Irish Political Thought in the Eighteenth Century (seminar)

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For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 1998 semester seminar led by S. J. Connolly, Professor of Irish History at Queen's University of Belfast. Speakers included R.R. Eccleshall (Queen's University of Belfast), David Hayton (Queen's University of Belfast), James Kelly (St. Patrick's College, Dublin), Patrick Kelly (Trinity College, Dublin), and Ian Montgomery (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland).

This is the concluding seminar in a chronological series of three Center for the History of British Political Thought programs. This seminar investigated the range of political ideologies or tendencies in the period between the Glorious Revolution and the Act of Union, including the Whigs and Tories of the first ages of party; the court ideology of the post-1715 period; various ideologies of opposition; and the new conservatism of the late eighteenth century. Three issues in particular were carefully considered. First, the seminar investigated the relationship between the works of Molyneux, Swift, Lucas, and Grattan and the wider body of contemporary political thought and writing. Second, the seminar examined more broadly the interplay between themes and issues that were specific to Ireland and those that were Irish manifestations of a wider outlook or debate. For example, the seminar studied at the different meanings of "patriotism" in an Irish and in a British context and at the relationship between the late eighteenth-century Irish defense of "Protestant ascendancy" and contemporary British conservatism. Finally, the seminar addressed the question of continuity and discontinuity. How much of the language of Whig and Tory survived after 1715 to inform political debate? And how far did the conservative and radical theorists of the 1790s fashion new arguments to meet new circumstances, as opposed to developing lines of thought whose roots extended back into the mid- or even early eighteenth century?