Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Catholics in a Protestant Country: The Papist Constituency in Eighteenth-Century Dublin

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Catholics in a Protestant Country: The Papist Constituency in Eighteenth-Century Dublin

Article excerpt

Catholics in a Protestant Country: The Papist Constituency in Eighteenth-- Century Dublin. By Patrick Fagan. (Dublin: Four Courts Press. Distributed in the U.S. by ISBS, Portland, Oregon. 1998. Pp. 201. $45.00.)

The road on which Maureen Wall set the study of eighteenth-century Ireland's Catholic community many years ago is one on which travelers are prone to the loss of a sense of historiographical direction. The amelioration of the condition of penal-era Catholics by late twentieth-century historians has been interesting. However, one is often left wondering what it explains. It would be good to have it more often related, for example, to general understandings of the relationship between religion and society in eighteenth-century Europe or, again, to the pre-eminence of religion in later Irish conflict. Still, while awaiting revelations of relevance, one welcomes the ongoing work.

Patrick Fagan has now for many years devoted himself to the diligent observation of eighteenth-century Catholic Ireland and provided interesting reading for those, who, like himself, enjoy walking its highways and byways. In this present work a sense of purposeful walking has been supplied by the historians' agreement with eighteenth-century Protestants about the insubstantiality of the Papists' afflictions. The rubric for Fagan's composition is disagreement with the remark of Charles O'Conor of Belanagare that people like him were in "a low way." The disagreement is unwarrantable. People like O'Conor were Catholic gentlemen and they had very good reason to consider themselves to be in a low way, as had the Catholic Church in Ireland, in view of the continuing failure to restore the regal authority of James III. …

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