Caoimhín De Barra
Who are the Celts, and what does it mean to be Celtic? In this book, Caoimhín De Barra focuses on nationalists in Ireland and Wales between 1860 and 1925, a time period when people in these countries came to identify themselves as Celts. De Barra chooses to examine Ireland and Wales because, of the six so-called Celtic nations, these two were the furthest apart in terms of their linguistic, religious, and socioeconomic differences.
The Coming of the Celts, AD 1860 is divided into three parts. The first concentrates on the emergence of a sense of Celtic identity and the ways in which political and cultural nationalists in both countries borrowed ideas from one another in promoting this sense of identity. The second part follows the efforts to create a more formal relationship between the Celtic countries through the Pan-Celtic movement; the subsequent successes and failures of this movement in Ireland and Wales are compared and contrasted. Finally, the book discusses the public juxtaposition of Welsh and Irish nationalisms during the Irish Revolution.
De Barra’s is the first book to critique what “Celtic” has meant historically, and it will appeal to the reader who wants to learn more about the modern political and cultural connections between Ireland and Wales, as well as scholars and students in the fields of modern Irish and Welsh history. It will also be of interest to professional historians working in the field of “Four Nations” history, which places an emphasis on understanding the relationships and connections between the four nations of Britain and Ireland.
“The Coming of the Celts places the political and cultural nationalist campaigns of the Irish and Welsh into dialogue with one another, offering readers a fresh perspective on the turn of the twentieth century. De Barra significantly enhances our appreciation for the numerous cross-currents in play and provides readers with a plausible explanation for the waxing and waning of the Pan-Celtic impulse on both sides of the Irish Sea. Grounded in contemporary correspondence and press sources, this work expands our understanding of pan-nationalist invention at a seminal moment in the history of British-Irish relations.” — Timothy G. McMahon, author of Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893–1910
“At the core of this deeply researched book is an original study of how Wales became part of the Irish nationalist imagination—both as inspiration and reproach—from the late nineteenth century to the creation of the Irish Free State and beyond. It sheds valuable new light on the transnational influences on Irish nationalism by exploring the interactions between nationalists in Ireland and Wales, and it uses these two historical case studies skillfully to illuminate wider debates about the role of language in modern nationalism.” — Paul O’Leary, Aberystwyth University
“Engagingly written, well researched and grounded in both Irish and Welsh language sources, this is an important and much needed study that usefully reframes the history of Irish and Welsh nationalism. Moving beyond the bilateral relationship with an English ‘Other,’ De Barra’s exploration of the ideological interconnections and limitations of Celtic identity in Ireland and Wales is compelling and insightful.” — John S. Ellis, University of Michigan-Flint