Reimagining Rural Ireland: Famine, Migration, and Feudalism in Irish and Irish North American Fiction, 1860–1895

Author: Marguérite Corporaal (Radboud University Nijmegen), Christopher Cusack (Radboud University Nijmegen), and Lindsay Janssen (University College Dublin)

“There is a lingering spark of the old feudalism yet left in the people. Try and kindle it up once more into the old healthful glow of love to the landlord.”[1] These lines, written by Mary Martin to her uncle, a notorious absentee landlord, urge Captain Martin to come back to his estate, as the tenants are severely stricken by fever and famine. While set around 1830, Charles Lever’s novel The Martins of Cro’ Martin (1856) strongly engages with memories of Ireland’s Great Famine (1845–50): Mary’s correspondence, which states that “There is a blight on the land; the people are starving—dying”[2] resonates with the more recent hardships the country had faced. Reading the novel against the background of the 1840s famine, Lever’s portrayal of the indifference of Captain Martin and his wife to the fate of the starving tenantry points to a more generally shared perception that the Great Famine signified a crisis in the already precarious feudal bonds between the landed class and their tenants.


As many scholars in Irish Studies argue, thinking of nineteenth-century Ireland in terms of feudalism is problematic. Philip Bull makes clear that feudalism is rooted in the Neoplatonic ideal of the “Great Chain of Being,” according to which the landlord can be seen in a metaphysical sense, with strong religious overtones, as the representative of a higher authority. This social system was sanctioned both by tradition and by an ulterior authority in the form of the established religion, which validated the cultural hegemony of the upper social strata.[3] However, in most cases in Ireland, landlords and their tenants did not share the same religion, and because the ruling class had been installed forcefully after the seventeenth-century Cromwellian conquests, landlords were popularly seen as outsiders and intruders. Therefore, Marxist scholars such as Eamonn Slater, Terrence McDonough, and Joe Cleary consider the Irish “squirearchy” “a bastardized variety of colonial feudalism”[4] which fails to realize the feudal ideals of reciprocity—care bestowed upon the landed class by landlords in return for their services—and interdependence.


In addition to these circumstances which fueled the schism between landlords and tenants, the Great Famine was often considered as the ultimate failure of feudal relationships between the two classes, as the landed classes were accused of neglect of their responsibilities toward the starving peasantry on their lands.[5] In a letter to Lord John Russell, the barrister and erstwhile MP Rigby Watson criticized the “imprudence” of the often absentee landlord in dealing with the sustenance crisis, stating that “property has its duties as well as its rights.”[6] Jasper W. Rogers, in a letter to the landlords and rate payers of Ireland, blames the landed class, who has failed to instruct the tenant in “paths for his advancement” that would “keep him from starvation.”[7]


A similar critique on the shortcomings of the landlords was expressed in literature. C. A. Rawlins’s poem The Famine in Ireland (1847) implies that the “pangs of hunger” from which the tenant farmers suffer are the dire result of an absentee landed class that ignores the duties that come with “station, rank, possession vast and rare,” failing to act as “parents on a larger scale” and spending “their fortunes in a foreign clime.”[8] Texts written during and in the first decades after the Famine would moreover contrast the famine suffered by the agricultural class with the greed and gluttony of the landed class. “The Feast of Famine: An Irish Banquet” (1870) presents a group of absentee “landlords of Erin” who aim to have “a banquet of viands all costly and rare” when hunger rages in Ireland.[9] In William Carleton’s The Squanders of Castle Squander (1852) the members of the family have very little eye for the wants of their tenants—Squire Squander forgets that “property had its duties as well as its rights,” and his sons Harry and Dick display a “buoyant spirit” at the expense of their starving dependents.[10] Richard Baptist O’Brien’s novel Ailey Moore (1856) shows that while the laboring class is suffering from starvation, their insensitive masters “banquet sumptuously on their fellows’ toil, but are so insensible to their happy fortune, that, far from endeavouring to preserve it, their labour is to accelerate its ruin.”[11]


These novels by Carleton and O’Brien are just a few examples of fiction that contain recollections of the Great Famine and condemn the existing feudal system. There are, however, also works of Famine fiction, written at home and in the North American diaspora, that present a narrative conclusion marked by the introduction of an ideal form of feudalism that binds landlords and tenants and holds the promise of future prosperity and harmony. Some of these narrative conclusions are inspired by the growing impact of an Irish middle class, as well as an Irish, North American, Catholic middle class, and imagine this new feudalism in terms of a Catholicized Ascendancy,[12] in the form of converted landlords or the arrival of a new Catholic landlord after the previous owner had lost his property as a result of the Encumbered Estates Act.


This article will focus on the role that migration plays in the reconfiguration of feudalism in Famine fiction written until fifty years after the event. It will discuss similar narratives of the return of an idealized feudalism and will specifically focus on the role of Irish migration and return migration in reconfigurations of Irish rural society in the wake of the Famine. As Eviatar Zerubavel claims, “conventional schematic formats […] help us mentally string past events into coherent culturally meaningful historical narratives,”[13] and the Famine “scripts”[14] in fiction that reconceptualize new forms of feudalism frequently feature a former or new landlord who is suitable to restore idealized bonds between the landed class and tenantry due to his or her previous migration to the New World. This returned landlord has learned the values of democratism and equality by experiencing a period of hardship and poverty abroad, and the solutions that these narratives offer for social instability and tension lie in the reform of the landed class rather than of the system of feudalism itself. The (re-)migrant landlord’s successful restoration of a sense of community between the classes—which is inspired by his experiences as an emigrant—can be interpreted as a form of “restorative nostalgia”: as Svetlana Boym explains in The Future of Nostalgia, this is a reconstruction of a “lost home” that is rooted in conceptions of an idealized pre-Famine past.[15] Out of touch with the realities of ongoing agrarian tensions and succeeding famines, these narratives instead respond to post-Famine transformations in society, such as the proprietorship of estates by new money and the gradual disappearance of the traditional landowning families.


As many scholars in memory studies have argued, “migrants carry their heritage, memories and traumas with them” and these “are transferred and brought into new social constellations and political contexts.”[16] Thus, they generate transnational memories that travel “within and between national, ethnic and religious collectives” and connect communities in homeland and host societies.[17] This certainly applies to cultural memories of the Great Famine that found their way to the North American continent when those who had fled starvation settled in the United States and Canada. As the second part of this article will suggest, migration plays an important role in the idyllic representation of post-Famine landlord-tenant relationships. As this essay demonstrates, this ideal of restored feudalism is particularly prevalent in North American Famine fiction of the Famine generation, written between 1860 and 1870. This “restorative nostalgia” that characterizes Famine narratives written on the other side of the Atlantic can be explained through processes of identity formation in diaspora.



