The Captain and the King

William O'Shea, Parnell and Late Victorian Ireland

By Myles Dungan

Essentially a biography of one of the real "hate figures" of Irish history, this book explores Captain William Henry O'Shea and his ill-fated relationship with Charles Stewart Parnell, the 'uncrowned king of Ireland.' Although no attempt is made to suggest that O'Shea is a sympathetic character, he is portrayed as a more intelligent and complex personality than the stereotypical buffoon and cuckold presented in most historical narratives. While he was a Whig, a place-seeker, and a fantasist, he was also representative of the political elite which vanished in the 1880s. In addition, almost in spite of himself, O'Shea performed some useful services during his sojourn in the House of Commons (1880-1886) and prefigured the clientilist politics of the Irish Free State with his constituency work in Clare in the early to mid 1880s. Ironically, through his bizarre association with members of the Fenian movement, O'Shea anticipated the move in the same direction made by Parnell after he lost the leadership of the Irish party.


439 pages

Publication Date: 12/1/2009
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781848400115