Irish Witchcraft and Demonology


When did witchcraft make its appearance in Ireland, and what was its progress therein?

It seems probable that this belief, together with certain aspects of fairy lore hitherto unknown to the Irish, and ideas relative to milk and butter magic, may in the main be counted as results of the Anglo-Norman invasion, though it is possible that an earlier instalment of these came in with the Scandinavians.

With our present knowledge we cannot trace its active existence in Ireland further back than the Kyteler case of 1324; and this, though it was almost certainly the first occasion on which the evil made itself apparent to the general public, yet seems to have been only the culmination of events that had been quietly and unobtrusively happening for some little time previously.

The language used by the Parliament with reference to the case of 1447 would lead us to infer that nothing remarkable or worthy of note in the way of witchcraft or sorcery had occurred in the country during the intervening century and a quarter.

For another hundred years nothing is recorded, while the second half of the sixteenth century furnishes us with two cases and a suggestion of several others…

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