The Liberty and Ormond boys

Factional riots in eighteenth-century Dublin

James Kelly

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ISBN: 978-1-85182-897-5
March 2005. 64pp; ills.

This study of factional disorder sets the Liberty and Ormond Boys in their contemporary context. The conditions necessary to enable factions to develop and flourish in Dublin were in place by the 1720s, when the city was sufficiently developed physically and demographically to sustain the local and sectoral identities that faction required. Nonetheless, the growth of faction could not have taken place without the breakdown in the authority of the guilds or in the absence of recreational patterns that validated violence. Beginning with the emergence of the Kevan Bail in 1729, the city was periodically racked over the following sixty years by bursts of violence as the contending factions sought to establish which was dominant. As the best known and most enduring, the interlinked histories of the Ormond and Liberty Boys provide the centre piece of this study, but the histories of a host of lesser known factions from all part of Dublin city and county are examined.

James Kelly, MRIA, is head of the History Department, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and the author of, among other books, Sir Edward Newenham: defender of the Protestant constitution (2004) and Gallows speeches from eighteenth-century Ireland (2002).