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The Virgin’s Apparition in Nineteenth-Century Ireland
Cloth: 978 1 85918 440 0
Paper: 978 1 85918 463 9
Cork University Press
6 1/8" x 9 1/4"
* Co-winner of the tenth annual James S. Donnelly, Sr. award for Books in History and the Social Sciences presented by the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS)
In 1879, local people reported an apparition of the Virgin Mary and other supernatural personages at Knock, a poor rural village in western Ireland. The author draws on both insiders’ views and his training as a sociologist to show how the apparition was related to the local social context including economic, cultural, religious, political and historical dimensions.
Drawing on new and neglected sources of evidence, Hynes pays particular attention to the individuals most directly involved including the seers, local clergy, Land League activists, various promoters, and others. The author looks through participants’ eyes as much as possible. To understand what those eyes saw, the book examines the local scene for half a century before the apparition. His deep knowledge of the local context enables the author to develop understandings of key persons and events before and around the apparition. Using the Knock case, the author challenges usually accepted explanations of changes in nineteenth-century Irish Catholicism.
The book is important for those interested in the links between official and local religion especially in Irish Catholicism, for students of apparitions generally, for anyone interested in bottom-up approaches to social and cultural history, and especially for students of nineteenth-century Ireland.
Table of Contents:
Acknowledgements; Preface—A Short Note on My Perspective; 1) What Daniel Campbell Remembered: Plan of the Book; 2) Local Worlds: Fairylore; Stations at Local Sacred Sites; Station Masses; Stations of the Cross; 3) The Role and the Power of the Priest: The Strike Against the Priests; Mass Attendance; Priests and Holy People; 4) Threats and Balances: The Blessed Straws Chain-Prayers; Supernatural Protection; MacHale versus the Brownes; Proselytism; Stories of Faith; A Systems of Checks and Balances; 5) The People Make a Saint; 6) Population and Religious Community: The Devotional Revolution Thesis; 7) Religion in Pre-Apparition Knock; 8) Authority Structures Shaken: Commercialisation and Cultural Change; The Land War; Landlords and Tenants; Fr Cavanagh and his Parishioners; Archbishop MacHale’s Reputation; 9) the Social Construction of the Apparition: The Investigating Commission; The Witnesses; Sources for the Testimony; Developing the Picture; What Was Added; The Producers of the Picture; The Aghamore Meeting; The Magic Lantern Thesis; 10) Our Lady and the Clergy: Putting the Bishop in his Place; The Debate on the Role of the Clergy; The Ballyhaunis Connection; Other Influences; Local Reaction; Failure; 11) Conclusion: Knock and the Devotional Revolution Thesis; Notes and References; Bibliography; Index.
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Reviews & Endorsements:
"Notable for its innovative use of oral and folkloric accounts. Provocative, groundbreaking, and original. Summing Up: Highly Recommended."
"...is perhaps the single best book ever written about the social and cultural dynamics of rural Ireland, with enormous implications for (and multiple cross-references to) the multiple and conflicting consequences of what used to be called ' modernization' in a host of similar 'developing' societies."
- Kerby Miller
University of Missouri
"This is a perceptive and well-written book that gives the readers a new insight into the Knock apparition."
- Rene Kollar
Journal of British Studies
"Eugene Hynes’ study of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Knock,County Mayo, in 1879 is a valuable contribution to the field of academic studies of Marian apparitions in the modern world. This is an important book that should attract a wide readership. Hynes is an academic sociologist, but he writes in a clear and generally jargon-free manner."
- Carole M. Cusak
Australasian Journal of Irish Studies
"It is extraordinary that this is the first scholarly book about the Knock apparitions and–in it–
Hynes provides us not only with a brilliant account of the events of the evening of 21 August 1879
at Knock but also with an imaginative and thought-provoking analysis of popular beliefs in late
nineteenth-century Ireland. This is a landmark book that makes a major contribution to the social
history of modern Ireland."
- Fergus Campbell
“There is every likelihood that this pioneering work, which skillfully combines insights from social theory with a deep knowledge of the historical context in which the Knock apparition of August 1879 came to public attention, will establish itself as a landmark study of late nineteenth-century rural Ireland.”
- Dr. Tony Varley
National University of Ireland, Galway
examines the visions of 1879 with close attention to their cultural context and to specific persons and events. The result is at once a panorama of nineteenth-century rural Mayo and an engrossing detective story.”
- William A. Christian Jr, author of Visionaries; The Spanish Republic and the Reign of Christ
"Hynes (Sociology, Kettering University) takes a new look at the famous 1879 apparition of the Virgin Mary at Knock in western Ireland. By closely examining contemporary records and, especially, what is known about the participants in the events around the apparition, he challenges long held beliefs about changes in Irish Catholicism during the 19th century. Hynes argues that the way in which local people responded to the apparition was not rooted only in then-contemporary religious beliefs and practices, but was also firmly grounded in the region's culture, economy, history, and (importantly) contemporary politics. An important book, Hynes' volume will interest social and cultural historians and readers interested in 19th-century Ireland."
- Book News Inc.
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