In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ireland

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Electronic Resources
  • Guides and Bibliographies
  • Nineteenth-Century Histories and Anthologies
  • Early Modern Ireland’s Historiography
  • General Histories and Overviews
  • General Collections
  • Ireland and the Tudors: Politics, Reform, and Governance
  • Nine Years’ War
  • Colonization, Violence, and the Law
  • Plantation
  • Politics in Ireland from 1603 to 1690
  • 1641 Uprising
  • Ireland in the 1640s: Confederacy and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
  • Cromwellian Ireland
  • Restoration Ireland
  • The Williamite Wars and Settlement
  • The Jacobites
  • Lords, Lordships, and Biographical Studies
  • Social and Economic
  • Gender
  • Cultural
  • Intellectual
  • Literature
  • Print and Oral Cultures
  • Cartographic
  • Archaeology and Material Culture

Renaissance and Reformation Ireland
Sarah Covington, Angela Kun-Gazda
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 October 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0473


The years since the early 1980s have witnessed an efflorescence in studies of 16th- and 17th-century Ireland, which constitutes one of the most dynamic and exciting fields in all of Early Modern historiography. The period was not exactly neglected before, especially since the period was probably the most formative in Ireland’s history, as the country experienced conquest and resistance, violence and accommodation, transformations in religion and politics, impositions of plantations and enormous land confiscation, and other social, political, and economic upheavals. While the primary source base in studying the country and the period remains challenging, particularly with the destruction of records in the 1922 Public Record Office fire, new perspectives and methodologies have revolutionized the field. As a result, Ireland can no longer be ignored by any student of Early Modern Europe, nor can studies of England, Europe, or the Atlantic neglect the country’s impact and presence, as they once tended to do. Ireland in these centuries lends itself well to the currents that have dominated historical writing since the 1970s. Older histories of England, Scotland, and Ireland tended to be insular, which was particularly egregious in textbooks of English history, since the “reform” or reconquest of Ireland was deeply important to the Tudors, for example. The country, of course, also played a central role in the mid-17th-century conflict that came to be known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In addition, and thanks to the work of D. B. Quinn and especially Nicholas Canny, studies of the nascent British empire, and especially its origins in the Atlantic world, have now incorporated Ireland into the picture, especially when economic systems such as plantation, or ideological justifications of civility, were first formulated there. Social history, the history of mentalities, gender, material culture, postcolonialism in literary scholarship, historical geography, cultural history, the linguistic turn, and new attention paid to the Irish language and Gaelic poetry: all of these approaches have enriched our understanding of the time and the country, due in great part to a “golden age” of pioneer historians such as Nicholas Canny, Brendan Bradshaw, Steven Ellis, Colm Lennon, and Ciaran Brady. Many of them continue to produce vital and innovative studies in the early 21st century, alongside a new generation of scholars inspired by their work. Debates have also enriched as well as divided our picture of Early Modern Ireland. Was the country a kingdom—it received the title in 1541—or a colony? Or was Ireland an English administrative problem, much like other “border” zones such as Wales? What were the relations between native and newcomer, or between the Gaelic Irish and Old English (Anglo-Norman-descended settlers) on the one hand, and the New English settlers on the other? Did Oliver Cromwell deserve his hated reputation in Ireland, or could his role in the 1650s be modified in comparison to the actions of his underlings? These are a few of the most basic debates, though this select bibliography contains works that engage these and other arguments.


Irish history and culture are well represented in a number of journals; while none are devoted specifically to the Early Modern period and many tend to skew medieval or modern, they nevertheless provide an extensive and steady stream of articles covering the era. Students should also consult local archaeological journals from the 19th century to the present, many of which contain valuable information on the 16th and 17th centuries. Among the older journals, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy continues to publish innovative historical and archaeological essays, while Analecta Hibernica and Archivium Hibernicum offer storehouses of original primary source material. Irish Historical Studies remains the lodestar of scholarly articles, though Irish Economic and Social History is especially good in its focus on economics. Studies meanwhile centers on religion, while more international journals such as Éire-Ireland, the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, and Études Irlandaises offer interdisciplinary perspectives as well. History Ireland and Breac are more recent presences in the field, offering excellent open-access digital coverage.

  • Analecta Hibernica. 1930–.

    Published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, this journal focuses on shorter historical manuscripts, lists, and reports.

  • Archivium Hibernicum. 1912–.

    A journal that publishes primary sources not only from Ireland but across the international spectrum, often in translation and with commentary. Catalogues and biographical registers are published as well.

  • Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies. 2013–.

    Founded in 2013, this open-access, peer-reviewed digital journal offers articles and reviews as well as an annual updated bibliography of recent works in the field.

  • Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. 1974–.

    The official journal for the Canadian Association for Irish Studies, this periodical focuses on Canada but also offers good coverage to the Early Modern in its interdisciplinary articles and reviews.

  • Éire-Ireland. 1966–.

    First established in 1966, Éire-Ireland is another leading journal in the field of Irish studies, publishing interdisciplinary articles covering Ireland and Irish America.

  • Études Irlandaises. 1975–.

    A twice-yearly peer-reviewed journal that publishes in English, French, and Irish and covers Irish history, literature, and culture.

  • Historical Journal. 1958–.

    Covering British, European, and world history from the 15th century onward, Historical Journal frequently offers important and historiographically informed articles relating to Irish history.

  • History Ireland. 1993–.

    Covering a wide variety of topics in often provocative and thought-provoking essays, History Ireland also covers reviews and presents a good picture of the latest scholarship in the field.

  • Irish Economic and Social History. 1974–.

    Sponsored by the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland, this journal covers Ireland from the Middle Ages through to the present, with articles, review essays, reviews, abstracts of recent postgraduate theses, and an annual bibliography on Irish economic and social history.

  • Irish Historical Studies. 1938–.

    The premiere and authoritative journal of Irish history, founded in 1938 by T. W. Moody and R. Dudley Edwards. IHS publishes original peer-reviewed research as well as articles, select annotated documents, and reviews.

  • Past & Present. 1952–.

    Oxford University Press’s journal covers history around the world, though it had also provided important coverage to Ireland in the Early Modern period, publishing some of the leading scholars in the field.

  • Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 1836–.

    Emphasizing archaeology, history, linguistics, and material culture, this storied journal is also valuable for its historiographical essays, inclusions of talks, and themed issues.

  • Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. 1912–.

    Focusing on Christianity and published by the Irish Jesuits, this periodical covers literature, history, and philosophy as well as religion.

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