Lack of history of Irish middle class

Fr. Hank Tree

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I've been wanting to read more specific history of the Irish middle class. There is a glut of literature on Irish working class history. For example when I search google books for Irish working class history, a load of books come up specifically dedicated to that subject. Middle class history, not so much.

This is a little curious considering that the middle class has been a much bigger determinant in our history. The working class has been fairly marginal when it comes to the main turning points, yet you'd get a different impression based on the amount of material about it. A classic example of this is "labour must wait" during the revolutionary period when the socialist agenda was subordinated to the nationalist agenda. You do notice an increasing revisionism in history whereby the importance of labour is exagerated, whether that be the lockout, the depiction of Connolly as the real leader of the Rising, the anti-consciption movement and the role of the unions etc.
 


Dame_Enda

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Historically the professional classes in the early years of the Irish state were predominately Protestant and Anglo-Irish because of the Penal Laws. As late as 1869 TCD was allowed to refuse Catholics. Exceptions included Daniel O'Connell, whose ancestors were well connected enough to keep their lands after the Jacobite rebellion.

Indeed the southern Irish banking sector was largely Protestant run until the 1960s.
 

Fr. Hank Tree

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Historically the professional classes in the early years of the Irish state were predominately Protestant and Anglo-Irish because of the Penal Laws. As late as 1869 TCD was allowed to refuse Catholics. Exceptions included Daniel O'Connell, whose ancestors were well connected enough to keep their lands after the Jacobite rebellion.

Indeed the southern Irish banking sector was largely Protestant run until the 1960s.
It was, but that it is only one part (the upper part) of what we would call middle class. It was broader than that.
 

Dame_Enda

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You can get an idea of how large the middle class was in the 19th century by looking at the election results after the abolition of "rotten boroughs". In Ireland in the 1886 election for the House of Commons (when there was still a property qualification but almost all the land was owned by the Anglo Irish and British aristocracy) only around 200,000 votes were cast on the island of Ireland, out of a male population of around 3 million. That would suggest the middle and upper classes combined at this stage were approximately 6-7% of adult males, compared to maybe 40% now (depending on how you define it - some say higher but I disagree).
 

Cruimh

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https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/mixed-up-about-the-class-divide-1.1276875

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/review-privileged-lives-a-social-history-of-middleclass-ireland-18821989-by-tony-farmar-26618913.html

https://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/the-rise-and-fall-of-local-democracy/

The Irish Municipal Revolution had five main results. First, the modern system of urban government was established. Second, central government began to take an active role in regulating the local state. Third, the rising Catholic bourgeoisie gained control of a significant aspect of the administrative machine for the first time. Fourth, the urban local state was given a significant role in the provision of services such as the cleaning, paving and lighting of streets, social housing, technical education and public health. Finally, municipalities were the first elected bodies to come under nationalist control in the 1870s and 1880s, and were to play a pivotal role in advancing Home Rule and later Sinn Féin.
The result was the overthrow of Protestant ascendancy, and by 1900 the Catholic/nationalist propertied classes were firmly in command of boroughs, town councils and Poor Law unions all over the country. The machinery created by the Municipal Revolution continued to operate effectively until independence, and municipal government expanded in line with the increase in urbanisation. In 1911, 34.7% of the total population lived in towns with over 1,500 people, and 34.4% lived in towns with municipal government.
https://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/the-rise-and-fall-of-local-democracy/

https://www.palgrave.com/la/book/9780230008267

Class structure
Irish history is portrayed as a series of nationalist uprisings and movements against Anglo-Irish rule. In fact, much rural violence and agitation was class based, of Catholic Irish versus Catholic Irish. The employer and landlord of the rural poor was not the Anglo gentry, but the Irish Catholic middle class of farmers. Even where areas were less developed, a ‘middleman’ stood between the mass of the population and the landlords. A ‘Middleman’ being a tenant on a long, stable lease, often Catholic/Irish, and profiting through subletting, but less commercially orientated than the middle class which developed in fertile areas. Statistics from 1841 show this, and clearly give lie to the popular nationalist view of an Anglo gentry above homogenous downtrodden Irish masses
https://libcom.org/history/midnight-legislation-class-struggle-ireland-1760-1840

And looking at it, those prominent in organising the Easter Rising with the exception of Connolly, very hardly working Class.
 

