Get access

Confessional Identity as National Boundary in National Historical Narratives: Ireland and Germany Compared


  • Shane Nagle

    1. Royal Holloway, University of London
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Shane Nagle is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at. His principal research interests are concerned with nationalism in Germany and Ireland, more general theoretical issues relating to nationalism, and the relationship between historiography and nationalism.


This article explores the question of ‘boundary-formation’ by examining the significance of historical narratives for defining the nation. Specifically, it compares the historical construction of religious or confessional identity as national boundary in the cases of Ireland and Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The article examines the importance of this historically constructed national identity for rendering continuity to the nation's history and delineating the national ‘Other’, thereby establishing national particularity. The historical ‘joining’ of ‘Irishness’ to Catholic identity and ‘Germanness’ to Protestant identity, as well as providing cultural ‘cement’ for the nation, also had exclusionary implications.