Unhappy the Land: The Most Oppressed People Ever, the Irish? is a 2016 book by Liam Kennedy, professor emeritus at Queen's University, Belfast. Kennedy introduces, as well as criticizes, the concept of "most oppressed people ever" (MOPE)to describe what he sees as a pervasive assumption both among Irish nationalists and the Irish diaspora that Irish people have been uniquely victimised throughout history. Throughout the book he plays devil's advocate while questioning many truisms he perceives as being commonly accepted about Irish history. The book received generally favourable reviews.
The title comes from Bertolt Brecht's aphorism that "Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes". It is meant somewhat ironically as Kennedy argues against the idea that Ireland is especially unhappy.Kennedy introduces the idea of "most oppressed people ever" (MOPE) in the first chapter, an idea which he believes is the master narrative for Northern Ireland. According to him, “This beguiling framework, which speaks as much to the emotions as to reason, has been enormously influential in shaping historical thought on Ireland, both at the level of folk history and academic writing.” The first part of the book is explicitly comparative, arguing that the British government did not suppress the Irish language and traditions as much as far-right and fascist governments in continental Europe dealt with minorities. Another chapter is focused on criticising analogies between the Great Famine and the Holocaust of European Jews. Kennedy argues that those who make this analogy are typically vague, as specific parallels do not exist. Instead, the genocide allegations were invented to support the Irish nationalist narrative.
The book is not meant to be comprehensive, but supplies plenty of examples to support his thesis.Another of Kennedy's aims is to question the traditional model of mutually antagonistic Catholic and Protestant communities, in favour of pluralism. He is critical of both unionist and nationalist historiography, coming to similar conclusions about the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the contemporaneous Ulster Covenant, which he says are "manipulative documents... replete with contradictions, evasions and silences... Each has its quotient of make-believe". He also questions whether a "War of Independence" really took place in Ireland, as it continued to have close ties with the United Kingdom, which was also the main destination of Irish emigrants. He also considers that it is more accurate to consider it a civil conflict between nationalists and unionists that was dealt with as a police action by the British. Full-scale war was prevented by public opinion in Britain, which opposed keeping Ireland in the Union by force.
According to a favourable Irish Times review, "Kennedy seems to regard the historian’s role as somewhere between professional sceptic, state pathologist and investigative journalist".A review in the Irish Examiner describes the book as "a seminal book that poses fundamental questions about the social and political history of Ireland", although it is critical of Kennedy's "unprofessional" dismissal of Tim Pat Coogan's The Famine Plot . Irish senator Maurice Hayes said that the book "slaughters almost every sacred cow in sight, from the Famine to the Rising, the Ulster Covenant and the Proclamation of the Republic, the Troubles (however labelled retrospectively) and the Civil War". Ruth Dudley Edwards recommended giving a copy to then-Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who, she says, clings to the MOPE mentality "like a comfort blanket".
In an academic review, Professor Penelope Corfield lauds the book for being "Sombre in subject matter, lucid in approach, impressive in range, brilliant in insights, sturdy in documentation, judicious in tone, coolly courageous in its willingness to debunk stereotypes". She writes that the book should be required reading not just for Irish historians but for all those who study human disasters and historical memory.Writing in Irish Studies Review, Ian Miller calls Unhappy the Land "an intriguing book that sets out to challenge, provoke and presumably annoy many of its readers". He states that it is well-written, thoroughly researched, and convincing.
The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1849. With the most severely affected areas in the west and south of Ireland, where the Irish language was dominant, the period was contemporaneously known in Irish as An Drochshaol, loosely translated as the "hard times". The worst year of the period was 1847, known as "Black '47". During the famine, about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.
MOPE may refer to:
Timothy Patrick "Tim Pat" Coogan is an Irish writer, broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He served as editor of The Irish Press newspaper from 1968-87. He has been best-known for such books as The IRA, Ireland Since the Rising, On the Blanket, and biographies of Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera. His biography of de Valera proved controversial, taking issue with the former Irish president's reputation and achievements, in favour of those of Collins, whom he regards as indispensable to the creation of the new State.
