This essay lurks at the intersection of several quite diverse historiographies, political debates and theoretical conceits. Equally, its author comes to it from a (wished-for) confluence of several near-lifelong intellectual preoccupations or enthusiasms, both Irish and global-imperial ones. It has felt repeatedly necessary to resist temptation, here, to stray into extended discussion of any number of these: from reflection on the current global state of historians’ debate on empire and colonialism in general, through analysis and critique of the ‘settler colonial paradigm’, again on a global scale, or of the ever-proliferating literatures on empire’s place in Irish history and vice versa, to close discussion of numerous issues in contemporary Northern Irish politics. I have engaged or am engaging with most of these in other places. Even resisting such temptation, however, this chapter must necessarily range rather widely.