19. Feagh Mac Hugh O’Byrne: republican, nationalist or local rebel leader?

Monument to Feagh Mac Hugh O’Byrne in Glenmalure the site of his famous battle against the English and Lord Grey in 1580.
Photo: Chris Lawlor

Today’s diversion concentrates on a Gaelic Irish leader who held out in Glenmalure and often threatened the peace of the Dunlavin region, as he and his followers swooped down from the mountains to raid the Pale. In 2013 my essay on Feagh Mac Hugh O’Byrne won the Irish Chiefs’ Prize in History, and is available on the web. I’ve inserted a link to it here:

From a spark to a firebrand: Feagh Mac Hugh O’Byrne

The essay below was written as a follow-on piece to the winning one. It poses the question ‘who or what was Feagh’? Enjoy…

Many Irish republicans and nationalists revere Feagh Mac Hugh O’Byrne within a pantheon of Irish rebel leaders, whose opposition to English domination forms part of a history of conflict that only ended with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921.[1] This essay seeks to address the questions of whether O’Byrne’s inclusion in such a pantheon is justified and, more fundamentally, assuming Feagh’s life-experience was typical of Gaelic chiefs, whether such a pantheon actually should include any sixteenth-century Gaelic Irish leaders.[2] Feagh’s violent death made him a martyr within the Irish nationalist tradition. His prolonged resistance to English authority is represented as heroic, ensuring that Irish republicans include his name on their roll of honour. However, given the time within which he operated, the place that he inhabited, the social and religious worlds he occupied and the possible motivations behind his military campaigns, it is justifiable to ask whether either republicans or nationalists should extol his memory at all.

Modern republicanism

Feagh would have been puzzled by the concept of republicanism. In the Irish context, many historians argue that modern republicanism originated some two hundred years after Feagh’s death,[3] and a founder member of the United Irishmen, Theobald Wolfe Tone is often held to be the father of Irish republicanism.[4] The hallmark of republicanism is that a sovereign, independent state enables its electorate to choose its own leadership and governance. This would have been totally alien to Feagh, for he never experienced such elections.[5] Feagh, then, was certainly not a republican in literal sense, in that he had no desire to establish or become part of a republic. However, in the Irish context, the word ‘republican’ has been adapted to denote any Irish nationalist who aspired to the physical force tradition of seeking independence. Feagh certainly subscribed to the use of physical force; hence the question one must now pose is ‘was Feagh a nationalist’?

This is a question easier asked than answered. Modern nationalism is usually synonymous with a nation-state; a political region within the physical and cultural landscape. Again, this was an alien concept in Feagh’s Gaelic world. Feagh’s Ireland was not a nation-state, nor had it ever been. Following the arrival of the Celts during the Iron Age, a political system evolved in which the tuath became the basic political unit.[6] Celtic society was extremely decentralised,[7] and Celtic Ireland was not a homogenous nation-state. It contained some 150 tuaths, each with its own rí. Rí tuaithes were protected by more powerful rí rúires, who, in turn, were protected by rí coícids. In return for protection, kings received tribute from their underkings, but there were frequent wars, as localism continually reasserted itself. The intermittent nature of the high-kingship failed to curtail the fighting.[8] The absence of any tradition of unity militated against the establishment of a nation-state, and was perhaps partly responsible for the ineffective Gaelic response to the Norman invasion.[9] In Wicklow the consequences of this invasion included the in-migration of the O’Byrnes from north Kildare, when Maurice Fitzgerald received their lands.[10]

Part of a nation?

