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70 2 “The Naked Truth of This Trag­ i­ cal His­ tory” Cath­ o­ lic Inter­ pre­ ta­ tions of the Ris­ ing, c. 1641–c. 1865 There was of ­ course an­ other per­ spec­ tive on the ­ events of 1641. John Curry was a Cath­ o­ lic phy­ si­ cian in Dub­ lin who had ar­ gu­ ably en­ tered his pro­ fes­ sion by de­ fault; his grand­ father had ­ fought for James II, and the fam­ ily, who had lost most of their Cavan lands in the 1650s, were ­ stripped of their re­ main­ ing hold­ ings in the after­ math of the William­ ite war. Con­ se­ quently, ­ Curry’s ­ father be­ came a mer­ chant and Curry him­ self stud­ ied med­ i­ cine in Paris, even­ tu­ ally re­ turn­ ing to Dub­ lin where he ac­ quired a good rep­ u­ ta­ tion in his cho­ sen pro­ fes­ sion. But on 23 Oc­ to­ ber 1746, in the ­ grounds of Dub­ lin Cas­ tle, he came ­ across a scene that per­ haps pro­ pelled him into an­ other field of en­ deavor: As he ­ passed ­ through the ­ Castle-yard on the me­ mo­ rial day of the Irish re­ bel­ lion in 1641, he met two la­ dies, and a girl of about eight years of age, who step­ ping on a lit­ tle be­ fore them, ­ turned about sud­ denly, and, with up­ lifted hands and hor­ ror in her coun­ te­ nance, ex­ claimed, Are there any of those ­ bloody pa­ pists in Dub­ lin? This in­ ci­ dent, which to a dif­ fer­ ent ­ hearer would be laugh­ able, ­ filled the doc­ tor with anx­ ious re­ flec­ tions. He im­ me­ di­ ately in­ ferred that the ­ child’s ter­ ror pro­ ceeded from the im­ pres­ sion made on her mind by the ser­ mon ­ preached that day in ­ Christ-Church, ­ whence those la­ dies pro­ ceeded; and hav­ ing pro­ cured a copy of the ser­ mon, he “The Naked Truth of This Tragical History” 71 found that his sur­ mise was well ­ founded. In a ­ spirit very dif­ fer­ ent from that of the ­ preacher, he im­ me­ di­ ately, on re­ turn­ ing to his house, sat down to give some check to the ha­ tred and as­ per­ ity re­ vived in these an­ ni­ ver­ sary in­ vec­ tives from seats set apart for the prop­ a­ ga­ tion of truth and be­ nev­ o­ lence among men.1 The re­ sult of this, ap­ par­ ently, was the com­ po­ si­ tion of a se­ quence of works that col­ lec­ tively made up the most for­ mid­ able at­ tempt at ar­ tic­ u­ lat­ ing a Cath­ o­ lic per­ spec­ tive on Irish his­ tory in gen­ eral—and 1641 in par­ tic­ u­ lar—to be under­ taken since the seven­ teenth cen­ tury. The ac­ count of what ­ prompted this may or may not be true; it was writ­ ten by ­ Curry’s close as­ so­ ciate, the anti­ quary­ Charles ­ O’Conor, and there are in­ di­ ca­ tions in some of ­ Curry’s own works that it was in fact the ­ anti-Catholic at­ mos­ phere gen­ er­ ated by the Ja­ co­ bite re­ bel­ lion of 1745 that ­ spurred him into print. But the res­ o­ nance of the story was ­ strong­ enough to at­ tract the at­ ten­ tion of Wal­ ter Love two cen­ tu­ ries later. ­ Drafts of­ Love’s un­ fin­ ished work sur­ vive, in­ clud­ ing the pros­ pec­ tive open­ ing: an ev­ o­ ca­ tion of 23 Oc­ to­ ber 1746, with ­ Curry’s en­ coun­ ter with the fright­ ened young girl as the cen­ ter­ piece.2 Love rec­ og­ nized the sym­ bol­ ism of the en­ coun­ ter. For him it was a mo­ ment in which was re­ vealed the dis­ sent of Irish Cath­ o­ lics from a ver­ sion of his­ tory that ­ served to jus­ tify their of­ fi­ cial ex­ clu­ sion from po­ lit­ i­ cal and so­ cial ­ rights in­ eighteenth-century Ire­ land. Curry had ­ sought to re­ dress this im­ bal­ ance ­ through his own his­ tor­ i­ cal writ­ ings. His even­ tual cor­ pus of work made up one of the most com­ pre­ hen­ sive ref­ u­ ta...


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