Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Cross of Saint Patrick: The Catholic Unionist Tradition in Ireland

New book! The Cross of Saint Patrick: The Catholic Unionist Tradition in Ireland just arrived from ebay. It looks interesting. When I've read it I'll be providing a review, but the blurb is below.

By showing that Catholicism and Unionism in Ireland neither are, nor ever have been, incompatible, this book explodes one of the most damaging myths of Irish history. Some of the most perplexing problems of Irish history are illuminated by this work: How did CatholicUnionism originate and survive? Why did so many Catholics turn against the union? How did the Protestant community come to be identified with unionism, after Protestant domination of the early history of Irish separatism?

Nor do the authors fight shy of the present and the future. The Catholic unionist tradition remains alive and still has a useful role to play. The Cross of Saint Patrick is a most important contribution to the debate about Ireland's past and prospects. Never again will anyone be able to ask, as the authors of this book were repeatedly asked whenn preparing their work, "But were there any Catholic unionists?"

About the Authors:

Sir John Biggs-Davison, M.P., was formerly a Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman and is (circa. 1984) Chairman of the Tory Northern Ireland Committee. His research assistant, George Chowdharay-Best, gave up medicine for his present life of politics and research.


  1. Of course the first Chief Justice of Northern Ireland was a Catholic unionist. However things went a bit downhill as the UUP became increasingly sectarian. Just think of its leader and NI PM Sir Basil Brooke/Lord Brookborough who said Catholics could not be trusted and fired all his Catholic employees on his estate.

    Of course there is a strong history of Protestant nationalists of many hues. Parnell, Tone, Emmett.

    In 1921 the Sinn Feinn delegation that negotiated southern independence contained Bob Barton, an Anglo-Irish protestant landowner and former British Army major. And then there is his English cousin Erskine Childers (British military intelligence, clerk of the House of Commons, RAF pioneer, DSO, father of the British spy novel) who was secretary to the delegation. It says a lot about the British state and its attitude towards Ireland that these two became hard line nationalists---

    Childers son (English born and public school educated) went on to serve as Irish Dep PM and later President.

  2. Yup, there have been Catholic unionists and Protestant nationalists - the divide has never been as clear-cut sectarian as it is often perceived.