Ireland, Poland, central Europe, nationalism, anti-colonialism, colonialism, solidarity, internationalism
Poland loomed large in the Irish nationalist imagination, despite the low level of direct contact between Ireland and Poland up to the twenty-first century. Irish men and women took a keen interest in Poland and many believed that its experience mirrored that of Ireland. This view rested primarily on a historical coincidence—the loss of sovereignty suffered by Poland in the final partition of 1795 and by Ireland in the Act of Union of 1801, following unsuccessful rebellions. It also drew on a common commitment to Catholicism and a shared experience of religious persecution. The parallel proved politically significant in that it allowed Irish nationalists to challenge the legitimacy of British rule in Ireland. Nationalists argued that British rule in Ireland was as oppressive as that of the Russians in Poland and that British governments were hypocritical to condemn in Poland what they themselves practised in Ireland.