Ribbonmen and radicals: the cultivation of Irishness and the promotion of active citizenship in mid-Victorian Glasgow

Terence McBride

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A secular, at times radical, tradition of organising and representing Irishness in Scotland had been moulded before 1861. However, in that year, local branches of a new Dublin-centred organisation, the National Brotherhood of St Patrick (NBSP), appeared, offering a new sense of purpose. As this article will argue, the Brotherhood probably had at its core local Ribbonmen (some of them in all probability with “advanced nationalist” views in that post-1848 period) and they were now keen to engage in an “open” subscriber association less obviously prone to the accusations of conspiracy which their previous clandestine solidarity had generated. The NBSP and a later association, the Irish National Association of Scotland, provided opportunities for a more public leadership to emerge and gave Irish-Scots workers important associational experience. In the longer term, this associational activity represents a key stage in the development of a social radical discourse, later so characteristic of Irish Home Rule politics in Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-32
Number of pages18
JournalIrish Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Irishness
  • Ribbonism
  • Hibernians
  • Fenians
  • associational culture

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