Witchcraft belief and trials in early modern Ireland

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This article explores witchcraft belief and trials in Ireland from just before the passing of the Irish witchcraft Act of 1586 up until the last prosecution for witchcraft at Carrickfergus Assizes in 1711 of the 'Islandmagee witches'. It suggests that the specific witchcraft beliefs of Ireland's main religious and ethnic groups, coupled with the actions of the Presbyterian church and the Irish judiciary, kept prosecutions rates for witchcraft low during an era of intense witch-hunting in the rest of Europe. Witchcraft accusation is nevertheless shown to have been much more commonplace in Ireland than once thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
JournalIrish Economic and Social History
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2012


  • Carrickfergus
  • Mary Dunbar
  • Islandmagee Witches
  • Florence Newton
  • 1698 Antrim trial
  • Witchcraft
  • Witch
  • prosecution
  • 1661
  • 1711
  • Witchcraft Act
  • Witchcraft accusation
  • Youghal
  • Butter-witch
  • the Devil
  • Satanic
  • Demonic Pact
  • demonic possession
  • exorcism
  • Ireland
  • Presbyterian
  • Church courts
  • Judicial Scepticism


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