A History of Marriage in Ireland, 1660-1925

Mary O'Dowd, M. Luddy

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This is a 180,000 word book on the history of marriage in Ireland, 1660-1925. Based on extensive original research in private and public archives in Ireland and England as well as online, the volume represents a major new contribution to Irish historiography. Although previous scholars have analysed marriage among aristocratic families in Ireland, this is the first academic study to focus on the middle and lower classes. We trace the process of making a marriage from courtship (including the practice of abduction of potential wives) and the negotiation of a dowry through to the wedding day and the nature of the relationships between husbands and wives. The final section of the book explores problems that arose in a marriage including domestic violence and the available procedures for divorce and desertion. None of these topics have been hitherto subjected to such detailed academic analysis.
A core theme of the volume is the changing legal structure relating to marriage and how this impacted on the way in which people regarded marriage and pre-marital sexual relations. One of our key arguments is that the image of Ireland as a chaste society in which there was little pre-marital sex or adultery is a development of the late nineteenth century. Cohabitation, bigamy and other forms of irregular unions were more common than has previously been assumed.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages380
Publication statusAccepted - 01 Jan 2019


  • marriage; gender

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