In this highly readable, informative and vigorous book, James O-Shea clarifies the difficult, wide-ranging and crucial role of the clergy in political and social movements of post-famine Ireland. The author uses as his focus the priests of County Tipperary on whom substantial documentation exists, but draws on material from all parts of Ireland. The resulting work is an intriguing study of Irish social history and a major account of the role of the Catholic Church in Ireland during the second half of the nineteenth century. Commencing with a study on clerical lifestyle, O'Shea examines the training of the seminarian, his social origins and educational regimes; the priest on mission, his living condition; the social and spiritual problems and finally the startling ecclesiastical reforms of the early 1850s. Four main issues dominate the book's political content: Electioneering; Irish Republicanism from 1798 to the turbulent relationship between the I.R.B. and the G.A.A. in the 1880s; the existence or non-existence of an Irish party at Westminster from 1850 to 1876; the Parnellite movement from 1877 to 1891. In all these areas O'Shea highlights the considerable role and influence of the priest. Finally the book deals with three major social issues of the nineteenth century: the unjustly neglected question of the poverty stricken labourer, the land questions from 1850 to 1876 and the Land War from 1877 to 1891. The book includes useful statistical tables, maps and illustrations together with an invaluable and informative 'Directory' of secular priests in Tipperary for the period.