Revolutionary reverberations: Russia and Ireland in war and revolution, 1905-1923
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date08/12/2023
The period between 1905 and 1923 was one of immense political instability around the world, but particularly in Russia and Ireland. Both countries emerged from this period with new state structures: Russia as part of the Soviet Union, and Ireland with the end of the union with Britain as the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, following what is now commonly known as the ‘Irish Revolution’. This thesis uses a broad, bilingual source base and a transnational approach to investigate Irish responses to news from revolutionary Russia, and to analyse comparatively Russian representations of Ireland. It contributes to an expanding literature on the global histories of the Russian and Irish Revolutions, exploring the translation of political ideas and texts across borders and nations. Through analysis of Irish and Russian archival papers, photographs, newspapers and published sources, this thesis demonstrates a greater range of political connections between revolutionary Russia and Ireland than previously acknowledged by other scholars. The thematic chapters consider attitudes to Russia among Irish conservative, unionist, religious and nationalist groups, rather than solely Irish radicals and left-wing organisations which are the focus of most existing Irish-Soviet studies. The diversity of Irish engagement with Russia is exemplified by the varied experiences of Irish men and women who served in Russia during World War One. Moreover, Russo-Irish connections were not one-way: there was Bolshevik and early Soviet optimism about Ireland’s potential to help destabilise the British empire. The Communist International also tried to expand its reach in Ireland after its creation in 1919. Yet perceptions of shared interest did not always lead to increased cooperation and understanding. Anti-communism gained considerable momentum in Ireland after 1917, promoted strongly by the Irish Catholic Church. Misinformation, language differences, limited choice of news sources and national and ethnic stereotyping helped shape newspaper coverage and eyewitness accounts. Often, news from Russia reached Ireland through Britain, which coloured interpretations. Crucially, Russian and Irish political actors and publications interpreted foreign events to suit their own political agendas and as part of wider visions for domestic and global change.
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