Academic journal article International Social Science Review

Book Review: Troubled Geographies: A Spatial History of Religion and Society in Ireland by Ian N. Gregory, Niall A. Cunningham, C.D. Lloyd, Ian G. Shutleworth, and Paul S. Ell

Academic journal article International Social Science Review

Book Review: Troubled Geographies: A Spatial History of Religion and Society in Ireland by Ian N. Gregory, Niall A. Cunningham, C.D. Lloyd, Ian G. Shutleworth, and Paul S. Ell

Article excerpt

Gregory, Ian N., Niall A. Cunningham, C.D. Lloyd, Ian G. Shuttleworth, and Paul S. Ell. Troubled Geographies: A Spatial History of Religion and Society in Ireland. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013. xv + 243 pages. Paperback, $45.00.

Troubled Geographies: A Spatial History of Religion and Society in Ireland is a detailed historiographical narrative of two centuries of Irish national identity, politics, and religious division. With interdisciplinary specializations in history, geography, archaeology, paleoecology, socio-cultural change, and data digitization analysis, the authors of the book explore how economy, society, politics, and religion have shaped Ireland's history. Most importantly, religion and geography were explicitly linked in the formation of ethnic, political, and spatial-religious identities that have and continue, to some extent, shape Irish society today. The narrative presented can be summed up under the rubric of four sequential, but by no means exhaustive, sections: The Plantations and the Seeds of Ireland's Religious Geographies; The Famine and Its Impact (1840s-1860s); Partition, Civil War and Division (1911-1960s); and Communal Conflict in Northern Ireland (1969-2001). Courtesy of new geospatial technologies, the authors capitalized on the use of Geographic Information System Databases.

The link between religion and geography hinges on the political ideologies of unionism (loyalty of Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom) and nationalism/republicanism (unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland). The seeds of Ireland's religious geographies were planted following the establishment of plantations in the 16th and 17th centuries, with the purpose of settling specific areas with English and Scottish Protestants loyal to the British crown for political and economic reasons. Politically, it was designed to mute the perceived threat that Catholic France and Spain could pose through Catholic Ireland, and economically the objective was to strengthen the commercial links between southwestern Scotland and northeastern Ireland. To this end, major plantations were set up in predominantly Protestant areas around Dublin, Ulster and parts of Munster and the midlands, but no efforts were made to establish plantations in parts of predominantly Catholic western Ireland. Consequently, the plantations laid the foundation for the fusion of identity, economy, politics, religion, and geography. The aftermath of the Siege of Derry in 1689 in which Ulster Catholics rebelled and killed thousands of Protestants, economically marginalized Catholics while sealing the ascendancy of Protestants. Consequently, industrialization and urbanization occurred in largely Protestant areas, while economic stagnation and rural overpopulation occurred in Catholic areas. Undoubtedly, the close connection between ethnic identity, political allegiance and socioeconomic status resulted not only in geographical but also social segregation. The authors aptly noted that the resulting economic and social divisions generally fell along religious lines.

The Great Famine and its impact on the Irish population, economy and society marked a watershed in the history of Ireland. The crop failure, which began in 1845, was occasioned by an infection of potato blight, and the collapse of the crop yield in subsequent seasons marked a turning point of unprecedented magnitude. By the end of 1851, about 1.1 million deaths were believed to have directly resulted from the Great Famine. Given that the potato blight devastated overwhelmingly Catholic areas, it did not alter the religious geography of Ireland. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.