Was pre-Famine and Famine Ireland a violent society? The dominant view among a range of commentators at the time, and in the work of many historians since, is that violence was both prevalent and pervasive in the social and cultural life of the country. This book explores the validity of this perspective through the study of homicide and what it reveals about wider experiences of violence in the country at that time. The book provides a quantitative and contextual analysis of homicide in pre-Famine and Famine Ireland. It explores the relationship between particular and prominent causes of conflict – personal, familial, economic and sectarian – and the use of lethal violence to deal with such conflicts. Throughout the book, the Irish experience is placed within a comparative framework and there is also an exploration of what the history of violence in Ireland might reveal about the wider history of interpersonal violence in Europe and beyond. The aim throughout is to challenge the view of nineteenth-century Ireland as a violent society and to offer a more complex and nuanced assessment of the part played by violence in Irish life.
Dr Richard Mc Mahon is Research Fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh.
List of tables and figures
Introduction: ‘a violent society’?
1. Homicide rates in Ireland, 1801–50
2. ‘Do you want to pick a fight out of me?’: homicide and personal relations
3. ‘Sending them to heaven…’: homicide and the family
4. ‘The tranquillity of a barrel of gun powder’: homicide and land
5. ‘The madness of party’: homicide and sectarianism
November 27, 2013