Set against the international 'Great Awakening' and turmoil of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, "The Bible War in Ireland" reveals the growth of religious revivalism in Ireland during a period of unparalleled political upheaval. After the 1798 Rebellion, evangelical religion became enormously popular within Irish Protestant society, as evangelicals led a moral crusade to mold the minds of a rising generation of Catholics through education and Bible distribution. The threat implicit in the rise of Catholic democracy caused Protestants to unite behind this, culminating in the 1822 'Second Reformation' sermon of Archbishop William Magee that claimed ecclesiastical supremacy for the Church of Ireland. This provoked an unprecedented response from the Catholic hierarchy and clergy, led by Bishop James Doyle. The Doyle-Magee controversy inaugurated a period of revolutionary consciousness-raising and political organization among the Catholic population, culminating in the Catholic Relief Act of 1829.
This book defines the origins of religious and political polarization in Ireland and highlights the unique conditions governing entry of Catholics into the world of modern politics during the early nineteenth century.
IRENE WHELAN, born in Clifden, Co. Galway, was educated at University College Galway and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She is Associate Professor of History and Director of Irish Studies at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York.