In search for nationalism in early Modern Ireland
The study represents reflection on a recent publication of articles by the renowned Irish historian Brendan Bradshaw “’And so began the Irish nation’: nationality, national consciousness and nationalism in pre-modern Irelandˮ dedicated to the issue of national consciousness and nationalism in early modern Ireland. Bradshaw’s materials are concerned not only with local Irish questions, but also with the debate between ethnosymbolists and modernists about the roots of nation and nationalism. Bradshaw proves, rather convincingly, that the early Modern period was the defining time for the subsequent development of identity processes on the island. He highlights the institutional factor of the formation of the idea of the Irish nation. It was the emergence of the kingdom of Ireland in 1541 within British composite monarchy and the rising level of political consciousness of English elites in Ireland that enabled manifestations of the idea.
However, there are certain imperfections of the methodological nature in the collection, which is hardly surprising, since the materials are republished and do not correspond to the current scholarly experience of humanities. Having formulated a vague definition of nationalism as ‘patriotically inspired commitment to upholding the freedom, identity and unity of one’s nation’, the Irish historian attempts to find it in the examined period, thus endowing personalities of the 16th and 17th centuries with a level of political thinking which is characteristic of the Modern age. Bradshaw’s perception of the texts is quite straightforward since he considers them to be representative of group ideology and ignores their individuality. The fragments of the text provided by him are sometimes interpreted literally on the basis of the context of the period without the recourse to discourse analysis. As the result of such a reading of sources, the identity processes of early Modern time are represented in an overly simplified way. The author of this paper tries to demonstrate which factors impeded formation of nationalism in the examined period.