Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The The History of The Abduction Club: Part 1

As fan's of the film "The Abduction Club" naturally we want to know about the details surrounding the tag line "based on true events" so I have endeavoured to find out as much as possible about these real events. I have looked into the history of Ireland, the origin of the word 'abduction' along with researching the time period (1700's), the Irish Abduction and The Abduction Club. Most importantly my research focused on answering these key questions:

Was abduction a real problem in Ireland? When did it start- by whom?
What did the law/government do about it? Was it similar to the consequences faced by Byrne and Strang?
Did the Kennedy sisters really exist? If so were they actually abducted?
Did Byrne and Strang exist? Did they really abduct the Kennedy sisters?

I hope to answer these questions over the course of this week. I hope you enjoy these posts and don't mind a little history.

The History of The Abduction Club
Part 1: The word "Abduction"


ab-duc-tion (noun)

The action of forcibly taking someone away against their will (Oxford Dictionary)

The act of taking someone away by force or cunning (Collins English Dictionary)

While both these definitions are widely accepted today neither of them directly relate to the abducting of heiress' in Ireland. However it is said (New York Times) that if you were to obtain a much older (but reliable) dictionary you may find the definition is quite different:

Abduction, n.s, (from ab and duco,) the running away with an heiress.
See Ireland

Unfortunately I could not find a dictionary which was old enough to say this I thought it was extremely fascinating- and it clearly shows what a huge problem the issue of abducting was in Ireland.
If we were to break this definition up we can clearly see the differences from the two above.

1. We can see that the first two (newer definitions) speak of the forcible removal whereas the older one uses "the running away with".

I will touch on this more as I post more about the history of abduction in Ireland of the next few days but the heiress' actually on many occasions 'ran away' with their abductors. They were not reluctant- many finding it to be a very romantic gesture. It would make sense that this definition would have changed over time due to the change in the act of abducting- especially now as it considered a term used when one is taken away by force.

2. the use of the term heiress is used in the older definition

In saying this I am no authority on words or definitions I am purely basing what I am saying off personal experience- I find that definitions change, they change for many reasons but mainly to keep up with the ever changing world. Therefore I infer that the inclusion of the term heiress in the older definition shows us that this problem/issue of abducting heiress was quite common. And due to the changing times (the abduction of heiress' being a very quite rare) there is an omittance of the term in the newer definition.

3. the addition of further information- See Ireland

A quite self explanatory addition in the older version, which is really answers the first question I asked at the beginning of this post- Was abduction a real problem in Ireland? If the abduction of heiress' were a rare occurrence in Ireland, I personally do not think that it would be necessary to include a note stating "See Ireland" in it. This issue must have been on a large scale and...one again this is an inference on my part I believe that the term "abduction" was one that was social accepted as going hand-in-hand with the Irish Abduction.


The word "abduction'' is derived from the word 'abducere' meaning to lead away. It is said to have been used as early as the 1620's but was most common from the 1700's onwards. This places the usage of the word directly in the time period as the Irish Abduction's were happening. I also found that the term 'abduction' had many uses until the mid 1700's after which it was more used a surgery in terms of the illegal activity- it is very possible that the Irish abduction's caused this usage movement.

I hope that I did not squeeze too much information into the one post. I have tried to split the posts into more digestible portions. I hope that you found it interesting.

Love Mel

Note: Please keep in mind, that I am not a historian or an authority on word origins and definitions and that I don't know all that much about the history of Ireland. A lot of what I have stated above is my own inference and I am speaking as a fan of the film who is just trying to separate the truths from those which are fabricated.

1 comment:

Miss Laurie said...

This post is right up my alley! I love researching things, especially the origins and usages of words (and names as you know)! You did a wonderful job at explaining the word "abduction"!
I wish I had an old dictionary as well, but alas, they are quite hard to find! When I want to look up the etymology of a word I usually head over to http://www.etymonline.com because they have a wonderful database of English words. The results for the word "abduct" are very interesting although they don't mention an "heiress" as all.
Can't wait to read the next parts in this series!

~Miss Laurie :)