Islandmagee witch trial

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The Islandmagee witch trial took place in 1710–1711 on Islandmagee in what is today Northern Ireland. It is believed to have been the last witch trial to take place in Ireland.[1]

In March 1711, in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, eight women were put on trial and found guilty of witchcraft. The women were put in stocks and then jailed for one year. The trial was the result of a claim by Mrs. James Haltridge that 18-year-old Mary Dunbar exhibited signs of demonic possession such as "shouting, swearing, blaspheming, throwing Bibles, going into fits every time a clergyman came near her and vomiting household items such as pins, buttons, nails, glass and wool". Assisted by local authorities, Dunbar picked out eight women she claimed were witches that had attacked her in spectral form.[1][2]

According to Andrew Sneddon, history lecturer at University of Ulster, "Mary Dunbar was making up the whole thing". Sneddon wrote that "Mary Dunbar learned the part of a demoniac from accounts about Salem or Scotland, or someone told her about it. Remember, this was a time when people were pouring in from Scotland".[1]

Records of what happened to Mary Dunbar or those convicted of witchcraft may have been lost when the Public Records Office in question was burned down during the Irish Civil War.[1]

A memorial to the eight women convicted was proposed by the author Martina Devlin. However the memorial was objected to by TUV councillor Jack McKee who believed the plaque could become a "shrine to paganism" and furthermore stated that he wasn't convinced the women weren't guilty and that he believed the proposal to be "anti-god".[3]

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  1. ^ a b c d Cashin, Declan (26 May 2011). "The witches of Antrim". Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  2. ^ Andrew Sneddon. Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland. Palgrave Macmillan UK; 25 August 2015. ISBN 978-1-137-31917-3. p. 70–.
  3. ^ McDonald, Henry (5 February 2015). "Christian councillor objects to Islandmagee 'witches' plaque". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-08.