That dangerous serpent: Garibaldi and Ireland 1860 - 1870
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O'Connor, A. (2010) 'That dangerous serpent: Garibaldi and Ireland 1860-1870'. Modern Italy, 15 (4):401-415.
This article analyses the reaction to Garibaldi in Ireland during the Risorgimento, a reaction which, in its negativity, generally contrasted with the Italian's heroic depiction elsewhere. Attitudes towards Garibaldi reflected existing religious divisions in Ireland, with Protestants supporting him and Catholics condemning his actions in Italy. The study examines ballads, pamphlets and newspapers to illustrate the pro-papal fervour felt in Ireland and the strength of anti-Garibaldi feelings. The decision of Irishmen to form a battalion to fight in defence of the Papal States in 1860 reveals that, ultimately, denigration of Garibaldi became a badge of Irish nationalism. The study highlights the position of Britain in understanding the relationship between Ireland and Italy in these years, pointing out Irish nationalists’ bafflement over Britain's support for Italian unification while it denied similar rights to Irish subjects. The article demonstrates how, in this context, domestic and tactical considerations coloured responses to Garibaldi in Ireland, with Irish issues projected onto the Italian situation, thus leading to entrenched and extreme attitudes towards the Italian soldier.