'Fenians at Westminster': The Edwardian Irish Parliamentary Party and the legacy of the New Departure

James McConnel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Many historians have noted the symbolic role the veteran Fenian and 1916 proclamation signatory, Thomas J. Clarke, played as a ‘living link’ between the neo-Fenians of Easter 1916 and the previous generation of Irish revolutionaries. However, before 1914 the neo-Fenian claim to the revolutionary nationalist tradition was by no means unchallenged. For constitutional nationalists also claimed the legacy of the ‘men of ’67’. Although this now seems most implausible, at the time it was much more convincing, not least because of the presence of so many former Fenians in the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1887 the R.I.C. estimated that 23 of the 83 Parnellite M.P.s had been Fenians before entering parliament. Paul Bew has argued that their presence influenced the ‘ideological tone’ of Parnellism, bringing an admiration for armed insurrection which, though emphasising its inexpediency, also stressed its nobility and heroic qualities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-64
Number of pages23
JournalIrish Historical Studies
Issue number133
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

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