From larceny and concealed births, to indecent assault and attempted suicide: An analysis of rural crimes committed in three small Irish villages between 1941-1943
Keywords:rural crime, police, Gardaí, Ireland, 1940s
This article explores an under-researched area within Irish criminology: rural crime during the 1940s. It analyses a volume of recorded rural crimes that were committed in an area encompassing three small Irish rural villages between the years 1941-1943. Set against the backdrop of World War II and Ireland’s state of emergency, many crimes committed were larceny, relatively minor in nature and related to “culprits” living in, or perhaps trying to survive the hardships of war, poverty and rationing. However, other crimes, such as embezzlement, indecent assault, concealment of birth, attempted suicide and sacrilege also feature within the volume. Examining these crimes provides a vignette into Ireland’s past, shining light on what Irish social life was like for some individuals and groups living through a state of emergency in a small rural area and in a society dominated by religiosity. Crime and sin were deeply intertwined at this time. The volume also provides some insight into the habitus of those who recorded the crimes: Gardaí who were exclusively male, predominantly Catholic and who policed with moral authority that was bestowed upon them by State and Church.
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