Joseph Johnston (1890-1972) had a distinguished career as a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin and as a Professor of Applied Economics; he served in the Irish Senate on several occasions, and on various Government commissions on agricultural topics. His son, Roy Johnston, is an applied-scientific consultant. He was associated in the 1960s with the attempted politicisation of the republican movement in the context of the Civil Rights Movement's demand for democratic reform in Northern Ireland. Tom Garvin is Professor Emeritus of Politics at University College Dublin. Fearghal McGarry is a lecturer in Modern Irish History at Queen's University Belfast.
The Centenary Classics series examines the fascinating time of change and evolution in the Ireland of 100 years ago during the 1916-23 revolutionary period. Each volume is introduced by Fearghal McGarry who sets the scene of this important period in Ireland's history. Civil War in Ulster, originally published in 1913, analyses the events leading up to the massive arming of the Orangemen which followed the Larne gun-running. Joseph Johnston was an Ulster Protestant writing as a liberal supporter of Home Rule. He gives the book's target Protestant readership an outline of recent Irish history, making the case that Home Rule had many positive features, and that none of the perceived negative features would be worth fighting a civil war to avoid. Although Johnston's objective in writing the book was unsuccessful and the point of view has been largely forgotten, his highly readable book provides a fascinating insight into the thoughts and fears of the population of Ulster at a critical time in Irish history and the foreword and introduction, by Tom Garvin and Roy Johnston, give a contemporary analysis of the thinking behind Johnston's unusual stand.
Introduction - Object in Writing
The Supposed Danger in Protestantism
Church and State in Various Countries
Objects of Ulster's Resistance
Importance of Ulster to the Unionist Parties
Probable Course of Events
Ireland from 1782-1800
Ireland from 1801-1870
Ireland from 1871 to the Present Day
Examination of the Home Rule Bill
‘These titles are not the usual “classics” of the period often thought of, but each gives a selection of vivid, and in some cases such as that of Darrell Figgis, almost forgotten experiences of life and politics.’
The Irish Catholic
'Greater familiarity with these sources — including the range of evocative first-hand accounts spanning the revolutionary decade from the Ulster crisis to the Civil War published as part of UCD Press’s new Centenary Classics series — should complicate as well as inform commemoration in 2016.
Although the achievements of the founding generation will be honoured and, inevitably, appropriated, the urge to celebrate independence should be tempered by an unsentimental understanding of the process by which it was achieved.'
21 March 2016
'UCD Press’s new ‘Centenary Classics’ series makes available eye-witness accounts of key revolutionary episodes including the Ulster crisis; the aftermath of 1916; the rise of Sinn Féin; the War of Independence; the Treaty split; and the Civil War. These provide first-hand perspectives on such topics as the significance of sectarian divisions; the impact of imprisonment on republicanism; the importance of popular mobilisation and guerrilla warfare; and the conflict’s divisive legacy.
These accounts offer many insights into the influences that shaped the revolutionary generation. The value of these texts does not lie solely in the factual light they shed on past events, they illuminate mentalities, as well as the memory of the revolution, a growing area of research.
These stories could be ‘made into a patchwork quilt from memory’. This aim alone provides a compelling reason to ensure the wider availability of eye-witness accounts, particularly during a period of commemoration in which politicians and others will claim to speak on their behalf.'
Fearghal McGarry, Queen's University Belfast
'These contemporary accounts by well known personalities of historical events and attitudes have an immediacy that conventional histories do not have. Introductions by modern historians provide additional historical background and, with hindsight, objectivity.'
'Scholars of nineteenth-century Irish and Irish-American politics should reacquaint themselves with these classics, part of a long running and immensely useful series from University College Dublin Press.'
Irish Literary Supplement
Civil War in Ulster:
'No student of politics, economics, history, sociology or anthropology ought to be without it.'
'a useful reminder that the apparent monolith of exclusivist unionism during Stormont was not inevitable and that other traditions may yet get the political space to re-emerge.'
Irish Economic and Social Review
'It was in the interests of too many leading politicians to leave Britain ignorant of nationalist Ireland, just as nationalist Ireland was ignorant of Britain... Men and women like Johnston... who were well informed about nationalist Irish and English political culture, were unfortunately rare. Much of the historical significance of Johnston's book lies in this exceptionality.'
'Civil War in Ulster is an astonishing book. Written in 1913 by Joseph Johnston who was then only 23 years old. It was an attempt to persuade Ulster Protestants that their fears of and rejection of Home Rule were unwise, and unwarranted. The depth of learning of history and the arrangement of the argument is breathtaking ... A great service has been done by University College Dublin Press in reprinting this erudite and readable book which is as relevant today as when written. Would that his logical advice had been followed!'
Mary Henry, Irish Independent
'a fine example of an alternative protestant tradition that has too often been forgotten, that is worthy of reprinting as an Irish classic.'
D. George Boyce, Irish Studies Review
'This book is a valuable and well-written aid to our appreciation of the situation early this century. It is not a prescription for dealing with the present position.'
Irish Emigrant Book Review