Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This is the first academic overview of Irish witchcraft. Based on a wide range of sources, it is a highly original and innovative study of beneficial and harmful magic, from the later medieval period up until the twentieth century. It examines the dynamics of witchcraft belief and accusation in the early modern period, and offers new explanations for the lack of sustained witch-hunting in Ireland. It demonstrates that during the eighteenth century sections of the educated elite backed away from witchcraft belief for largely ideological reasons, while the witch figure remained a strong part of popular culture. Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland also offers a new interpretation of the role of cunning-folk and popular magic in Irish society, along with a re-assessment of the attitudes of religious authorities, both Protestant and Catholic, to their activities. The way in which suspected witches and cunning-folk were treated by the Irish legal system, both before and after the repeal of the 1586 Irish Witchcraft Act in 1821, is also explored for the first time.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages232
ISBN (Print)9781137182555
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Witchcraft
  • Magic
  • demonic possession
  • fortune-tellers
  • magical healers
  • charms
  • cures
  • Ulster
  • Ireland
  • fairies
  • cunning-folk
  • wise woman
  • wise man
  • devil
  • religion
  • Protestant
  • Catholic
  • medieval
  • modern
  • early modern

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    Cite this

    Sneddon, A. (2015). Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland. Palgrave Macmillan.