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I. Introduction

Intellectuals have occupied an essential position in

modern history, exercising profound influences in political,

economic, sociocultural, and scientific fields. In his Reith

lectures on intellectuals, Edward W. Said argues:

There has been no major revolution in modern history

without intellectuals; conversely there has been no

major counterrevolutionary movement without

intellectuals. Intellectuals have been the fathers and

mothers of movements, and of course sons and

daughters, even nephews and nieces. (1996: 10-11)

Said’s comment speaks to the great import of intellectuals in

modern history, including Irish history. Since the early

nineteenth century, Irish intellectuals have played crucial parts

in shaping Ireland; they have adopted diverse stances on

matters and taken different approaches to their aims, yet have

performed similarly significant roles and their activities have

left extensive and profound impacts on Irish society.

The figure who dominated the political arena in the first

half of the nineteenth-century was Daniel O’Connell, a

barrister and advocate of Catholic sectarianism. In opposition

to the Act of Union (1800), which abolished the Dublin

Parliament and introduced direct rule from London,

O’Connell formed the Catholic Association, determined to

bring about the repeal of the Act. He organized massive

meetings across the country to promote Catholic Emancipation;

his oratorical and organizational skills and his mastery of

political theater brought some success to the campaign: in

1829, the British government made concessions to Catholic

Emancipation, and O’Connell was known afterwards as “the

Liberator.” However, in 1843, at the height of his fame,

O’Connell submitted to the British prohibition on political

meetings on account of his insistence that there be no