Thursday 11 July 2019

New book: Marriage and the Irish - a miscellany
Click cover image for publisher's online shop
Marriage and the Irish: a miscellany is the second in the Wordwell series Birth, Marriage and Death among the Irish.

Like the successful first book of the series – Death and the Irish: a Miscellany – the marriage volume has been edited by Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at St Patrick's College, Maynooth.

The 283-page paperback explores the institution of marriage in Ireland over 1,400 years, beginning with the concept of marriage in early Irish law and ending with a mainly statistical snapshot of marriage in 2016. It holds 79 articles written by 75 contributors from a range of academic disciplines.

As a collection, the book tells the story of how attitudes and practices related to marriage have evolved over the years in response to social changes, religious tenets, legal developments and shifting life expectations.

All of the features are short; most are less than 1,200 words in length and all are accompanied by suggestions for further reading and/or details of the writer's main sources.

The range of topics is vast. Here's a selection: the secrets of the medieval Irish bed; C16th court cases concerning impotence, drunkenness and dowries; domestic violence in early modern Ireland; clandestine marriages; mixed marriages; elopement; the introduction of marriage equality, the C19th honeymoon; desertion and divorce; and humanist ceremonies. There are also articles focussed on specific groups of people eg Irish emigrants; Methodists; Quakers; aristocrats; and Travellers.

With the individual articles being so short and the topics so varied, this is an easy book to pick up for a quick, morsel-sized bite at the subject and its place in our ancestors' lives and, indeed, in our own.

The neatly-presented illustrated book is available from the County Dublin-based publishers, Wordwell Ltd, price €25.