The Scots in Ireland: culture, colonialism and memory, 1315-1826

McMillan, Christopher (2016) The Scots in Ireland: culture, colonialism and memory, 1315-1826. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis examines three key moments in the intersecting histories of Scotland, Ireland
and England, and their impact on literature.

Chapter one Robert Bruce and the Last King of Ireland: Writing the Irish Invasion, 1315-
1826‘, is split into two parts. Part one, Barbour‘s (other) Bruce‘ focuses on John
Barbour‘s The Bruce (1375) and its depiction of the Bruce‘s Irish campaign (1315-1318).
It first examines the invasion material from the perspective of the existing Irish and
Scottish relationship and their opposition to English authority. It highlights possible
political and ideological motivations behind Barbour‘s negative portrait of Edward Bruce -
whom Barbour presents as the catalyst for the invasion and the source of its carnage and
ultimate failure - and his partisan comparison between Edward and his brother Robert I. It
also probes the socio-polticial and ideological background to the Bruce and its depiction of
the Irish campaign, in addition to Edward and Robert. It peers behind some of the Bruce‘s
most lauded themes such as chivalry, heroism, loyalty, and patriotism, and exposes its
militaristic feudal ideology, its propaganda rich rhetoric, and its illusions of freedom‘. Part
one concludes with an examination of two of the Irish section‘s most marginalised figures,
the Irish and a laundry woman.

Part two, Cultural Memories of the Bruce Invasion of Ireland, 1375-1826‘, examines the
cultural memory of the Bruce invasion in three literary works from the Medieval, Early
Modern and Romantic periods. The first, and by far the most significant memorialisation
of the invasion is Barbour‘s Bruce, which is positioned for the first time within the
tradition of ars memoriae (art of memory) and present-day cultural memory theories. The
Bruce is evaluated as a site of memory and Barbour‘s methods are compared with
Icelandic literature of the same period. The recall of the invasion in late sixteenth century
Anglo-Irish literature is then considered, specifically Edmund Spenser‘s A View of the
State of Ireland, which is viewed in the context of contemporary Ulster politics. The final
text to be considered is William Hamilton Drummond‘s Bruce’s Invasion of Ireland
(1826). It is argued that Drummond‘s poem offers an alternative Irish version of the
invasion; a counter-memory that responds to nineteenth-century British politics, in addition
to the controversy surrounding the publication of the Ossian fragments.

Chapter two, The Scots in Ulster: Policies, Proposals and Projects, 1551-1575‘, examines
the struggle between Irish and Scottish Gaels and the English for dominance in north
Ulster, and its impact on England‘s wider colonial ideology, strategy, literature and life
writing. Part one entitled Noisy neighbours, 1551-1567‘ covers the deputyships of Sir
James Croft, Sir Thomas Radcliffe, and Sir Henry Sidney, and examines English colonial
writing during a crucial period when the Scots provoked an increase in militarisation in the

Part two Devices, Advices, and Descriptions, 1567-1575‘, deals with the relationship
between the Scots and Turlough O‘Neill, the influence of the 5th Earl of Argyll, and the
rise of Sorley Boy MacDonnell. It proposes that a renewed Gaelic alliance hindered
England‘s conquest of Ireland and generated numerous plantation proposals and projects
for Ulster. Many of which exhibit a blurring‘ between the documentary and the literary;
while all attest to the considerable impact of the Gaelic Scots in both motivating and
frustrating various projects for that province, the most prominent of which were
undertaken by Sir Thomas Smith in 1571 and Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex in 1573.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Ireland, Scotland, England, Colonialism, Cultural Memory, John Barbour, The Bruce, Robert Bruce, Edward Bruce, Edmund Spenser, Ulster, Ideology, Nation, Freedom, William Hamilton Drummond.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Maley, Professor Willy and Brown, Dr. Rhona
Date of Award: 2016
Embargo Date: 12 June 2019
Depositing User: Dr Christopher McMillan
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7418
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2016 07:52
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 12:30

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