The Remigrant Landlord and Restorative Nostalgia

Both before and during the Great Famine, some of the older landowning families were forced to sell their property due to debts incurred on their estates. Before the Famine, many of the landed families had already heavily indebted themselves, having upheld a lavish lifestyle in times of economic depression. Moreover, as James Donnelly has observed, “defective laws […] permitted their accumulation of debts far beyond the value of security.”[18] The financial prospects of the gentry received a further blow because of the outbreak of the blight: as Thomas Bermingham remarked in 1847, “when the payment of rents has been (and is likely still to be) so difficult” due to the failure of the potato crops, “the total ruin of many proprietors and occupiers of land must ensue.”[19] Furthermore, following the 1847 Poor Law Extension Act, which shifted the financial burden of relief onto Irish property owners, many landlords found themselves “at the verge of ruin,” Andrew Maley stated in 1849.[20] As the Earl of Shrewsbury pointed out in 1847, “the great majority of the Irish landlords are bankrupts,”[21] a condition which lead to the sale of many estates under the Encumbered Estates Acts of 1848–49.


These losses among the upper classes are reflected in nineteenth-century Great Famine fiction written on both sides of the Atlantic, as many novels and stories depict impoverished landlords, even suggesting that they settle in America to find news means of making a living. In Dillon O’Brien’s Irish-American novel The Dalys of Dalystown (1866), Henry Daly, the descendant of an ancient Catholic family “more Irish than the Irish themselves”[22] is forced to give up his family’s heavily encumbered estate during the 1820s, due to his father’s “goodness of heart” to their expanding tenantry.[23] Subsequently, he seeks his fortune in the New World. Initially working as a woodsman and proceeding into Canada West, an area where the “few settlements he came to seemed but little spots of civilization, scarcely rescued from the forest around; isolated, without any link to connect them with the world beyond,”[24] Henry eventually settles in Lower Michigan, where he establishes a thriving farm. In Margaret Brew’s three-decker The Chronicles of Castle Cloyne; Or, Pictures of the Munster People (1885), a landlord’s son, Hyacinth Dillon, is forced to sell his family’s property at great loss, because his father has been (too) kind and lenient to the tenants. By emphasizing how the period affected the upper and lower classes alike, Brew intended to illustrate “how universal was the action of the Famine, and how impartial in its effects. Peer and peasant, landlord and tenant, the home of the great, and the cabin of the lowly, all were alike brought under its terrible influence, and all alike were compelled to bend beneath the storm.”[25] With no future prospects in Ireland, Hyacinth decides to go to America, accompanied by his trusted servant and friend Pat Flanagan. He does not settle on the urban east coast, but ends up in California, where he quickly reinvents himself as a hard-working manual laborer. Residing there during the Gold Rush,[26] Hyacinth and Pat make their fortune as gold-diggers.


In both novels, the landlord’s sons return to Ireland in the final stages of, or directly after, the Great Famine. Henry Daly decides to return to Ireland as soon as news about the Famine reaches him. Not only does he wish to take stock of the conditions of his former tenants; as the present owner, a Protestant named O’Roarke, has squandered away the estate that once belonged to Henry’s family during the Famine, and the property is put up for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court, Henry can also make sure that the house and grounds will not pass into English hands by using the wealth he has gained through hard agricultural labor in North America: “Then we are to have the millennium there, in the shape of English landlords, Durham cattle, and Scottish agriculturists!”[27] Upon re-acquiring the estate, Henry considerably improves the conditions of the suffering tenantry. The narrative ends with Henry fulfilling his promise to “wall round my property with the smiling cottages of a tenantry whose interests and mine shall be as one,”[28] thus revealing a restoration of harmonious—Catholic and essentially Irish—feudal bonds as of yore. One cottier, Anthony Kelly, remarks that with the return of Henry Daly from America as the resident landlord, he luckily finds at least “something unchanged in Ireland.”[29]


The remigrant landlord takes paternal care of his devoted tenantry, and, interestingly, Henry’s reinstatement of prosperity and a feudalism that seemingly harks back to earlier times appears to be successful due to his experiences and lessons learned in Canada and America. Henry says that his “American education” has opened his “eyes” to the truth that most landlords in Ireland are “tyrants over the poor, or toadies to the English government.”[30] However, Henry’s impoverishment, and his subsequent experiences of manual labor and becoming a self-made man on the North American frontier, also appear to have imbued him with qualities that help him build up and reform his father’s former estate. When he needs to secure his own means as an Irish emigrant to America, Henry picks up an axe and becomes a “back-woodsman,” thereby modeling himself on the pioneer who is far from “idle” and who “has gone into the woods with naught but his axe and a brave heart, and hewn his way to independence.”[31] While busy acquiring knowledge of American farming, “he had determined to go to work, just as if he had no capital to rely upon.”[32] He then purchases and clears land in the largely unpeopled Lower Michigan area, establishing a flourishing farm and later making money in mining as well. Having learned to build things up from scratch through hard labor, and having learned farming skills, he seems well prepared for assuming the role as landlord of Dalystown.


Brew’s Castle Cloyne follows a similar plotline, showcasing nostalgia for an imagined, precolonial, and specifically Irish feudal ideal. After a period of toil and hardship, Hyacinth Dillon and his by now former servant Pat find a great quantity of gold that instantly turns them into rich men. Seeing their American dream realized, Hyacinth and Pat decide to return to Ireland. Arriving a few years after the Famine, Hyacinth finds “nothing but heaps of stones and rubbish, tumbled about in unsightly, lonely ruin.[33] Moreover, he discovers that his family property and land have been purchased by a “hotel-keeper from London.”[34] All Hyacinth’s loved ones have passed away or left, and the protagonist returns to his native haunts in time to witness the burial of his only sister. Following this disappointment, Hyacinth and Pat roam the European mainland for a prolonged period, but Hyacinth eventually manages to return to Ireland and regain the Daly estate, determined to restore the well-being of the tenantry. As the novel implies, the hardships and destitution that he endured in America have prepared Hyacinth for becoming a landlord who can empathize with the plight of his tenants. America is not only represented as the land of opportunity but also as a site where former barriers between landlord and tenant, high and low class, are transcended. After just having struck gold, and feeling inspired by the American ideals of liberty and equality, Hyacinth attempts to grant Pat his freedom: “Neither in Castle Cloyne, nor in any other place, shall you ever handle a spade again, […] You shall never again be a servant to anyone, Pat, but you will be my friend and true comrade.” However, Pat refuses and expresses his wish to remain his master’s “boy.”[35]   


