Food rioting in Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
The 'moral economy' and the Irish crowd
Food rioting, one of the most studied manifestations of purposeful protest internationally, was practised in Ireland for a century and a half between the early eighteenth century and 1860. This book provides a fully documented account of this phenomenon, and seeks to lay the foundations for a more structured analysis of popular protest during a period when riotous behaviour was normative. Though the study challenges E.P. Thompson's influential contention that there was no 'moral economy' in Ireland because Ireland did not provide the populace with the 'political space' in which they could bring pressure to bear on the elite, its primary achievement is, by demonstrating the enduring character of food rioting, to move the crowd from the periphery to the centre. In the process, it offers a rereading of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Irish history, and of the public response to the Great Famine.
James Kelly, MRIA, is Professor of History at Dublin City University. His recent publications include The proclamations of Ireland, 1660–1820 , 5 vols (Dublin, 2014) with Mary Ann Lyons; and Sport in Ireland, 1600–1840 (Dublin, 2014).