Andrew Mackillop, Human Capital and Empire: Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British Imperialism in Asia, c.1690-c.1820. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021, 344pp., hardback, £85.00, ISBN9780719070723.
This book makes a very strong contribution to Irish historical scholarship – must-read for students and historians working on Ireland’s diaspora, its relations with Empire and with its closest neighbours. Uses Irish, Scottish and Welsh involvement in the English East India companies (EIC) to explore the ‘multiple pathways into empire’ and the impact of the returning personnel, capital and ideas. First few chapters are a great resource for histories of EIC; each chapter of the remainder of the book provides new data about Irish participation in the British Empire, as well as about Ireland itself, its cities and regions. Mackillop pays close attention to the distinctive characteristics of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. By using the EIC as his case study, he manages to recast the British and Irish Isles as ‘an accretion of expanding regional, national and supranational communities and cultures’.
An easy read for an academic work – great uncluttered prose, consistent framework throughout, wealth of data.
My full review to be published in volume 22 of the Australasian Journal of Irish Studies (AJIS).
Terence Dooley and Christopher Ridgway (Eds), Country House Collections. Their Lives and Afterlives. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2021, 334pp., hardback, €50.00, ISBN9781846829758.
A pleasure to read – beautiful illustrations, reproductions and photographs. Excellent scholarship but would also serve as a lovely coffee table book. 14 essays in the volume: 6 chapters each on English and Irish topics, and one on country house collecting practice in America and Lithuania. The themes are broadly: ‘Assembling and Dispersing’ and ‘Contexts and Reinterpretations’. Lots to interest social, cultural, art historians of Ireland; much to spark new research projects among the essays. My challenge to the field is to historicise collections against backdrop beyond Ireland – what of the houses built and filled by the families who amassed a fortune further afield in colonial pursuits and transatlantic slavery? How did this ‘newer’ money impact the country house milieu in Ireland?
My full review to be published in November 2022 in Irish Studies Review.
The Irish Passport, hosted by historian Tim McInerney and journalist Naomi O’Leary, is now into its second series. The aim of the podcast is to tie current events in Ireland to the history and culture that explain them. As a result, there is an underlying thread of politics to the series—think Brexit (primarily!) and more recently the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment of the Irish Constitution.
McInerney and O’Leary do a brilliant job, however, of unravelling the misconceptions which often swirl around Irish history and culture. In Series 1, the podcast investigated Britain’s ‘knowledge gap’ about Ireland, and in so doing provided a potted history of British/Irish relations going back hundreds of years. They also delved into the 1916 Easter Rising, the Great Hunger, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the recently uncovered scandal at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Other episodes focused on cultural issues such as the Irish language and folklore.
A word of warning about The Irish Passport—the episodes are long! Most episodes are about an hour long, although recently McInerney and O’Leary have begun publishing shorter Halfpint episodes, available only to subscribers.
I highly recommend the podcast for anyone interested in understanding the deeply complicated history of the island of Ireland, and its relationship with Britain, Europe and the Atlantic world. As well as providing a solid grounding in Irish history and culture, the podcast will entertain you. The hosts may be rigorous in their research, but they are charming in their delivery. After a while, I suspect most listeners don’t mind the hour+ running time!