Vol. 3: Kelly, James.

Type: Article

Kelly, James. ‘Inter-Denominational Relations and Religious Toleration in Late Eighteenth-Century Ireland: the ‘paper war’ of 1786-88’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 3 (1988), pp 39-67.

With the repeal of the penal laws and the Catholic Relief Act of 1778, late eighteenth-century Ireland appeared to experience a ‘dilution’ of inter-denominational hostility. However, according to Kelly, the protestant-catholic tolerance of this period must not be exaggerated. Concessions of catholic civil liberties caused protestant insecurity and catholic suspicion, actually strengthening religious tensions and hostility. Kelly draws on the Rightboy disturbances of the mid-1780’s and the ensuing ‘paper war’ of 1786-88 as evidence of continued inter-denominational conflict. Discussed are the writings of Fr Arthur O’Leary, and his radically conservative protestant opponents Patrick Duigenan and Richard Woodward, who considered O’Leary to be the instigator of a ‘catholic plot’ to destroy the Church of Ireland. Kelly refers also to the worries of protestant liberals, who saw the granting of equal power to catholics as a threat to the protestant constitution.