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The field of Irish political cartooning goes back to the 18th century. Dubliner Michael Stoppelaer published caricatures in London at some time between moving there in 1729 and his death in 1777. Henry Brocas started out re-engraving Thomas Rowlandson cartoons for Exshaw's Magazine in Dublin in the 1780s, and went on to draw his own, depicting British atrocities in the wake of the 1798 rebellion in the Irish Magazine in the early 1800s. Meanwhile, William O'Keefe, apparently an Irishman, was publishing his prints in London in the 1790s.
William Henry Brooke, best known as a painter and book illustrator, spend a couple of years drawing cartoons for The Satirist in London in the 1810s. Then another Dubliner, John Doyle, moved to London and began publishing his cartoons in 1827, under the pseudonym HB, in 1927. He became an establishment figure, moving in exalted literary and political circles, and at the height of his popularity in the 1840s, The Times published indexes of his prints. His son Richard was one of the founders of Punch, and his grandson Arthur Conan created Sherlock Holmes.
Away from London, the 1840s is when we see the next stirring of political cartooning in Ireland. Daniel O'Connell's Repeal campaigns provoked cartoons both hostile - in the 1841 book The Repealer Repulsed by Belfast-based protestant poet William McComb - and supportive - a series of twelve hand-coloured prints entitled "Hints & Hits" by the presumably pseudonymous William Tell in 1844. Meanwhile in England, Longford man R. J. Hamerton was drawing anti-O'Connell cartoons in Punch.
In the late 1860s, Cork's John Fergus O'Hea drew cartoons for a nationalist paper, the Weekly News, in Dublin, and in the 1870s was the founder of a trend in Irish humorous magazines. He founded Zozimus with editor A. M. Sullivan in 1870, which also published the work of Harry Furniss and Wallis Mackay. When Zozimus folded O'Hea went on to create Ireland's Eye, then Zoz, which included work by J. D. Reigh, and Pat, which introduced Thomas Fitzpatrick, while Furniss founded Yorick. The trend also included Percy French and R. C. Orpen's The Jarvey.
In the 1880s, O'Hea, Reigh and Fitzpatrick were at the centre of a new trend - full-page cartoon supplements in the Saturday newspapers, printed in full colour by the new process of chromolithography. O'Hea was the cartoonist for the Weekly Freeman, Reigh for Charles Stewart Parnell's United Ireland, and Fitzpatrick for the anti-Parnellite National Press, then for the Weekly Freeman after his paper merged with it. All three frequently used the stock characters of Pat, the Irish people characterised as a tenant farmer, and Erin, Ireland personifed as a late-Victorian beauty, as well as caricaturing the leading political figures of the day. This trend continued into the 20th century with cartoonists like Phil Blake and W. C. Mills on the Weekly Freeman.
Political cartooning came to Belfast in the late 1890s. Ulad magazine was founded by the Ulster Literary Theatre in 1896, and while culturally nationalist reacted against Dublin domination of the Irish arts. The Magpie and Nomad's Weekly both launched in 1899, and Bulmer Hobson founded The Republic in 1907. A group of cartoonists, including the Morrow brothers - George, Edwin, Jack and Norman - John Campbell, Matt Sandford, David Wilson and A. Greer were variously published in these magazines.
(to be continued)