On the Eve of Famine: Two Ideals of Irish Nationhood in 1842, Siobhan Frances Fallon
This article reflects on views of Irish nationhood. By the early 1840s, the effects of Union with Britain had generated in Ireland a desire for national autonomy, and the ‘Great Hunger’ had yet to silence multitudes and sting some others to the point of rebellion. In comparing a painting, ‘The Origin of the Harp’, with a newspaper, the ‘Nation’, this article considers the role of the arts in attempts to forge a national consciousness, and examines some of the philosophical questions that confronted the Irish people in 1842. These concern whether the essence of nationhood is determined by the view of the colonised or coloniser, and whether the claims of nationhood should be predicated on the past or the present, on potent myth or experienced reality.