Although the O’Byrnes were not part of a Gaelic nation-state, it can be argued that they were part of a Gaelic nation. This argument proposes that a nation need not exist within a nation-state, but is actually a group of people who perceive themselves as an ethnic community with deep historical roots and the right to own and rule their own territory. The group is bound together by a common way of life, common experiences, common culture, common tradition and common means of livelihood.[11] Criteria for inclusion in such a nation may include race, language, religion and the existence of a common enemy. In this context, it is easy to understand, for example, why Red Hugh O’Donnell headed toward O’Byrne’s country following his escape from the common enemy in Dublin Castle. Gaelic hospitality customs, part of a common culture, ensured that Feagh welcomed O’Donnell, and their common language enabled communication. The universality of the Irish language outside the Pale, and its prevalence inside it, was a major obstacle to Anglicisation in sixteenth-century Ireland.[12] In Feagh’s world Irish was spoken,[13] and language was an integral part of what Feagh wanted to defend and preserve. One commentator suggests that language, along with race and religion, is a ‘defining characteristic of normal European states and normal European peoples’.[14] Feagh’s Gaelic world may not have been politically homogeneous, but it was linguistically so.

‘Tribal, rural, hierarchical and familiar’

Gaelic Irish society was ‘tribal, rural, hierarchical and familiar’,[15] but its most remarkable feature was probably its homogeneity,[16] which existed throughout the island in pre-Norman times, and remained characteristic of Gaelic areas until the sixteenth century. The contemporary use of the terms ‘Gaedhil’ and ‘Gaill’ during this period to denote native Irish and Anglo-Irish may exaggerate the gulf between the two ‘nations’ on the island,[17] but at a more fundamental level it also provides stark evidence that, in contemporary perception, there were two distinct ‘nations’. In addition to the Irish language, the territories of the Gaedhil were characterised by adherence to Brehon law, a distinctive mode of dress, and land holding systems that did not apply in areas of English dominance. The sixteenth century witnessed repeated attempts to extend English control into Gaelic regions, and Gaelic resistance to these (and the Anglicisation that would accompany them) was personified in the military campaigns of Feagh and other Gaelic chiefs of period.

Poynings’ Law of 1494, which ensured that no law could be unilaterally passed by an Irish parliament, strengthened the influence of the Crown in Ireland,[18] but in practice areas under Gaelic control were unaffected by the change. Feagh used Brehon law in his territory, as did other Gaelic chiefs during the sixteenth century.[19] Unlike Norman areas and the Pale, under Brehon Law, free landowning families held land, but not by feudal tenure. The existence of tanistry and gavelkind in Gaelic regions confirmed that two separate models of land tenure operated side-by-side in sixteenth-century Ireland.[20] The struggle for land and territorial dominance was a core issue in Feagh’s resistance to the expansion of Crown influence in Wicklow. Land was life in a rural economy, and control over land also ensured social control over its occupiers. As chief of the O’Byrnes of the Gabhal Raghnaill, Feagh perceived jurisdiction over the land as integral to his authority. The introduction of the English system of landholding would weaken his power, and he resisted any attempt to undermine his position or to change the way of life over which he presided. In fact Feagh’s position, worldview and identity were defined by issues such as race (the Gaedhil), a common enemy (the Gaill), culture (bardic poetry for example), language (Irish), law (Brehon), land tenure (non-Feudal), kin (including marriages and in-laws), dress (referred to as ‘wild Irish’ by the sophisticates of the Pale)[21] and religion (Catholicism).


The Irish embraced the Catholic religion following the missionary work of Patrick and Palladius.[i] It was well established when the Normans arrived in the twelfth century, and, superficially, it appeared that Catholicism might act as a unifying force between the Gaedhil and the Gaill.[i] Reputedly, Palladius (who established three churches in the County Wicklow region) arrived in Ireland in 431. (Chris Lawlor, An Irish village: Dunlavin, County Wicklow (Naas, 2011), p. 21. Reputedly, Patrick arrived in 432, but the actual date has been questioned. See, for example, Eoin Neeson, The book of Irish saints (Cork, 1967), p. 62 and Mary Ryan Darcy, The saints of Ireland (St. Paul, 1974; 3rd ed., 1985), p. 9. Despite a lack of clarity regarding the date of Patrick’s arrival, there is no doubt that a process of Irish Christianisation was underway from the mid fifth century onwards. However this was not the case. Ostensibly, one reason for the Norman invasion was to reform the Irish church.[23] Despite the arrival of Cistercian monks at Mellifont in 1142 (and in Wicklow at Baltinglass in 1148),[24] the Irish Church remained less organised than its continental counterpart. The Normans restructured the Irish church, but many Irish chieftains rejected the new Norman Church. In Wicklow, the ‘Normanised’ Baltinglass abbey became a prime target for the marauding Irish[25]. This situation gave rise to the problem of Ecclesia inter Hibernos, the ‘Church among the Irish’,[26] with about one-third of the Irish sees occupied by English bishops,[27] leading to the development of a two-tier Church administration system. For example, theoretically the amalgamation of the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin had occurred in 1185, but the see of Glendalough remained under the control of the O’Byrnes until the sixteenth century, in practice nullifying the ecclesiastical union.[28]

