Witches and Witch Hunting in Ireland

An introduction to the evolution of the idea of witches and witch hunts in Medieval and Early Modern Ireland, from earliest sources to the nineteenth century.

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Online class which examines how the different cultures on the island of Ireland (Gaelic and English) viewed and dealt with witches, and the practice of witchcraft over several hundred years... and to what extent these views were gendered, classist and stemming from religious belief - led by Irish historian Dr. Gillian Kenny.

The use of witchcraft and popular magic were significant parts of Irish Protestant and Catholic culture in Ireland, which is explored in this class. The differences between these cultures in how they approached magical practitioners though can be striking. Throughout the lesson, sources such as literature, court records, church records and material objects (like witch bottles and spiritual middens) are used to teach about the representation of witches and witchcraft in Ireland across both Gaelic and English cultures in Ireland.

As is known Ireland did not enter wholeheartedly into the witch trials which ravaged Europe in the early modern period. And only a few trials were held here over several hundred years. The key question is why? This class explores precisely that. Why did the fear of demonic magic which pervaded much of the rest of Europe not affect Ireland so badly? In answering this we examine how Gaelic culture in particular viewed magic, and how their supernatural fears were directed more towards fairies than demons.

Topics covered include:
  • -- What is meant by witches and witchcraft in Ireland – medieval sources (literature, legal and religious mentions)
  • -- The trial of Alice Kyteler
  • -- The butter witches
  • -- The fairies, their attacks, fairy changelings and the evil eye
  • -- The rise of belief in demonic magic
  • -- The witch trials in seventeenth and eighteenth century Ireland
  • -- How the different views on witches and witchcraft influenced each other’s culture
  • -- Witchcraft belief into the modern period.

This Teaching is suitable for beginners, as well as those with more experience in this area, or in other traditions.

Your Course access enrollment below includes access to:
  • -- Presentation & Resource Slides
  • -- Class Video
  • -- Class Audio
  • -- Q&A Session (recorded during live class)
  • -- PDF Resources Sheet with clickable links, for further research.

You will get the unique perspective and learned experience of an Hon Research Associate at the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies in Trinity College Dublin, with a specialism in women’s lives in medieval and early modern Ireland and beyond.

This is a completely self-paced online course. You decide when you start and when you finish.

When you enroll in this class, you are receiving lifetime access (with a full 30 day money back guarantee).

Just click the big orange buttons on this page to enroll now!

Your Instructor

Dr. Gillian Kenny
Dr. Gillian Kenny

Dr. Gillian Kenny is an Hon Research Associate at the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies in Trinity College Dublin. Her specialism is women’s lives in medieval and early modern Ireland and beyond. She is also interested in the lives of those considered outsiders in the medieval world and is currently researching that topic. She has taught in both UCD and TCD and has appeared in and written on various historical topics both on TV and in newspapers/magazines as well as working on her own books and papers.

Course Curriculum

  Welcome & Orientation
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  Class Presentation (2 hours, multimedia)
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  Q&A Session (20 minutes, multimedia)
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  Please Let Us Know What You Think!
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Praise for Gillian's class 'From Battle Queens to Biddy Early', also available at the Irish Pagan School:

"That was wonderful, GRMA Dr. Kenny and Lora.. It was so informative and approachable, and the humor sprinkled throughout was great.. the last bit was really touching.. I got a bit choked up actually, which was a welcome surprise.. I am so grateful to have these authentic teachers and to be a part of this túath..."

- Salamander Croweye, IPS Student

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will my enrollment last for?
After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this version of the recordings for as long as you remain a member of the Irish Pagan School - across any and all devices you own. So, you can take your time, or get it all done quickly, and revisit it all whenever you want to - it's completely up to you.
What if I enroll, then change my mind?
If you are unsatisfied with your purchase for ANY reason, contact us within the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund, no questions asked. If you do require a refund, please just contact the Irish Pagan School directly, by email. We will deal with your request and refund your money with no problems!
Do I need to have Irish ancestry to study here?
No, absolutely not. We provide authentic connection to Ireland, with native or naturalised Irish teachers, for anyone who wishes to learn from us and is willing to put in the time and effort to do this properly... rather than grab a culturally appropriated quick fix.

Praise for Gillian's class 'From Battle Queens to Biddy Early', also available at the Irish Pagan School:

"Fantastic class. Very detailed. Teacher is very knowledgeable. Good resources."

- Juliet Monique Oberding, IPS Student

How to Get Access...

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