Historical Essays 1938-2001
‘No one alive has waded through more collections of correspondence, legislation, administrative records, ecclesiastical and collegiate fasti, than Professor McDowell. His knowledge of the fine print of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is truly awesome … He has one of the most judicious minds in the business, and his scholarship has the respect of the most rigorous practitioners.’- A.T.Q. Stewart
This miscellany gathers together essays and papers written over a span of sixty-odd years. Some are hitherto unpublished, others disinterred from rare and learned periodicals: Together they form a scholarly and diverting mosaic of political and social life in Ireland over the past half-millennium.
They take for subjects both individuals and institutions. McDowell examines Swift as a political thinker, Burke and the law, John Hely-Hutchinson, provost and controversialist, and the Ulster leader Edward Carson. More minor characters and events are linked to his lively sketches of Trinity College, from its foundation in the sixteenth century to the Second World War; of Dublin Castle and the viceregal court in its glory and decline; of the Dublin Society of the United Irishmen; of the Anglican episcopate.
A nuanced and fascinating portrait of an era, and of Irish-English affairs, emerges, drawn with an unerring eye for human foible and idiosyncrasy. Historical Essays is testimony to the enduring energy and wit of one of Ireland’s most distinguished historians.
R.B. MCDOWELL is an Emeritus Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. His works include Irish Public Opinion, 1750-1800, The Church of Ireland 1869-1969, Ireland in the Age of Imperialism and Revolution 1760-1801, Land and Learning: Two Irish clubs, Crisis and Decline: The Fate of the Southern Unionists and Grattan: A Life.