Forthcoming from CUP: Vincent Morley, The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland


The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland by Vincent Morley is a study of the Irish popular mind between the late seventeenth and the early nineteenth centuries. What did Irish people think about Kingdom, faith, memory, war, patriots, land, rebellion and Union?

For many decades, Irish historians placed a disproportionate emphasis on high politics, on the ruling élite and on official records; it follows that they paid little attention to any aspect of popular culture. This neglect, in turn, was not unrelated to an uncritical reliance on research methods used by the historical profession in England – a reliance which forestalled the development of approaches that might have been better suited to Irish circumstances. The inability of so many historians of Ireland to read primary sources in the indigenous language of the country is the most striking example of the profession’s failure to adapt its techniques to meet the challenges posed by the raw materials of Irish history.

This book substantially revises, extends and updates the view of eighteenth-century Irish literature that was presented in Daniel Corkery’s classical account, The Hidden Ireland.

•    It examines the views of the common people rather than those of a social or political élite.
•    It is based on primary sources in Irish.
•    It translates eight important texts in full – seven of them for the first time.
You can read the introduction here

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– Reviewer: Alan Titley Emeritus Prof of Modern Irish, UCC

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 – Reviewer: Michelle O Riordan, Dublin Inst Advanced Studies

You can pre-order the book (published March 1st 2017)
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