The Catholic Church and the Protestant State

Nineteenth-century Irish realities

Oliver Rafferty

Hardback €49.50
Catalogue Price: €55.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-084-7
January 2008. 240pp.

'[A] groundbreaking book … [Rafferty] paints a complex picture whereby the Catholic Church was not always in opposition to other churches and at various times depended on their goodwill. Likewise its relationship to the state was many-layered and the Church was a dependent on the British state for funding clerical education and buildings for example. Interestingly Rafferty also looks at how the Catholic Church in Ireland interacted with that in England and comes to some surprising conclusions. All in all this is a pioneering work that looks at an obvious but much neglected aspect of the 19th-century Ireland’, Books Ireland (April 2008).

‘This is a valuable collection of articles, which were written at different times in recent years, and which examine “the activity of the Catholic Church in nineteenth-century Ireland in a political and social milieu not always favourable to the presence of the Church” … essays discuss Fenianism, Gladstone and the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, Disraeli and Irish Catholicism, and Carleton and the Ulster Catholic experience. Like those here examined at greater length they derive from original or recent research and help to illuminate many aspects of Catholic life in the nineteenth-century', Ambrose Macaulay, Seancas Ard Maca (2009).

'Prefaced by a reflective introduction, which is by any standard a tour de force, this volume presents a dynamic portrait of Catholic Ireland and the complexities of 19th-century Anglo Irish relations. By definition, almost, there is a sense of déjà vu about collections of previously published essays, but this exception is a welcome addition to the literature of the period', Dáire Keogh, Irish Times (May 2008).

'Drawing on archives in Rome, Britain, Ireland and North America, Rafferty is especially good on the international ramifications of the Church’s Fenian problem ... Together, these essays address one of the key dynamics of nineteenth-century Irish history: the complex, ever-shifting relations between the Catholic Church, the Catholic laity and the Protestant state. It is no small part of Rafferty’s achievement that from the morass of conflicting evidence he extracts an inner consistency. The Church did not engage in politics for temporal political ends. For the bishops, the pre-eminent underlying ‘Irish reality’, among those alluded to in the subtitle of this book, remained the welfare and security of the Church itself', Jim Smyth, English Historical Review (June 2009).

‘Apart from those papers which cover topics with a national dimension, the book also includes studies of the religious condition of Catholicism in particular dioceses: the people’s practise of the faith, the relations between priests and bishops, of Catholics with their Protestant neighbours, and so on. These latter studies present interesting samples of the evolution of Irish Catholicism during the nineteenth-century, a period when the growing confidence and influence of the Church made itself increasingly felt in every aspect of Irish life. A new religious and political Catholic confidence that was to force the hand of the Protestant state to grant long postponed freedoms and rights to Catholics’, Rev. James Pareiro, Recusant History (May 2009).

‘In a far-reaching and insightful introduction which aptly sets the scene for the collection as a whole, Rafferty argues that the nineteenth-century Irish Catholic Church developed no coherent framework with which to conduct relations with the post-union Protestant state. He points to the often vexed issue facing many prelates: that of reconciling loyalty to the institutions of state on the one hand with calls for the redress of grievances from members of their flocks on the other … The essays themselves range from broad topics such as the “Catholic Church and the Union” to the more focused studies such as that of “Cardinal Cullen, early Fenianism and the MacManus funeral affair”, “Catholicism in Fermanagh, 1795–1850” and “Gladstone and the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland”. Throughout, Rafferty eschews simplistic categorisations and challenges many long-standing assumptions … This is a fine collection of essays, all of which are well-written and meticulously researched, containing a host of historical gems’, Salvador Ryan, The Furrow (June 2009).

‘This collection of essays covers the first seventy years of the nineteenth century, from the debates on the Union of 1800 until the 1869 Church of Ireland Act … [an] admirable and generally persuasive book', Eugenio F. Biagini, Ecclesiastical History (July 2009).

‘Fr Rafferty’s new book is a survey of aspects of the life of the Church during the course of the 1800s. It consists of some ten essays of varying length dealing basically with themes that arise from the politics and social changes of that era. Essentially it deals with Catholic relations not only with the government of the day, but with the changing nature of Irish Protestantism in its several guises … In contrast to a general narrative of history, a set of essays such as this has room for a great deal of telling detail', Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic (November 2009).