Prior to the famine, the perceived need to maintain the Anglo-Irish union, and the subservience of the Irish, was resolved by resort to a gendered rhetoric of marriage. Many British writers accordingly portrayed the union as a natural, necessary and complementary bond between male and female, maintaining the appearance if not the substance of a partnership of equals. With the coming of the famine, the unwillingness of the British government and public to make the sacrifices necessary, not only to feed the Irish but to regenerate their island, was justified by assertions of Irish irredeemability and racial inferiority. By the 1850s, Ireland increasingly appeared not as a member of the British family of nations in need of uplifting, but as a colony whose people were incompatible with the British and needed to be kept in place by force of arms.
This is the first critical study of the insurgent and counter-insurgent campaigns in a controversial and often misunderstood conflict. The Republic won in 1921, but what did it win? The Irish succeeded in securing Home Rule on their own terms when England refused to give in. Meanwhile the Crown Forces gained valuable experience in a form of war that would continue to plague them decades later. Appendices include information on the political, military, and paramilitary organizations in Ireland; important Irish political documents; songs of the rebellion; and a critical bibliography.
This comparative approach provides a wealth of information on family life in Ireland at both the county and the provincial levels. It addresses the role of home and school as a model of socialization and the use of emigration as a coping device. The author also explores the social climate created by the 1838 Poor Law. Ultimately, the stress of struggling to survive the natural disaster of the famine, combined with the political developments of the day, had a devastating effect on the young.