This chapter discusses the perception of pre-Famine and Famine Ireland as a violent society, tracing its roots to the failure of prominent commentators to fully contextualise unrest and to fully investigate broader conditions in the country. It attempts to locate pre-Famine and Famine Ireland within a wider history of violence in both Europe and the broader western world. It argues that despite its reputation as an unstable and somewhat chaotic society, pre-Famine and Famine Ireland contained within it sophisticated and complex means by which individual behaviour was shaped and rendered subservient to wider familial and communal interests. In this sense, the controls on individual behaviour which shaped the nature of post-Famine society had deep roots in the pre-Famine period and there are profound continuities in behaviour which stretch across the centuries and remain to the present day.
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