The Catholics of Ulster

The Catholics of Ulster : A History

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There can be few European communities more soaked in their history than the Catholics of Ulster. Ulster has always been geographically a land somewhat apart from the rest of Ireland, and its harsh history has given both the Catholic and Protestant communities a unique stamp. Both communities' understanding of their past remains central to their identities, but the layers of myths, lies and half-truths which make up these understandings have had ruinous effects. In this long-anticipated book, Marianne Elliott has succeeded in at last creating a coherent, credible and absorbing history of the Ulster Catholics - from their early mediaeval origins to the devolution of 1999. In the process many myths are destroyed, but a picture also emerges of a history which, while in many senses quite different from the received wisdom, is none the less, with the arrival of the English and Scots, an extremely brutal one. At a remarkable point in Ulster's history, this book will be at the focus of a great deal of more

Product details

  • Paperback | 688 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 36mm | 458.13g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • Illustrations, facsims., maps, ports.
  • 0140293329
  • 9780140293326

Review Text

'Religion's never mentioned here', says the first line of Seamus Heaney's poem 'Whatever You Say Nothing', a scathing indictment of the ingrained prejudices that govern relationships between Protestant and Catholic communities in Nothern Ireland. Religion is not mentioned for the simple reason that residents of Ulster can tell each other's tribal loyalties by signals such as name, school and home address. But how did the question of religious affiliation give rise to the lethal hostilities between Protestants and Catholics that continue to this day? Elliott makes a major contribution to our understanding of how Nothern Ireland arrived at today's impasse in this brave and scholarly work. Writing as an Ulster Catholic herself, and as Professor of Modern History at the University of Liverpool and Director of the Institute of Irish Studies, Elliott brings a personal insight to her historical research. She is uniquely qualified to unravel the threads of the various identities that co-exit in Nothern Ireland, not only as a native and an historian, but also as a member of the independent Opsahl Commission, which sought in 1992-3 to give everyone involved in and with Ulster the chance to have their views heard. Elliott does not agree with those who say that we must leave the past behind if we are to lose the mistrust, prejudices and fears that underpin the recent Troubles. Instead she returns to the very start of Ulster's history, moving from pre-Christian Ireland through the arrival of Saint Patrick in the mid 5th century to Gaelic Ulster, the 17th century 'plantation' of Ulster, and the arrival of large numbers of Scottish Protestants, life under the Penal Lwas, the Great Famine of the mid-19th-century and the effects of the Industrial Revolution on both Protestant and Catholic communities. In fact, nearly 400 pages pass before Elliott embarks on a brilliantly concise and balanced analysis of developments from Bloody Sunday to the present day. By concerntrating on the often neglected perspective of the Ulster Catholic's point of view, she has managed to write an extremely readable and enlightening book on a complex topic. (Kirkus UK)show more

Author information

Marianne Elliott is Andrew Geddes and John Rankin Professor of Modern History at the University of Liverpool. Her biography of Wolfe Tone won the Irish Life/Irish Independent non-fiction more

Table of contents

From Cu Chulainn to Christianity - religion and society in early Ulster; Gaelic Ulster - land, lordship and people; religion in Ulster before the Reformation; the loss of the land -plantation and confiscation in 17th-century Ulster; the merger of "Irishness" and Catholicism in early modern Ulster; life under the penal laws; reform to rebellion - the emergence of republican politics; the revivial of "political" Catholicism; the famine and after - Catholic social classes in 19th-century Ulster; across the divide - community relations and sectarian conflict before partition; Catholics in Northern Ireland 1920-2000; a resentful belonging - Catholic identity in the 20th more

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24 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 12% (3)
4 50% (12)
3 33% (8)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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