Witchcraft Belief, Representation and Memory in Modern Ireland

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This micro study of Islandmagee, Co. Antrim, the site of Ireland’s last witch trial in 1711, offers new insight into the understudied area of modern Irish witchcraft. It suggests that popular belief in witchcraft continued in Ireland up until the twentieth century and was shaped at a local level by the social memory of historic trials transmitted culturally via oral tradition and informal ‘dark heritage’ sites. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Irish writers produced a variety of ideologically charged and gendered readings of the 1711 case that created an accepted narrative of Irish witchcraft, which at once questioned its reality and distanced Ireland from the legacy of early modern-European witch-hunting. Along with controversy created over twenty-first century commemoration, this highlights a longstanding, discursive avoidance of Ireland’s witch-hunting past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Mar 2019


  • witchcraft
  • ‘Islandmagee Witches’
  • memory
  • representation
  • Ireland
  • 'Islandmagee Witches'


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