Introduction: The Irish Anomaly

  • Samantha A. Meigs
Part of the Early Modern History: Society and Culture book series


There is a saying current in Ireland that the Irish were the ‘first to find the faith and last to lose it,’ referring to the very early and peaceful conversion of the Irish and to the continuing conservatism and traditionalism of Irish Catholicism despite the sweeping changes which have rocked the Catholic Church since Vatican II. Although the slogan implies an uninterrupted continuity in religious outlook that is clearly exaggerated, its emphasis on tradition is nonetheless justified and reveals durable aspects of Irish religiosity that are crucial to understanding the religious transformations of the early modern period.


Religious Identity Irish Model Irish People Religious Change Important Case Study 
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    Such opposition as was voiced came from the lower house of clerical proctors, who were quickly silenced. See Steven Ellis, Tudor Ireland: Crown, Community and the Conflict of Cultures, 1470–1603 (London: Longman, 1985), 194–5.Google Scholar
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    One cannot help but notice how thoroughly Ireland has been ignored in current Reformation historiography. Such foundational works as Andrew Pettegree’s The Early Reformation in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) and Robert Scribner, Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich’s collection of essays, The Reformation in National Context do not mention Ireland at all, and even the excellent coverage of Brady, Oberman and Tracy’s Handbook of European History only gives us three references to Ireland.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Samantha A. Meigs 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha A. Meigs
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IndianapolisUSA

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