In The Eternal Paddy, Michael de Nie examines anti-Irish prejudice, Anglo-Irish relations, and the construction of Irish and British identities in nineteenth-century Britain. This book provides a new, more inclusive approach to the study of Irish identity as perceived by Britons and demonstrates that ideas of race were inextricably connected with class concerns and religious prejudice in popular views of both peoples. De Nie suggests that while traditional anti-Irish stereotypes were fundamental to British views of Ireland, equally important were a collection of sympathetic discourses and a self-awareness of British prejudice. In the pages of the British newspaper press, this dialogue created a deep ambivalence about the Irish people, an ambivalence that allowed most Britons to assume that the root of Ireland’s difficulties lay in its Irishness.
Drawing on more than ninety newspapers published in England, Scotland, and Wales, The Eternal Paddy offers the first major detailed analysis of British press coverage of Ireland over the course of the nineteenth century. This book traces the evolution of popular understandings and proposed solutions to the "Irish question," focusing particularly on the interrelationship between the press, the public, and the politicians. The work also engages with ongoing studies of imperialism and British identity, exploring the role of Catholic Ireland in British perceptions of their own identity and their empire.