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5.0 out of 5 stars The story of the Dissenters influence on the United Irishmen
Dissent into Treason, Unitarians, King-killers and the Society of the United Irishmen by Fergus Whelan tells and through this its long term influence on modern Irish nationalism and republicanism. In a well researched and well written book the thin thread which was radical religious thinking is shown to have multiplied in strength until it formed one of the main and...
Published on 5 Mar. 2011 by Esioan Nainnaho

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The development of republicanism through dissenting theology.
The book is written as a series of essays about the part played by individuals in developing dissenter theology, and their part in the development of republicanism. As such it is a bit disjointed and difficult to follow the story as a whole. The author has placed a very distinctive stamp on the book, which is entirely in sympathy with the rebellious outcome, without quite...
Published on 28 Dec. 2012 by Msnow


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of the Dissenters influence on the United Irishmen, 5 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Dissent into Treason: Unitarians, King-killers and the Society of United Irishmen (Paperback)
Dissent into Treason, Unitarians, King-killers and the Society of the United Irishmen by Fergus Whelan tells and through this its long term influence on modern Irish nationalism and republicanism. In a well researched and well written book the thin thread which was radical religious thinking is shown to have multiplied in strength until it formed one of the main and perhaps the strongest strands in the rationalist, liberal modern politics.
Whelan traces the thread of Unitarian thought from its beginnings in the Dissenter meeting houses of the Cromwellian period through the vicissitudes of the seventeenth century to the founding of the United Irishmen, culminating in the vicissitudes of Robert Emmet and his family.
Each chapter begins with an anecdote relevant to the subject matter, with a precise date for the event described. One, for December 7th 1688, concerns what came to be called the "Glorious Revolution" in British historiography which was preceded by the iconic "Apprentice Boys of Londonderry" standing against the onslaught of forces sympathetic to James II.
More than a century later, on March 12th 1798, in Bridge Street, we find Major William Swan arrested the Leinster Directory of the United Irishmen and dealt a severe blow to their efforts. These anecdotes serve to set the scene for the stories of each chapter.
As we travel through the pages of this book we meet many fascinating characters and are introduced to lives sometimes mentioned in passing by others in histories but never fleshed out. Archibald Hamilton Rowan was a romantic figure, described as of "gigantic stature" he successfully challenged the entrenched power of the Ascendancy in the person of Lord Carhampton, who had arranged for the kidnap and rape of a young woman, Mary Neale. Rowan later became an important and charismatic leader of the United Irishmen. Another incident points to Rowan's chivalry when in 1788 he arrived at the Barrister's Dinner Club in Dublin and faced down twenty young men in defence of the honour of "...a young woman whose part [he] has taken."
John Toland, born in the Inishowen peninsula, an Irish speaker, converted from Catholicism to Protestantism as a teenager, but by the end of his teens his thought had developed to the extent that his university education was paid for by Dissenters. He is widely seen as the father of the European Enlightenment and the first freethinker. Whelan suggests that Toland's contribution to Irish thought has been largely ignored because of his militant anti-catholic radicalism.
Another impressive gentleman is the father of the essayist William Hazlitt, also William. The Rev. Hazlitt, brought up in the Shrone Hill congregation founded by Joseph Damer graduated from Glasgow University and was the minister in Maidstone Kent when his support for the American War of Independence proved too radical for some in his congregation. He found an alternative post in Bandon Co. Cork. While there he was active on behalf of American rebels held prisoner in Kinsale and both protested publicly about the conditions in which they were held and assisted in the escape of a small number of them. He also was fearless in pursuit of justice, writing to the war Office about the abuse of some Roman Catholics on Good Friday at the hands of soldiers of the 14th Dragoon Regiment which resulted in the regiment being removed from Kinsale. He later spent three years in America but returned to take up a position in Shropshire where the essayist was born.
The book abounds in interesting an exciting stories such these as well as the great writer, Edmund Burke's attack on Dr Price which resulted in Burke's classic book, Reflections on the French Revolution.
There is always a danger in writing a history such as this to be a little "Whiggish", which presents historical narratives as progressive, towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, as though there is an inevitability to this process. Present day usage of words such as freedom and democracy can be projected back to a time when the meanings were very different. Democracy in Ancient Athens, for instance applied only to male citizens who belonged to certain oligarchic families. Ideas of liberty might be written about and asserted as universal but must be understood in the context of their time.
This is a well researched book, and most informative, indeed this writer found it something of a page turner. However the absence of an index makes it difficult to go back to re-read particular events or references of interest. Even an index of names would have been useful. It will hopefully lead on to further researches by Mr. Whelan and by other members of the congregation.
Perhaps John Toland's self-fashioned obituary would be the best way to sum up the thrust of this book and its stories of Irish Dissent over three centuries:
"He was an assertor of liberty, a lover of all sorts of learning ... but no man's follower or dependent. Nor could frowns or for tune bend him to decline from the ways he had chosen.
Ann Downey
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The development of republicanism through dissenting theology., 28 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Dissent into Treason: Unitarians, King-killers and the Society of United Irishmen (Paperback)
The book is written as a series of essays about the part played by individuals in developing dissenter theology, and their part in the development of republicanism. As such it is a bit disjointed and difficult to follow the story as a whole. The author has placed a very distinctive stamp on the book, which is entirely in sympathy with the rebellious outcome, without quite painting a broad enough picture to leave the reader in sympathy with all his views..
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pivotal Publication for Ireland, 23 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Dissent into Treason: Unitarians, King-killers and the Society of United Irishmen (Paperback)
Re November's (2010) book launches in Dublin and Belfast:-
The Dublin venue was packed with standing room only (Senator Eoghan Harris launched the book), all copies were sold out on the night.
In Belfast the launch took place in Rosemary st. Presbyterian church, where William Drennan (of the Manse) founder of the United Irishmen was reared.
Members of the congregation, senior Belfast figures from UVF, UDA, Eochair ex-Republican prisoners and Stickies were in attendance. At the end of the talk Fergus gave a beautiful rendition of a verse from the hymn 'How can I keep from singing'. The later conversations over tea and biscuits were insightful, and not a bowl of soup in sight.
I was told by one attendee he had no knowledge of this history, never learnt anything of this period and that this was the first time he had heard the story, a conversation that was mirrored later on the Catholic Lower Falls.
One UDA commander who purchased a couple of copies explained to me that one copy was for his son, that another was for passing around some friends. This begs the question of where are the inter-community forums and dialogues promised in the Good Friday Agreement, a serious and dangerous omissions in the current situation.
My grand aunt Mary and aunt Mary (Cluain Ard) instilled their anti-sectarianism into my young mind and made sure I understood that some of their best friends from the linen-mills were in the Woodvale, an intercommunity sisterhood ('a spirit of the Charabanc' ), a hope that one day soon may return.

SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW YOUR HISTORY:-
So which state is comfortable in their prejudice, knowing their were right in their 'planters' religion has a history of bias against the Celts, the Gaelic language, Republicanism, were Calvinistic in their outlook and whose flag should be the Union Jack ?
Correct, The 26 county republic !!

Where Celtic Christianity was suppressed and replaced by the French Norman Crusaders Roman centered variety (1178, after the Orthodox split), it's contemporary version was Jansenist (Louvain in Belgium mirroring Dutch Calvinism), Daire Keogh and O'Cadhain (p19 & 44) detail their anti-republican and anti-Gaelic credentials (Maynooth was seeded with French anti-republican royalists, at it's beginning, in 1802 post the French revolution).
At the battle of the Boyne, if the French Royal Absolutist banner had not been available, Catholics would have followed the Stuart banner, the Jacobite flag (the early Union 'Jack').
The Stuart disdain for their 'subjects' and their scheming was shown by the approach to 'pacifying' their Scottish realm by the pilot testing plantations on the isles of Leodhas (Lewis) agus na Haradh (Harris) (~1607).
Billie's (Liam's) side used Green sprigs on their clothing, fought for constrained monarchy, supremacy of parliamentary democracy and toleration of dissenters and freethinkers.

This book along with AQ Stewart's,Toland's, Keogh's and O Cadhain's, are essential tools in diffusing and dismantling the tribal sectarian narrative of Irish politics.

BACKGROUND:-
Fergus' father and Mairtin O Cadhain were good friends and shared state subsidised accommodation during WWII (along with Behan and my uncle Padhraig, then aged under 16, my uncle Sean's accommodation being in South England).
"Lili Bolero ("An lili ba leir e, ba linn an la" - "The lily was seen above all/triumphant, we won the day). Yes per Behan, the Apprentice Boys of Derry were speaking as Gaelige.