Characters such as Pat express the wish to revert to these feudal landlord-tenant relationships in which loyal tenants are rewarded by their philanthropic landlords.[36] A new sense of communal kinship is formed: not only does Hyacinth come to understand the lower classes better by experiencing poverty and working conditions himself, but he also understands them on the religious and innate levels, as Hyacinth stems from a long line of benevolent Irish Catholic landlords. Nevertheless, the reaction Pat displays to his (former) master’s wish to “free” him lays bare two distinctly different understandings of poverty that complicate the novel’s otherwise egalitarian message. Hyacinth’s poverty can be seen as a regenerative experience, while Pat’s poverty is endemic and is internalized to such an extent that it is still considered normal by him, even after the economic dimension of this condition has been dismissed. In that sense, Hyacinth’s experience of poverty can never be completely similar to the hardships experienced by his tenants.


What ensues is an attempt to restore a feudal bond between the two classes that is rooted in mutual loyalty and responsibility, and that is both traditionalist and innovative: the new and once-improved Irish landlord is a Catholic and of the old stock, but he has also been inspired by American ideologies of equality and democratism. The novels by O’Brien and Brew thereby present a form of Irish feudalism that combines traditional Irish values with American ideals; and that fuses Irish Famine recollections with American cultural legacies of the self-made man and the frontier in what Michael Rothberg would call “multidirectional” ways.[37]


The introduction of an Irish remigrant does not involve a return to idyllic, “traditional” feudal relations. This becomes clear from Jane Barlow’s novel Kerrigan’s Quality (1894), a complicated study of class and community in post-Famine Ireland. After twenty years abroad—in Australia rather than North America—Kerrigan is the unexpected heir to a large fortune. This enables him to return to Ireland, where he moves to Glenore to retire on a farm. Kerrigan’s situation changes when he buys the local Big House, which has stood empty since the Famine but should be considered the center of the community: “There could be no doubt that Glenore had come down in the world since the Big House had stood tenantless, though the cause of this decline was rather to seek in the blighted fields of black famine years, and on board coffin ships, and in agents’ and lawyers’ offices.”[38] Although the Famine is the direct cause of the enduring indigence of the villagers of Glenore, the disappearance of the inhabitants of the Big House is represented as a disruption of a natural social order. Thus, when by coincidence Kerrigan becomes friends with Sir Ben, the scion of an impoverished upper-class family, and offers the family the use of the House, the villagers are very happy that the “Quality” has returned to Glenore, restoring the old order. The way the “Quality” are represented is very peculiar: on the one hand, the villagers’ residual class sentiment reemerges in full force; and the new family in the Big House are given every respect due the landlord, even though they do not actually possess anything in the community and are as such outside the established social hierarchy. Nevertheless, they integrate effortlessly in the local community, the result of equal parts noblesse oblige and residual feudal spirit.


All the same, the family is in some way Kerrigan’s pets, whom he keeps partly because he himself believes in the rightful order of things: although the aristocracy are above him and in many ways condescend to him by treating him as a friend, he in fact supports them financially because they are poor, and he is their landlord rather than vice versa. This strange state of affairs is reflected in the novel’s conclusion: after the tragic death of Sir Ben’s cousin Merle, the family leave; but Kerrigan then becomes gravely ill and a few months later Sir Ben returns to visit him. Ultimately, Kerrigan manages to persuade Sir Ben to take up residence in the Big House once more and oversee improvements in the community that he, Kerrigan, will finance, “so as it might be some manner of benefit to them folk below there.”[39]


For the locals, this is exactly how it should be; even though Kerrigan funds the improvements, it is considered only right that Sir Ben coordinates them. “I remember to recollect some ould ages ago,” a local says, “there was a gintleman come to the place said it [the bog] might be readied up into as good a piece of land as you ever opened a drill in.” “The truth’s nothin’ to us,” responds another “for the hantle of money them dhrainin’ works come to is untould. So if ever ’twas done, ’twould be some sort of Quality ’ud get a hold of it.”[40] Indeed, as James Murphy suggests, the novel’s main theme is “the enduring power of ancestry over money.”[41] On the one hand, the novel seems to accept that the days of the old landed classes are over. The impoverished Sir Ben and his family essentially rely on Kerrigan’s handouts, and as such the normal landlord-tenant relationship is reversed. At the same time, however, Kerrigan himself cannot actively institute reform in Glenore. His initiative can apparently only be implemented from the top down, placing the upper-class landlord back at the apex of the pyramidical structure. Barlow’s novel, then, features a returned emigrant who mainly represents the new money that can keep the old system going; there is no direct impact of the returned emigrant upon the way in which feudalist bonds between the gentry and the community are re-established.



A Decline of Feudalism?

The question inevitably arises why such works of fiction, even when published as late as the 1890s, configure a post-Famine Ireland characterized by an idyllic feudal societal structure based on reciprocity and benign paternalism that was out of touch with the harsh realities of tenant existence in the decades following the Great Famine. After all, there were persistent as well as pervasive clashes between landowners and their tenantry in this period, which were accompanied by evictions and new periods of famine. To take but one example, a series of sketches from The Illustrated London News record how in the “spring of 1870” the farming population in the Kildare countryside was still weighed down by “the wholesale eviction of forty-two families, numbering 152 individuals in all,” as well as by extreme poverty: “a more starving, ragged, ill-housed community than the occupants of the wretched mud-cabins that lined one side of one of the principal streets in Kildare, was hardly possible to conceive.”[42]


During the following years, the Land Question sparked many heated debates and outbursts of “agrarian terrorism.”[43] Ireland saw the introduction of Gladstone’s 1870 and 1881 Land Acts, but the partial crop failures and agricultural depression of the late 1870s and early 1880s intensified class conflict. Thus, The Graphic of November 27, 1880, reported on the “volcanic” condition in Ireland, which made it impossible for landlords to collect their rents, while insurance companies refused to insure the landlords against “accidents.”[44] A series of plates printed in The Illustrated London News of March 20, 1880 (“The State of Ireland: Evicted”) and The Graphic of January 24, 1880 (“Distress in the West of Ireland”) illustrate that the tenants were once again suffering under destitution, food shortages, and the threat of evictions by their landlords and agents.


