The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland

Cork University Press, 2017, xii + 362 pp.

Image of the cover

This book is a study of the Irish popular mind between the late-seventeenth and the early-nineteenth centuries. It examines the collective assumptions, aspirations, fears, resentments and prejudices of the common people as they are revealed in the vernacular literature of the period.

Extensive use is made of contemporary song and verse preserved in literary manuscripts from the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Elements of both continuity and change are identified, and the evolution of popular attitudes is traced over 150 years from the Williamite conquest to O’Connell’s campaign for Repeal of the Union. The texts of eight important works composed between 1691 and 1830 are presented in full – seven of them translated for the first time – to allow those who are unable to read the originals an opportunity to assess the temper of Irish popular culture during a formative period in the country’s history.

The book can be ordered directly from the publishers here.

Contents

Glossary
Introduction
     Text 1. 1691
Chapter 1. Kingdom
     Text 2. 1697
Chapter 2. Faith
     Text 3. c.1715
Chapter 3. Memory
     Text 4. 1747
Chapter 4. War
     Text 5. 1775
Chapter 5. Patriots
     Text 6. 1785
Chapter 6. Land
     Text 7. 1795
Chapter 7. Rebellion
     Text 8. 1830
Chapter 8. Union?
Conclusion
Afterword
Bibliography
Index of first lines
Index

Reviews

"This work is a considerable contribution to studies in Irish history in the crucial centuries covered by the book. The work is equally interesting to those concerned with literary history and the contextualization of manuscript and related literature in Ireland in the period under review. The work represents a substantial amount of spadework for which historians will be grateful and which should energize those involved in 'Irish studies' in a more general sense."

Michelle O Riordan, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

"Irish historiography is always, thankfully, a contested field. One of the more neglected corners of that field is the question of popular culture. There have been some books on particular aspects of this popular culture, usually in the form of essays garnered for publication around a particular theme, but rarely a monograph by one mind bringing a unified approach to bear on its subject. This is one of those rare books. This is an extremely valuable contribution to Irish historical scholarship. Its basic premise is to argue that much of Irish history is based on Government records and on official sources and ignores the ordinary people. It is difficult to ignore this contention. While much of history is written ‘from above’, this work seeks to take its history ‘from below’. It will raise a stir, despite its own quietly-stated contentions."

Alan Titley, emeritus professor of Irish, University College Cork

"French historians have long studied mentalities among the general population, but in Ireland their counterparts have concentrated more on high politics. Consequently, their focus has been on the documents left in archives by the winners of conflicts. 'Tradition' — how ordinary people remembered things — seemed of far more interest to folklorists. The refusal of so many historians to use sources in the Irish language had a remarkable effect, argues Vincent Morley in this elegant and luminous study: 'it consigned the bulk of Irish people to the role of nonspeaking extras in the historiography' ... His book, along with Breandán Ó Buachalla’s Aisling Ghéar, is one of the most radical remappings of Irish Studies to appear in the past 30 years."

Declan Kiberd, The Irish Times, 15 April 2017

"This is an important, vital and, for the most part, persuasive book. The high value of the Irish-language sources is demonstrated conclusively. The tractability of such evidence remains problematic, however. To what extent did poets write for each other? How representative were their views? Imagine, by analogy, extrapolating later twentieth-century popular political beliefs from those encoded in a stylised literary genre of that era — academic history?"

Jim Smyth, History Ireland, July/August 2017

"This is a book that I have been waiting for all my life ... I encountered poets here whom I had never heard of before; others I knew something about but only by hearsay; yet others who were familiar but who had written poems that were not part of their obvious canon. Not only is Vincent Morley an original historian, he is an Irish scholar of significant achievement. Not every eighteenth century Irish scholar will have edited as much as he has with flair and with accuracy."

Alan Titley, Dublin Review of Books, July 2017

Preview

The introduction can be read in the link given below: