Irish Education and Catholic Emancipation, 1791–1831 published

«This fascinating book, which documents the parallel approaches taken by Daniel O’Connell and Bishop Doyle in their political lobbying on the Irish education issue in the 1820s, fills an important gap in nineteenth-century Irish historiography. While rigorous and scholarly in its approach, it is engaging in its style.»

– Áine Hyland, Emeritus Professor of Education, University College Cork

«Comprehensive, challenging and accessible, this book provides a unique insight into the role of Bishop Doyle and Daniel O’ Connell in the social and political world of early nineteenth-century Ireland. It is compulsory reading for anyone interested in this fascinating period of history.»

– Judith Harford, Associate Professor of Education, University College Dublin

The restrictions applied to Catholics in the early eighteenth century to curtail their political and economic power in Ireland were gradually removed by the British government in response to changing circumstances. By 1800 the remaining restrictions related to membership of Parliament and a few senior judicial positions. The removal of these, while important symbolically, could have direct implications for very few people, given the limited franchise. Yet the campaign for their abolition, known as Catholic emancipation, presented successive British governments with serious problems and led to one prime ministerial resignation, one government collapse and many crises.

How did Daniel O’Connell use this situation to create a successful mass movement, broadening the emancipation campaign to include the issue of education? How did the area of educational provision become a sectarian battleground, and what part did Bishop James Doyle play in forcing a reluctant government to become involved in setting up a state-run education system, a highly unusual step at the time? Does his vision have a message for us now, when school patronage is such a contested issue in Ireland? This book provides an intriguing new perspective on a critical period in Irish history.

Available for purchase here.

Brian Fleming served for twenty-five years as Principal of Collinstown Park Community College, located in a severely disadvantaged suburb of Dublin. Following retirement he completed a PhD at University College Dublin, focusing on the treatment of educational disadvantage by successive Irish governments. In 2016, he published Irish Education, 1922–2007, Cherishing All the Children?. His current research interests lie in the development of the Irish education system in the early nineteenth century.

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