Constructing the Past

Constructing the Past

Writing Irish History, 1600-1800

Mark Williams, Stephen Paul Forrest


Boydell Press



Discusses the reactions of seventeenth and eighteenth-century writers of Irish history to the unprecedented turbulence of the age.
Ireland and the Irish, it is often argued, have been mired for centuries in mindsets which employ the past in order to trace and justify the enmities of the present. However, as Constructing the Past: Writing Irish History 1600-1800 seeks to underscore, the truth of such interactions with the Irish past is far more complex and dynamic. Spanning two hundred years of history, this book finds a relationship with the past which is as adaptive as it is rigid, as iconoclastic as it is reactionary.
Beginning with an Introduction by Roy Foster, this innovative volume incorporates a wide range of perspectives on how history in Ireland has been written and perceived from the early-modern period onward. Drawing upon both key moments - including the Cromwellian invasion, the 1688 Revolution and 1798, to name a few - as well as forgotten incidents, each article discusses the ways in which the presentation of the past in Ireland has been forged by the circumstances of its writers and context of those memories. Drawing upon contributions by both highly accomplished and up-and-coming historians of Ireland, Britain and Europe, Constructing the Past seeks to illuminate how the Irish past has been constructed, torn down and again rebuilt by the Irish and historians of Ireland alike.

STEPHEN PAUL FORREST serves as the Director of Operations for the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation; MARK WILLIAMS is currently reading for a Doctorate in Modern European History at Hertford College, Oxford.


October 2010
216 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Irish Historical Monographs
ISBN: 9781843835738
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Roy Foster
Seventeenth-century Constructions of the Historical Kingdom of Ireland - Bernadette Cunningham
History, the Interregnum and the Exiled Irish -
'Making Dead Men Speak': Manipulating the Memory of James Usher - Alan Ford
The 1688 Revolution in Ireland and the Memory of 1641 - Richard Ansell
Writing and Publishing Histories in Eighteenth-century Ireland - Toby C Barnard
The Volunteer Evening Post and Patriotic Print Culture in Late Eighteenth-century Ireland - Martyn J. Powell
Constructing Counter-Revolutionary History in Late Eighteenth-century Ireland - Ultan Gillen
Cromwell and Catholics: Towards a Reassessment of Lay Catholic Experience in Interregnum Ireland - Scott Spurlock
Nature, Politics and Historians in Early Modern Ireland - Raymond Gillespie


A most useful and stimulating collection, which contributes substantially to the history of early modern Irish political discourse. JOURNAL OF IRISH & SCOTTISH STUDIES

[A] provocative and intelligent collection. [...] The contributions offered here - all engaging, some entertaining - comprise an argument for flinging open all of the doors and windows in the Pantheon of Irish history. IRISH STUDIES REVIEW

[Readers will] be well rewarded [...] with a deeper understanding not only of the Irish past but also of the myriad ways in which that past was put to use by writers of various political and religious stripes at a time when Ireland was making the transition to the modern world. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES

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