Representing Magic in Modern Ireland: Belief, History and Culture

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book argues that Ireland did not experience a disenchanted modernity, nor a decline in magic. It suggests that beliefs, practices and traditions concerning witchcraft and magic developed and adapted to modernity to retain cultural currency until the end of the twentieth century. This analysis provides the backdrop for the first systematic exploration of how historic Irish trials of witches and cunning-folk were represented by historians, antiquarians, journalists, dramatists, poets, and novelists in Ireland between the late eighteenth and late twentieth century. It is demonstrated that this work created an accepted narrative of Irish witchcraft and magic which glossed over, ignored, or obscured the depth of belief in witchcraft, both in the past and in contemporary society. Collectively, their work gendered Irish witchcraft, created a myth of a disenchanted, modern Ireland, and reinforced competing views of Irishness and Irish identity. These long-held stereotypes were only challenged in the late twentieth-century.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages81
ISBN (Electronic)9781108954044
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2022

Publication series

NameCambridge Elements: Elements in Magic
PublisherCambridge University Press


  • magic
  • Witchcraft
  • Literature
  • Folklore
  • belief
  • History
  • Journalism
  • poetry


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