The book focus on these enlightened thinkers, who organised the Belfast Harp festival (1792) where Bunting transcribed the remaining old Gaelic Harp melodies, published the first book in Gaelic (the Bible), founded the University of Belfast, women debated Wollenstonecraft's book. The dissenters were the last denomination to insist that their clerics were fluent in Gaelic and whose disdain for hierarchy closely matched the earlier Celtic Christianity.
They organised the first known anti-slavery demonstration, Belfast itself was the first port to boycott ships dealing in the slave trade.
You will find this book an intriguing read, is easily accessible, with a wide brush stroke (Ireland, England, Scotland and USA), a possibly a taster of further publications from the author and will be sure to change many perspectives.

A Quote from Thomas Russell, pertinent to our times: -
"The starving wretch who steals for bread - but seldom meets compassion
Then shall a crown preserve the head - Of one that robs a nation."

Other References:-
Scriptures politics of the Rev. William Steel Dickson by Brendan Clifford 0850340446
United Irishman - James Hope by Newsinger 0850364965
A Deeper Silence: The Hidden Origins of the United Irish Movement ATQ Stewart 0856406422
The French Disease: Catholic Church and Radicalism in Ireland in the 1790's by Daire Keogh 1851821325
Mary Ann McCracken by Mary McNeill 0856404039
The Trial of William Drennan by Larkin 0716524570
Drennan Selected Writings Vol 3 (Emmet) 1872078060
Soul on Fire - Thomas Russell by Quinn 0716527324
The Man from God Knows Where - Russell by Carroll 1856071308
Thomas Russell and Belfast by Clifford 0850340330/0850340802
Autobiography of Archibald Hamilton Rowan 9780217179720
Theobald Wolfe Tone by Bartlett 0852211333
Life and Death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald by Moore 1425499104
Citizen Lord by Tillyard 0701165383
Recollections of the Life of John Binns 0548232148
Memoirs of Miles Byrne 1432522728
The Nature of the State of Ireland by Arthur O'Connor 1901866122
Belfast in the French Revolution by Clifford 1872078001
Irish Rebellion by Stuart Andrews 1403995982
Drennan on Emmet1872078
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft 0486290360
'Tone - inné agus inniu' by Ó Cadhain [Coisceim & cic - in Gaelic] ASIN: B0000COWNZ
Belfast and the Irish Language by de Brun 1851829385
Hidden Ulster 1873687354
Brendan Behan's Island 0091558611
Dunaire poems by O Tuama 0851053645 (bilingual)
Beathaisnéis: 1782-1881 ; 0903758830 (Gaelic)
The harp of Ireland Grainne Yeats B0006F19PE

The Remaking of Modern Ireland, 1750-1950: Raymond Gillespie 1851826602
Scotland and the Ulster Plantations: 1846820766
The Highland Clearances John Prebble 0140028374
The Life of Thomas Muir: Who Was Tried for Sedition Before the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland, and Sentenced to Transportation for Fourte by Peter MacKenzie 1165086034
Old Reminiscences of Glasgow and the West of Scotland (Volume 1); Containing the Trial of Thomas Muir byPeter Mackenzie 0217263321

The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950 - 1350 by Robert Bartlett 0140154094
Irish Jesus, Roman Jesus by Snyder 1563383853
John Toland by Duggan 9781907522086
The Philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena: A Study of Idealism in the Middle Ages by Dermot Moran 0521892821
Pelagius: Life and Letters by B.R. Rees 0851157149
Salm Vol. 1 by Hebridean Choir ASIN: B0002LUAFW;
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue 006092943X

'The Journal of Margaret Hazlitt' edited by Ernest J Moyne [University of Kansas Press] B0007DWHCE
British Supporters of the American Revolution, 1775-1783 Sheldon S. Cohen 1843830116
Prisoners of War in Britain 1756 to 1815 Francis Abell 1144626161

UK:-
Youth and Rebellion 0750911638
Friends of Liberty 0674323394
Social Unrest in England bt Archer 0521576563
English Radicalism [Burt Franklin] ?,0521890829,0521180813, 085315497X, B0014LV706
Colonel Despard: The Life and Death of an English/Irish Jacobin by Clifford Conner1580970265;
Floating Revolution 184415095X
Treason Trials of 1794 0718514459
The Scottish Insurrection of 1820 0859765199
Cato Street Conspiracy by Stanhope B00114ZINS, 1844159647, B0006BW14Q
Debating the Revolution 186064936X
King Mob 0750937262
Life & Times of Thomas Spence 0859831728
Radical Culture 0814324525
The Enlightenment: A Comparative Social History, 1721-1794 by Thomas Munck 0340663251
Selections from the Papers of the London Corresponding Society 1792-1799 by Mary Thale 9780521089876

The Age of Unease: Goverment and Reform in Britain, 1782-1832 by Michael Turner 0750915374
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