If the 1790s can be seen as the pivotal decade in the evolution of modern Ireland, then an understanding of it is not just of scholarly interest, but has repercussions for current political and cultural debates. Precisely because of that enduring relevance, the 1790s have never passed out of politics into history. These essays look again at the window of opportunity which opened towards a non-sectarian, democratic and inclusive politics, adequately representing the Irish people in all their inherited complexities. These four new essays by this gifted and authoritative writer explain why that project was defeated and remains uncompleted. Understanding the reasons for its momentous defeat in the 1790s can help in ensuring that history does not repeat itself in the 1990s. Relieved of the disabling weight of confused meanings, the 1790s cease to be divisive. As the bicentenary of 1798 approaches the creation of an hospitable approach to all that it symbolizes becomes both desirable and necessary.