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The Catholics Of Ulster Paperback – February 21, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Marianne Elliott was born a Catholic in Ulster, and this history of her people--The Catholics of Ulster--will change the world's view of the nationalist Catholics in that province of Northern Ireland. Elliott's revisionist claims are many, and they are large. She denies the proposition that there was any such thing as a Gaelic Catholic race. She argues that Catholic gentry disappeared not because they were exiled and dispossessed by their Protestant neighbors, but because they were converted. She claims that the Penal Laws were not intentionally anti-Catholic. She believes that the English were not substantially to blame for the Potato Famine. And she claims that the IRA has never enjoyed much popular support. These arguments are part of a detailed, comprehensive history of Ireland's tangled Troubles that she makes as clear as one could hope for. Elliott's unwillingness to reduce Ulster's story to any simple opposition between good and bad is unwavering. And her gift for self-criticism, suggested in the book's prologue ("I have discovered in myself lingering prejudices and sensitivities which I either believed I had left far behind or never recognized in the first place"), informs every chapter. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Early in the 1990s, Elliott (modern history, Liverpool Univ.) was invited to work with the Opsahl Commission, a group seeking to advance mutual understanding between belligerent factions in Northern Ireland. This book is her attempt to enhance the peace process through historical understanding. She begins with the pre-Christian era and maintains that conflicts in the geographically isolated Ulster have resulted from political, economic, and cultural differences as well as simply religious ones. Catholicism, she argues, should not be equated with political rebellion against British rule. Nevertheless, she shows that Catholicism in Ulster is caught in a Gaelic cultural trap, which locks it into a 19th-century nationalism. Unfortunately, much of the historical data that fills her book would make sense only to other historians of Ulster (as when she identifies T. Wolfe Tone, the supposed founder of Irish Republican Nationalism, only as "Tone"), and her often general conclusions seem contradictory and therefore confusing. Thus, this book will only interest academics and not the everyday readers she might have wanted to reach. Academic libraries with large collections in Irish history should consider. James A. Overbeck, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (February 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019045
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,881,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Linda Mason Merle on April 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a family historian, I have spent a lot of time reading history in an attempt to understand what my ancestors experienced in Ulster. Some of them were Irish Catholics, some probably Scots Catholics who immigrated with the McDonalds, and they eventually became Ulster Presbyterians. But within the Presbyterian communities of the late 1700's, early 1800's were a lot of Irish surnames. How did this happen?
This book unmasks the truth behind both "Protestant" and Nationalist propagandized histories. Many of Elliott's conclusions are born out by my own family research.
If you want to read propaganda, then you can find plenty of it out there, but if you want to look beyond received history and into a past that is very different from what is commonly held, then this is the book for you.
It is probably not the first book to buy if you are new to the history of Ulster and /or Northern Ireland because it assumes you know the basics or received version of history and it is a response to it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A reader from Houston, TX on August 1, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading for everyone who purports to have an opinion on the causes and the solution to the Ulster conflict. The book is very much a revisionist history: Prof. Elliott's main thesis is that Ulster Catholics were not persecuted as severely as their mythology would indicate. She also shows how the actions of the Catholic Church over the past 150 years have had a negative influence on how Catholics perceive themselves. The two great strengths of the book are that it tells a coherent, though complex, story and that this story is substantiated by copious endnotes citing the sources. However, the book is not entirely objective. Furthermore, the subtle biases will be difficult to spot by anyone not already familiar with Ulster. Having been born there, I'm fairly well acquainted with Ulster history and politics. Three examples:

1) Some historical incidents of persecution are not mentioned at all, or are simply de-emphasized e.g. the savagery of the Cromwellian forces after the siege of Drogheda (1649). Thus supporting the thesis that Catholic grievances are exaggerated.

2) On p. 225 Prof. Elliott says that `...Catholics felt that they could expect little from the law. At least that is what the United Irish propaganda machine now told them...' suggesting that Catholics were being misled by those elements who favored revolt against England. But on p. 224 she states that juries consistently favored Protestant vigilantes over Catholics, so evidently this part of the Ulster Catholic myth was not without foundation.

3) One of the most notorious incidents of brutality perpetrated by Catholics during the Troubles, the barbaric murder of two British soldiers by a Catholic mob, is illustrated by a large photograph.
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By RVG on March 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Elliot has done a masterful job of detailing the sorry history of the Catholics of Ulster. And the story is not yet completed. After a short review of the ancient history of the region, readers are carried through the ages of hyperactive discrimination by the British and the Protestants. The book is well balanced and avoids the potential for hyperbole. I was amazed at the number of "studies" conducted by organizations trying to figure out the truth and reasons behind this history and the media versions thereof. For a student of Ireland's tattered history, this book is a must read but beware, you will need disciplined patience to work your way through this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Ditz on November 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Marianne Elliot compiles an unique and thorough history of Catholocism in Ireland's most troubled province of Ulster. The information contained in this book is invaluable for anyone attempting to trace the roots of the current troubles in Northern Ireland, or with any serious interest in the history of this troubled island. This book is not for the casual reader, as Elliot's dry academic style could grow wearisome for those looking for a light, enjoyable read.
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