Tom Dunne


Life

1943- ; b. New Ross; son of former farmer and a mother who owned a shop; ed. Christian Brothers, and joined the Christian Brothers and became inner-city teacher in Dublin, 1960; berated by superior for refusing to use corporal punishment; quite Christian Brothers, 1963; studied history at UCD; settled in Cork with fiancée and completed DipEd., teaching history in secondary school; completed MA on Gladstone and proceeded to Cambridge for PhD; appt. lecturer in history, UCC, 1977, often teaching through Irish; issued ‘The Gaelic Response to Conquest and Colonisation: The Evidence of the Poetry’ (Studia Hibernica, 1980);

 
has written on the colonial element in the writings of Maria Edgeworth, with particular reference to Thady Quirk in Castle Rackrent (1800); initiated controversy regarding Gaelic poets’ self-serving response to the colonisation of Ireland (Studia Hibernica, 1980); issued autobiography/local history as Rebellions (2003), incorporating analysis of the Battle of New Ross and the massacre at Scullabogue; retired from chair in 2004; Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798 (2003), winner of the 2005 Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize; appt. managing ed. of Cork UP on departure of Sarah Willbourne, 2003; issued an anthology of New Ross (2007).

[ top ]

Works
  • ‘The Gaelic Response to Conquest and Colonisation: The Evidence of the Poetry’, in Studia Hibernica, 20 (1980), pp.7-30 [critiqued by self in ‘Ireland, Irish and Colonialism’, 2003, infra];
  • ‘La trahison des clercs: British Intellectuals and the First Home Rule Crisis’, in Irish Historical Studies, xxii, No. 90 (Nov. 1982), pp.134-173;
  • Theobald Wolfe Tone, Colonial Outsider: An Analysis of His Political Philosophy (Cork: Tower Books 1982);
  • Maria Edgeworth and the Colonial Mind [O’Donnell Lecture] (Cork UP 1984);
  • ed., The Writer as Witness: Literature as Historical Evidence (Cork UP 1987) [incls. Katherine Simms, ‘Bardic Poetry as a Historical Source’, et al.;
  • ‘The Insecure Voice: A Catholic Novelist in Support of Emancipation’, in Louis Cullen, Dunne & L[ouis] Bergeron, eds., Culture et Practiques Politiques en France et en Irlande, XVI-XVIIIe Siecle [Actes du Colloque de Marseille 1988] (Paris: Centre de Recherches Historiques [1988]) [q.pp.];
  • ‘Haunted by History: Irish Romantic Writing 1800-1850’, in Romanticism in a National Context, ed. Roy Porter & Miklaus Teich (Cambridge UP 1989), pp.68-91 [note];
  • ‘A Gentleman’s Estate should be a Moral School: Edgeworthstown in Fact and Fiction, 1760-1840’, in Longford: Essays in County History, ed., Raymond Gillespie & Gerard Moran (Dublin: Lilliput 1991), pp.95-121;
  • ‘Ireland, Irish and Colonialism’, in The Irish Review, 30, 1 [Nov.] (Spring-Summer 2003), pp.95-104.
  • Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2003), 288pp. [autobiog.;winner of Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, 2005].
  • Ed., New Ross, Possponte, Ros Mhic Treoin: An Anthology Celebrating 800 Years (Wexford County Council 2009), 472pp. [43 topical works in extract].
 
‘Haunted by history: Irish romantic writing 1800-1850’ (1989), has been called by Claire Connolly ‘ground-breaking’ in respect of the ‘confused and introverted’ cultural moment which he describes in it (Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1839’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, Vol. I, p.408).

[ top ]

Commentary
Brendan Bradshaw, review of Michelle O’Riordain, The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World (Cork UP 1990), in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 1, 1 (Spring 1994), pp.19-22; includes remarks on ‘the anti-nationalist polemic’ of her research supervisor, Dr. Tom Dunne of UCC, ‘The Gaelic Response to Conquestion and Colonisation: The Evidence of the Poetry (Studia Hibernica, 20, 1980, pp.7-30). [See further under Bradshaw.]

