David Patrick Moran

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D. P. Moran
Born David Patrick Moran
22 March 1869(1869-03-22)
Manor, Waterford, Ireland
Died 31 January 1936 (aged 66)
Skerries, Dublin, Ireland
Pen name Tom O'Kelly
Occupation journalist, activist, theorist
Nationality Irish
Education Castleknock College
University of London
Genres Nationalism, Traditionalism
Literary movement Celtic Revival
Notable work(s) The Philosophy of Irish Ireland
Spouse(s) Catherine O'Toole

David Patrick Moran (22 March 1869 – 31 January 1936), better known as simply D. P. Moran, was an Irish journalist, activist and cultural-political theorist, known as the principle advocate of a specifically Gaelic Catholic Irish nationalism during the early 20th century. Associated with the wider Celtic Revival, he promoted his ideas primarily through his journal, The Leader and compilations of his articles such as the book The Philosophy of Irish Ireland.

He was born in County Waterford and educated at Castleknock College, near Dublin before working as a journalist in London, where he was a member of the Irish Literary Society. His brand of nationalism and concept of Irish Ireland was of a homogeneous Gaelic Catholic nation, anti-materialist in nature but traditionalist, promoting the hegemony of the Irish language and Gaelic games in Irish cultural life. He often employed disparaging terms ("West Brits", "shoneens", "sourfaces") in reference to Unionists.



Given the parliamentary success of Irish nationalism in 1885-1914, an ideology was developed to define its scope and to identify who was truly Irish. Best known for his 1905 text The Philosophy of Irish-Ireland, Moran argued that to be Irish required:

Though a sponsor of the use of Irish, he never became fluent in the language [1]. He emphasised the use of English in 1908-1909; "an active, vigilant, and merciless propaganda in the English language". In the longer term, when Irish became again the language of the people, its use would enable a de-facto censorship of any foreign and unwelcome liberal ideas written in English.

While Moran argued that the idea of the Gael was one that could assimilate other closely related Europeans (ie - Norse, Teutons, etc), but he also felt that it would be hard if not impossible to argue that members of the Church of Ireland who supported the British Empire could ever qualify as Irish, being resident aliens. This extended to Anglo-Irish literature, by occultists such as William Butler Yeates.

In the matter of religious differences, Daniel O'Connell had said in 1826 that "the Catholics of Ireland are a nation". Moran moved beyond that, affirming in 1901 that "...the Irish Nation is de facto a Catholic nation".[2]

Belfast contrasted with Ireland

Historians argue how such a philosophy could ever tempt the Ulster Unionists in what became Northern Ireland to support the nationalist ideal. His articles frequently contrasted Belfast with 'Ireland', yet hoped that Belfast could eventually change and assimilate. He felt that Ulster unionists should: "...be grateful to the Irish nation for being willing to adopt them".

When the Irish Nationalists launched their war of Independence in 1919, widescale anti-Catholic rioting broke out in Belfast in 1920 and 1922, which Moran identified as caused by Orangeism, 'a sore and a cancer' in Ireland. This reconfirmed his views, and any 'bigotry on the part of Catholics in the Six Counties is immediately due to Orange bigotry.'

Support for the Treaty

A supporter of Sinn Féin from its earlier years, Moran also supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty agreed in 1921-22, and saw the partition of Ireland as beneficial for a truly Irish culture in the Irish Free State. This caused a sea-change in his opinions; from now on Northern Ireland could be safely ignored, along with what he saw as the British Empire's liberal evils of "free thought, free trade, and free literature".

Irish life and culture had to be protected from foreign influences, including the twin evils of the music hall and the British liberal press. The new jazz music of the 1920s was deprecated as "imported debasement and rot". Moran is now seen as a necessary ideologue of his day, and interesting in terms of the development of Irish thought, but some decadent liberals have resiled from his views, particularly since 1960.


  1. A 2003 analysis with comprehensive footnotes by Paul Delaney
  2. Leader, 27 July 1901.

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