appreciated, as did Owen, the true nature of the rebellion. The Confederates at Kilkenny are repeatedly castigated for their hostility and blind insensitivity to Owen, and their Supreme Council is condemned for its 'foolish' refusal 'to trust the leadership to an Ulsterman'. Yet, even Ulstermen are not exempt from blame. It was Sir Phelim O'Neill's deep-rooted envy of Owen that caused him to desert the cause at critical times. Ever MacMahon, the bishop of Clogher, was a scheming provincial lacking the vision of 'his friend and patron', whom he so easily betrayed. And so on. throughout a large cast of characters amongst whom not even Rinuccini, Owen's staunchest ally, escapes unscathed. Casway is not entirely uncritical of his subject. but even the failings he conscientiously notes-stubbornness, caution, aloofness-are mere peccadilloes lending texture and grain to an idealised portrait. Through all this, Casway avoids a conclusion that emerges unmistakably from his own meticulous researches: that Owen Roe O'Neill was a dangerous, powerful and uncompromising outsider. An exile who arrived late to participate in a rebellion he himself had failed to foment, he acquired his place of leadership only because the indigenous rebels had themselves failed to attain their objectives and were now desperately in need of military skills and supports in order to keep the rebellion alive. From this narrow but exceedingly influential vantage point, O'Neill pursued his particular radical ambition, eschewing compromise with all other parties until at last there was no room left for compromise at all. A clue to the source of this biography's unbalanced view of O'Neill may be found in its very title. For the central organizing principle of the book-the concept of a single Catholic Ireland-is, in the context of the 1640s, quite artificial. In those years, Ireland's Catholics, Clanrickard, Castlehaven, Inchiquin, Richard Bellings, Ever MacMahon, Phelim O'Neill and Owen Roe, all pursued visions of an Ireland that were very different and often wholly opposed to one another; and however much it may have acquired a retrospective authority in the afterglow of history, Owen Roe's vision was of a decidedly singular kind. Catholicism in Ireland in the 1640s was not the ideal unifying force which many, including Dr. Casway, believe it ought to have been; it was rather a source of profound confusion and division, persuading some of a common interest where none really lay, and forcing others to erect distinctions where none had existed before. CIARAN BRADY Trinity College, Dublin ANNALS OF THE LABOURING POOR: SOCIAL CHANGE AND AGRARIAN ENGLAND. 1660-1900. By K. D. M. Snell. Cambridge University Press, 1985. Pp. 464. £ 30.00. When Gibbon presented the second volume of his Roman Empire to the duke of Gloucester, the latter did little more than retort that here was 'Another damned thick, square book'. Dr. Snell's impressive work, if not square, is certainly thick,