O’Brien, Gillian. ‘”Spirit, Impartiality and Independence” The Northern Star, 1792-1797’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 13 (1998), pp 7-23.
The ‘increasingly literate and politicised society’ of eighteenth-century Ireland demanded a quick and efficient method of communicating, and thus influenced the increase in the number of newspapers being published in Ireland in the latter half of the century. At the same time, the strong growth in the publishing industry in Belfast concerned Dublin Castle, particularly when it came to one newspaper, The Northern Star, which went on sale in January 1792. This article discusses the appearance and makeup of The Northern Star in detail and considers its impact on its readers. The shareholders were predominantly members of the United Irishmen of Belfast and O’Brien explains how an extensive distribution system was developed throughout the island to spread United Irish opinion to as many people as possible. In late eighteenth-century Ireland, the purchase of The Northern Star was as potent a symbol of freethinking, independent citizenship as bearing arms.