Legislation to improve the conditions of tenants, such as Gladstone’s 1870 and 1881 Land Acts, did not resolve tensions. Ireland subsequently witnessed a second Land War (1886–91), resulting from the “Plan of Campaign” manifesto, which stated that when landlords refused to lower their rents, tenants were legitimized to go on strike.[45] The Land Purchase Bill of 1885, which further extended the government funds for land purchase by lease holders in Ireland, and which was brought forward by Arthur Balfour on behalf of the Tory government, could not count on the approval of Charles Stewart Parnell, who called it “insufficient for its purpose,” as the bill “will not, at the outside, reach more than one out of every four of the Irish tenants.”[46] When, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the traditional landlord-tenant system crumbled, Michael Davitt retrospectively defined the landlord classes as a “despotic social and political ruling power” and the system as “social tyranny in its worst form.”[47]


In light of these ongoing class tensions, why is it then that these works of fiction imagine harmonious forms of post-Famine feudalism that reinstate someone from the old family as the landlord, even if this person is often reformed by his experiences as a North American immigrant? One possible explanation is that these narratives negotiate anxieties that a new class of English landlords, in the form of new money, would acquire the encumbered estates and thereby substitute English for Anglo-Irish gentry. Adding nuance to the assumption that the Great Famine led to a profound upheaval of traditional social structures—Alexander Sullivan in 1877 spoke of the emergence of a new mercantile class of landowners “who have saved money in trade”[48]—recent historiographical scholarship has suggested that the era did not result in intrinsic shifts in class hierarchies and land proprietorship. Rather, James Donnelly argues for a reconsideration of the idea that the rank of landowners was invaded by commercial men: a systematic analysis of the backgrounds of purchasers of encumbered property in County Cork indicates that “most of the new owners […] came from the established lands and professional élites, with the sons of the gentry and nobility as well as landed gentlemen and aristocrats themselves constituting the most numerous group of buyers.”[49] Both Donnelly and Peter Gray, moreover, point out that most property sold in the Encumbered Estates Court passed onto Irish rather than foreign possessors. The high hopes of the Whig government, that the implementation of Encumbered Estates Acts in 1848 and 1849 would lead to an anglicization of Ireland’s landed class, never materialized. Contrary to expectations that English capitalists would invest in and purchase the devaluated properties, and subsequently manage these in accordance with advanced English principles, only four percent of the buyers of the estates came from outside Ireland.[50]


Notwithstanding these socioeconomic facts, nineteenth-century fiction that remembers the Famine and features a remigrant landlord appears to be infused with fear of such an invasion of the landowning classes by the English and Scottish. O’Brien’s and Brew’s novels voice anxiety about such a takeover by “English landlords,” “Scottish agriculturists!,”[51] and a “hotel-keeper from London.”[52] F. H. Clayton’s Canadian Famine novel, Scenes and Incidents in Irish Life (1884), expresses similar sentiments, identifying a new class of “English speculators, tradesmen, shopkeepers, weavers and innkeepers, who come over from time to time to gather the pounds of flesh from the bodies of the poor hardworking Irishmen and women, widows and orphans, in exorbitant rents, which if not paid ejection follows, thereby destroying effectually all feeling of security and idea of permanency.”[53] This is a general concern expressed in early Famine fiction: Julia and Edmund O’Ryan’s In Re Garland (1870), for example, can be regarded as a feudal elegy. The narrative appears to lament the transformations of society in the wake of the Famine, as new money comes to purchase the property of the debt-ridden gentility, such as Squire Garland. As the farmer Connor Kennedy remarks: “I like the ould stock o’ the country. Unless they’re bad intirely, out an’ out, there’s more good to be got iv ’em than is always to be seen from your money-come-bethers-upstarts.”[54]

Susannah Radstone observes that “social change and upheaval” often give rise to nostalgia, that is, the mobilization of an idealized, stable epoch whereby “conflicts are elided and social solidarity promoted.”[55] The transformations that the Famine ushered in, such as depopulation, emigration, and the decline of the old order, together with the unrest of subsequent decades, may well have prompted the idealization of feudal bonds as a recurring plotline in its literary legacies.


Views of Feudalism in Diasporic Famine Fiction

As the previously discussed novels indicate, foreign influence in the form of Americanized gentility is perceived as a welcome alternative to new, British landowners, for this creates the opportunity of restoring old forms and families in combination with transatlantic values, and brings along American “new money” to fund this re-establishment of more successful forms of feudalism. Mary Anne Sadlier’s Bessy Conway or, the Irish Girl in America (1862) offers an interesting variation on this narrative scheme, in that a marriage between characters from the tenant and landlord classes appears to form the onset to a regenerated rural Ireland. The eponymous heroine, a farmer’s daughter who has emigrated to New York to work as a domestic servant, is responsible for bringing along “new money” that can redeem the homeland. After “the terrible year of the Famine” reduces her family’s means, forcing them to sup on “water and nettles, with a handful or so of oatmeal,” and transforming Nancy Conway into “a living picture of hunger,” and starving Bessy’s sister Ellen, and eventually bringing bailiffs to eject the family from their home,[56] Bessy suddenly returns home and brings about a reversal of events. With the money she earned in the New World, she can pay off the bailiffs, buy food for her parents and siblings, and chase the threat of famine from their doorstep: “And to be sure that was the supper that was well relished. No royal family in Europe was as happy that night as Denis Conway’s, for their cup of bliss was made sweeter than nectar by the recollection of sorrow and misery past.”[57]


An even more radical transformation, however, lies ahead for the landowner’s son, Henry Herbert. His mother, Mrs. Herbert, shows very little sympathy for the suffering tenants. Due to the blight, Denis’s fortunes are affected and he has to sell his stock, milk, and butter: “the money which they brought—it was little compared with what it would have been at another time—had most of it to go to satisfy the clamorous demands of Mrs. Herbert’s bailiffs.”[58] Mrs. Herbert, after evicting many tenants, “couldn’t let even the fairies alone, good people as they are—she must go and dig up the rath on the hill above.” When Mrs. Herbert subsequently dies unexpectedly, an event that is attributed to fairy vengeance, the tenants feel that “the Herberts were only beginning to reap the crop of curses and maledictions which they had been sowing ever since they became Irish landlords.”[59]


Henry Herbert is initially filled with the same spite and prejudice toward the tenantry and their Catholic religion, but his journey to America, to which he follows Bessy, and the dire fate of his family change him completely. Travelling from New York to Baltimore, he strays from the path of virtue, and becomes involved in a morally dubious “gambling expedition.”[60] Hitting rock bottom both morally and financially, Henry is “attacked late one night in a dark street” in New York City by three of his former companions in vice, and “stabbed in several places.”[61] Taken to the Irish-American (and Catholic) St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he is nursed back to health, Henry becomes a convert and is determined to make a new start back home. As a now Catholic landlord of the older family who has been chastised by his experiences in the United States, Herbert fits into the pattern of the remigrant landlord who can reconcile the classes in (re)new(ed) feudal bonds. It is by marrying Bessy—who epitomizes both the traditional Irish farming class and American new money—that these neofeudal bonds are strengthened, and the narrative conclusion thus offers an interesting variation of the national tale, which usually ends on the symbolical union of Ireland (the native woman) and England (the landed man) through matrimony.[62] Here, the union is infused with a transatlantic dimension as well, which helps bridge class differences through traditional feudal structures.