GDPR

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I need to think about this, because I am not sure what OP is saying. The recent history of Ireland is very much the history of the middle class, on both sides of the Border.

Are we are talking about historiography? That there is no one book that examines this in detail?
 

Dame_Enda

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Hubert George de Burgh-Canning, 2nd Marquess of Clanricarde, had a reputation for being the harshest of the Irish absentee landlords, and was infamous for evicting tenants during the economic difficulties of the Land War.

Manchester Guardian 1888 said:
From the archive, 1 September 1888: Clanricarde estate resumes evictions
Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 1 September 1888
Thu 1 Sep 2011 16.23 BST First published on Thu 1 Sep 2011 16.23 BST
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DUBLIN, FRIDAY NIGHT

The evictions on the estate of the Marquis of Clanricarde were resumed to-day near Woodford, county Galway. Forces for the protection of the Sheriff and emergency men consisted, as on the previous days, of 180 men of the Scotch Fusiliers and 200 police, all in charge of Divisional Magistrate Byrne. A start was made early from Clondergoff Castle, the headquarters, and progress was made in the direction of Clonmooney, which is a considerable distance. The approach of the evictors was heralded all over the countryside by the blowing of horns and ringing of chapel bells. The march to the scene of action occupied until some time after midday. Meanwhile the country people gathered in a large crowd and followed.

The first house visited was that of Patrick Kelly, of Clonmooney. The dwelling was barricaded, and when the emergency men approached they were met by showers of hot water thrown from the inside. The bailiffs and some constables came in for some of the showers, but as the water had not been heated to scalding point they were not injured. After some time the door was broken in, and the emergency men entered. The defenders of the house were then found to be four young girls, three of them the daughters of the tenant, and the fourth a girl named Annie Porter. They were taken into custody and marched off to Clondergoff Castle. It was stated that the great part of the holding, which is very poor land, had been reclaimed by the tenant. The rent was £10 a year and the poor-law valuation £11.

A move was then made for Derrygill, some distance away, and after fording a small river John Fahy's house was reached. The agent offered to make the tenant a bailiff on the estate, but this offer was refused. The crowbar was then put into operation. Hot water was thrown out, but the house was soon captured. Three lads inside were made prisoners. The house of John Fahy, of Ducas, was then attacked. No effort to defend the dwelling was made, as there was a man in the house in the last stage of consumption. Dr. Carte was appealed to as to whether the man was in a condition to be removed, and he gave it as his opinion that the eviction might proceed. The sick man was then removed and the eviction was carried out. To-morrow several houses which are strongly fortified will be attacked....
In 1889 during the Plan of Campaign, 1500 Tipperary tenants were evicted under a plan by the British govt to combat the Plan. Lord Barrymore was ordered to buy up estates threatened by the Plan of Campaign and evict their tenants. Youghal was also badly affected. I think the population of Trim were evicted too.
 
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Roberto Jordan

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ht And looking at it, those prominent in organising the Easter Rising with the exception of Connolly, very hardly working Class.[/QUOTE] The easter rising true...if one ignores Clarke and Macdiamuida & others and focus' on pearse, plunket and their ilk...........but, despite some efforts to describe it differently, the WoI was very much a skilled working/ lower middle class affair at the very best - clerks and scholarship boys and the sons of very middling farmers were the officer class in general.
 

Roberto Jordan

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You can get an idea of how large the middle class was in the 19th century by looking at the election results after the abolition of "rotten boroughs". In Ireland in the 1886 election for the House of Commons (when there was still a property qualification but almost all the land was owned by the Anglo Irish and British aristocracy) only around 200,000 votes were cast on the island of Ireland, out of a male population of around 3 million. That would suggest the middle and upper classes combined at this stage were approximately 6-7% of adult males, compared to maybe 40% now (depending on how you define it - some say higher but I disagree).
You made my point for me......while the bulk of the population perceived all kinds of rungs and tiers in the social order to the outside viewer most ranged from destitute to the coping skilled class.....by the turn of the century the % was not insgificant and was to be found in every city and town....but it was still a long way from a nation or yeomen or mittelstand proprietors & property owning stable workers.
 