The churches of the two nations

Gaelic clerics were prohibited from advancement in the Anglo-Norman Church, and open hostility often erupted between the Churches of the two ‘nations’. In the 1330s, the Leinster Irish were accused of burning some 340 churches.[29] One, in Freynestown, contained eighty people seeking sanctuary at the time of its incineration. Records state ‘when a certain chaplain of the said church, clothed in sacred vestments wished to leave the building with the body of the Lord, they drove him back with their lances and burned him with the others’.  Evidently, in the eyes of the Gaedhil, respect for the cloth did not apply to Norman clergy! The Freynestown attack prompted the excommunication of ‘Otothel and his accomplices, enemies and rebels of the King’.[30] Hence, far from being a unifying force, Catholicism, and particularly Church administration, deepened the divisions between Gaedhil and Gaill. In the 1350s Archbishop Richard FitzRalph commented that constant hatred between the two ‘nations’ meant that ‘large numbers died without grace or charity’.[31] Within the Church, ‘racial mixture did not necessarily mean racial conflict’,[32] but the evidence suggests that such conflict was widespread. Certainly the advent of the Anglo-Normans produced divisions and antagonisms within the Church on the island of Ireland that persisted throughout the Middle Ages.[33] The evidence also suggests that Irish clans, such as the O’Byrnes, were ready to defend their Ecclesia inter Hibernos, and quick to take up arms against the threat of the Ecclesia inter Anglicos of the incomers.[34]

The ecclesiastical situation was further complicated, and deep religious divisions were formed, throughout the long sixteenth century.[35] Feagh lived during the Henrican, Edwardian and Elizabethan Reformations in England, during which the modern Anglican Church emerged. The period witnessed religious conflict throughout Europe, and Ireland was no exception. The O’Byrnes joined in the rebellion of Silken Thomas in 1534, the year after Henry VIII’s excommunication and in the context of the evolving Act of Supremacy.[36] The Kildare revolt was a new departure in Anglo-Irish relations because the rebels specifically identified themselves as Catholic, and castigated the king personally.[37] From the 1530s onwards, especially after the attempted dissolution of the monasteries,[38] there was a sectarian element to Irish resistance to the Crown, and adherence to the Catholic faith was one aspect in the mindset of Gaelic clans such as the O’Byrnes whenever they took up arms against the authorities. Sectarian conflicts between Catholics and Protestants[39] in sixteenth-century Ireland were part of a broader clash of cultures that was not exclusively religious, but if historians ignore the sectarian aspect, there is a danger that one may suggest that the conflict was not about religion at all.[40] Uniquely, during this period in Ireland, the majority of the population dissented from the civil ruler.[41] Religion was central to the Baltinglass revolt, which Feagh readily supported. Although he did not fully share the fundamentalist Catholic zeal of the viscount, he was not unaware of the Counter-Reformation ideas entering Ireland at the time, and ensured that the papal standard was raised in Leinster during the insurrection,[42] hoisting the papal banner over the still smouldering castle of Newcastle McKynegan in 1580.[43] Religion increased in significance as a cause of Gaelic resistance to the Crown during the sixteenth century. It has been suggested that one reason for the failure of the Anglican Reformation in Ireland was that the Counter-Reformation actually preceded it, thus strengthening the resolve of the native Irish to defend the old religion with which they identified.[44]

