The eighteenth-century was the heyday of the Protestant ascendancy. McBride, however, acknowledges that the greatest advance in the history of the time has been the recovery of Catholic attitudes during the zenith of the ascendancy. McBride insists on the continuity of Catholic politics and traditions right through the century, so that the nationalist explosion in the 1790s is seen not as a sudden earthquake, but as the maturing of an underground tradition. This holistic survey cuts past the cliches and lazy thinking that has characterised our understanding of the eighteenth century. It sets a template for future understanding of that time.