|Title||Faith, fatherland and the politics of exile: the Irish press in mid-Victorian Britain|
The subject of this study is the attempt to establish a press amid the Irish
immigrants in mid-Victorian England. There had long been a notable Irish
contribution to English journalism, and the first Irish papers to be printed in
England had been founded soon after the Act of Union.
The press of the 1860s was to be different, however. Earlier papers had been
aimed at a small, political elite but the massive immigration following the
Famine meant that there was now, potentially, a large reading public.
It was a public which was defined to a great extent by two ideas, nationality
and religion-in the parlance of the time, faith and fatherland. These two
elements crucially shaped the responses of both the migrants and of the wider
English society to each other. Where Irish life in England was organised, it
was Catholic and the secular, nationalist journalists of this study, wrote for a community and within a social organisation which was confessional.
They were also operating at this time, against a political background of
increasing turbulence-which led as the decade progressed, to rebellion and
repression and which saw both the last public execution in Britain and the
deaths of civilians on the streets of London.
The central question for the press of the migrants was how to produce and
sustain newspapers in a hostile political environment, which were at the same
time secular but operated within a system of distribution particularly sensitive to clerical control.