A Nation of Beggars
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This book concerns Lord John Russell’s efforts to improve the lot and status of Irish Catholics by changes in the landlord and tenant system and particualarly by improving the status of the Catholic Church. It is the first full scholarly account of the role of the Catholic Church in the Great Famine of 1846 and its aftermath. Donal Kerr shows how the Famine and consequent evictions led to rural violence and assassination, culminating in the notorious murder of Major Mahon, which the local parish priest was accused of inciting and blessing. A savage campaign of denuciation in press and parliament, and the belief that Pope Pius IX had blessed the struggle of oppressed nationalities, led many priests to become involved in the lead-up to the Young Ireland Rebellion. These years, too, saw a sharpening of religious tensions as Professor Kerr’s scholarly and incisive analysis charts the souring of relations between Church and State and the destruction of Lord John Russell’s dream of bringing a golden age to Ireland.