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Listen to James Quinn discuss Young Ireland on Moncrieff, Newstalk, 28 April 2015
Read James Quinn on Young Ireland in The Irish Times, 29 April 2015

Young Ireland and the Writing of Irish History

James Quinn (author)
Paperback / softback,
Publication date:
31st March 2015

Author Biography

James Quinn is the Managing Editor of the Royal Irish Academy's Dictionary of Irish Biography. His specialist interest is in the writing of Irish history in the nineteenth century. He is the author of two biographies, Soul on Fire: A Life of Thomas Russell (2002) and John Mitchel (2008).


In 1842 a small group of Irish nationalists, who would later be known as Young Ireland, founded the Nation newspaper. They saw their mission as awakening the Irish people to the fact that they were an historic nation that should determine its own future. Ireland, they insisted, had a proud history, which told of sufferings bravely endured, resistance that had never faltered and a national spirit that had never been crushed. However, since Ireland's history had mostly been written by its conquerors, the true record of her past had been misrepresented, leading the Nation to proclaim that 'The history of Ireland has not yet been written'. Rectifying this was one of their most pressing tasks, to which they devoted much of their labour. This work examines why Young Ireland attached such importance to the writing of history, how it went about writing that history, and what impact their historical writings had. Young Ireland and the Writing of Irish History deeply explores the Young Ireland vision of history.Often selective and polemical, but ultimately compelling and powerful, their vison would inspire generations with a pride in Ireland's history, and would set the scene for the revolutionary period 1916-21 that followed.