Vol. 3: Leersen, Joep Th.

Type: Article

Leersen, Joep Th. ‘Anglo-Irish Patriotism and its European Context: Notes Towards a Reassessment.’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 3 (1988), pp 7-24.

This article contrasts the modern notion of ‘patriotism’—almost synonymous with ‘nationalism’—with eighteenth-century ideas of ‘patriotism’ which, particularly in the Anglo-Irish context, could arise from non-nationalistic motives. According to Leersen, “we must reconsider the traditional views according to which the Anglo-Irish Patriots were caught in the dilemma between their privileged, indeed colonial, Ascendancy position, and their national solidarity with ‘the cause of Ireland’ ”. Leersen discusses the root meaning of ‘patriot’, as ‘citizen’ rather than as ‘subject’, the Roman concept of patriotism, the libertarian and political evolution of its meaning in Europe, ‘Enlightenment Patriotism’, the meaning of ‘patriot’ during the French and American Revolutions, and the eighteenth-century concept of ‘nation’. He concludes that the “radical discontinuity and discongruity between eighteenth-century patriotism and nineteenth-century nationalism” was due to the fact that the Anglo-Irish patriot movement relied on English history and tradition while the nationalist movement was built on an emerging and politically coloured reinterpretation of the Gaelic past.