The history of witchcraft in Ireland is complex and varied. The belief in witchcraft and the practice of magic have been present in Ireland for centuries, with evidence of this dating back to ancient times. The ancient Celts of Ireland believed in the power of magic and the ability of certain individuals to wield it. In the Middle Ages, witchcraft was associated with the practice of folk magic and the use of charms and spells. The Irish Witchcraft Act of 1586 made witchcraft a capital offense in Ireland, and many people were persecuted and executed for practicing witchcraft during this time. During the 17th century, the belief in witchcraft began to decline in Ireland, but it remained a part of Irish folklore and tradition. Today, many people in Ireland still believe in the power of magic and the practice of witchcraft, although it is not considered a mainstream belief or practice.
Ireland has had several famous historical figures associated with witchcraft and magic throughout its history. Some notable examples include:
Biddy Early, also known as Bridget Cleary, was an Irish folk healer and wise woman who lived in the 19th century. She was known for her healing abilities and her use of traditional herbs and remedies.
Mary Behan, also known as Mary Ann Houlden, was an Irish witch who lived in the 19th century. She was known for her ability to cast spells and curses, and was said to have been able to control the weather.
Gráinne Ní Mháille, also known as Gráinne Mhaol, was a 16th-century Irish pirate queen and leader of the O'Malley clan. She was known for her fierce and independent nature and was said to have used magic and charms to protect herself and her ships.
The Cailleach, is a figure in Irish mythology, is an old hag, a creator deity and goddess of winter, known for her control over the elements, she is often associated with witchcraft, magic and shapeshifting.
These are just a few examples of the many historical figures associated with witchcraft and magic in Ireland. It is important to note that many of these figures were also healers and used their knowledge of traditional remedies and herbs to help their communities, but were also associated with belief in magic, spell casting, curses and divination.