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Crime, Violence and the Irish in the Nineteenth Century$
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Kyle Hughes and Donald MacRaild

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940650

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940650.001.0001

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Whiteboys and Ribbonmen: What’s in a Name?

Whiteboys and Ribbonmen: What’s in a Name?

(p.21) 1 Whiteboys and Ribbonmen: What’s in a Name?
Crime, Violence and the Irish in the Nineteenth Century

Michael Huggins

Liverpool University Press

This reappraisal of the language and literature of Irish 'secret societies' questions the veracity of the blanket use of that term by contemporaries and modern historians. Ribbon societies are identified as the only true secret society, despite the tendency of Dublin Castle, the police, and their various agents and communicants to describe a variety of disorders as inspired or committed by clandestine societies. is is a significant and challenging viewpoint and one justified by a skilful and useful anatomization of the historiography to conclude that Ribbonism was a general community defence mechanism, but ‘an associational form that sought to distinguish itself from the rest of the community by its secrecy, its complex rituals and its quasi-masonic organizational model’ The chapter sees Ribbonism primarily as a show of collective economic interest.

Keywords:   Ribbonism, Whiteboysim, Secret societies, Agrarianism, Catholics

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