William Monsell, first Baron Emly of Tervoe (1812-94) is one of the most significant yet also one of the most overlooked political figures of nineteenth century Ireland. His political career spanned sixty years, starting in the 1830s when Daniel O’Connell was at the height of his powers, until the 1890s, when Eamon de Valera was a boy. Monsell’s extraordinary life saw him move from being an Anglican Tory to a Catholic Liberal and his dual conversion was heavily influenced by the terrible events of the Great Famine. He was the most prominent lay Catholic in Ireland and the chief spokesman for a large and influential, but now forgotten political group, the Catholic Unionists. He was also the key liaison between the British establishment and the Irish Catholic Bishops.
This rich contextual biography offers a challenging re-appraisal of the received picture of nineteenth century Ireland. It is a fascinating portrait of a man whose entire political life was devoted to reconciling the various dilemmas inherent in his ideology. He was a Liberal Catholic devoted to an authoritarian Church, a reforming landlord opposed to the land agitation of the 1880s and 1890s and a patriotic Irishman who staunchly supported the union with Britain. Catholic, Liberal and Unionist; Irishman, Briton and adopted Frenchman; friend of Gladstone, Gavan Duffy and of Pope Pius IX; of Cardinal Newman, Lord Acton and of Cardinal Cullen, William Monsell was a major player in Ireland, Britain and Europe for many decades, whose undeserved slide into obscurity is reversed in this fascinating book.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Rare Bird
Chapter 2: The Making of Monsell
Chapter 3: The Dual Conversions
Chapter 4: Identity and Allegiance
Chapter 5: Waging the Crimean War
Chapter 6: In the Wilderness
Chapter 7: Service under Galdstone
Chapter 8: The Elysian Fields
Chapter 9: Conclusion
About the Author
Matthew Potter holds an IRCHSS Government of Ireland Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the Department of History, University of Limerick.