.

Would this be fair? Not entirely perhaps. But just as Herbert Robertson, in the passage quoted in an earlier post, pointed that Ireland is more politically and geographically diverse than is often appreciated, so Healy’s remark draws attention to the fact that we should look beneath the blandness of Ireland’s official liberal nationalism if we are to understand ourselves. As I wrote in my piece about Pearse and the Rising the love of Ireland can take many forms not all of which are articulated in our official narrative.

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