A divided Ireland in the 18th Century - a story of wealth and poverty, land and labour, authority and subjects.

In Europe and the New World the 18th century was an age of ideals, of the founding of new nations, and the building of great works of architectural distinction. The Anglo-Irish settlers did not succeed in founding an independent Irish nation but they did make their contribution to the architectural heritage of Ireland.

'Anthology The Middle Nation' examines 18th century Ireland and the contribution made by the Anglo Irish to the architectural heritage of the country.

This excerpt from the programme outlines the divides and struggles that existed in Ireland at this time.

No other age has shown such self-confidence as the eighteenth century. No other age has been so certain of its enlightenment, its maturity, its distinction.

Life had never been so comfortable for the rich and well-educated. However, this wealth and comfort came at the price of the labour of the poor. For the poor it was an age of suffering, degradation and danger. 

The division between between the ideal and the reality, the rich and the poor, was evident throughout Europe. 

Nowhere was it so painfully obvious as in Ireland.

Eighteenth century Ireland presented two diverse visionary ideals. For the Catholics, who were dispossessed, denied education and civil liberties, the idea of a free Gaelic Ireland was a distant hope. Life also fell short of expectations for the Anglo-Irish settlers. They had the land and administered the country, but they did not rule it. Ireland was still ruled by the English government in Westminster. A strong Ireland was seen as a threat to England and any attempts to make life in Ireland better were met with objection. 

Narrated by Ray McAnally this episode of 'Anthology' was broadcast on 24 February 1971.