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The primary focus of this book is subversive law from the Land War period to the establishment of the Dáil courts. More specifically, Subversive law in Ireland explores the extent to which various practices and institutions mimicked, paralleled, appropriated, parodied, subverted and displaced the official system of law in Ireland.
It has long been recognized that law was one of the main mediums for the implementation of English rule in Ireland. What is less widely acknowledged is that law was also a fundamental component of anti-colonial resistance, with the concept of an alternative system of control capable of supplanting a despised legal system functioning as one of the most sustained threats to successive administrations. Resistance to official law created a space for the establishment of alternative legal concepts and structures that monitored and regulated the behaviour of rural communities. These systems of control included such diverse practices and institutions as boycotting, 'unwritten law', Land League courts, National League courts, United Irish League courts and Dáil courts.