Friends of Ireland: Early O’Connellism in Lower Canada

Type of resource
Friends of Ireland: Early O’Connellism in Lower Canada
In September 1828, societies of the 'Friends of Ireland' were founded throughout the United States and British North America for the purpose of raising funds and disseminating propaganda in support of the O'Connellite campaign for Catholic emancipation in Ireland. In March 1831, the societies were briefly revived to agitate for repeal of the 1801 Act of Union which had merged the Parliaments of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The author points out that the first Irish diasporic social movement to appear in Britain's overseas empire, the British North American Friends of Ireland enjoyed greatest support in predominately French-speaking Lower Canada, where for a time sympathetic local Patriotes perceived a common cause with their new Irish-immigrant neighbours. The author explores the transatlantic reciprocal interactions, cross-ethnic alliances and regional distinctions which characterised early O'Connellism in Lower Canada. He follows its initial successes to its virtual collapse in the early 1830s, as an increasingly polarised Lower Canada slid towards rebellion. Comparisons are employed with similar agitation elsewhere in British North America, in the United States, and in Ireland. The author argues that instrumentalist explanations for Irish diasporic nationalism, typically drawn from studies of post-famine Irish-America, do not convincingly account for the appearance and form of O'Connellite nationalism in Lower Canada.
Irish Historical Studies
Vol. 40
no. 157
May 2016
Lynn, Shane. “Friends of Ireland: Early O’Connellism in Lower Canada.” Irish Historical Studies Vol. 40, no. 157 (May 2016): 43–65.
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