Style over substance? The Blueshirts and transnational fascist culture

Tim Ellis-Dale, Sean Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A central debate over the Blueshirt movement has, quite understandably, been over whether the movement can be classified as fascist. Despite this, the two most significant accounts of the movement, by Maurice Manning (1971) and Mike Cronin (1997) have largely avoided explicit comparisons between the Blueshirts and other European fascist movements. While John Newsinger (2001) has argued that the Blueshirts may be usefully compared to the British Blackshirts, and Fearghal McGarry (2005) has highlighted aspects of Eoin O’Duffy’s engagement with the Fascist ideas and practices in Mussolini’s Italy, there is still more work to be done in interrogating the transnational links and possible comparisons between the Blueshirts and fascist movements in continental Europe. This article argues that by interrogating the political culture of Blueshirtism, we can better hope to understand its place within the spectrum of European fascisms. This article considers both the ‘high’ and ‘low’ aspects of Blueshirt culture. It examines the links between the Blueshirts and European fascist movements by analysing the intellectual culture represented by figures such as Michael Tierney and John Marcus Sullivan; while also examining the similarities between the material culture of the blue shirt and other European shirted movements. By applying a transnational lens, we can thus gain a more well-rounded understanding of one of the most controversial political movements in modern Irish history.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIrish Studies Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Dec 2023


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