Curran, Daragh Emmett
A society in transition: The Protestant community in Tyrone 1836-42.
PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
This thesis deals with the transition that was taking place in Protestant society in the immediate pre-famine period in County Tyrone. It explores how this community, at all social levels, reacted to the changes that were occurring and which were considered detrimental to its position of dominance in society. These changes had the potential to dramatically affect the traditional paternalistic relationship that bound the lower classes to their social betters and this study examines how this relationship survived through economic recession, changes in law and order, increasing concessions being granted to Catholics, lessening government support for the Protestant Church, and the suppression of the dominant Protestant association of the time- the Orange Order.
The Order played an integral part in the lives of many Protestants and was an organization that transcended the class divide. Because of this, it becomes the pivot around which this work revolves as the Order, with its wide-stretching network, helped maintain the patriarchal relationship that bound the classes together. It is also a useful tool through which to examine attitudes towards law and order within the Protestant community as changes within this area, especially within the magistracy, affected the upper classes, the very people that the lower classes looked to for guidance. How this guidance manifested itself is reflected on the political stage as part of the elite used the mob as a political tool to serve its own needs. Despite eventual dissolution, the Order remained strong in many areas which further highlights its popularity amongst Protestants in County Tyrone.
The study concludes that despite the dramatic changes being experienced within the Protestant community, the traditional hierarchal structure remained and that
while the relationship between the classes was slowly unravelling, it remained, largely because of the Orange Order, unaltered in Tyrone in the immediate pre-famine era.
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