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MAYNOOTH, HISTORY, AND THE INTELLECTUAL ORIGINS OF JOHN HUME'S POLITICAL THINKING

  • THOMAS DOLAN (a1)
Abstract

Visions of history, Irish and otherwise, ancient and modern, critically inflected through St Patrick's College, Maynooth, the National Roman Catholic Seminary of Ireland, are central to John Hume's intellectual formation. This can be dated back to his experiences as a seminarian at St Patrick's during the mid-1950s – particularly his schooling in history under Tomás Ó Fiaich – long before the ideological gestation suggested in the existing literature. There the emphases are on the wider evolution of nationalist politics in Northern Ireland during the mid-1960s, as opposed to Hume's early intellectual biography. Thus, a wider context to his influential thought is suggested, one supplied by a discourse on the concept of patriotism evolving amongst Ireland's Catholic intelligentsia during the 1950s, indicative of the modernization of Catholic thought on the island in the era preceding the convening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. Yet the article also situates Hume's once-progressive mode of nationalist ideology within a much older tradition of Catholic loyalism in Ireland. The conspicuously Platonic dimension of his thinking is likewise observed, facilitating a conceptually driven exploration of the relationship between Hume's vision of his native walled city of Derry, and of that larger partitioned entity, Northern Ireland.

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University of Edinburgh, Main Library, 30 George Square, Edinburgh, eh8 9ljthomas.dolan@ed.ac.uk
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I wish to express my gratitude to John and Patricia Hume for their guidance and for kindly granting me access to materials relating to John's studies at St Patrick's College. During my research, I also received valuable assistance from Susan Leyden, formerly of the Russell Library, St Patrick's College; from Roddy Hegarty at the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive; and from the staff at the Linen Hall Library. Alongside the Historical Journal’s two anonymous referees and its editors, I would also like to thank those who read, commented upon, and thus improved previous incarnations of this article, especially Catherine Bateson. Much of the research was conducted under the supervision of Alvin Jackson and Owen Dudley Edwards, to whom I remain grateful. Research was facilitated primarily by a doctoral studentship at the University of Edinburgh, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and support from the university's Justin Arbuthnott British-Irish Fund ‘which promotes research into the complex relationships that link the UK and Ireland’.

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1 Hume led the SDLP between 1979 and 2002. He and David Trimble (the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party) were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace jointly in Oslo in 1998 following the successful negotiation of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

2 John Hume, ‘Social and economic aspects of the growth of Derry, 1825–1850’ (MA thesis, National University of Ireland, 1964).

3 Breslin, Sean, ‘John Hume: Reality's man of the year’, Reality, 24, 1 (Jan. 1970), p. 14. Hume was elected as an independent MP in February 1969.

4 For example, see Foster, Roy, ‘History and the Irish question’, in Brady, Ciaran, ed., Interpreting Irish history: the revisionist debate in Ireland, 1938–1994 (Dublin, 1994); MacDonagh, Oliver, States of mind: two centuries of Anglo-Irish conflict, 1780–1980 (London, 1983), esp. ch. 3; Jackson, Alvin, Home rule: an Irish history, 1800–2000 (London, 2003), pp. 320–8.

5 See Fuller, Louise, Irish Catholicism since 1950: the undoing of a culture (Dublin, 2002); Foster, R. F., Luck and the Irish: a brief history of change from 1970 (Oxford, 2008), esp. ch. 2; Delaney, Enda, ‘Modernity, the past and politics in post-war Ireland’, in Hachey, Thomas E., ed., Turning points in twentieth-century Irish history (Dublin, 2011), pp. 110–11; Treacy, Matt, The IRA, 1936–1969: rethinking the republic (Manchester, 2011); McBride, Ian, ‘Religion’, in Bourke, Richard and McBride, Ian, eds., The Princeton history of modern Ireland (Princeton, NJ, and Oxford, 2016), esp. pp. 310–15.

6 See White, Barry, John Hume: statesman of the Troubles (Belfast, 1984), pp. 1730; Drower, George, John Hume: peacemaker (London, 1995), pp. 2630; Routledge, Paul, John Hume: a biography (London, 1998), pp. 3044; Edwards, Owen Dudley, The sins of our fathers: roots of conflict in Northern Ireland (Dublin, 1970), pp. 248–51.

7 See Fitzpatrick, Maurice, John Hume in America: from Derry to DC (Dublin, 2017).

8 Hume, John, ‘Fraternité’, The Silhouette, 3, 1 (Easter 1956), Maynooth, St Patrick's College, Russell Library (RL), pp. 104–5.

