Small Differences: Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants, by Donald Harman Akenson

By Donald Harman Akenson

Bargains without delay with the query of even if cultural transformations among Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics have had major and casually vital results at the behaviour of the 2 teams. the belief of the author's research is that, in response to the study of the Irish in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and usa in addition to in eire itself, there are few major social or financial ameliorations among the 2 teams. in reality the writer chanced on symptoms of primary similarities. In view of this statement, the writer asks the query that given the established critiques of Irish Catholics and Protestants, what components in Irish society have stored them at loggerheads? the writer specializes in Irish taboos opposed to inter-marriage, the segregation in schooling, and the character of Protestant and Catholic trust.

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Thus, the train of logic that dominates Irish historiography as it concerns Catholic family practices before the Famine does not work. Instead of a pattern of low illegitimacy and, therefore, low sexual activity, one has a pattern of a significant degree of premarital sexual activity, combined with fairly low illegitimacy (although not as low as usually is suggested). The heavy sanctions against having children out of wedlock may have reduced sexual activity somewhat, but, more 36 Small Differences often it converted illicit sexual activity into an avenue of family formation.

Hume, Results of the Irish Census of 1861 (London: Rivingtons, 1864), 51. 21 Some Empirical Tests Figure 3 Religion and Occupation, Adult Males, 1861 Source: See Appendix E. 22 Small Differences shows markedly diverging denominational profiles. Catholics were underrepresented sharply among landed proprietors, but were slightly overrepresented among farmers (a category that included small tenant farmers). There were proportionately fewer Catholics than Protestants in the liberal professions and in the military.

Before 1864 one relies on the work of Kenneth Connell, as modified by later scholars. Connell's "Illegitimacy before the Famine" has held the field for a full two decades. Its argument is as follows. First, he suggests that in 1864, when civil registration of birth started, Ireland already had a very low illegitimacy rate. Second, using evidence from the great Poor Law Commission of 1833-6 that had been directed by the sometime Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford, Archbishop Richard Whately,41 Connell argued that sanctions against illicit sex were so great as to make illegitimacy and even fornication unattractive.

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