William Monsell of Tervoe 1812-1894

Catholic Unionist, Anglo-Irishman

By Matthew Potter

Contributions by: Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh

William Monsell, first Baron Emly of Tervoe (1812-94) is one of the most significant yet also one of the most overlooked political figures of nineteenth century Ireland. His political career spanned sixty years, starting in the 1830s when Daniel O'Connell was at the height of his powers, until the 1890s, when Eamon de Valera was a boy. Monsell's extraordinary life saw him move from being an Anglican Tory to a Catholic Liberal and his dual conversion was greatly influenced by the terrible events of the Great Famine. His long period in the House of Commons (1847-74) was marked by service in a number of administrations under four Prime Ministers. He was the most prominent lay Catholic in Ireland and the chief spokesman for a large and influential, but now forgotten political group, the Catholic Unionists. He was also the key liaison between the British establishment and the Irish Catholic Bishops. This rich contextual biography offers a challenging re-appraisal of the received picture of nineteenth-century Ireland. It is a fascinating portrait of a man whose entire political life was devoted to reconciling the various dilemmas inherent in his ideology. He was a Liberal Catholic devoted to an authoritarian Church, a reforming landlord opposed to the land agitation of the 1880s and 1890s and a patriotic Irishman who staunchly supported the union with Britain. Catholic, Liberal and Unionist; Irishman, Briton and adopted Frenchman; friend of Gladstone, Gavan Duffy and of Pope Pius IX; of Cardinal Newman, Lord Acton and of Cardinal Cullen, William Monsell was a major player in Ireland, Britain and Europe for many decades, whose undeserved slide into obscurity is reversed in this fascinating book.


226 pages

Publication Date: 3/24/2009
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9780716529897