9 RL, Hume, John, ‘Junior Diary’, The Silhouette, 3, 1 (Easter 1956), pp. 95101.

10 Ibid., p. 96.

11 Kevin, Neil, I remember Maynooth (Dublin, 1945), p. 97. Originally published as Boyne, Don, I remember Maynooth (London, 1937).

12 RL, ‘Presidents, vice-presidents, deans, professors and other officials of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, from its first establishment to the present time’, Maynooth College calendar for the year 1964–1965, p. 62. On the evolution of a Modern History course at St Patrick's, see Corish, Patrick J., Maynooth College, 1795–1995 (Dublin, 1995), p. 349.

13 Documents appended to the application of Rev. Thomas Fee, MA, Lic. Hist. Sc., for the lectureship in Modern History at St Patrick's College, Armagh, Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive (ÓLA), Tomás Ó Fiaich papers, box 1/6.

14 Raymond Murray, ‘Tomás Ó Fiaich (1923−90)’, in McGuire, James and Quinn, James, eds., Dictionary of Irish biography (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 461−2.

15 Ibid. See also Aveyard, S. C., No solution: the labour government and the Northern Ireland conflict, 1974–1979 (Manchester, 2016), pp. 237–9.

16 ÓLA, Ó Fiaich papers, NP5/14, Tomás Ó Fiaich's notebook for the course ‘Societé et institutions du moyen âge II: the origins and growth of medieval towns with special reference to Louvain’, taken during the academic year 1951–2 at St Anthony's College, the Catholic University of Louvain (no pagination).

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Hume, ‘Social and economic aspects’, pp. 45–6.

20 See Murray, Gerard, John Hume and the SDLP: impact and survival in Northern Ireland (Dublin, 1998), pp. 1314; McLoughlin, P. J., John Hume and the revision of Irish nationalism (Manchester, 2011), pp. 1012; Campbell, Sarah, ‘New nationalism? The SDLP and the creation of a socialist and labour party in Northern Ireland, 1969–1975’, Irish Historical Studies, 38 (2013), pp. 422–38, at p. 426; Irish Times, 18 and 19 May 1964.

21 Irish Times, 18 May 1964.

22 English, Richard, ‘History and Irish nationalism’, Irish Historical Studies, 37 (2011), pp. 447–60, at p. 450.

23 McLoughlin, John Hume, p. xx.

24 Transcript of BBC Radio 4's The world this weekend, first broadcast 5 Oct. 1969, in Northern Ireland Office press cuttings files: John Hume, vol. i, Belfast, Linen Hall Library, Northern Ireland Political Collection. Asked by reporter David Jessop why he left Maynooth, Hume responded, ‘I simply felt that I wasn't suited and I decided to return home.’ Compare with Hume, John, Personal views: politics, peace and reconciliation in Ireland (Dublin, 1996), p. 4: ‘I studied for three years to be a priest, but eventually decided to give it up.’

25 Sunday Independent, 24 Nov. 1968. Degrees from these two colleges were awarded by the National University of Ireland, which may have confused McGrath.

26 Fitzpatrick, John Hume in America, pp. 4–9. On this point, see my review of Fitzpatrick's book for Irish History Review available at http://irishhistoryreview.com/wp/2018/04/20/john-hume-in-america/ (created 20 Apr. 2018).

27 McLoughlin, John Hume, p. xvii; Murray, John Hume and the SDLP, pp. 4–5.

28 McLoughlin, John Hume, p. 10.

29 Campbell, ‘New nationalism?’, p. 426.

30 McAllister, Ian, The Northern Ireland Social Democratic and Labour Party: political opposition in a divided society (London, 1977), p. 34.

31 Brett, Annabel, ‘What is intellectual history now?’, in Cannadine, David, ed., What is history now? (Basingstoke, 2002), p. 123.

32 White, John Hume, p. 272.

33 RL, Hume, ‘Fraternité’, p. 104.

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid., p. 105.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid.

43 Ibid. The ellipses in the final three lines are Hume's.

44 Kevin, I remember Maynooth, p. 1.

45 Corish, Maynooth College, p. 13.

46 For Tone's Argument, consult Moody, T. W., McDowell, R. B., and Woods, C. J., eds., The writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone (3 vols., Oxford, 1998), i, pp. 108–27.

47 For a short but comprehensive treatment of Burke's view of the Revolution, see Daniel Carey, ‘Intellectual history: William King to Edmund Burke’, in Bourke and McBride, eds., The Princeton history of modern Ireland, pp. 210–11.

48 Kevin, I remember Maynooth, p. 36.

49 Ibid. See also Burke, Edmund, Reflections on the revolution in France, ed. Mitchell, L. G. (Oxford, 2009).

50 RL, Maynooth College calendar 1954–1955, p. 62.

51 Ibid., p. 74. Ó Fiaich's lecture notes for this course cannot currently be located.

52 ÓLA, Ó Fiaich papers, NP4/8, lecture notes for ‘Modern Irish History, 1485–1780’.