Like Dillon O’Brien’s previously discussed The Dalys of Dalystown, which was written by a Famine emigrant, Bessy Conway was written by an Irish immigrant and published in New York by D. & J. Sadlier, the company of the author’s husband. While conceptions of restored and reformed feudalism figure in Famine fiction written and published on both sides of the Atlantic, they are especially prevalent in the earliest North American Famine narratives. Alice Nolan’s The Byrnes of Glengoulah, serialized in the widely read, nationalist Irish Citizen between February 22 and September 5, 1868, implies that an absentee landlord of the old stock such as Sir Charles Plover is much to be preferred over English new money in the form of Lord Biggs. The latter partially descends from a common London barmaid and has no sympathy for Irish culture and religion, thinking he is demeaning himself “to come to live in Ireland at all” and seeking to root out the Catholic faith of the tenantry.[63] It is Biggs’s death due to insanity and the reinstallation of De Courcy as the agent by the new owner, Mr. Bentley, that brings back a sense of harmony: he erects an “immense marquee,” puts in “long tables […] covered with substantials of every variety” and orders pipers and fiddlers for a communal celebration.[64] The restored agent, whose household had always been enlivened by his wife’s harp-playing and singing of “Moore’s melodies,”[65] and who had previously, though not a Catholic, “presumed not to interfere with the faith of his tenantry,” becomes even more closely connected to Irish culture upon his return to office.[66] He and his family convert to Catholicism: “Mr. De Courcy and all his family were baptized, and all made their first communion.”[67] Nolan’s Irish-American novel thus ends on an idyllic return of the beloved land agent, and the re-establishment of feudal bonds that are based on mutual understanding, communality, and respect.


While Nolan’s novel is infused with “restorative” nostalgia, Patrick Cassidy’s Irish-American novel Glenveigh (1870), set in the aftermath of the Famine, is steeped in “[r]eflective nostalgia […] in longing and loss,”[68] lamenting the disappearance of the older feudal forms. The novel describes how the bankruptcy of the Johnson family, “a race of landlords of the old class, now so few in Ireland,” and their succession by a Scotsman of socially inferior descent, John George Adams, has led to a deterioration in the position of the tenantry. Formerly, the “property descended in undisturbed succession from father to son, from time immemorial,” and each new generation regarded the old domestics and tenantry with equal respect, thereby consolidating the feudal “bond of common interest […] attaching the family to the honest-hearted, peaceable and primitive people of the glens.” By contrast, the new “British money, in his ‘breeks’ pockets” that Adams brings to Ulster, and the “grasping” and “grinding” through which he succeeds in climbing the social ladder and acquiring the Glenveigh estate put an end to this social stability. Adopting politics of eviction, Adams is “sweeping the vermin tenantry from the face of the soil,” and the novel thereby pits the pre-Famine peaceful community created by the old gentry against the miseries suffered by the farming classes under British social risers.[69]


The plotline of Emily Fox’s North American novel Rose O’Connor (1881), which she wrote under the pseudonym “Toler King,” initially suggests a failure of feudalism in the context of Ireland in the early 1880s: the current landlord, Lord Melrose, shows very little concern for his tenantry when famine breaks out among them. His son, Lord Fenton, blames the corrupted system of government for the current famine, and says that “[t]here is no need of famine and suffering in Ireland; there would not be any if she was properly dealt with.”[70] Personifying the typically self-centered landlord tragically out of touch with his tenants and their needs, Melrose voices the traditionalist Malthusian credo when responding to his sons’ pleas by stating: “I am fond of the old way. Let well enough alone, boy; if there are too many poor people, and if the rents cannot be paid, why let them be evicted, take up the land from them; they can emigrate, you know, as many others have done.”[71] Fenton is clearly inspired by the ideas of John Stuart Mill, and argues that “the land of Ireland, like the land of every other country, belongs to the people who inhabit it.”[72]


Advocating peasant proprietorship, Fenton echoes sentiments expressed by James Fintan Lalor, who in 1848 had stated that “the entire soil of a country belongs of right to the entire people of that country, and is the rightful property, not of any one class, but of the nation at large, in full effective possession, to let to whom they will, on whatever tenures, terms, rents, services and conditions.”[73] Furthermore, Fenton’s worldview reflects the rhetoric of the Land League in the late 1870s and early 1880s, as its “ultimate objective” was peasant proprietorship, and Land Leaguers stipulated that granting proprietorship should lead to “a country of small farmers owning their own land with undivided responsibility for it.”[74] Yet, while young Lord Fenton initially voices such radical ideas, ones that even imply abolishing his own class, in the end he becomes the embodiment of “enlightened landlordism”[75] when he inherits his father’s property. Convinced that rural Ireland is not ready for such a transformation, Fenton opts to become the “champion” of his “people and country,”[76] a man who benevolently extends paternal care to his tenants. The latter appear to be content with this restoration of a perfect feudal community. Like Pat in Castle Cloyne, Tim Bryan, Fenton’s servant who has travelled across the globe with him, does not want to live on equal footing with his master, even though he has become his esteemed friend. Rather, Tim expresses the desire to retain the existing societal hierarchy under the new landlord, claiming that “no one need fear as long as the lan’lord lives among his tinentry an’ has an eye afthur their interest wid his own, for if the tenant has a frind in the lan’lord, my hand to ye, […] the lan’lord has a frind in the tenant.”[77]


