Irish perceptions of national identity in Austria-Hungary and its small successor states, 1914-1945
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This thesis sets out to explore Irish perceptions of and connections with the Dual Monarchy and its successor states, spanning from 1914 until 1945, with the intention of demonstrating the significance of small nations in Irish political discourse. Offering new insights into Irish links with the wider world, in contrast with the persisting image of an inward-looking Ireland, the thesis explores and contextualises Irish parallels with small states in Central Europe. The first chapter concentrates on Irish images of the small nationalities in the Dual Monarchy during the Great War, stressing the significance of the personal experience of Irish intellectuals, journalists and politicians, who were mostly from a Catholic, nationalist, middle-class background. Moreover, it investigates Irish comments on the multiple layers of identities in the multi-cultural empire. The second chapter focuses upon Irish reactions to the revolutionary transformation of Austria-Hungary after the Great War, paying particular attention to the impact of the communist threat and the post-war peace conferences on Irish perceptions. The third chapter examines Irish contact with Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in Geneva and Dublin, highlighting the existence of early diplomatic links with the successor states, while also analysing Irish impressions of extreme politics, irredentism, and borderland conflicts. The final chapter concludes by analysing the challenges small states faced between the years 1938 and 1945, examining Irish reactions to the Anschluss, the Munich Agreement, and the Vienna Awards, in addition to the discussion of Central European exiles in Ireland. By directing scholarly attention to a hitherto often neglected aspect of Irish historiography, this thesis aims to highlight the complexity of Irish perceptions of Central European borders and identities in a wider, transnational context.
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