Vol. 12: Barnard, T. C.

Type: Review Article

Barnard, T. C. ‘The Gentrification of Eighteenth-Century Ireland’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 12 (1997), pp 137-55.

This article assesses the contribution to the study of eighteenth-century Ireland of Dr Kevin Whelan, whom the author characterises as “one of the liveliest writers on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland” to have emerged in recent years. Barnard praises Whelan’s many contributions to the field, particularly whose which “display his sensitivity to place”. However, Barnard takes Whelan to task for using testimony and concepts “which will not always carry the load of argument which they are asked to bear” and gives a number of examples to back up this criticism. He also suggests that Whelan under-estimates the importance of religion in the culture of eighteenth-century Ireland and comments favourably on the work of other scholars who have recognised this importance. Barnard is also uneasy about some aspects of Whelan’s analysis of the catholic “underground gentry” of eighteenth-century Ireland and he suggests that some of Whelan’s conclusions are premature; among other things, the way the Irish defined the concept of “gentry” is more complex than Whelan suggests, and Barnard’s view is that, in general, more work has to be done on such matters before some of Whelan’s conclusions can be fully accepted.