Feagh and the question of identity

The question of identity is integral to Feagh’s stubborn resistance to the authorities. It is also a core theme of new cultural history, which originated with the French Annales School. [45]  Localities and regions became important, and Braudel’s concept of identity in particular opened new horizons in local historiography. The seminal work of new cultural historians pushed the historical questioning process toward the concept of total history.[46] Inevitably, advances abroad impacted on Irish local historiography. Ireland’s past colonial experience meant that, unlike France, it was not ethnically homogenous, so micro-societies and communities existed. Until 1600, Irish history was local, and the worlds inhabited by Gaelic clans, Norman lordships and the Pale all comprised separate but connected micro-societies. Local history shifted the emphasis from the singular nation to the plural region,[47] and the concept of locus or place took centre stage in the new Irish local history. Precise delineation of place remains a key question for local historians and local studies.[48]

Feagh’s resistance centred on highland Wicklow, a place with imprecise boundaries, but physically different to surrounding loci. Feagh controlled this area, but it was the locale, with its myriad cultural, historical, religious, social, economic and other influences that shaped his Gaelic way of life, rather than the locus, which he fought to defend. This was his heimat.[49] Hugh O’Neill may have attempted Irish national unity,[50] but Feagh’s life-experience was firmly rooted in the local. Feagh’s nation existed within his heimat, [51] and, like his ancestors in medieval clan wars, Feagh fought to preserve the world he knew. Anglicisation was the threat during his lifetime, but it is possible that he would have fought just as fiercely against ambitious rival Gaelic chiefs, had it been necessary to do so. Nationalists and republicans must decide for themselves where that leaves Feagh in relation to their pantheon of leaders.



