Richard Kirwan and the Royal Irish Academy: Provincial metropolitanism and the crisis of the 1790s

Academic Article


  • The Irish chemist Richard Kirwan (1733–1812) is remembered among historians for his resourceful defense of the phlogiston theory of combustion, but his pursuit of the sciences of the environment has been little studied. This paper considers his work in Ireland in the 1790s, especially on mineralogy and meteorology, and situates it against the backdrop of elite projects for national improvement and armed insurrection against British rule. Kirwan is viewed as having the outlook of a metropolitan intellectual, which he struggled to reconcile with the circumstances of Irish provinciality and an emergent – sometimes militant – nationalism.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • September 2016
  • Keywords

  • Enlightenment
  • Ireland
  • Kirwan
  • chemistry
  • geology
  • meteorology
  • mineralogy
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 257
  • End Page

  • 275
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 3