chapter  4
Famine and Fenianism, 1845–1870
Pages 21

O’Connell’s liberal democratic political nationalism and Young Ireland’s cultural nationalism complemented each other. Both moved Irish Catholics away from passivity and fatalism inherent in their Gaelic folk and religious traditions. O’Connell demonstrated that mass, disciplined agitation could change things. Young Ireland inspired a new folklore that provided the people with a sense of dignity and selfconfidence. But after the collapse of the 1843 repeal effort, differences in perspective and temperament inserted an ever-widening wedge between O’Connell and the young men at the Nation. Open conflict started when Davis and O’Connell battled verbally over the Colleges Bill in the Repeal Association. Although that quarrel was patched up, Young Irelanders, rigid in their ideological cultural nationalism, grew increasingly uncomfortable in alliance with the utilitarian O’Connell. When he came out of prison and indicated an indifference toward resuming repeal agitation, began flirting with federalism, and finally resumed his Whig associations, Young Irelanders criticized what they considered a cynical betrayal of nationalist principles.