Gladstone, Fenians and Disestablishment

  • Stuart Andrews


John Mitchells insistence that the British government was to blame for the Irish famine is echoed in one modern historian’s confident assertion that the prohibition of food exports from Ireland in the mid-1840s ‘would have saved tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives’. John Newsinger’s judgement is that ‘a million people died because government relief measures were too little and too late’. It was not that the Whigs’ free trade ideology constricted the range of options, but ‘rather that the Famine did not affect their interests sufficiently for them to change their ideas’. And he endorses Mitchel’s observation that the Viceroy, while ‘presiding over the starvation of rural Ireland also presides over the social life of Dublin’.1 The question is whether the Famine, and its surrounding myths, mark a shift to a secular Irish nationalism in which the sectarian disputes of the previous half-century find no echo.


Quarterly Review Revolutionary Movement Irish People Protestant Religion Anglican Clergy 
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© Stuart Andrews 2006

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  • Stuart Andrews

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