[1] Some might even argue that the history did not end in 1921, and cite the Northern Ireland situation to support this argument. Such views are, however, not central to the theme of this essay, and in this context, the distinction between nationalists and republicans is a moot point.
[2] I realise that such an assumption is suspect. It is based on the premises that Gaelic chiefs shared a common life-experience and that conditions in the parts of the island of Ireland under Gaelic control were broadly similar during this period. Typicality or uniqueness can only be judged by reference to comparative studies, and an essay such as this must, of necessity, be too short to address this theme.
[3] Ancient republics, such as those that flourished in classical Greece and Rome, are excluded from modern republican ideology, which, it is suggested, originated during the Enlightenment and the revolutions of the late eighteenth century. For an interesting discussion of the topic, see Philip Pettit, ‘The tree of liberty – republicanism: American, French and Irish’, Field Day Review, i, (Dublin, 2005), pp. 29-42.
[4] Many sources also hold this view. An insightful overview of the topic may be found in James Quinn, ‘Review article: Theobald Wolfe Tone and the historians’, Irish Historical Studies, vol. 32, no. 125 (May, 2000), pp. 113-128.
[5] Elections were unknown in Feagh’s Gaelic lifestyle, unless one counts the very limited form of election within the male derbfine when a tánaise, toísech or rí was chosen For an overview of these procedures, see Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Early medieval Ireland, 400-1200 (Harlow, 1995), pp 67-71 and 110-111.
[6] Gearóid Mac Niocaill, Ireland before the Vikings (Dublin, 1972), p. 28.
[7] Seán Ó Tuama, ‘Gaelic culture in crisis: the literary response, 1600-1850’, Thomas Bartlett, Chris Curtain, Riana O’Dwyer and Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh (eds), Irish studies: a general introduction (Dublin, 1988), p. 30.
[8] Gearóid Mac Niocaill, ‘The legacy of the middle ages’, Thomas Bartlett et al (eds), Irish studies: a general introduction (Dublin, 1988), p. 22.
[9] Donncha Ó Corráin, Ireland before the Normans (Dublin, 1972), p. 173.
[10] J. F. Lydon, ‘Medieval Wicklow: A Land of War’, Ken Hannigan and William Nolan (eds), Wicklow, history and society (Dublin, 1994), p. 155.
[11] Today, one may make such an argument regarding, for example, the Basques, the Lapps and the Kurds. The same argument is powerfully and poignantly made in John Franklin Phillips, Chief Junaluska of the Cherokee Indian nation (Nashville, 1988), pp 11-25 passim.
[12] Tomás MacSiomóin, ‘The colonised mind – Irish language and society’, Daltún Ó Ceallaigh (ed), Reconsiderations of Irish history and culture (Dublin, 1994), p. 47.
[13] Irish continued in common use in highland Wicklow well into the seventeenth century. For example, see Deposition of Morgan McDonnell (TCD, 1641 Depositions, County Wicklow, Ms 811, f. 240)
[14] Joe Lee, cited in MacSiomóin, ‘The colonised mind’, p. 43.
[15] D. A. Binchy, ‘Secular institutions’, Myles Dillon (ed), Early Irish society (Dublin, 1954), p. 54.
[16] Ó Cróinín, Early medieval Ireland, p. 110.
[17] Art Cosgrove, Late medieval Ireland, 1370-1541 (Dublin, 1981), p. 79.
[18] James Kelly, Poynings’ Law and the making of law in Ireland, 1660-1800 (Dublin, 2007), p. 10.
[19] Margaret MacCurtain, Tudor and Stuart Ireland (Dublin, 1972), p. 40.
[20] Ibid, pp 40-1. Tanistry involved the elective family only and gavelkind involved giving rent rather than service in return for the land.
[21] The term ‘wild Irish’ continued in use well into the seventeenth century. The best-known example is probably the illustration panel on the map of Ireland by John Speed, The Kingdome of Irland Devided into severall Provinces and the againe devided into Counties Newly described (London, 1676). A large-scale reproduction of the map may be seen on http://www.raremaps.com/gallery/enlarge/31444 (visited on 3 April 2013). Though the map was produced in 1676, the illustrations were earlier, dating from the period 1612-18 [http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/history/fig6dress.htm]. Chronologically this places them just after the revolt led by Feagh’s son, Phelim Mac Feagh O’Byrne, which