The minority voice : Hubert Butler, Southern Protestantism and intellectual dissent in Ireland, 1930-72
Much has been written about the generation of Southern Irish Protestant intellectuals who played such a prominent role in Ireland's public life from the fall of Charles Stewart Parnell in the early 1890s until the rise of Eamon de Valera in the early 1930s. Very little indeed has been written about the generation of Southern Protestant intellectuals following them, those writers, journalists, academics and churchmen who were born around 1900 and who came of age in the decade following Irish Independence. Though few in number, these people represent an important facet of the young nation's cultural history and serve to refute the blanket assumption that the minority community had neither the will nor the ability to make a contribution to the new dispensation. As a particularly eloquent and stalwart member of this community, the Kilkenny man-of-letters Hubert Butler (1900-91) functions as the touchstone of this thesis, an individual worthy of attention in his own right but also compelling as a commentator on the challenges facing Southern Protestants generally during the period 1930-72. For in these years, Protestants confronted the delicate task of adapting to their changed position within Irish society without in the process forfeiting their distinct identity. As a nationalist eager to participate fully in the country's civic life but also as a Protestant fiercely committed to the rights of spiritual independence and intellectual dissent, Butler often struggled to balance the demands of community with those of autonomy. This thesis explores the various contexts in which he and his contemporaries challenged the normative terms of Irishness so that the criteria for belonging might better accommodate their minority values and experiences. In so doing, Southern Protestant intellectuals of this generation made a valuable contribution to the development of pluralistic values on the island.