Killing in Ireland at the turn of the centuries: contexts, consequences and civilizing processes
12T13:08:00Z January 2015
Late nineteenth-century homicides in Ireland had several distinctive characteristics. They took place in every county, were largely a male preserve, and regularly involved elderly victims. Heavy drinking was a factor in many lethal squabbles and workplace disputes sometimes resulted in impulsive, but savage, attacks. Weapon use was uncommon and the range of penalties imposed by the courts was wide. In the closing decade of the twentieth century the overall level of homicide was lower and had become concentrated in and around the major cities. Victims were younger, shootings and stabbings were much more prevalent and sentences were significantly more severe. Alcohol continued to play an important role. This paper sets out what can be gleaned from official sources about the circumstances of killing on the island of Ireland during two decades separated by one hundred years. The emphasis is on the earlier period where, perhaps surprisingly, more complete police records are available. The analysis offers support for the theory of a civilizing process as advanced by Norbert Elias, integral to which is the proposition that spontaneous displays of aggression become less common over time.
Type of Material
Manchester University Press
Irish Economic and Social History
Status of Item
This item is made available under a Creative Commons License