Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Upcoming Lecture 28 February : Inspired language – cursing, swearing and blessing in early modern Waterford and Kilkenny.

Inspired language – cursing, swearing and blessing in early modern Waterford and Kilkenny.

A lecture by Dr Clodagh Tait

Time: 8 pm 

Venue : St Patrick’s Gateway Centre, Waterford 

Irish cursing traditions are often treated in a lighthearted way. 
One nineteenth-century observer commented that ‘Irish curses are always picturesque’. 
But close examination of accounts of the ritual curse and of other acts of ill-wishing, reveals 
deep fears about their power, danger and potential to cause real harm. Traditions of cursing in
 the Waterford and Kilkenny area are recorded as far back as the medieval period, and 
continue to the present day. In her lecture Dr Tait will give an overview of Irish cursing traditions,
 and will focus in particular on the seventeenth century. 
Strong belief in the power of the parental blessing and the parental curse can be found in the 
surviving wills and letters of this period. Looking at the language of cursing and blessing as used
 in family documents tells us much about understandings about the relationship between parents and 
children in this period, about the cultural resources used by fathers to attempt to guide or control their 
children and wives, and about ideas about love and duty in early modern families.

Clodagh Tait lectures in History at Mary Immaculate College, having previously worked in the 
University of Essex and UCD. She is the author of Death, Burial and Commemoration in Ireland,
 1550-1650, and co-editor of Age of Atrocity, and Religion and Politics in Urban Ireland, and has
 published articles on a variety of early modern topics including women, maternity, infant care, 
death, commemoration, martyrdom, belief and crowd violence. She wrote the chapter on 'Society
 1550-1700' in the second volume of the Cambridge History of Ireland. 
Her current projects include a history of Irish cursing and ill-wishing between 1550 and 1950 and 
a study of the supernatural labours of Irish mothers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society, Ireland.
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