Rev Dr Martyn C Cowan
Rev Dr Martyn C Cowan BA MA MTh PhD FRHistS FHEA Lecturer in Historical TheologyView all articles
Jonathan Swift is regarded as one of the literary giants of Irish history. On Tuesday 15 January Prof Ian McBride (Foster Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford) will be delivering a public lecture at Union Theological College on Swift and the Ulster Presbyterians.
You can get a flavour of McBride’s expertise on the topic by listening to him participate in a discussion about Swift in an episode of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time. The programme deals with Swift’s anonymously-published satire on the politics and landlords of eighteenth-century Ireland, A Modest Proposal (1729). It offers us something of an insight into the mind of Swift at a time when poverty was rife in Ireland and when the Anglican establishment found itself squeezed by dissent from Roman Catholics throughout the island and the Presbyterians in Ulster.
For a more general introduction to Swift there is an excellent online exhibition on the website of Trinity College Dublin. It was part of the celebrations of the 350th anniversary of Swift’s birth in 2017 which also included a conference at which Prof McBride was one of the plenary speakers. The virtual tour includes a wealth of images such as Swift’s examination record which records him being negligenter in theology and his copy of Clarendon’s History in which in a handwritten marginal note he described the Scottish Presbyterians as ‘cursed, abominable’ and ‘everlasting traitors’.
Prof McBride’s public lecture on Tuesday 15 January at 7.30pm is entitled ‘The Making of the Hibernian Patriot: Jonathan Swift and the Ulster Presbyterians’. The event is free and open to all - no booking is required.