Original Research

The rhetoric of conflict and conflict by rhetoric: Ireland and the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)

A. Wessels
Literator | Vol 20, No 3 | a501 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v20i3.501 | © 1999 A. Wessels | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 1999 | Published: 26 April 1999

About the author(s)

A. Wessels, Department of English, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This article investigates the historical context of Irish involvement in the Anglo- Boer War, but focuses on the literary products - mainly popular ballads and partisan historiography - of this involvement. Irish soldiers participated on both sides of the war, not so much because of identification with South African issues as because it afforded them the opportunity of fighting Irish fights on a displaced battle-field. The war thus presages the explosion of Irish/British strife in 1916 and the subsequent Irish Civil War by more than a decade. As in most wars, the struggle was conducted by the pen and by the sword and the popular Irish verse of the time reveals the sentiments of fervent Irish imperialists, defending the causes of Empire, fervent Irish nationalists espousing the Boer cause, as well as movingly suggesting the dilemma of the majority of Irish combatants, fighting for England while sympathizing with the Boers.


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