Why was the restoration of an ideal feudal bond between landlord and tenant such a significant plotline in Famine fiction written in North America, especially in the 1860s and 1870s? At first glance this seems odd, for the critique on Ireland’s land system was very fierce in the United States and Canada. Famous nationalist exile John Mitchel’s writings invariably classify landlord-tenant relationships as a form of slavery; he even claimed that it was “better to be the slave of a merciful master and just man” than “a serf to an Irish land appropriator,” considering the distress faced by the Irish tenantry.[78] F. B. Ryan’s poem The Spirit’s Lament (1847), published in Montreal, likewise exposed the failure of feudalism in Ireland: the poem points to the figurative greatness of “Ascendancy’s appetite” in that the common gentleman rather spends his gold for his own pleasure than “feeding the hungry, or helping the old.”[79]


This criticism of class structures in Ireland from North America was not restricted to the Famine and its immediate aftermath, but persisted into the era of the Land Wars. Thus, “Ireland’s Possibilities,” published in Harper’s Weekly on February 28, 1880, addressed the ongoing destitution of Ireland’s peasantry, while the landlords “‘will only raise the rints,’ already too high for the tenants to drag from the unwilling soil.[80] In the same year, James Redpath published “Famine Scenes in Ireland” in the Montreal magazine The Harp, in which he likened the present hardship of the tenantry to that of the 1840s. Emphasizing the cruelty of the landowning class, Redpath stated: “the Landlords of the West answered [their] piteous moans by sending processes of ejectment to turn them out into the roadside or the poorhouse to die, and by hiring crow-bar brigades to pull down the roof that had sheltered the gasping people.[81]


It appears likely that the recurrent plotline of re-established, idyllic feudalism in much North American Famine fiction can be attributed to the problematic position of Irish emigrants of the Famine and post-Famine generation. Many scholars have addressed the hostilities faced by these Catholic immigrants upon arrival on North America, ranging from discrimination in the quest for employment, violence used against them in Nativist riots, and racial bias in the press.[82] These difficult conditions appear to have triggered resistance to assimilation: as “Two Sides to a Question,” an essay published in the Boston-based O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial on March 5, 1859, stated that while the Irish in America “melted and mingled down with the people and became willing to be absorbed in the national element,” they were also encouraged to adhere to “any distinct traits of national character […] owing to the bigotry and intolerance in the native born […] who instead of receiving them with a true Republican welcome, throw every obstacle in their way; who, instead of inspiring confidence in the stranger, receive them with suspicion.”[83] Andreas Huyssen remarks that diaspora communities, which constitute a minority culture with a “tenuous and often threatened status within the majority culture” and which are subject to “stereotyping of otherness combined with […] exclusionary mechanisms,” tend to “create a unified or even mythic memory of the lost homeland.”[84] One may indeed interpret the “nostalgia” for a restored feudal Ireland where classes live together in perfect harmony—regardless of whether such a situation ever existed in the first place—as a strategy to cope with identity crises in diaspora.


That such an interpretation seems valid becomes clear from the fact that this plotline of an idyllic feudal community gradually disappears from North American Famine fiction—around the same time that it is also on the wane in Irish and British Famine fiction—in favor of a very negative representation of class relations in Ireland, as the Irish gradually experienced social mobility. The heavy losses suffered by Irish-American regiments during the Civil War worked in favor of the acceptance and assimilation of Irish-Americans of the Famine generation.[85] The children of Famine immigrants, moreover, often enjoyed better educational opportunities, and developed into a Catholic Irish-American middle class by the end of the century.[86] By the 1890s and early 1900s one may therefore witness a different approach to Ireland’s feudalism in fiction that remembers the Great Famine, an approach that implies there is no hope for a better future in the old homeland. P. J. Coleman’s story “Outrooted,” published in the Catholic Rosary Magazine in 1905, features an absentee landlord, Lord Gallen, who leaves the management of his estate to the evil agent Jackson. As the parish priest, Father Denis, observes, he “[j]ust leaves everything to his pashaw, Jackson, and treads the primrose path of dalliance between Mayfair [in London] and the Bois de Boulogne [in Paris], while his people are perishing here like sheep with the rot.”[87] Jackson, meanwhile, is an “exterminator” and “murderer”[88] who has no qualms about evicting starving tenants. Moreover, he abuses his power to satiate his sexual desires, offering Luke Finn, one of Father Denis’s parishioners, a rebate if his “daughter [Eily] […] can go for service at my house.”[89] Finn refuses, and he is killed when the people riot against the evictions. Eily, refusing to submit to Jackson, is forced to emigrate. The story does not end positively, for after Eily has departed for America, her fiancé Dominick Keenan returns from England, where he worked as a labor migrant, only to be told that Eily is gone and her father is dead.


Mary Synon’s “My Grandmother and Myself,” printed in Scribner’s Magazine in August 1916, even hints that Ireland is irredeemable and that the Irish are better off in America. The grandmother chastises her son John Stutton for his willingness to side with Germany in the First World War, as their victory would spell the end of the British Empire and would lead to Germany’s liberation of Ireland from the English. The grandmother points out that his plots are a betrayal to the country of his birth, which has enabled him to become an independent shop owner rather than a landless laborer; and to the country that offered the Irish a chance of survival at all: “’Tis not England […] you fight with your plots. ’Tis America you strike at when you strike here. And, as long as you stay here, be Americans and not traitors.”[90] As she states in reply to her son’s wish that he had been born in Ireland: “And if I’d stayed in Ireland I’d have starved […] and little chance you’d have had of being born anywhere.”[91] In this tale, the Famine past is evoked to address the importance of being a loyal American citizen who is grateful for the chances that the country has provided for Famine-stricken Irish immigrants. As the grandmother makes clear to Shauneen, in America she was able to earn and save money, so that she could bring her siblings to the New World as well, where they were forever free from “famine and persecution” by landlords.[92] As such, the narrative endorses the image of America as a land of freedom and second chances, which contrasts with the tyranny suffered by the Irish at home.




As the above discussion has demonstrated, Famine fiction written on both sides of the Atlantic sheds new light on the genre of Big House fiction. Vera Kreilkamp argues that in several Big House novels “idealizations of neo-feudal tenant-landlord relationships remain the exception rather than the rule.”[93] However, as the above examples illustrate, the canonical and semi-canonical texts Kreilkamp discusses might be the exception rather than the rule. Many once popular but now forgotten works of Famine fiction are structurally informed by this feudal relationship. They complicate familiar representations of landlord-tenant relationships by engaging in a revamping of feudalism—whether or not this attempt is ultimately botched—as a response to the social upheaval caused by the Famine.


