One area that I’ve seen come up more and more in the study of Irish history is the linking of Ireland to India. This is an extremely rich realm of study, encompassing everything from the presence of the Irish in the Indian civil service to links between nationalist groups to literary and intellectual connections.
The Irish played an outsized role as soldiers and civil servants in India, serving the British Empire in the army, as doctors, engineers, lawyers, and administrators. The Catholic and Presbyterian churches also sent missionaries from Ireland to India. The Anglo-Irish in particular acted as part of the British elite in India, contributing to the ranks of viceroys and governors general – including Lord Canning, Lord Mayo, Lord Dufferin, and Lord Lansdowne. Lord Macartney was the Governor of Madras; the Lawrence brothers were known for their prominent roles in the Punjab; Lord Cornwallis, Sir Charles Trevelyan, and Sir Antony MacDonnell each served in both Ireland and India.
India and Ireland engaged with each other through their respective nationalist movements, with Ireland acting as a successful example. Daniel O’Connell helped to form the British India Society in 1839; Home Rule MP Frank Hugh O’Donnell promoted the cause of India; links were forged between Éamon de Valera, Sean T. O’Kelly, and Frank Aiken on the Irish side with Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Vithalbhai Patel from India. The desire for cooperation amongst nationalists led to the formation of the Indian-Irish Independence League in 1932.
India and Ireland are linked through literary history (such as the work of Kipling, Yeats, and MacNeice), political activism on nationalism and suffrage (as evidenced by James and Margaret Cousins, and Margaret Noble), and anti-imperial activity. Comparative history has also been a fruitful realm of research – everything from examining the British role in both countries, law and governance, the role of the press, political movements, communism, gender roles, mythmaking, and construction of national identity.
I’ve listed below some of the sources for this productive area of study – it is by no means exhaustive but definitely gives you an idea of all of the great scholarly work on Ireland and India.
- Sikata Banerjee, Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004 (New York: New York University Press, 2012).
- Purnima Bose, Organizing Empire: Individualism, Collective Agency, and India (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003).
- B. Cook, Imperial Affinities: Nineteenth Century Analogies and Exchanges between India and Ireland (New Delhi: Sage, 1993).
- Ganesh Devi, “India and Ireland: Literary Relations,” in The Internationalism of Irish Literature and Drama, ed. Joseph McMinn (Savage, MD: Barnes & Noble, 1992).
- Tadhg Foley and Maureen O’Connor, eds., Ireland and India: Colonies, Culture and Empire (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2006).
- G. Fraser, “Ireland and India,” in ‘An Irish Empire’? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire, ed. Keith Jeffery (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996).
- History Ireland 18, no. 4 (Jul/Aug 2010) – contains several articles on the relationship between Ireland and India.
- Denis Holmes and Michael Holmes, eds., Ireland and India: Connections, Comparisons, Contrasts (Dublin: Folens, 1997).
- Glenn Hooper and Colin Graham, eds. Irish and Postcolonial Writing: History, Theory, Practice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).
- Joseph Lennon, Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004).
- Mansoor, The Story of Irish Orientalism (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1944).
- Kaori Nagai, Empire of Analogies: Kipling, India and Ireland (Cork: Cork University Press, 2006).
- Kate O’Malley, Ireland, India and Empire: Indo-Irish Radical Connections, 1919-1964 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008).
- Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, Cosmopolitan Nationalism in the Victorian Empire: Ireland, India and the Politics of Alfred Webb (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
- Michael Silvestri, Ireland and India: Nationalism, Empire and Memory (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
- Julia M. Wright, Ireland, India, and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).