Mary Ann Lyons, Thomas O'Connor, eds. The Ulster Earls and Baroque Europe: Refashioning Irish Identities, 1600-1800. Dublin: Four Courts, 2009. 404 pp. $70.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84682-185-1.
Reviewed by Benjamin J. Hazard (Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute University College Dublin)
Published on H-Albion (January, 2011)
Commissioned by Brendan Kane (University of Connecticut)
Amid the insecurity concerning Ireland’s place in the world and the recurrence of emigration from the country, this, the fourth volume in the Irish in Europe Series, is aptly timed. Arranged thematically in eighteen articles, the book explores the experiences of exiles from the Atlantic archipelago and their reception overseas in the early modern period. Recent anthologies of historical essays have lacked consistent conclusions. The editors of this tome ably forestall such criticisms with a well-coordinated collection which reassesses the flight of the earls in its European context.
In his imposing analysis of Hugh O’Neill (earl of Tyrone), the power of print media, and the exercise of authority, Hiram Morgan treats of O’Neill’s faith and fatherland ethos. He makes the case that, rather than being led by his chaplain Fr. Robert Chamberlain or the Kilkenny Jesuit Fr. James Archer, it was “pressure from the centralizing Protestant state” which compelled Tyrone to foster closer links with Spain and Rome (p. 50). This is reminiscent of Aidan Clarke’s theory that “the union of Catholics in Ireland was, from first to last, a Protestant achievement, not a Catholic one.” After setting the agenda in Ulster at the close of the sixteenth century, O’Neill was consigned to the political margins after 1608--one amongst many Irish émigrés on the Continent (p. 1).
The historiographical view that suppressing the education of Catholic clergy in Ireland led to the foundation of colleges abroad is challenged by Laurence Brockliss. Although Irish Catholicism was undermined socially and economically, he asserts, its survival did not depend upon “sending more and more young men out of the kingdom” (p. 143). This suggests, perhaps, that the enforcement of laws in Ireland before the invasion of Oliver Cromwell in 1649 was less exacting than those against English recusants. David Edwards presents a valuable case study on the garrisoning of Ulster after the battle of Kinsale, a military practice prevalent across northern Europe during this period. With original evidence for the implementation of martial law in Ireland, he notes the severity of measures in Ulster which precipitated the flight of the earls (pp. 56-60).
The application of comparative methodology also identifies parallel processes at the courts of mainland Europe. The emphasis which Professor Brockliss places upon the Society of Jesus and their “Rolls Royce service” as a teaching order is offset by the next essay: Raymond Gillespie’s study, which concentrates on Irish Franciscan communities. Dealing with the role of theology and doctrinal controversy in contemporary politics, Bruno Boute and Jason Harris reveal consistencies in the patronage networks negotiated by Peter Lombard and his Scottish counterpart George Con. Ruadhri O'hUiginn’s survey of early seventeenth-century writing in the Habsburg Netherlands complements Peter Stoll’s article on the hagiography of Monasteranenagh in southern Germany, illustrating how Irish historical tradition was perpetuated by its transfer to the Continent. The extensive catalogue of Irish Franciscan collections at the Strahov Library by Hedvika Kucharova and Jan Parez, and Grainne McLaughlin’s article on Aristotle and Greco-Roman imagery attest the linguistic confidence of Irish scholars who, for a comparatively small community overseas, created an abundant corpus of published work. The Strahov sources account for the majority of the accompanying plates which enhance the text.
The Irish portrait of the Blessed Virgin and the Infant Christ brought to Hungary by Walter Lynch of Clonfert shows that seventeenth-century Irish religious art remains a neglected field of historical research. The inclusion of new work on art, literature, and architecture in this book offers the impetus for further such investigation. Events in Ireland clearly appealed to the Baroque imagination.
Ciaran Brady takes a wry look at commemorative events at the end of the book. Policymakers identify emigration as a means to defuse civil unrest and ease economic burdens within a country’s borders. This book provides an Irish precedent for this phenomenon, whilst articulating the keen sense of religious and cultural identity generated by early modern exiled communities.
. Aidan Clarke, The Old English in Ireland, 1625-42 (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1966; repr. Dublin: Four Courts, 2000), 10-11.
. Cfr. Paolo Broggio, La teologia e la politica: controversie dottrinali, Curia romana e monarchia spagnola tra Cinque e Seicento (Firenze: Olschki, 2009), 1-27.
. James Ryan, “Our Lady of Gyor, and Bishop Walter Lynch,” in Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 1 (1897): 193-205; Benjamin Hazard, Faith and Patronage: The Political Career of Flaithrí Ó Maolchonaire, c.1560-1629 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2009), 128.
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Benjamin J. Hazard. Review of Lyons, Mary Ann; O'Connor, Thomas, eds., The Ulster Earls and Baroque Europe: Refashioning Irish Identities, 1600-1800.
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