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The Dublin Society of United Irishmen and the Politics of the Carey-Drennan Dispute, 1792-1794

Michael Durey
The Historical Journal
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 89-111
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640053
Page Count: 23
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The Dublin Society of United Irishmen and the Politics of the Carey-Drennan Dispute, 1792-1794
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Abstract

This article is concerned with political divisions within the Dublin Society of United Irishmen in a period, 1792-1794, which historians, accepting the contemporary argument of its leaders, have generally agreed demonstrated the society's unity of purpose. It is argued that ideological tensions existed between the middle-class leadership and the middling-class rank and file which reflected the existence of two different conceptions of radicalism, one `Jacobin' and one `sans-culotte'. These tensions are brought to light through an examination of the dispute between William Paulet Carey and William Drennan, which culminated in the latter's trial in 1794, and the career of the former until he exiled himself from Ireland after the 1798 rebellion. It is further argued that, because these ideological differences have been ignored, historians have wrongly assumed that Carey was a political turncoat. In reality, he remained true to the sans-culotte principles of direct democracy and rotation of office, even after his ostracism. Carey's deep suspicion of the motivation of the United Irish leaders came to be accepted by Drennan in retrospect.

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