53 Ibid., p. 58.

54 Ibid., p. 59.

55 Ibid., p. 58.

56 Ibid., p. 57. It seems Ó Fiaich used ‘Anglo-Saxon’ as a synonym for ‘British’.

57 Ibid.

58 RL, Maynooth College calendar 1954–1955, p. 63.

59 See Madelin, Louis, The French Revolution (London, 1916).

60 Ibid., p. 24.

61 Ibid., p. 72.

62 Kevin, I remember Maynooth, p. 27.

63 RL, Maynooth College calendar 1954–1955, pp. 73–4.

64 Plato, The republic, trans. A. D. Lindsay (London, 1976), pp. 207–14.

65 Ibid., p. 208.

66 See Augustine, , The city of God against the pagans, ed. Dyson, R. W. (Cambridge, 1998).

67 Correspondence between Robert ‘Bertie’ Watson and the author, 5 May 2011. A fellow northerner from Portadown, Co. Armagh, Watson entered St Patrick's in 1954 to study Philosophy.

68 Ibid.

69 John Hume and Terence McDonald, A city solitary (1963), Derry/Londonderry, The Nerve Centre (TNC).

70 For example, see Hume, Personal views, p. 109.

71 See Elliott, Marianne, Watchmen in Sion: the Protestant idea of liberty (Belfast, 1985); McBride, Ian, ‘Memory and national identity in modern Ireland’, in McBride, Ian, ed., History and memory in modern Ireland (Cambridge, 2011), p. 21.

72 See McLoughlin, P. J., ‘“Dublin is just a Sunningdale away?” The SDLP and the failure of Northern Ireland's Sunningdale experiment’, Twentieth Century British History, 20 (2009), pp. 7496, at p. 88.

73 Plato, The republic, p. 47.

74 TNC, John Williams, John Hume's Derry (1969), and Hume and McDonald, A city solitary.

75 Bloomfield, Ken, Stormont in crisis: a memoir (Belfast, 1994), pp. 131 and 146.

76 Hume, ‘Social and economic aspects’, p. 56.

77 Ibid.

78 Hume, Personal views, p. 119.

79 Sunday News, 11 Oct. 1970.

80 Irish News, 4 Nov. 1975.

81 Reality, 24, 1, p. 12.

82 See Hume, ‘Social and economic aspects’, esp. chs. 3 and 8.

83 Delaney, ‘Modernity, the past and politics’, p. 112; Philbin, William J., Patriotism (Dublin, 1958).

84 Ambrose McCauley, ‘William Joseph Philbin (1907–1991)’, in McGuire and Quinn, eds., Dictionary of Irish biography, pp. 94–6.

85 Irish Times, 18 May 1964.

86 Philbin, Patriotism, p. 10.

87 Ibid.

88 Ibid., p. 4.

89 Ibid., p. 14.

90 For example, see ‘Hume: patriotism in sweat not blood’, Belfast Telegraph, 3 Aug. 1973.

91 Irish Times, 18 May 1964.

92 English, Richard, Radicals and the republic: socialist republicanism in the Irish Free State, 1925–1937 (Oxford, 1994), esp. pp. 910.

93 Philbin, Patriotism, p. 8.

94 ÓLA, Ó Fiaich papers, NP4/8, lecture notes for ‘Modern European History, 1453–1789’, p. 34.

95 John Hume's notebook for ‘European History (Modern)’, John Hume papers, private possession (no pagination).

96 Hume, ‘Social and economic aspects’, p. 59.

97 Ibid., p. 110.

98 Ibid., p. 26.

99 Ibid., p. 66.

100 Irish Times, 18 May 1964.

101 ÓLA, Ó Fiaich papers, NP4/8, ‘Modern Irish History, 1485–1780’, p. 13.

102 Ibid.

103 Ibid., p. 11.

104 Ibid., p. 40.

105 Ibid., p. 42.

106 Hume's notebook for ‘Modern History (European)’.

107 Ibid.

108 Ibid.

109 Ibid.

110 RL, Maynooth College calendar 1954–1955, p. 66. Ó Fiaich's lecture notes for this course cannot currently be located.

111 Irish Times, 18 May 1964.

112 See Loughlin, James, The British monarchy and Ireland (Cambridge, 2007), pp. 1931.

113 Sunday News, 14 Aug. 1977.

114 Note of a meeting between the prime minister and Mr Gerry Fitt, 20 Sept. 1977, London, The National Archives (TNA), CJ4/1917.

