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Figures of Authority in Nineteenth-Century Ireland$
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Raphaël Ingelbien and Susan Galavan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622409

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622409.001.0001

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Michael McCarthy’s Campaigns against Clerical Authority

Michael McCarthy’s Campaigns against Clerical Authority

(p.161) 8 Michael McCarthy’s Campaigns against Clerical Authority
Figures of Authority in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Patrick Maume


The career and writings of the Unionist polemicist and Catholic convert to Protestantism Michael McCarthy (1862-1928) are surveyed in the context of the conflict between declining Irish Protestant elite-professional social networks and their burgeoning Catholic “Whig” and nationalist rivals. McCarthy is seen as combining often-insightful sociological analysis of his native East Cork (his father was a farmer and shopkeeper in Midleton) and of his family’s experience of the 1880s Land War, with paranoid depictions of clerical rapacity drawing on established anti-Catholic tropes and on early twentieth-century fears among British and Irish Protestant populists that a decadent aristocratic ruling class was coquetting with superstition, undermining national efficiency and re-establishing clerical tyranny. McCarthy’s only novel, Gallowglass, is analysed as an exercise in sociology, an analysis of the tensions between Catholic clerics and lay nationalist elites during the 1880s Land War, and a parodic response to the apologetic Catholic stories of the East Cork priest, Canon Patrick Sheehan (1852-1913).

Keywords:   Michael McCarthy, Catholicism, Protestantism, anti-sacerdotalism, Unionism, Land War, underdevelopment, Charles Stewart Parnell

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