Martyrs of Liberty: Open-Air Preaching and Popular Violence in Victorian Britain and Ireland
This chapter is about the rare times when street preaching provoked violence in Victorian Britain and Ireland. It focuses particularly on how the authorities in Ireland responded differently to such episodes, occurring from the 1850s to the 1890s, than the authorities in Britain did. The chapter argues that the British state in Ireland was surprisingly indulgent of evangelical street preachers, putting up with a degree of provocation and disorder that their counterparts in England and Scotland rarely tolerated. It offers several possible explanations for the state's different responses to street-preaching violence on the two islands, which take us beyond the question of preaching itself and into the very heart of British rule in Ireland. The street-preaching violence of the era nicely encapsulated the paradoxes and dilemmas of British rule in Victorian Ireland as a whole.