lasted from 1597-9, and the subsequent shiring of Wicklow in 1606 [Andrew O’Brien, ‘Phelim MacFeagh’s Revolt’, Journal of the Wicklow Historical Society, ii, no. 4 (Wicklow, 1998), p. 78, and Chris Lawlor, An Irish village: Dunlavin, County Wicklow (Naas, 2011), p. 51 respectively]. Though the county was shired in 1606, there was some uncertainty regarding its exact borders. As late as 1627 there was a ‘Commission to inquire into the boundaries of O’Byrnes’ Country’ [James Morrin, Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland of the reign of Charles the First, First to eighth year inclusive (London, 1863), pp 48-9]. The county is not shown at all on John Speed’s (London, 1610) map, The Province of Leinster, with the City of Dublin described (TCD, The Hardiman atlas, IE TCD Ms 1209/7)
[22] Reputedly, Palladius (who established three churches in the County Wicklow region) arrived in Ireland in 431. Chris Lawlor, An Irish village: Dunlavin, County Wicklow (Naas, 2011), p. 21. Reputedly, Patrick arrived in 432, but the actual date has been questioned. See, for example, Eoin Neeson, The book of Irish saints (Cork, 1967), p. 62 and Mary Ryan Darcy, The saints of Ireland (St. Paul, 1974; 3rd ed., 1985), p. 9. Despite a lack of clarity regarding the date of Patrick’s arrival, there is no doubt that a process of Irish Christianisation was underway from the mid fifth century onwards.
[23] Many innovations, such as the Cluniac Reformation and the establishment of new orders such as the Carthusians and Cistercians had occurred within the Church on the continent and in England. Native reformers such as Celcius and Malachy of Armagh were slowly changing the Irish institution from within, but the Irish Church was still perceived as backward by the Normans. Change swiftly followed the Norman invasion, and the decrees issued at the synod of Cashel (1172) abandoned the independent Gaelic Irish Church in favour of alignment with Rome, as Ireland was to have a papal legate. The native liturgies were abandoned, and the liturgy of the English Church was adopted. However, in practice, little change occurred in regions where Norman influence had not yet penetrated. R. B. MacCarthy, Ancient and modern: a short history of the Church of Ireland (Dublin, 1995), p. 22. See also http://www.irishchristian.net/history/Irish.html (visited on 4 April 2013)
[24] Claude Chavasse, The story of Baltinglass (Kilkenny, 1970), pp 10-1.
[25] Ibid, p. 22.
[26] Canice Mooney, The Church in Gaelic Ireland: thirteenth to fifteenth centuries (Dublin, 1969), p. 1.
[27] Peter O’Dwyer, ‘Irish medieval spirituality’, Michael Maher (ed), Irish spirituality (Dublin, 1981), p. 58
[28] Ibid, pp 3-4. Part of Glendalough diocese was also controlled by another Gaelic clan, the O’Tooles.
[29] Ibid, p. 53.
[30] Lydon, ‘Medieval Wicklow: A Land of War’, p. 173. Also Emmett O’Byrne, ‘A divided loyalty: the MacMurroughs, the Irish of Leinster and the Crown of England 1340-1420’, Thomas McGrath (ed), Carlow history and society (Dublin, 2008), p. 274. Freynestown was adjacent to the modern village of Dunlavin in west Wicklow. The old civil parish of Freynestown covered a much larger area than the present townland of the same name. Otothel refers to O’Toole.
[31] Katherine Walsh, A fourteenth-century scholar and primate: Richard FitzRalph in Oxford, Avignon and Armagh (Oxford, 1981), p. 290. The comment related to one of the reasons why Ireland was the Christian country that sent the largest number of souls to hell!
[32] A. J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of medieval Ireland (London, 1968), p. 130.
[33] Art Cosgrove, ‘The medieval period’, Réamonn Ó Muirí (ed), Irish Church history today (Armagh, 1990), p. 15.
[34] For an insightful perspective, see J. A. Watt, ‘Ecclesia inter Anglicos et inter Hibernicos: confrontation and coexistence in the medieval diocese and province of Armagh’, James Lydon (ed), The English in medieval Ireland (Dublin, 1984), pp 46-64.
[35] Tudor monarchs exercised ceaseless vigilance in Ireland during the century, but this drained English resources significantly. Christopher Morris, The Tudors (Glasgow, 1955; 14th ed., 1978), p. 23.
[36] J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (London, 1968), pp 420-2. The text of the Act of Supremacy read:

