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‘Ireland’s Empire’ in the Age of New Imperialism: Catholic Missions Shaping the Nation

Timothy G. McMahon, associate professor of history
Marquette University
Structure de recherche associée à la MRSH : ERIBIA
Enregistré le : 17/06/2021 - Durée : 32mn18s - Réalisation : Université Caen Normandie
Lieu : En visioconférence

Dr Timothy G. McMahon is associate professor of history at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, and the Past President of the American Conference for Irish Studies. Tim received his MA (1994) and PhD (2001) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a social historian with interests in nationalism and national identity, popular culture (especially popular religion), and Empire. He is the author of Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893-1910 (2008) and editor of Pádraig Ó Fathaigh’s War of Independence: Recollections of a Galway Gaelic Leaguer (2000) and co-editor of Ireland in an Imperial World: Citizenship, Opportunism, and Subversion (2017). In 2011, he was the Rev. William Neenan, S.J., Visiting Fellow at Boston College, Ireland, and in 2018, he was a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is currently writing a book with the working title of Irish Partition and the Boundaries of Identity.

Abstract

As scholars including Colin Barr and Fr. Oliver Rafferty, S.J., have demonstrated, Irish missionaries played a critical role in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in shaping the emergence of dioceses throughout the world, building Catholic infrastructures within the British Empire. Essential to that effort, however, were messages transmitted back to Ireland by missionaries whose experiences shaped popular sensibilities about Ireland’s place in two global empires—that of Britain and that of Rome. Rather than highlighting the metropolitan structures built in the imperial sphere, my intention is to address the messages that missionaries sent home about what they encountered in the field through a comparison of two distinct mission enterprises: that of the Society of Jesus in the Australian colonies, which ministered primarily to settler communities; and that of the Society of African Missions, a French-based missionary order that opened a school in Cork, preparing young men for missions among indigenous communities in west Africa and Egypt. These very different enterprises informed all classes of Irish men and women about the wider world, offering them a sense of their place as Europeans distinct from the British while Irish nationalists at home engaged in campaigns for independence and then built an independent state.

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