The Liberty and Ormond Boys

Factional Riot in Eighteenth-Century Dublin

By James Kelly

Compared with organised agrarian protest, factional disorder (rural and urban) in eighteenth-century Ireland has escaped close scrutiny. The Ormond and Liberty Boys have achieved a considerable measure of renown but the picture of them available to date is misleading and incomplete. The object of this study is to set the Liberty and Ormond Boys in their contemporary context. The conditions necessary to enable factions to develop and flourish in Dublin were in place by the 1720s, when the city was sufficiently developed physically and demographically to sustain the local and sectoral identities that faction required. Nonetheless, the growth of faction could not have taken place without the breakdown in the authority of the guilds or in the absence of recreational patterns that validated violence. Beginning with the emergence of the Kevan Bail in 1729, the city was periodically racked over the following sixty years by sharp busts of violence as the contending factions sought to establish which was dominant. As the best known and most enduring the interlinked histories of the Ormond and Liberty Boys provide the centre piece of this study, but the histories of a host of lesser known factions from all part of Dublin city and county are recovered in this, the first modern attempt to establish the nature and extent of urban faction and the purpose of the violence it spawned.

58 pages

Publication Date: 10/26/2005
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781851828975