As this essay has also shown, in these reconceptualizations of post-Famine Ireland, which suggest the restoration of idealized pre-Famine circumstances, migration plays a pivotal role. As continents where the landed class can become reformed through ideas of equality and experiences of hardship, North America and Australia become “promised lands,” not in the future they offer Famine-afflicted tenants, but as a means of restoring a more perfect form of feudalism at home through the return of emigrants and the revival of old families. Immigrant life thus figures as a rite of passage that transforms the gentry and lays the groundwork for changes in class relations that are, paradoxically, rooted in restoration. The nostalgia for a feudal past that may never even have existed, and that features as a transcultural plotline in Famine fiction written in homeland and diaspora alike, also sheds light on the formation of identities, showing that experiences of disruption may trigger fantasies about an ideal (feudal) homeland that has become lost through social transformations as well as emigration. Yet, as memory “travels” across time and space, and is affected by, among others, the changing conditions of immigrant communities, such (re-)imaginations of “home” are subject to change too, leading to the gradual disappearance of specific plotlines and characterizations.



[1] Charles Lever, The Martins of Cro’ Martin, vol. 1 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1856), 261.

[2] Ibid., vol. 2, 42.

[3] Philip Bull, Land, Politics and Nationalism: A Study of the Irish Land Question (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1996), 16.

[4] Joe Cleary, Outrageous Fortune: Capital and Culture in Modern Ireland (Dublin: Field Day, 2007), 36; “squirearchy” is our term.

[5] For additional reading on this topic, see, for instance, Peter Gray, Famine, Land and Politics: British Government and Irish Society, 1843–50 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1999); Christine Kinealy, This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine, 1845–52 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1994); James S. Donnelly, The Great Irish Potato Famine (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2001); Cormac Ó Gráda, Ireland before and after the Famine: Explorations in Economic History, 1800–1925 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993).

[6] Rigby Watson, Esq., Letter to the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, M.P. (Edinburgh: W. F. Watson, 1847), 6.

[7] Jasper W. Rogers, Esq., Letter to the Landlords and Rate Payers of Ireland (London: James Ridgway, 1846), 9–10.

[8] C. A. Rawlins, The Famine in Ireland; a Poem (London: Joseph Masters, 1847), 15–16.

[9] The Feast of Famine: An Irish Banquet, with Other Poems (London: Chapman and Hall, 1870), 9–10.

[10] William Carleton, The Squanders of Castle Squander, vol. 1 (London: Office of the Illustrated London Library, 1852), 47, 133.

[11] Father Baptist [Richard Baptist O’Brien], Ailey Moore, A Tale of the Times (London: Charles Dolman; Baltimore: J. Murphy & Co., 1856), 22.

[12] See Lindsay Janssen, “Famine Traces: Memory, Landscape, History and Identity in Irish and Irish-Diasporic Famine Fiction, 1871–91” (PhD diss., Radboud University Nijmegen, 2016), 90–95.

[13] Eviatar Zerubavel, Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 7.

[14] For this term, see Oona Frawley, “Toward a Theory of Cultural Memory in an Irish Postcolonial Context,” in Memory Ireland, Vol. 1, History and Modernity, ed. Oona Frawley (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2011), 18–34.

[15] Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 41.

[16] Aleida Assmann and Sebastian Conrad, introduction to Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories, ed. Aleida Assmann and Sebastian Conrad (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 2.

[17] Lucy Bond and Jessica Rapson, introduction to The Transcultural Turn: Interrogating Memory Between and Beyond Borders, ed. Lucy Bond and Jessica Rapson (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 19 (my emphasis).

[18] Donnelly, The Great Irish Potato Famine, 162.

[19] Thomas Bermingham, The Thames, the Shannon, and the St. Lawrence, or the Good of Great Britain, Ireland, and British North America identified & promoted (London: Messrs. Fores, 1847), iv. For further details on how the burden of Famine relief affected the incomes of the landed class, see Peter Gray, Famine, Land and Politics, 197; and Cormac Ó Gráda, Black ’47 and Beyond (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 126–34.

[20] Andrew John Maley, Observations upon the Inability of Exterminating the Resident Landlord of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1849), 30.

[21] John, Earl of Shrewsbury, Thoughts on the Poor-Relief Bill for Ireland: Together with Reflections on Their Miseries, Their Causes, and Their Remedies (London: Charles Dolman, 1847), 13.

[22] Dillon O’Brien, The Dalys of Dalystown (St. Paul, MN: Pioneer Printing, 1866), 26.

[23] Ibid., 32.

[24] Ibid., 462.

[25] Margaret Brew, The Chronicles of Castle Cloyne; Or, Pictures of the Munster People, vol. 1 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1885), viii.

[26] Malcolm Campbell states that “[t]he influx into California in the decades immediately after the discovery of gold was so pronounced that by 1870 the Irish-born were the largest overseas-born group in the state, accounting for a quarter of all foreign-born residents in California and almost 10 percent of its total population.” See Ireland’s New Worlds: Immigrants, Politics, and Society in the United States and Australia, 1815–1922 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008), 88–89.

[27] O’Brien, The Dalys of Dalystown, 449.

[28] Ibid., 526.

[29] Ibid., 524.

[30] Ibid., 499.

[31] Ibid., 429–30. This image of the hard-working pioneer featured in many texts about settlement in the West of the period. For example, Major Strickland’s Twenty-Seven Years in Canada West (1853) asserts that the ideal frontier settler is willing to endure “hard labour, and […] all sorts of privations, […] dangers and hardships attending the settlement of a new country”; and Mrs. C. P. Traill’s The Canadian Emigrant Housekeeper’s Guide (1861) emphasizes that success in the West can only be attained by “active, hard-working inhabitants who are earning their bread honestly by the sweat of their brow.” See Major Strickland, Twenty-Seven Years in Canada West; or the Experience of an Early Settler (London: Samuel Bentley & Co., 1853), 134; and Mrs. C. P. Traill, The Canadian Emigrant Housekeeper’s Guide (Montreal: James Lovell, 1861), 3.

[32] Ibid., 485.

[33] Margaret Brew, The Chronicles of Castle Cloyne; Or, Pictures of the Munster People, vol. 3 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1885), 191.

[34] Ibid., vol. 3, 192.

[35] Ibid., vol. 3, 163.

[36] This suggests what Oona Frawley calls “pretraumatic,” “recovered memory.” See “Toward a Theory of Cultural Memory in an Irish Postcolonial Context,” in Memory Ireland, vol. 1, History and Modernity, ed. Oona Frawley (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2011), 32.

