The creation of Fianna Fáil in 1926 marked a new era in Irish politics wherein an evolved version of Irish republicanism, suited to operate in the Irish Free State, entered the political arena. Fianna Fáil was indeed a political organisation, but it was also a nationalist project, intent on creating a wide-reaching electorate and shaping Ireland’s political discourse.
De Valera’s party defied the moribund direction of Irish republicanism, reversing the trend to the extent that the movement ultimately triumphed with the passage of the 1937 Bunreacht na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) and the Éire Confirmation Bill of 1938. Ireland’s New Traditionalists situates Fianna Fáil’s nationalist republican project within a broader European context by analysing the republican aesthetic through the lens of gender theory as well as situating Ireland within the context of interwar Europe. This analytical approach reveals that Fianna Fáil—the party that ‘made’ the modern Irish Republic—spent a great deal of time and energy in building a national discourse rooted in a male/female binary that served to ‘correct’ short term crises and long-term traumas by fabricating versions of an idealised Irish Feminine and Masculine that served to embody the party’s vision of a traditionalist, yet modern Ireland.
Ireland’s New Traditionalists: Fianna Fáil republicanism and gender, 1926-1938 is accessible, well written and contains a large number of attractive reproductions from the election campaigns of this formative period in Irish political history. Shonk’s core arguments are based on his excavation of original, archival material: correspondence, newspapers, pamphlets and other Fianna Fáil party records. A distinctive aspect of the book is its emphasis on the ways in which party messages and election materials are gendered. – Dr Mel Farrell, Director, Irish Humanities Alliance
Ireland’s New Traditionalists: Fianna Fáil republicanism and gender, 1926-1938 puts forward an original, well-researched, thoughtful and clearly developed argument, which promises to bring welcome depth and nuance to our understanding of Irish culture and politics in the interwar period. The scholarship is rigorous but the presentation of it is uncluttered and crisp, and the overall argument is politically astute but subtle, variegated and undogmatic. The writing style is clear, fluent and accessible. The book will certainly be of interest to scholars and students of Irish history, but also to those in cognate fields, such as literary, cultural and visual studies and gender/queer studies, within the broad field of Irish Studies. – Dr Michael G. Cronin, Department of English, Maynooth University
July 2021| 9781782054399 | €39 £35| Hardback | 234 x 156mm | 240 pages | Cork University Press