I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Man of Marble

Man of Marble

Maurice Earls
John Hogan (1800-1858) was one of Ireland’s greatest sculptors. His work falls into two main subject categories, the religious and the political. Both these areas were central to the culture of the new nation-building Catholic middle class which emerged in early nineteenth century Ireland. Hogan belonged to this class, which can be described as an emergent bourgeoisie. It was a predominantly Catholic social phenomenon; innovating, anglophone, modernising and consciously removed from the cultural and political forms of the Gaelic tradition. It sought to bring about a successful and industrialised modern Irish nation, a new Ireland which would overcome the disastrous pattern of failure, division and chaos embedded in the prevailing order. There is no sense in which this class can be described as conservative. Ultimately, its innovative political practices, including the unprecedented phenomenon of mass non-violent political mobilisation, derived from an acceptance of Irish military defeat in the late seventeenth century as final and definitive, and from a substantial engagement with certain new ideas and values associated with the European Enlightenment, ideas which offered concepts and principles particularly suited to the struggle against an exclusive hegemony. From its initial assertion, it was clear that both political engagement and cohesion across the social classes would be highly valued by this dynamic Catholic middle class. It was also clear that a non-exclusive Gallican Catholicism, one subordinate to the political agenda, would be prominent in the new order. John Hogan was attuned to these priorities and they are reflected in his work. When we think of the bourgeoisie in European history we think of individuals achieving success as a result of their own efforts, as opposed to being beneficiaries of inherited privilege. We do not think of such people as self-consciously political in class terms. If they benefited their class or the wider community, it was largely as an indirect consequence of pursuing their personal interests. This, at any rate, is what the classic account tells us. In particular historical circumstances things tended to be less tidy. Certainly, in Ireland the O’Connellite bourgeoisie departed from the classic description in a number of respects. To give one example, in Ireland the Catholic bourgeoisie contained strong farmers as well as merchants, manufacturers, businessmen and professionals. But like the classic European bourgeois, individuals within the O’Connellite bourgeoisie were self-reliant, garnering or holding their wealth largely through their own efforts. Somewhat differently however, not only were they…

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