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date: 08 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Williamite settlement confirmed a ‘Protestant ascendancy’, with government and politics dominated by a narrow propertied elite. Protestant landowners still saw themselves as ‘the English in Ireland’ but eventually developed a form of patriotism, which, albeit confessionally exclusive, asserted Irish national interests. This shift was facilitated by the ‘constitutional revolution’ that gave the Irish parliament a central role in government, and by the quiescence of Catholic political interests under the ‘penal laws’. The sectarian tensions between Anglicans and Presbyterians in Ulster, which provided fuel for English-style ‘party politics’ under Queen Anne, also abated. But systemic economic weakness gave cause for concern, and Ireland’s enforced constitutional subordination to Britain could agitate opinion. Generally, a form of ‘constructive patriotism’ prevailed, with Irishmen seeking to use existing constitutional arrangements for the betterment of the country, but at times of crisis, the flourishing print culture of Dublin could stoke up more raucous, anti-English sentiment.

Keywords: Parliament, land settlement, penal laws, Catholics, Presbyterians, established church, national identity, ‘undertakers’, party politics, political economy, ‘improvement’, public opinion

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