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Homicide in pre-Famine and Famine Ireland$
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Richard Mc Mahon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319471

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319471.001.0001

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‘The madness of party’: Homicide and sectarianism

‘The madness of party’: Homicide and sectarianism

(p.126) 5 ‘The madness of party’: Homicide and sectarianism
Homicide in pre-Famine and Famine Ireland

Richard Mc Mahon

Liverpool University Press

This chapter demonstrates that the relatively low rate of sectarian homicide evident in Ireland at this time was a product of the complex interplay of competing considerations of religious identity, community and ideas of what constituted legitimate action. Such interaction ultimately underpinned the relationship between sectarian animosity and violent activity. Considerations of local circumstance and wider concepts of legitimate violence meant that while sectarian animosity was a real and pervasive force in Irish society in the first half of the nineteenth century, this did not necessarily make it a particularly violent place or one in which violence was necessarily socially disruptive. It was rather a society in which the extent of both sectarian animosity and violent activity was very clearly controlled within both the Catholic and Protestant communities. The picture that emerges is not so much of a people bound by or in the thrall of the ‘madness of party’ but rather communities that lived, however imperfectly, with the legacy of their history.

Keywords:   sectarianism, politics, Catholic, Protestant, Communal violence, Orange Order, policing, faction fights, community

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