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Revolution and Evolution


Edited By John Strachan and Alison O'Malley-Younger

The essays in this collection all revolve around the notion of change in Ireland, whether by revolution or by evolution. Developments in the shared histories of Ireland and Great Britain are an important theme throughout the book. The volume begins by examining two remarkable Irishmen on the make in Georgian London: the boxing historian Pierce Egan and the extraordinary Charles Macklin, eighteenth-century actor, playwright and manslaughterer. The focus then moves to aspects of Hibernian influence and the presence of the Irish Diaspora in Great Britain from the medieval period up to the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in Manchester. The book also considers the very different attitudes to the British Empire evident in the career of the 1916 rebel Sir Roger Casement and the Victorian philologist and colonial servant Whitley Stokes. Further essays look at writings by Scottish Marxists on the state of Ireland in the 1920s and the pronouncements on the Troubles by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The book also examines change in the culture of the island of Ireland, from the development of the Irish historical novel in the nineteenth century, to ecology in contemporary Irish women’s poetry, to the present state of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Contemporary Irish authors examined include Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor and Martin McDonagh.


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Pierce Egan, West Briton JOHN STRACHAN 15


Pierce Egan, West Briton John Strachan In the final debate on the putative Union between Great Britain and Ire- land, held in the Irish parliament in 1800, John ‘Bully’ Egan (1754–1810), an MP and proud Protestant Irishman whose principal income derived from his being Chairman of Kilmainham (a mid-ranking post in the judi- ciary), rose to his feet – though aware of the probable consequences – to oppose the fateful bill, and roared out ‘Ireland – Ireland for ever! and damn Kilmainham!’ As we know, his heart-felt sentiments went unheeded. The Union was confirmed and Egan, as he had suspected, promptly lost his position. That said, not everyone felt the same way as the ex-Chairman; though pressure for various forms of Home Rule followed from that very moment, there were Irish people who rejoiced in what they saw as their newly bestowed Britishness. Amongst them was the nephew of John Egan, an Irishman who became the most significant figure to emerge from the world of late Georgian sports journalism. Pierce Egan (c. 1775–1849), the historian of pugilism – ‘the Plutarch of the Ring’ in his compatriot Thomas Moore’s account – became the leading sporting writer during the Regency and the reign of George IV. In 1836, he was described in Fraser’s Magazine by another great Irish journalist, William Maginn, as having been ‘between 1815 and 1830 … the best authority in England on sporting matters’ (Maginn, 1857: 331). He was also a patriotic Briton, unlike his proudly separatist uncle, for as J. C....

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