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The Irish Establishment 1879-1914

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Irish Establishment - Oxford Scholarship

The Irish Establishment Fergus Campbell The first full examination of elite groups in Ireland before the revolution. Examines a broad range of elites, from landlords to businessmen, police officers to civil servants Revals the social tensions, structural inequality, and ethnic discrimination in pre-revolutionary Ireland Counters prevailing views - argues that the Union was unravelling long before Don't have an account?


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The debate has focused on the degree to which the Irish establishment was open to persons from a Catholic nationalist background. In spite of contributions such as Lawrence W. The Transformation of Bureaucratic and Judicial Personnel in Ireland, — , which argued for an opening up of the Irish establishment, a consensus has developed around a blocked mobility theory which holds that Irish Catholics were prevented from making their way up the social and economic ladder and took to revolutionary nationalism in revenge. Though the book does show some interest in the progress of Presbyterians in Irish society, the main focus is on Catholics.

Campbell devotes six chapters to the principal groups that he sees as constituting the establishment, due to their capacity to make major decisions for society: The chapters investigate the makeup of the groups and their areas of activity in great detail, and we have reason to be grateful to Campbell for the information he has unearthed and analysed with perception.

His conclusion is that it did not, and to this extent his work supports the blocked mobility thesis. Large landowners, though now declining in power as tenants became landowners, remained overwhelmingly Protestant Church of Ireland. The proportion of Catholics in the higher civil service rose a little from thirty-three percent to thirty-seven percent. The proportion of senior policemen who were Catholics actually declined from a quarter to a tenth, and Catholic businessmen rose marginally from [End Page ] seventeen percent to twenty percent of the total, though mostly through recruitment in already Catholic-friendly businesses.