The work of the Church of Ireland evangelicals in West Kerry between 1825 and 1845 was widely hailed as a model of a successful missionary campaign; it evoked, however, a passionate reaction from local Catholic priests. The missionaries wished to entice the Irish-speaking people of the Dingle peninsula away from what they saw as superstition and enthralment to Rome, while priests objected to what they saw as inducements offered to Catholics to convert. As new mission schools and churches were built, the war of words between clergymen of both persuasions was fomented by rival newspapers, reaching a climax in a notorious libel case of March 1845.
In this study, Bryan MacMahon gives a comprehensive overview of the origins and progress of the conversion campaign and the responses to it. The narrative brings the personalities involved into vivid focus and records the long-lost voices and values of those on both sides of the bitter divide.
Bryan MacMahon is an author and historian whose previous books include The Great Famine in Tralee and North Kerry (2017) and Ascend or Die: Richard Crosbie, Pioneer of Balloon Flight (2010). He has contributed to a range of historical journals, including History Ireland, Dublin Historical Record and The Irish Sword.