Congratulations to Dr Síle de Cléir (School of Culture and Communication) on the publication of her book Popular Catholicism in 20th-Century Ireland: Locality, Identity and Culture (Bloomsbury, October 2017).
For much of the 20th century, Catholics in Ireland spent significant amounts of time engaged in religious activities. This book documents their experience in Limerick city between the 1920s and 1960s, exploring the connections between that experience and the wider culture of an expanding and modernising urban environment.
Síle de Cléir discusses topics including ritual activities in many contexts: the church, the home, the school, the neighbourhood and the workplace. The supernatural belief underpinning these activities is also important, along with creative forms of resistance to the high levels of social control exercised by the clergy in this environment. De Cléir uses a combination of in-depth interviews and historical ethnographic sources to reconstruct the day-to-day religious experience of Limerick city people during the period studied. This material is enriched by ideas drawn from anthropological studies of religion, while perspectives from both history and ethnology also help to contextualise the discussion.
With its unique focus on everyday experience, and combination of a traditional worldview with the modernising city of Limerick – all set against the backdrop of a newly-independent Ireland – Popular Catholicism in 20th-century Ireland presents a fascinating new perspective on 20th-century Irish social and religious history.