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    Land and people in Wicklow, 1660-1840

    Gurrin, Brian Francis (2006) Land and people in Wicklow, 1660-1840. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This thesis examines two aspects of County Wicklow’s historical character - its land and its people. Human settlement in Wicklow between the Restoration and the Famine was principally influenced by the region’s distinctive geological makeup. A large ridge of granite runs through the centre of the county, separating the east coast from the western plateau, and hindering communication and travel. Thus, typified by unfertile, poorly drained soils, the centre of the county was primarily uninhabited during this period, and contributed only marginally to Wicklow’s economic development. Within this physical framework lived Wicklow’s people. Between the Restoration and the Famine the population of Wicklow expanded significantly. In the denominational sphere, however, the situation was more complex. Sustained Protestant settlement occurred during the seventeenth century and by the early 1730s, when the first denominational statistics become available, Wicklow had a substantial Protestant population. Between then and the mid-1760s, however, Protestantism endured a period of sustained decline, while the number of Catholics continued to increase. This decline in the Protestant position necessitated changes in how local societies were ordered. The impact of these two contrasting demographic histories (the decline in Protestants within the context of an expanding population) on the social and economic ordering of the region is examined. An expanding population facilitated economic expansion, which is tracked by considering the expansion of markets and fairs. In the social sphere, the operation of the parish is investigated. An important element of societal order in the eighteenth century, the parish had dual functionality, with responsibilities in both civil and ecclesiastical realms. It is shown that as Protestantism declined throughout Wicklow, Catholics became increasingly involved in the operation of parish structures. Furthermore, after the 1760s, Catholicism became increasingly visible on the Wicklow physical landscape, with the construction of new churches and the expansion of parish structure. The impact of declining numbers of Protestants, coupled with increased Catholic confidence exacerbated inter-denominational tensions, which ultimately led to catastrophe, through unprecedented sectarian blood-letting, in 1798

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Wicklow; 1660-1840;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History
    Item ID: 5007
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2014 14:48
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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