Minorities, Majorities and Demographic Power: The Protestant & Catholic Communities of Tipperary since 1660

L Kennedy, K Miller, B Gurrin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The social and demographic fortunes of a small but economically privileged Protestant minority are traced through the medium of a case study relating to Ireland, and within Ireland focusing on the “premier county” of Tipperary, between the 17th and the 20th centuries.This long range study emphasises the political subordination of catholics during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But it is also important to recognise in counties like Tipperary that catholics might also exercise a countervailing demographic power, that, with the passage of time, became an increasingly potent force as British and Irish society admitted larger and larger numbers to the franchise. This was not a linear process of course. The major breakthrough was in 1793 with the granting of votes to catholics but this liberal franchise was narrowed drastically again in 1829. The unintended consequences were increased communal and sectarian conflict. In any case, the deployment and exercise of demographic power – pitting people against state power and landlord prerogative – did not wait on franchise reform. Demographic strength could be converted into power in a variety of ways, from informal pressures at the level of ordinary social life, to marching bodies of men and midnight raiding parties. During electioneering the power of numbers was especially visible, even or perhaps particularly among the disenfranchised. In the end it may be said to have prevailed, with the emergence of an independent Irish state. The religious demographic end-game, as it were, in Tipperary and in southern Ireland more generally, was a society that was overwhelmingly catholic in its ethnic and religious make-up. This process of homogenisation in turn had its own, very particular consequences for social and cultural life in the Ireland of the twentieth century.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPower and Popular Culture in Modern Ireland
    Place of PublicationDublin
    PublisherIrish Academic Press
    ISBN (Print)978-0716530657
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 May 2010


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