This book is a revealing study of the cultural boundaries between the Kirwan family of Castlehacket, Co. Galway, and their tenants. The Kirwans, the only family among the merchant tribes of Galway to lay claim to Irish ancestry, were atypical landlords whose generosity and sense of justice was recorded in song and story. This study, drawing on local history, folklore and literature, charts the rise of the family from their 16th-century merchant origins through the religious conflicts of the 19th century to their eventual demise after the Civil War, and examines how the family wove themselves into the mythology of Knockma, the fairy hill at the centre of their north Galway estate, through their horseracing exploits. The study pays close attention to religious identity, drawing on local folklore to show that the bonds between landlord and tenant unravelled as the family grew close to Protestant evangelists in the 19th century.
Ronan Lynch holds a PhD from NUI, Galway. He works for the Centre for Public Inquiry in Dublin and is a director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution Journalism in Derry.