One of the most enduring tropes of modern Irish history is the MOPE thesis, the idea that the Irish were the Most Oppressed People Ever. Political oppression, forced emigration and endemic poverty have been central to the historiography of nineteenth-century Ireland. This volume problematises the assumption of generalised misery and suggests the many different, and often surprising, ways in which Irish people sought out, expressed and wrote about happiness. Bringing together an international group of established and emerging scholars, this volume considers the emerging field of the history of emotion and what a history of happiness in Ireland might look like. During the nineteenth century the concept of happiness denoted a degree of luck or good fortune, but equally was associated with the positive feelings produced from living a good and moral life. Happiness could be found in achieving wealth, fame or political success, but also in the relief of lulling a crying baby to sleep. Reading happiness in historical context indicates more than a simple expression of contentment. In personal correspondence, diaries and novels, the expression of happiness was laden with the expectations of audience and author and informed by cultural ideas about what one could or should be happy about. This volume explores how the idea of happiness shaped social, literary, architectural and aesthetic aspirations across the century.
CONTRIBUTORS: Ian d'Alton, Shannon Devlin, Anne Dolan, Simon Gallaher, Paul Huddie, Kerron Ó Luain, David McCready, Ciara Thompson, Andrew Tierney, Kristina Varade, Mai Yatani