Below is a list of books for the purpose of acquainting and educating its audience on the subject of Irish Nationalism. The books form a canon which is mostly, but not entirely, political in nature. The works were chosen to present a continuity of thought, from the 1700s to the 1900s, and to present a broad range of perspectives from the figures of the time. The works end in the early 20th century, as, for the most part, the broad strokes of modern Irish nationalism had been formulated and put to print by this time.

There is no particular order to the items on the list.

If any of the books prove difficult to purchase, most of them should be available on cartlann.org, archive.org, celt.ucc.ie, or libraryireland.com.

THE COMING REVOLUTION

P. H. PEARSE

Considered to be the most significant work in the modern nationalist canon, The Coming Revolution is a collection of Pearse’s political writings and speeches. Contained within are his ideas on the school system, calls to action, his contributions to the journal Irish Freedom, his panegyric at O’Donovan Rossa’s graveside, and a series of articles analysing Irish separatism, its past, and its future. A must read.

THE BREHON LAWS: A LEGAL HANDBOOK

LAURENCE GINNELL

An overview of the native Irish legal code, colloquially known as Brehon Law. Ginnell provides contextual history, coverage of the broader elements of the law, and the main textual sources from which they derive, and analysis of the law, defending it against its detractors. Its intended audience is the man on the street, and is written such that those without legal expertise can grasp the subject matter. Offers a great understanding into the old Irish way of life and a perspective on a legal code of a wholly native tradition.

THE PATH TO FREEDOM

MICHAEL COLLINS

The Path to Freedom is a series of essays penned by Michael Collins outlining and defending his visions of Ireland’s political, cultural, and economic future, elaborating on and defending his position on the Treaty, and recounting the history of the movements that got Ireland to the place in which he was writing.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF IRISH IRELAND

D. P. MORAN

A series of six articles originally published in The New Ireland Review from 1898 to 1900. Together the articles are a powerful manifesto intended to instil a national, and by this Moran means Gaelic and Catholic, consciousness into the nascent Irish middle class. Against this national consciousness the Englishman and the ‘West Briton’—a term coined by Moran—stand to receive Moran’s relentless abuse.

JAIL JOURNAL

JOHN MITCHEL

Described by Pearse as ‘one of the holy books of Ireland’ and ‘the last gospel of the New Testament of Irish Nationality’. It recounts Mitchel’s thoughts and experiences as a felon, convicted under the new Treason Felony Act 1848, and exiled to the penal colonies in Australia. He continued his second edition of the Jail Journal recounting his time in America after leaving Australia.

THE LAST CONQUEST OF IRELAND (PERHAPS)

JOHN MITCHEL

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps) is John Mitchel’s account of Daniel O’Connell and the Repeal Association, Thomas Davis and the Young Irelanders, and the Great Famine. It is a worthy recounting of the movements, figures, and events between the 1798 and 1916 risings, and the forces that stood in their way.

COLLECTED WRITINGS

JAMES FINTAN LALOR

Lalor, along with Mitchel, is another of Pearse’s four apostles of the gospel of Irish freedom. ‘The man who gave it its battle-cries was James Fintan Lalor. Lalor was a fiery spirit.’ Lalor wrote very little, a series of letters to The Nation and The Irish Felon, but wrote with enough flame to warrant his arrest following his article ‘Clearing Decks.’ His essays would inspire later nationalists such as Pearse, Griffith, Connolly, and Davitt.

LITERARY AND HISTORICAL ESSAYS

THOMAS DAVIS

Thomas Davis was a writer, a member of Young Ireland, and a founder of The Nation. Davis broke with previous nationalist movements of the time, namely the United Irishmen and O’Connell movements, in that he placed a much greater emphasis on culture and language, advocating for Irish to be the national language. These collected essays speak to the oft-neglected, non-political element of the national struggle.

THE RE-CONQUEST OF IRELAND

JAMES CONNOLLY

James Connolly, who needs no introduction, wrote this little book to analyse the ill-effects that the conquest of Ireland has had on the Irish people, and to agitate for the reconquest, as it were, in order to eliminate the political and economic ills that plagued the country.

LABOUR IN IRISH HISTORY

JAMES CONNOLLY

Another little book by Connolly. Here he challenges the mainstream nationalist economic ideas of his time, arguing that a revolution in Irish economy was needed alongside independence from Britain. Included are Connolly’s overview of economics and history, and his hopes for the future of Ireland.

LIFE OF THEOBALD WOLFE TONE

THEOBALD WOLFE TONE

The works of Wolfe Tone, leader of the United Irishmen, edited by his son William Theobald Wolfe Tone, containing Tone’s full autobiography and diaries, alongside his political writings and letters, and William’s account of his father’s trial, among other pieces. The works offer remarkable insight into the Ireland and France of the period. Make sure to get the unabridged version.

TOWARDS THE REPUBLIC

AODH DE BLÁCAM

Aodh de Blácam, born Hugh Sanders Blackham, was born into an Ulster Protestant and English household, but rebelled against his upbringing, devoting himself to Catholicism and the Gaelic cause. This book examines what is really meant by the ‘Freedom’ and ‘Gaelicism’ in the watchword of the Gaelic League ‘Náisiún Saor Gaelach a Dhéanamh d’Éirinn.’

Posted by Aodh Mag Uidhir

3 Comments

  1. Although it is a more recent writing, I strongly suggest adding Sean Cronin’s book Irish Nationalism: A History of its Riots and Ideology

    Reply

  2. Mary Stasia Concannon 18/09/2021 at 2:20 am

    Thank you for this wonderful list and advice on acquiring them. This is an essential education.

    Reply

  3. Mary Stasia Concannon 18/09/2021 at 4:02 am

    I ordered the Brehon Laws tonight after reading your list 🙂

    Reply

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