The essay tracks the history of republicanism in Ireland during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The eighteenth-century rebellion of the United Irishmen of 1798 was based on the principles of the American and French Revolutions. But after the Great Famine of 1845–47, although republicanism survived as a political vision, it did so as only one element in the insurrectionary Fenian and parliamentary movements that grew out of the Young Ireland revival of the late 1840s. In the work of James Fintan Lalor, John Mitchel, Michael Davitt, Padraig Pearse, and Ernie O’Malley, we can see the interweave of anti-imperialist nationalism and republicanism which constitutes the essence of political dissent until and through the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Legal, civic, and physical nakedness and the prison systems of the British Empire are shocking features of Irish political experience and discourse that challenge the rhetoric of the twentieth-century academic revival of republicanism in the Anglophone world.

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