Vol. 5: Kelly, James

Type: Article

Kelly, James ‘Eighteenth-Century Ascendancy: A Commentary’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 5 (1990), pp 173-187.

Diverse views have been expressed in the pages of Eighteenth-Century Ireland about both the development of the concept of ‘Protestant ascendancy’ and the use of the term itself. In this article, James Kelly responds to W.J. McCormack’s criticisms of his article titled, ‘Inter-Denominational relations and religious toleration in late Eighteenth-Century Ireland: the ‘paper war’ of 1786-88’, 3 (1988): 39-67. Kelly reaffirms his position that the introduction of the concept of ‘Protestant ascendancy’ dates back to the ‘paper war’ of 1786-88, rather than the Catholic relief agitations of 1792, as McCormack asserts in ‘Eighteenth-Century Ascendancy; Yeats and the historians’, 4 (1989): 159-81, and as earlier discussed in his ‘Vision and Revision in the Study of Eighteenth-Century Irish Parliamentary Rhetoric’, 2 (1987) 7-35. Kelly further discusses the history of Anglican residents in Ireland as representatives of England, the ideological implications of the early concept of ‘Protestant interest’ in late-seventeenth/early eighteenth-century Ireland, and his belief that the term ‘Protestant ascendancy’, “evolved out of Protestant fears for their position in Irish society in the face of Catholic agitation for civil and political rights”.