Laity and Clergy in the Catholic Renewal of Dublin C.1750 1830
Begadon, Cormac Stephen (2009) Laity and Clergy in the Catholic Renewal of Dublin C.1750 1830. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
The culture of Dublin’s Catholic community experienced many changes during the period 1750-1830. This evolution existed in many forms. Some, such as the renewal of chapels and erection of schools and seminaries, were physical. Others, such as the reorganisation of the parish system, were spatial transformations. The practices of Catholic piety also underwent radical transformation. By the nineteenth-century Catholics in Dublin could satisfy their appetites for private piety with Catholic literature. However, public piety was also catered for thanks to the establishment of a growing network of religious confraternities and sodalities. This reception of ideas, albeit by a minority of Catholics, did, however, have a gradual impact on the beliefs and practices of the wider Catholic community. Thanks, in part, to the marriage of private and public piety, increasing numbers of Catholics were becoming ‘religiously engaged’, playing visible roles in renewal and reform. Changes, such as the evolution of religious belief and practice were, however, less-tangible. Nevertheless, all contributed to the changing nature of Catholic culture in the archdiocese as the Catholic community assumed greater internal cohesion and enhanced social and political importance. It is to these aspects of Catholic culture that this study will concentrate. Changes in Catholic culture coincided not only with political reforms favourable to Catholics but also were influenced by deeply seated attitudes, habits and beliefs. From the 1770s there had been increased efforts by Catholics to petition for the repeal of the penal laws. Initially they were voiced by the dwindling land-holding Catholic aristocratic class. However, by the 1790s the movement had become dominated by Catholics of a lower social order. It was these ‘middle-class’ Catholics who were also the driving force behind the programme of religious renewal and reform in the archdiocese of Dublin.
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