Ireland & the U.S. South

For your third blog post, we’re exploring the relationship between Ireland, the UK, and the U.S. South. 


Quinlan, Kieran. “Introduction.” Strange Kin: Ireland & the American South. LSU Press, 2005.


“North & South Elsewhere,” About South Podcast.

Frederick Douglass writes in his Narrative:

I went one day down on the wharf of Mr. Waters; and seeing two Irishmen unloading a scow of stone, I went, unasked, and helped them. When we had finished, one of them came to me and asked me if I were a slave. I told him I was. He asked, “Are ye a slave for life?” I told him that I was. The good Irishman seemed to be deeply affected by the statement. He said to the other that it was a pity so fine a little fellow as myself should be a slave for life. He said it was a shame to hold me. They both advised me to run away to the north; that I should find friends there, and that I should be free. I pretended not to be interested in what they said, and treated them as if I did not understand them; for I feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to encourage slaves to escape, and then, to get the reward, catch them and return them to their masters. I was afraid that these seemingly good men might use me so; but I nevertheless remembered their advice, and from that time I resolved to run away” (118-119).

This encounter exposes a number of interesting questions about the real and imagined links between the U.S. South, the UK, and Ireland. Interestingly, Douglass’s image features prominently in Irish revolutionary history, including the Frederick Douglass Mural on the “Solidarity Wall” in Belfast, featured above. The quote from Douglass featured on the mural gives a sense of the complicated relationship between Irish and African American struggles against oppression. 

For your third post, please read Kieran Quinlan’s work on the intersections between Ireland and the U.S. South. Please begin by summarizing his main points about the multiple ways that Irish identity has a long and complex relationship with southern identity. Please select at least one quote from Quinlan and explain what you take him to be saying about this complex relationship.

After that, listen to southern studies scholar Gavan Lennon discuss his work and his perspective as someone from Northern Ireland who studies the U.S. South. What linkages between these spaces does Lennon see? How does he translate concerns of the U.S. to similar concerns of the UK? Please reference one concrete detail from Lennon’s interview to illustrate your point. How do Lennon’s ideas relate to Quinlan’s earlier work? What linkages do you see?

Ultimately, how do you think the two scholars’ ideas connect to our first two readings for the term? In particular, why has Douglass served as such a profound figure for Irish civil and human rights movements? If you are so inclined, you may also find it useful to go back to previous primary or supplementary readings that illustrate the points made by either scholar. 

You may also want to read Amy Clukey’s article: “White Troubles: The Southern Imaginary in Northern Ireland 2008–2016,” which outlines how the “southern imaginary” and the “Irish imaginary” intersect. If you include direct quotes from Clukey in your analysis, you will earn extra credit. 

Lastly, you will need to include one “featured image” for you post. You might find it useful to search images related to Free Derry Corner or the Irish border or the murals of Belfast and Northern Ireland. When you select your image, please make a note and link to the original posting and work at the bottom of your blog entry. 

You may include additional images, links, or .gifs as useful and appropriate. 

Please feel encouraged to be creative and innovative! And remember your works cited at the bottom of the page!

Photo attribution:

Frederick Douglass Mural on the “Solidarity Wall” in Belfast. Image via Wikimedia Commons; photo credit: Laurence.

Works Cited:

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Ed. Celeste-Marie Bernier. Broadview Press, 2018.

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