Irish Witch Trials


Ireland is unique in the small number of witch trials it had --4, compared to thousands in Germany and other countries.

What caused this small number?  Although witches were still viewed as evil [34] they were few in number.  Many "supernatural" events were attributed to fairies in the first place [35].

Although Ireland did have an anti-witch ordinance, it was far less strict than those of other countries.

For instance, a person who was using witchcraft to cause damage to another's property would be jailed for a year rather than killed.  A person who used witchcraft to harm another person would be executed, but by more humane means: men were hanged or drawn and quartered, women were burned, but were strangled first [36]

"On the whole, considering the temper of the time, this Statute was exceedingly mild.  It made no provision whatsoever for the use of torture to extract evidence, nor indeed did it offer any particular encouragement to the witch hunter, whole the manner of inflicting the death penalty was precisely that for felong viz. hanging, drawing, and quartering for men, and burning (preceeded by strangulation) for women – sufficiently unpleasant, no doubt, but far more merciful than burning alive at the stake" [36].


Why was Ireland so lax about witchcraft?

I believe that the rich history of fairies, magical heroes, druids and all-around acceptance of the supernatural has created a society where people didn't point fingers at witches and respected their powers. 


The Irish culture combines the ancient traditions with the new Christian ideals to make a nation where both belief systems can exist simultaneously.  Some may call it superstition, but I think it is more of an ancient wisdom, a culture where things need not be black or white, which is reflected in their treatment of all subjects, especially witches.


Witch trials by country




Witch trials by country







Source for graphs: [37]
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