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A new book has revealed that Irish witches had a long history in Ireland.
Read more about the book, ‘Witch-Worship in the Irish Isles: The Story of a People, A People and a People: Irish Witchcraft in the Twentieth Century’, published by Cambridge University Press.
The book is a collaboration between Prof Peter Cooney and historian Eoin Macdonald, who were both at the University of Cambridge in the 1980s.
The authors are seeking to explain the emergence of a modern witch-doctrine and the role of women in the tradition.
They also want to understand how the witch-wards were protected from outside influences, as well as the role that women played in the process.
“We don’t know all the answers to these questions, but we are seeking answers that have historical resonance,” said Prof Cooney.
The study of witchcraft in Ireland was largely overlooked until the 1960s, when the publication of The Witch and the Wampum, by the British historian Margaret Hodge.
In the book she documented how the witches of Ireland, some of whom were women, played a central role in the history of the religion.
“This work has been an important step towards making a more complete picture of the development of the modern witch, and also of the history, beliefs and practices of the Irish,” said the authors.
“The publication of this book will help to provide the historical and intellectual background for those interested in studying this fascinating period.”
The new book is also an attempt to answer questions about how the witchcraft tradition was organised and developed.
“There are two main areas in which this book focuses,” said Professor Cooney, “the history of women’s involvement in the ritual, and the history and structure of the witchcraft organisation in Ireland.”
“Women have been the key actors in the traditional rituals and the structure of this organisation has remained very much intact for nearly 500 years,” he added.
“Women’s participation has been a very important factor in the development and development of this ritual.”
In addition, the development has had significant social, economic and political consequences for the women involved.
“Witchcraft in Ireland: The History and Structure of the Traditional Irish Witch, by Prof Peter P Cooney (Cambridge University Press, 2018), is available for purchase from Amazon.ie