British History in the Long-eighteenth Century
 ‘Rusty old Queen Anne’s many suitors’: Firearms and inter-communal violence in Armagh, 1783-1790
Stephen Duane Dean Jr (King’s College London)
8 February 2012

This is a guest post by James Wilkinson, one of IHR Digital’s summer interns from the University of Leicester.

The focus of this seminar by Stephen Duane Dean jr is to address the impact of firearms, such as the Queen Anne musket on inter-communal violence in Armagh and the rest of Ireland, and factors which catalysed their growing ownership.

The Queen Anne Musket (1702-1714)

Some of these factors that Stephen explores are:

  • The fear factor of the rival religious community being armed,
  • a lack of respect for the biased courts and law,
  • occupying foreign garrison troops from England who couldn’t pacify the Catholics,
  • a quickly expanding population and little peaceful interaction between the Catholic and Protestant communities.

Firearms were a catalyst for violence in Irish communities, despite laws preventing Catholics from owning them. The law was not being enforced from the top except sporadic ineffective clampdowns, and as a result was attempted to be done locally which fractured communities. Furthermore checks for firearms by locals were mainly used as a cover for looting Catholic houses, which led to Catholics attempting to defend themselves and their property.

Was Armagh special? Stephen uses this case study to analyse the impact of firearms on an area with a pre-existing tradition of faction fighting between religious groups. Industry and employment led to increased expansion of populations of rival religious groups with overlapping religious days. Prosperity added to conflict as when the poor had money leftover they spent more time and money on alcohol and weaponry.

To listen to this podcast click here.