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Growing Up in Nineteenth-Century IrelandA Cultural History of Middle-Class Childhood and Gender$
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Mary Hatfield

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198843429

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198843429.001.0001

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Religion, Sectarianism, and the Wild Irish Child

Religion, Sectarianism, and the Wild Irish Child

(p.55) 2 Religion, Sectarianism, and the Wild Irish Child
Growing Up in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Mary Hatfield

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines representations of the Irish Catholic family in print, focusing on cheaply produced religious pamphlets and advice literature. Predictably, this kind of didactic material is strongly sectarian in nature and illustrates how childcare served as a barometer of civilized behaviour. Children in these narratives are objects in need of reform, serving as exemplars of all that was right and wrong with Irish character. The confessional divide in Irish society was wide and contributed to the unique quality of Irish childhood. However, it was not as simple as the mere dichotomy of Protestant and Catholic might suggest. While denominational loyalties were fundamental, there was another process of social differentiation happening alongside sectarian conflict and this chapter highlights the shifting narratives of class and childhood across the first four decades of the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   Protestant, Catholic, sectarian, religious childhoods, civilizing discourses, Irish education, parenting, state-sponsored education, pedagogy, Catholic family, childhood

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