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Coastal WorksCultures of the Atlantic Edge$
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Nicholas Allen, Nick Groom, and Jos Smith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795155

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795155.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2019

Draining the Irish Sea

Draining the Irish Sea

The Colonial Politics of Water

(p.21) 2 Draining the Irish Sea
Coastal Works

Nick Groom

Oxford University Press

In 1722, an anonymous author published Thoughts of a Project for Draining the Irish Channel. This neglected work is a satire on both the South Sea Bubble and Anglo-Irish politics, capitalizing on the craze for speculation, scientific advances in hydraulics, resource management, political arithmetic, and improvement. This chapter accordingly argues that land reclamation was an effective metaphor for Anglo-Irish policy and British imperialism, which in turn raised questions of national identity, regional connectivity, and environmental management. It introduces new evidence to historicize coastal work by blending textual criticism, political and legal analysis, regional folklore studies, and counterfactual history. The chapter provides a history of the Irish Sea and an account of maritime trade and property rights, as well as an analysis of the pamphlet itself (including its connections to the work of Jonathan Swift). It ends with a thought experiment imagining the impact had the channel actually been drained.

Keywords:   eighteenth-century literature, satire, Ireland, South Sea Bubble, reclamation, drainage, folklore, Jonathan Swift, George Waldron, Irish Sea

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