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom,, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It was created as a separate legal entity on 3 May 1921, under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The new autonomous Northern Ireland was formed from six of the nine counties of Ulster: four counties with unionist majorities – Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry – and two counties with slight Irish nationalist majorities – Fermanagh and Tyrone – in the 1918 General Election. The remaining three Ulster counties with larger nationalist majorities were not included. In large part unionists, at least in the north-east, supported its creation while nationalists were opposed.
Andrew Bonar Law was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1922 to 1923.
Unionism in Ireland is a political ideology that favours the continuation of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Since the partition of Ireland, unionism in Ireland has focused on maintaining and preserving the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. In this context, a distinction may be made between the unionism in the province of Ulster and unionism elsewhere in Ireland.
Irish nationalism is a nationalist political movement which asserts that the Irish people are a nation and espouses the creation of a sovereign Irish nation-state on the island of Ireland. Irish nationalism celebrates the culture of Ireland, especially the Irish language, literature, music, and sports. It grew more potent during the period in which all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, which led to most of the island seceding from the UK in 1921.
North Down is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The most recent MP is Sylvia Hermon, first elected in the 2001 general election. Hermon represented the constituency on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party until 2010, subsequently sitting as an independent; she is not contesting the seat at the 2019 United Kingdom general election.
The Government of Ireland Act 1914, also known as the Home Rule Act, and before enactment as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to provide home rule for Ireland. It was the third such bill introduced by a Liberal government in a 28-year period in response to the Irish Home Rule movement.
Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1922. For almost all of this period, the island was governed by the UK Parliament in London through its Dublin Castle administration in Ireland. Ireland faced considerable economic difficulties in the 19th century, including the Great Famine of the 1840s. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a vigorous campaign for Irish Home Rule. While legislation enabling Irish Home Rule was eventually passed, militant and armed opposition from Irish unionists, particularly in Ulster, opposed it. Proclamation was shelved for the duration following the outbreak of World War I. By 1918, however, moderate Irish nationalism had been eclipsed by militant republican separatism.
The repartition of Ireland has been suggested as a possible solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Conservative Party, often called the Irish Tories, was one of the dominant Irish political parties in Ireland in the 19th century. It was affiliated with the Conservative Party in Great Britain. Throughout much of the century it and the Irish Liberal Party battled for electoral dominance among Ireland's small electorate within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with various parties such as the movements of Daniel O'Connell and later the Independent Irish Party relegated into third place. The Irish Conservatives became the principal element of the Irish Unionist Alliance following the alliance's foundation in 1891.
John Joseph Clancy, usually known as J. J. Clancy, was an Irish nationalist politician and Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons for North County Dublin from 1885 to 1918. He was one of the leaders of the later Irish Home Rule movement and promoter of the Housing of the Working Classes (Ireland) Act 1908, known as the Clancy Act. Called to the Irish Bar in 1887 he became a KC in 1906.
Events from the year 1870 in Ireland.
Theodore William Moody was an Irish historian.
Famine is a novel by Irish writer Liam O'Flaherty published in 1937. Set in the fictionally named Black Valley in the west of Ireland during the Great Famine of the 1840s, the novel tells the story of three generations of the Kilmartin family. The novel is scarifying about the constitutional politics of Daniel O'Connell, seen as laying the oppressed Irish of the 19th century open to the famine that would destroy their society.
The first evidence of human presence in Ireland dates to about 12,500 years ago, shortly after the receding of the ice after the younger Dryas cold phase of the Quaternary ended around 9700 BC, and heralds the beginning of Prehistoric Ireland, which includes the archaeological periods known as the Mesolithic, the Neolithic from about 4000 BC, the Copper and Bronze Age from about 2300 BC and Iron Age beginning about 600 BC. Ireland's prehistory ends with the emergence of "protohistoric" Gaelic Ireland in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC.
Kerby A. Miller is an American historian, and Emeritus Professor at University of Missouri.
The Irish slaves myth concerns the use of the term Irish "slaves" as a conflation of the penal transportation and indentured servitude of Irish people during the 17th and 18th centuries. Some white nationalists, and others who want to minimize the hereditary chattel slavery experience of Africans and their descendants, have used the false equivalence myth to promote racism against African Americans or claim that African Americans are too vocal in seeking justice. The Irish slaves myth has also been invoked by some Irish activists, to highlight the British oppression of the Irish people and to suppress the history of Irish involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
Liam Kennedy is an Irish historian, emeritus professor of history at Queen's University, Belfast.