Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919–21

By Brian Heffernan

Freedom and the Fifth Commandment


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  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1798-4
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: September 2016
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, European history, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Nationalism & Patriotism, History, RELIGION / History, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Ireland, History of religion


The guerilla war waged between the IRA and the crown forces between 1919 and 1921 was a pivotal episode in the modern history of Ireland. This book addresses the War of Independence from a new perspective by focusing on the attitude of a powerful social elite: the Catholic clergy.

The close relationship between Irish nationalism and Catholicism was put to the test when a pugnacious new republicanism emerged after the 1916 Easter rising. When the IRA and the crown forces became involved in a guerilla war between 1919 and 1921, priests had to define their position anew.

Using a wealth of source material, much of it newly available, this book assesses the clergy's response to political violence. It describes how the image of shared victimhood at the hands of the British helped to contain tensions between the clergy and the republican movement, and shows how the links between Catholicism and Irish nationalism were sustained.


'A riveting publication'
Dublin Review of Books, December 2016, Thomas FitzGerald is an Irish research council scholar at Trinity College Dublin

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