Ribbon Societies in Nineteenth-Century Ireland and its Diaspora: The Persistence of Tradition

Kyle Hughes, Donald MacRaild

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This is the first full-length study of Irish Ribbonism. It traces the development of Ribbonism from its origins in the Defender movement of the 1790s until the latter part of the century when the remnants of the Ribbon tradition found solace in the quasi-constitutional affinities of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Placing Ribbonism firmly within Ireland’s long tradition of collective action and protest, this book shows that, owing to its diversity and adaptability, it shared similarities, but also stood apart from, the many rural redresser groups of the period and showed remarkable longevity not matched by its contemporaries. The book describes the wider context of Catholic struggles for improved standing, explores traditions and networks for association, and it describes external impressions. Drawing on rich archives in the form of state surveillance records, ‘show trial’ proceedings and press reportage, the book shows that Ribbonism was a sophisticated and durable underground network drawing together various strands of the rural and urban Catholic populace in Ireland and Britain. Ribbon Societies in Nineteenth-Century Ireland and Its Diaspora is a fascinating study that demonstrates Ribbonism operated more widely than previous studies have revealed.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherUniversity of Liverpool
Number of pages360
ISBN (Print)9781786941350
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameReappraisals in Irish History
PublisherLiverpool University Press


  • Ireland, secret societies, agrarianism, crime


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