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Politics, Religion and the Press

Irish Journalism in Mid-Victorian England

Anthony McNicholas

The decade of the 1860s was a turbulent period in Irish politics, both at home and abroad, and saw the rise and apparent failure of the separatist Fenian movement. In England, this period also witnessed the first realistic attempt at establishing a genuinely popular press amid Irish migrants to Britain.
This was to be an ideological battle as both secular nationalists and the Roman Catholic Church, for their very distinct reasons, desperately wished to communicate with a reading public which owed its existence in large measure to the massive immigration of the years of the Famine. Based on extensive archival research, this book provides the first serious study of the Irish press in Britain for any period, through a detailed analysis of three London newspapers, The Universal News (1860-9), The Irish Liberator (1863-4) and The Irish News (1867). In so doing, it provides us with a window onto the complex of relationships which shaped the lives of the migrants: with each other, with their English fellow Catholics, with the Catholic Church and with the state. A central question for this press was how to reconcile the twin demands of faith and fatherland.
Contents: An Uneasy Union: The English Catholic Church at Mid-Century – The Universal News: Co-operation – The Universal News: Compromise – The Universal News: Confrontation – The Universal News: Shareholders, Writers and Writing – The National Brotherhood of St Patrick and The Irish LiberatorThe Irish Liberator – Working Men, Rebels and Revolutionaries – An Independent Irishman: Martin A. O’Brennan and The Irish News – The Irish Press in Mid-Victorian England.