[ top ]

Claire Connolly, ‘Theorising Ireland’, in Irish Studies Review (Dec. 2001), pp.301-16: ‘The sense of moderisation as itself a mythology [...] derived from a powerful sense that something was lost with the leap into the future. This went in parallel with the movement in historical writing about Ireland known as revisionism, essentially the writings of a body of historians concerned to combat narrowly nationalistic (which often meant popular) understandings of Ireland’s past. Revisionism and theory might be expected to be allies, and in some instances were. Among Irish historians, Tom Dunne, for instances, has repeatedly called for a more textually aware historiographical practice, while his own research into Irish-language material continues to pose a challenge to cultural theory.’ (p.306.)

[ top ]

Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1839’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. I [Chap. 10]: ‘Through Owenson [The Wild Irish Girl, 1806], a path can be traced back to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century bardic verse and the aiding tradition. Another direct source may be found in radical feminist fictions of the 1790s, with their overdetermined politics of plot. More generally, allegory may be seen forming part of what Tom Dunne calls “the colonial character of Irish Romantic literature” (Dunne, p.70): the injunction to speak otherwise ( allos-agoreuein) remained a powerful one throughout the nineteenth century and connects Edgeworth's and other Irish fictions of this period to twentieth-century postcolonial literatures. / The attachment to allegorical forms within Irish Romanticism marks one of its key differences from mainstream British literary trends in the same period. Critics such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge contributed to an influential and pervasive devaluation of allegory in contemporary aesthetics; meanwhile, symbol took pride of place as the most sophisticated form of metaphor. Inheritors of this Romantic distruct of the simple and simplifying effects of allegory include the many critics of Irish literature who dismiss national allegories like those of Edgeworth as having an “analgesis” effect.”” (p.414; for full text, go to RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, via index or direct..)

[ top ]

[Shirley Kelly,] ‘The Misuses of History’ [interview article], in Books Ireland (March 2004), relates that Dunne is related to Edmund Rice and nearer ancestor his cousin John Rice, who protected women and children from British ire in 1798 and was shot; an uncle Jim played a part in the burning of the Carew house in the War of Independence; Rebellions inspired by ‘gnawing dissatisfaction’ at official 1798 bicentenary commemoration (Comóradh ’98); wrote paper in Journal of Wexford Historical Society; remarks, ‘[...] the official line was to to ignore the hugely important sectarian element of the conflict, as well as agrarian tension, difficult economic circumstances and disputes over recent colonial settlements. Instead the Comóradh committee chose to focus on the idea of a United Irish revolution, bring together “Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter” in the name of progress, as if the ordinary people who fought in ’98 had been transformed into an enlightened bourgeoisie, above and beyond the sectarianism that was in fact endemic in Wexford society at that time. [...] It seemed to me that the hundreds of people who died in ’98 were being recruited to a historical construct that sited the needs of our political leaders at that time.’ Accuses the committee of perpetuating the sectarianism that it refuses to acknowledge in raising a memorial at Scullabogue which defines the massacre as a ‘tragic departure’ fromthe United Irish ideals. (pp.43-44.)

[ top ]

Quotations
Colonial experience: ‘The experience of colonialism is, above all else perhaps,a psychological one, and is thus particularly manifest in literature. Irish fiction after the Union was intensely and often self-consciously colonial in its ambition to present a more favourable image of Ireland to the imperial political élite, and the extent to which it (like the rhetoric of Irish politicians) was shaped by awareness of this English audience.’ ‘The Insecure Voice: A Catholic Novelist in Support of Emancipation’, in Louis Cullen, Tom Dunne, and L. Bergeron, eds., Culture et Practiques Politiques en France et en Irlande, XVI-XVIIIe Siecle [Actes du Colloque de Marseille 1988 (Paris: Centre de Recherches Historiques [1988]).

[ top ]

Glaring exception: ‘Ireland was the most glaring exception to the social cohesion that marked the United Kingdom as a whole …’ (‘La trahison des clercs: British Intellectuals and the First Home Rule Crisis’, in Irish Historical Studies, xxii, No. 90 (Nov. 1982), pp.134-173[q.p.].)

[ top ]