[37] Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 5.

[38] Jane Barlow, Kerrigan’s Quality (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1894), 39.

[39] Ibid., 210.

[40] Ibid., 95–96.

[41] James H. Murphy, Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 236.

[42] Irish Pictures: Eighty Sketches taken on the Spot by F. Dadd, M. Fitzgerald, Harry Furniss, Wallis Mackay, J. Procter, & R. C. Woodville. Republished from the Illustrated London News. (London: Vizetelly & Co., 1881), 1, 21.

[43] Jonathan Gantt, Irish Terrorism in the Atlantic Community, 1865–1922 (Basingstroke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 18. See also Alvin Jackson, Ireland 1798–1998: War Peace and Beyond (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

[44] “The Land Agitation in Ireland,” The Graphic, November 27, 1880.

[45] James H. Murphy, Ireland: A Social, Cultural and Literary History, 1791–1891 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003), 132.

[46] Charles Stewart Parnell, “Mr. Balfour’s Land Bill,” North American Review 150, no. 403 (June 1890): 670.

[47] Michael Davitt, The Fall of Feudalism; or The Story of the Land League Revolution (London: Harper and Brothers, 1904), xvii–xviii.

[48] A. M. Sullivan, New Ireland: Political Sketches and Personal Reminiscences of Thirty Years of Irish Public Life. (Glasgow and London: Cameron & Ferguson, 1877), 298.

[49] Donnelly, The Great Irish Potato Famine, 168.

[50] Ibid., 166. See also Gray, Famine, Land and Politics, 222–23.

[51] O’Brien, The Dalys of Dalystown, 449.

[52] Brew, The Chronicles of Castle Cloyne, vol. 3, 192.

[53] [F. H. Clayton], Scenes and Incidents in Irish Life (Montreal: John Lovell, 1884), 337.

[54] Julia and Edmund O’Ryan, In Re Garland: A Tale of a Transition Time (London: Thomas Richardson and Son, 1870), 121.

[55] Susannah Radstone, The Sexual Politics of Time: Confession, Nostalgia, Memory (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007), 115.

[56] Mrs. J. Sadlier, Bessy Conway; or, the Irish Girl in America (New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co., 1862), 259.

[57] Ibid., 278.

[58] Ibid., 263.

[59] Ibid., 290.

[60] Ibid., 306.

[61] Ibid., 308.

[62] See, for example, Ina Ferris, The Romantic National Tale and the Question of Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 48, 58; and Mary Jean Corbett, Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790–1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 3–6.

[63] Alice Nolan, The Byrnes of Glengoulah: A True Tale (New York: P. O’Shea, 1869), 74.

[64] Ibid., 346.

[65] Ibid., 100.

[66] Ibid., 10.

[67] Ibid., 358.

[68] Boym, The Future of Nostalgia, 41.

[69] Patrick Cassidy, Glenveigh; or the Victims of Vengeance (Boston: Patrick Donahoe, 1870), 24–25.

[70] Emily Fox, Rose O’Connor (Chicago: Henry A. Sumner and Co., 1881), 14–15.

[71] Ibid., 17.

[72] Ibid., 14–15. Mill is explicitly mentioned.

[73] James Fintan Lalor, The Rights of Ireland and The Faith of a Felon, by James Fintan Lalor, Reprinted from the “Irish Felon” Newspaper, suppressed July, 1848 (Dublin: An Cló-Cumann, n.d.), 9. See also James Fintan Lalor, James Fintan Lalor: Patriot & Political Essayist, 1807–1849 (1918; new ed., London: Forgotten Books, 2013), 48–49.

[74] Philip Bull, “Irish Land and British Politics,” in The Land Question in Britain, 1750–1950, ed. Matthew Cragoe and Paul Readman (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 137. Parnell praised peasant proprietorship in other European countries and opined that proprietorship was the way forward for Ireland as well, and even argued for the abolition of landlordism, stating in an 1879 speech that if this would not be done, a repetition of the Famine would surely follow. See L. Perry Curtis Jr., The Depiction of Eviction in Ireland 1845–1910 (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2011), 88–89.

[75] As Vera Kreilkamp has argued, many nineteenth-century novelists writing in the Big House tradition endorsed “a vision of a lost ideal and a failed cultural purpose—of social responsibility, enlightened landlordism, or personal dignity”; see The Anglo-Irish Novel and the Big House (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998), 268. Rose O’Connor likewise presents the new landlord and landlady as being in an ideal reciprocal bond (both financial as well as emotional) with their tenantry.

[76] Fox, Rose O’Connor, 167.

[77] Ibid., 172–73.

[78] John Mitchel, Jail Journal; or, Five Years in British Prisons (New York: Office of the “Citizen,” 1854), 170.

[79] F. B. Ryan, The Spirit’s Lament, or the Wrongs of Ireland (Montreal, 1847), 33, 31.

[80] “Ireland’s Possibilities,” Harper’s Weekly, February 28, 1880.

[81] James Redpath, “Famine Scenes in Ireland,” The Harp. A Magazine of General Literature 5, no. 9 (July 1880): 436–7.

[82] See, among others, Kerby Miller, Ireland and Irish America: Culture, Class, and Transatlantic Migration (Dublin: Field Day, 2008); Scott W. See, “‘An Unprecedented Influx’: Nativism and Irish Famine Immigration To Canada,” American Review Of Canadian Studies 30, no. 4 (2000): 429–53; and Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (New York: Routledge, 1996).

[83] “Two Sides to a Question,” O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial, March 5, 1859.

[84] Andreas Huyssen, “Diaspora and Nation: Migration into Other Pasts,” New German Critique, no. 88 (Winter 2003): 149–50.

[85] See Joseph G. Bilby, The Irish Brigade in the Civil War: The 69th New York and Other Irish Regiments of the Army of the Potomac (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 1997).

[86] See Colleen McDannell, The Christian Home in Victorian America, 1840–1900 (New York: First Midland Book edition, 1994), 73; and Charles Fanning, The Exiles of Erin: Nineteenth-Century Irish-American Fiction (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987), 18.

[87] P. J. Coleman, “Outrooted,” The Rosary Magazine 26, no. 6 (June 1905): 559.

[88] Ibid., 561.

[89] Ibid.

[90] Mary Synon, “My Grandmother and Myself,” Scribner’s Magazine (August 1916): 228.

[91] Ibid., 224.

[92] Ibid., 231.

[93] Kreilkamp, The Anglo-Irish Novel and the Big House, 10–11.