Albeit, the King’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and oweth to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognised by the clergy of this realm in their Convocations; yet nevertheless for corroboration and confirmation thereof, and for increase of virtue in Christ’s religion within this realm of England, and to repress and extirp all errors, heresies and other enormities and abuses heretofore used in the same, Be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament that the King our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia, and shall have and enjoy annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm as well the title and style thereof, as all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities, to the said dignity of supreme head of the same Church belonging and appertaining. And that our said sovereign lord, his heirs and successors kings of this realm, shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offences, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be, which by any manner spiritual authority or jurisdiction ought or may lawfully be reformed, repressed, ordered, redressed corrected, restrained or amended, most to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase of virtue in Christ’s religion, and for the conservation of the peace, unity and tranquillity of this realm: any usage, custom, foreign laws, foreign authority, prescription or any other thing or things to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.

Spellings are modernised. http://tudorhistory.org/primary/supremacy.html (visited on 14 Jan 2013)
[37] Henry A. Jefferies, ‘The Kildare revolt: accident or design?’, Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society, xix (part 3), 2004-2005 (Naas, 2005) p. 450. This rationale differentiated the event from English rebellions, such as the Pilgrimage of Grace, in which grievances and protestations were qualified by declarations of loyalty to the monarch. Michael Bush, The Pilgrimage of Grace: a study of the rebel armies of October 1536 (Manchester, 1996), pp 7-12 and 407-16 passim.
[38] In Ireland, the dissolution of the monasteries was never carried through completely or systematically. G. R. Elton, Reform and Reformation: England 1509-1558 (London, 1977; reprint, 1979), p. 239.
[39] I realise that ‘Protestant’ is a complex term, including many shades of opinion and belief. For the purposes of this essay however, a clear division is drawn between the Protestant New English and the Catholic Old Irish and Old English.
[40] P. J. Corish, The Irish Catholic experience: an historical survey (Dublin, 1985), pp 85-6. There is no doubt that the sectarian thread within Irish history is disturbing, but historians must face up to it and investigate with a view to gaining a better understanding of the problem, and to promote peaceful coexistence, ensuring that troubling lessons of the past are not lost on present and future generations.
[41] Colm Lennon, ‘The sixteenth century’, Réamonn Ó Muirí (ed), Irish Church history today (Armagh, 1990), p. 27.
[42] David Edwards, Feagh McHugh O’Byrne; Forgotten Leader of the Nine Years War, online paper published on http://homepage.eircom.net/~nobyrne/Feagh_McHugh_%20Forgotten_Leader.htm (visited on 1 April 2013)
[43] Emmet O’Byrne, The Battle of Glenmalure, 25 August 1580: Cause and Course, online paper published on http://homepage.eircom.net/~nobyrne/Battle_of_Glenmalure.htm (visited on 15 February 2013)
[44] Thomas Bartlett, “‘What ish my nation?”: themes in Irish history 1550-1850’, Thomas Bartlett et al (eds), Irish studies: a general introduction (Dublin, 1988), p. 48.
[45] Historians such as Lucien Febvre, Marc Bloch and Fernand Braudel asked questions about how people in the past thought and acted, and why they held the attitudes that they did. See, for example, Peter Burke (ed.), A new kind of history: from the writings of Febvre (London, 1973). This was published after Febvre’s death in 1956, but is a clear indication of his new approach to history. Also Marc Bloch, Feudal Society: the growth of ties of dependence, i (Chicago, 1961) and Fernand Braudel, The identity of France, 2 vols (London, 1986-88).
[46] This reached new heights with the work of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. See, for example, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou (London, 1980) and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, The peasants of Languedoc (Chicago, 1983).
[47] Jeremy Black and Donald M. MacRaild, Studying history (Basingstoke, 1997; 3rd ed., 2007), p. 93.
[48] Maura Cronin, ‘Local history’, Mary McAuliffe, Katherine O’Donnell and Leeann Lane, Palgrave advances in Irish history (Basingstoke, 2009), p. 152
[49] Robert Allen, The night a quarter moon fell on a ten-cent Wicklow town, online story at http://www.irishstoryteller.blogspot.com (visited 9/8/2004) captured this idea very well when he wrote:

Few people really care about identity and place, confusing it with nostalgia. Identity and place have no importance in the modern world. They have no real meaning, emotionally or socially. Unlike other languages there isn’t a word in English to describe an atavistic attachment to a native place, where a person is born and formed by its beliefs and culture. The German language conveys the meaning better than English with the word heimat, which means local or native place and, at the same time, identity with that native place.
[50] Diarmuid Murtagh, ‘Origins of Irish Nationalism’, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, vol. 39, No. 153 (March, 1950), p. 87. With the sole exception of the remnants of the Geraldines, O’Neill’s alliances were with other Irish chiefs, excluding the Anglo-Norman (Old English) Catholic families, so race seemed to be the prime criterion for members of his nation. The English historian G. R. Elton has refuted this claim regarding O’Neill having a concept of national resistance however, citing continued internecine strife among Gaelic clans. G. R. Elton, England under the Tudors (London, 1974; reprint, 1978), p. 387. Elton goes on to state that ‘It was England’s triumph [in the Nine Years War] that made possible the growth of an Irish nation’. Ibid, p. 394.
[51] In the play ‘King Henry V’, William Shakespeare’s Irish character Captain Macmorris poses the question ‘What ish my nation?’. William Shakespeare, ‘King Henry V’, Act 3, Scene 2, line 122, The illustrated Stratford Shakespeare (London, 1982; reprint, 1983), p. 453. Macmorris answers his question thus: ‘Ish a villain, and a bastard, and a knave, and a rascal’. This play was first performed in 1598-9, [http://www.shakespeare-online.com/keydates/playchron.html (visited on 3 April 2013)] and perhaps the most significant thing about the lines in question is not that the character was Irish, but that the playwright was English. The sentiments expressed by Macmorris probably struck a chord with English audiences, who were used to receiving doleful news from the seemingly endless war in Ireland.

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