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Public Lecture by Prof Ian McBride on Jonathan Swift and the Ulster Presbyterians


We look forward to hosting a public lecture by Prof Ian McBride at Union College on Tuesday 15 January 2019 at 7.30pm. The topic will be the attitudes of the famous Anglo–Irish Anglican clergyman, author, and satirist, Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), towards the Presbyterians of Ulster. The lecture will be entitled‘The Making of the Hibernian Patriot: Jonathan Swift and the Ulster Presbyterians’.


Ian McBride, who grew up in County Armagh, is the Foster Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Hertford College. His research interests include the history of Ireland in the Long Eighteenth Century and the history of Northern Ireland since 1920. He is a recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Award to study the reshaping of Irish social and political life under the penal laws in the eighteenth century. His publications include The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant Mythology (1997) and Scripture Politics: Ulster Presbyterians and Irish Radicalism in the Late Eighteenth Century (1998), both short–listed for the Christopher Ewart–Biggs Literary Prize; and Eighteenth–Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves (2009). His most recent book The Princeton History of Modern Ireland (2016), edited with Richard Bourke, was selected by both RTÉ Radio and The Irish Times as one of their best books of 2016. Prof McBride is currently completing a volume on Swift’s Irish Political Writings for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift.

Although Swift is perhaps best known for his Gulliver’s Travels (1726), this is only a small part of his writings in verse and prose across a period of over fifty year during which time he served as a priest in the Church of Ireland, most notably, as Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin. Swift is a man of contradictions: his publisher, George Faulkner, described this Englishman born in Ireland as ‘The Hibernian Patriot’. Swift had a lifelong hostility towards both Roman Catholicism and Presbyterianism. This was already established when, as a young clergyman, Swift had been appointed to the living of Kilroot where he found himself ministering to a small congregation in a dilapidated building surrounded by a strong Presbyterian community. Swift’s consuming antipathy towards Presbyterians would only increase, something exemplified in his satirical works such as A Tale of a Tub (1704) which poured scorn on ‘Jack Presbyter’ of the North. Given that Swift is an author skilled in employing shock, sarcasm and comedy this is sure to be an interesting and stimulating evening. This is a public lecture, open to all, and booking is not required. 



Public Lecture by Prof Ian McBride on Jonathan Swift and the Ulster Presbyterians