Jerome Devitt on ‘Fenian Footprint: Revolutionary Irish Nationalism and Victorian Bermuda’

Thank you very much to Jerome Devitt for a fascinating paper on Bermuda’s place in the nineteenth century Irish world. Jerome, a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, used five data points to understand Irish nationalist interaction with Bermuda.

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Jerome spoke about the ocean as a social space, and how changing where a map is drawn from can change your perspective on the importance of a place. He followed this by discussing Irish interactions with Bermuda through the use of data points. These data points were Thomas Moore (1804), John Mitchel (1848), Fenianism (1866), Dynamiters (1882-3), Davitt in Parliament (1899). Thomas Moore was an Irish poet who was based in Bermuda and helped to create the idea of Bermuda in Ireland. The other points were threats to Bermuda, all were deterred by British forces, but all had an impact on Bermudan society. The problems with studying deterrence were discussed – after all, it is very hard to consider the importance of something that did not happen without it becoming completely counter-factual history. Jerome helped to show the importance, tactically and imperially, of what many of us had previously considered to just be a very small island isolated in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Q&A led to discussions on the Irish in Bermuda, and the contraction of space brought about by the transatlantic telegraph. The transatlantic telegraph meant that news was spread much more quickly internationally, however it also meant that threats were perceive and conceptualised in a different way. If news took up to three weeks to get to Bermuda, the people of Bermuda could see that the ‘attack’ was supposed to have taken place three weeks previously, and therefore there was no reason to worry. With the arrival of the telegraph, this grace period was exponentially reduced, which brought its own pros and cons.

This was the final paper of this semester’s series. We shall be reconvening in September – if you would like to speak at our seminar series, please get in touch with Sophie Cooper – S.E.Cooper@ed.ac.uk

Thank you to all our speakers, and our audiences. You have been wonderful!