115 Irish Times, 20 June 1987.

116 Ibid.

117 Derry Journal, 29 Oct. 1971.

118 Irish Press, 8 Feb. 1985.

119 Foster, R. F., Modern Ireland, 1600–1972 (London, 1988), p. 45.

120 Irish Times, 18 May 1964.

121 Jackson, Home rule, p. 14.

122 Hume, ‘Social and economic aspects’, p. 27.

123 TNC, Hume and McDonald, A city solitary.

124 Hume, Personal views, p. 52.

125 White, John Hume, p. 6.

126 They were Austin Currie, Paddy Devlin, Ivan Cooper, Gerry Fitt, John Hume, and Paddy O'Hanlon. See McAllister, The Northern Ireland Social Democratic and Labour Party, pp. 32–3.

127 Currie, Austin, All hell will break loose (Dublin, 2004), p. 160.

128 McBride, ‘Religion’, p. 305.

129 TNA, CJ4/2359, N. R. Cowling, State of the SDLP, Jan. 1976.

130 McLoughlin, John Hume, p. 7.

131 Murray, John Hume and the SDLP, p. 5.

132 McLoughlin, P. J., ‘“…it's a united Ireland or nothing”? John Hume and the idea of Irish unity, 1964–1972’, Irish Political Studies, 21 (2006), pp. 157–80, at p. 157.

133 Owen Dudley Edwards has made this point repeatedly during numerous conversations with the author.

134 Campbell, ‘New nationalism?’, p. 423.

135 Murphy, Michael A., Gerry Fitt: a political chameleon (Cork, 2007), p. 161; Bloomfield, Stormont in crisis, p. 131.

136 Sean Breslin, ‘John Hume: a rational politician’, Hibernia, 3 Nov. 1972.

137 TNA, CJ4/521, meeting between the permanent undersecretary and members of the SDLP, 10 Sept. 1973.

138 Ibid.

139 Ibid.

140 Ibid.

141 Irish Press, 3 Mar. 1976.

142 See Paisley, Ian R. K., Three great reformers (Belfast, 1968); Paisley, Ian R. K., The ’59 revival: an authentic history of the great Ulster awakening of 1859 (Belfast, 1959). See also BBC, Paisley: genesis to revelation – face to face with Eamon Mallie (2014), available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2xNHqJB6vI (created 14 Jan. 2014). Mallie's documentary contains footage of Paisley insisting he was a ‘Reformation Protestant’.

143 Routledge, John Hume, p. 107.

144 See Foster, Luck and the Irish, ch. 2, ‘How the Catholics became Protestants’, esp. p. 66.

145 White, John Hume, p. 40.

146 TNA, CJ4/518, Allen to permanent undersecretary, 10 July 1973.

147 Ibid.

148 McBride, Ian, The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology (Dublin, 1997). McBride briefly considered the influence of the Siege saga upon northern nationalism. See p. 81.

149 See Ulster Society Publications, Milligan, C. D., The walls of Derry: their building, defending, and preserving (Lurgan, 1996), foreword by David Trimble MP. See also Trimble, David, The foundation of Northern Ireland (Lurgan, 1991); Trimble, David, The Easter rebellion of 1916 (Lurgan, 1992).

150 Plato, The republic, p. 108.

151 McDonagh, States of mind, p. 15.

152 See Ciaran Brady, ‘“Constructive and instrumental”: the dilemma of Ireland's first “New Historians”’, in Brady, ed., Interpreting Irish history, p. 20.

153 Alvin Jackson, ‘Unionist history’, in Brady, ed., Interpreting Irish history, p. 262; Jackson, Home rule, p. 323.

154 Breslin, ‘John Hume: a rational politician’.

155 Murphy, Gerry Fitt, foreword by Tim Pat Coogan, p. 14.

156 TNA, CJ4/2359, Cowling, State of the SDLP.

157 BBC, Hume (2011), available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYK1lpG4VUA (created 16 Oct. 2012).

I wish to express my gratitude to John and Patricia Hume for their guidance and for kindly granting me access to materials relating to John's studies at St Patrick's College. During my research, I also received valuable assistance from Susan Leyden, formerly of the Russell Library, St Patrick's College; from Roddy Hegarty at the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive; and from the staff at the Linen Hall Library. Alongside the Historical Journal’s two anonymous referees and its editors, I would also like to thank those who read, commented upon, and thus improved previous incarnations of this article, especially Catherine Bateson. Much of the research was conducted under the supervision of Alvin Jackson and Owen Dudley Edwards, to whom I remain grateful. Research was facilitated primarily by a doctoral studentship at the University of Edinburgh, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and support from the university's Justin Arbuthnott British-Irish Fund ‘which promotes research into the complex relationships that link the UK and Ireland’.

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