The Field Marshal

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It is arguable that the 1916 rising was led by mainly middle class intellectuals ie school teachers.
That trend of middle class political leadership persists .
 

Wascurito

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The middle classes were - over much of the country - the shop-owning and merchant classes, often referred to as the gombeens. These were the people referred to so contemptuously by Yeats in "September 1913" who "fumble in a greasy till" and add "prayer to shivering prayer".

If they don't figure so much in our national history, it's because of their innate conservatism, even reactionary outlook - in the true meaning of that term. They reacted against change. They were one step up from the mudwall cabin and the local workhouse and ruthlessly protected their status, to the point of fearing change, even this new nationalism with its high-faluting ideas of a Sinn Féin republic.
 

Catalpast

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Well as they say most western History is written by White Middle Class Men

- about what happened to other White Middle Class Men....

I wouldn't say the History of the Middle Classes is neglected

- its just that its submerged subconsciously if you will in general Histories...
 

wombat

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And looking at it, those prominent in organising the Easter Rising with the exception of Connolly, very hardly working Class.
Another of the great myths of 1916 that had no basis in reality was that it was somehow a rebellion of the men of no property and that the Redmondites were the conservative moneyed class. The reason that the rebels were jeered by the poor of Dublin was because the poor males had taken the king's shilling and were fighting the Germans. Regarding the middle class, it tends to be used as a term of abuse in Ireland whereas in north America, the middle class are more correctly defined as those who are neither destitute nor millionaires.
 

wombat

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The middle classes were - over much of the country - the shop-owning and merchant classes, often referred to as the gombeens. These were the people referred to so contemptuously by Yeats in "September 1913" who "fumble in a greasy till" and add "prayer to shivering prayer".
In country areas, they would include most farmers who had gained from Gladstone's land reforms.
 

Wascurito

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In country areas, they would include most farmers who had gained from Gladstone's land reforms.
I wonder if most farmers made it into the middle class so soon. The "land reforms" took nearly half a century and it was to be the 1910s before ordinary people started seeing major effects.
 
D

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The middle classes were - over much of the country - the shop-owning and merchant classes, often referred to as the gombeens. These were the people referred to so contemptuously by Yeats in "September 1913" who "fumble in a greasy till" and add "prayer to shivering prayer".

If they don't figure so much in our national history, it's because of their innate conservatism, even reactionary outlook - in the true meaning of that term. They reacted against change. They were one step up from the mudwall cabin and the local workhouse and ruthlessly protected their status, to the point of fearing change, even this new nationalism with its high-faluting ideas of a Sinn Féin republic.
In what way?
 

raetsel

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Historically the professional classes in the early years of the Irish state were predominately Protestant and Anglo-Irish because of the Penal Laws. As late as 1869 TCD was allowed to refuse Catholics. Exceptions included Daniel O'Connell, whose ancestors were well connected enough to keep their lands after the Jacobite rebellion.

Indeed the southern Irish banking sector was largely Protestant run until the 1960s.
Sectarianism in Irish financial services was quite widespread until then. Up until the mergers and takeovers of the 1960s there were nine banks operating in the 32 counties. Only three had predominantly Catholic senior management. Furthermore freemasonry was rife in the insurance sector. A friend of mine was employed as a trainee actuary by Irish Life back in the early 1970s and he estimated that most of the management were masons.
 
D

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Can we merge this thread with poster Buachail Dana's thread about the RC right?

For the craic, like.
 

Dame_Enda

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Sectarianism in Irish financial services was quite widespread until then. Up until the mergers and takeovers of the 1960s there were nine banks operating in the 32 counties. Only three had predominantly Catholic senior management. Furthermore freemasonry was rife in the insurance sector. A friend of mine was employed as a trainee actuary by Irish Life back in the early 1970s and he estimated that most of the management were masons.
I used to think concerns about Freemasonery were just paranoia fuelled by the Nazis and the RCC. However it turns out nearly all the leading figures in the French Revolution were Freemasons so there may be something to it.
 


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