McDonough, Ciaran: Inclusion, Exclusion, and the Irish Medieval Past: Antiquarian Writing in Nineteenth-Century Ireland.

In 1831, the Galway antiquarian James Hardiman published Irish Minstrelsy or the Bardic Remains of Ireland. In its introduction, Hardiman made frequent reference to Irish history as being Catholic, despite there having been Protestants on the island since the Reformation. These Protestant scholars, usually Anglo-Irish, had identified themselves as Irish since the eighteenth century, though there were many Gaelic Irish converts among them. In four articles in Dublin University Magazine between 1834 and 1836, the Protestant antiquarian Samuel Ferguson attacked Hardiman in his review of the work, arguing that Irish history was non-sectarian and that Protestants had as much right to claim it as their own as the Catholics did. This paper examines the works of Protestant scholars in claiming an Irish past for themselves in nineteenth-century Ireland. It examines how, in a time when a non-sectarian agenda was obligatory in learned society membership, works were used to forge a connection with the past, while trying to maintain an impartial ethos. This paper also reviews Catholic antiquarian works for attempts to claim Irish history as being solely Catholic and questions whether the Irish medieval past, which was neither Catholic or Protestant, could ever be scrutinised through non-sectarian eyes.