Newspapers and nationalism

The Irish Provincial Press, 1850–1892

Marie-Louise Legg

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ISBN: 1-85182-341-7
January 1998. 272pp.

This book places the provincial press in context and provides information about the newspapers themselves, the people who ran them, and the people who read them.

The first section, 'The Moral Nation 1850-1865', looks at the state of the press when Ireland was recovering from the Famine and when nationalism was quiescent. The abolition of newspaper taxes after 1855 was the major spur to the spread of newspapers, which in Ireland coincided with the reaffirmation of nationalist ideals. In the 1850s newspaper editors and proprietors were prominent in the Tenant League, and the involvement of newspapermen in politics was continued. The reading room movement, as part of the impulse toward sobriety and industry, and also as part of political organisation, is considered.

The second section, 'The Emergent Nation 1866-1879', looks at the press in Ireland before the beginning of the Land War. Two newspapers, one extreme Protestant and one Gaelic nationalist, are examined in depth to demonstrate the way both newspapers and political movements were becoming increasingly polarised.

The final section, 'The Militant Nation 1880-1892', looks at the press during the Land War, and ends with the split in the Irish Parliamentary Party and the death of Parnell. The reading matter of provincial Ireland is analysed through the business records of one newsagent. Successive coercive legislation, which endeavoured to control the Irish press, is considered both intellectually and politically.

An invaluable 45-page appendix lists and details some 220 newspapers published in the period.

Marie-Louise Legg is honorary research fellow in the department of history at Birkbeck College, London and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her publications include Irish provincial press, 1850–92 (1998) and The Census of the Diocese of Elphin, 1749 (2004).