ENGLISH

 



Volume 21


1867-70

November 1867-mid-July 1870

MECW Volume 21, p. 145

 

Works of Frederick Engels 1870

History of Ireland

 

Marx and Engels on the Irish Question between May and mid-July 1870; translated from the German, in Marx and Engels Archive, Moscow, 1948

 

History of Ireland is a fragment of a voluminous work Engels intended to write and on which he worked at the end of 1869 and during the first half of 1870. Engels studied a vast selection of literary and historical sources: the works of antique and medieval writers, annals, collections of ancient law codes, legislative acts and legal treatises, folklore, travellers’ notes, numerous works on archaeology, history, economics, geography, geology, etc. Engels’s bibliography, embracing over 150 titles, is selective and includes but a fraction of the sources he studied.

 

1.

Natural Conditions

At the north-western corner of Europe lies the land whose history will occupy us, an island of 1,530 German or 32,500 English square miles. But another island, three times as large, lies obliquely interposed between Ireland and the rest of Europe. For the sake of brevity we usually call this island England; it blocks Ireland off completely towards the north, east and south-east, and allows a free view only in the direction of Spain, Western France and America.

The channel between the two islands, 50-70 English miles wide at the narrowest points in the south, 13 miles wide at one point in the north and 22 miles wide at another, allowed the Irish Scots to emigrate from the north to the neighbouring island and to found the Kingdom of Scotland even before the fifth century. In the south it was too wide for Irish and British boats and a serious obstacle even for the flat-bottomed coastal vessels of the Romans. But when the Frisians, Angles and Saxons, and after them the Scandinavians, were able to venture beyond the sight of land on the open seas in their keeled vessels, this channel was an obstacle no longer; Ireland fell a victim to the raiding expeditions of the Scandinavians, and presented an easy booty for the English. As soon as the Normans had built up a powerful, unified government in England, the influence of the larger island made itself felt — in those times this meant a war of conquest.[1]

If during the war a period set in when England gained control of the sea, this precluded the possibility of successful foreign intervention.

When the larger island finally became unified into one state, the latter had to strive to assimilate Ireland completely.

If this assimilation had been successful, its whole course would have become a matter of history. It would be subject to its judgement but could never be reversed. But if after 700 years of fighting this assimilation has not succeeded; if instead each new wave of invaders flooding Ireland is assimilated by the Irish; if, even today, the Irish are as far from being English, or West Britons, as they say, as the Poles are from being West Russians after only 100 years of oppression; if the fighting is not yet over and there is no prospect that it can be ended in any other way than by the extermination of the oppressed race — then, all the geographical pretexts in the world are not enough to prove that it is England’s mission to conquer Ireland.

* * *

To understand the nature of the soil of present-day Ireland we have to return to the distant epoch when the so-called Carboniferous System was formed.

[Unless otherwise stated, all the geological data given here is from J. Beete Jokes, The Student’s Manual of Geology. New Edition. Edinburgh. 1862. Jukes was the local superior during the geological survey of Ireland and therefore the prime authority on this territory, which he treats in special detail.]

The centre of Ireland, to the north and south of a line from Dublin to Galway, forms a wide plain rising to 100-300feet above sea-level. This plain, the foundation so to say of the whole of Ireland, consists of the massive bed of limestone (carboniferous limestone), which forms the middle layer of the Carboniferous System, and immediately above which lie the coal-measures of England and other places.

In the south and the north, this plain is encircled by a mountain chain which extends mainly along the coast, and consists almost entirely of older rock-formations which have broken through the limestone. These older rock-formations contain granite, mica-slate, Cambrian, Cambro-Silurian, Upper-Silurian, Devonian, together with argillaceous slate and sandstone, rich in copper and lead, found in the lowest layer of the Carboniferous System; apart from this they contain a little gold, silver, tin, zinc, iron, cobalt, antimony and manganese.

The limestone itself rises to mountains only in a few places: it reaches 600feet in the centre of the plain, in Queen’s County,[2] and a little over 1,000 feet in the west, on the southern shore of Galway Bay (Burren Hills).

At several points in the southern half of the limestone plain there are to be found isolated coal-bearing mountain ridges of considerable extent and from 700 to 1,000 feet above sea-level. These rise from depressions in the limestone plain as plateaus with rather steep escarpments.

“The escarpments in these widely separated tracts of coal-measures are so similar, and the beds composing them so precisely alike, that it is impossible to suppose otherwise than that they originally formed continuous sheets of rock, although they are now separated by sixty or eighty miles ... This belief is strongly confirmed by the fact that there are often, between the two larger areas, several little outlying patches in which the coal-measures are found capping the summits of small hills, and that wherever the undulation of the limestone is such as to bring its upper beds down beneath the level of the present surface of the ground, we invariably find some of the lower beds of the coal-measures coming in upon them.” (Jukes, pp. 285-86)

Other circumstances, which are too detailed for us here and can be found in Jukes, pages 286-89, contribute to the certainty that the whole Irish central plain arose through denudation, as Jukes says, so that the lower layers of limestone were exposed after the coal-measures and the high limestone deposits — of an average thickness of at least 2,000-3,000 and possibly 5,000-6,000feet of stone — had been washed away. Jukes even found another small coal-measure on the highest ridge of the Burren Hills, County Clare, which are pure limestone and 1,000 feet high (p. 513).

Some fairly considerable areas containing coal-measures have survived in Southern Ireland; but only a few of these contain enough coal to justify mining. Moreover, the coal itself is anthracite, that is, it contains little hydrogen and cannot be used for all industrial purposes without some addition.

There are also several not very extensive coal-fields in Northern Ireland in which the coal is bituminous, that is, ordinary coal rich in hydrogen. Their stratification does not coincide exactly with that of the southern coal deposits. But a similar washing away process did occur even here. This is shown by the fact that large fragments of coal, as well as sandstone and blue clay belonging to the same formation, are to be found on the surface of limestone valleys to the south-east of such a coal-field in the direction of Belturbet and Mohill. Large blocks of coal have been discovered by well-sinkers in this area of the drift; and in some cases the quantity of coal was so considerable that it was thought that deeper shafts must lead to a coal-bed. (Kane, The Industrial Resources of Ireland, 2nd edition, Dublin, 1845, p. 265.)

It is obvious that Ireland’s misfortune is of ancient origin; it begins directly after the carboniferous strata were deposited. A country whose coal deposits are eroded, placed near a larger country rich in coal, is condemned by nature to remain for a long time the farming country for the larger country when the latter is industrialised. That sentence, pronounced millions of years ago, was carried out in this century. We shall see later, moreover, how the English assisted nature by crushing almost every seed of Irish industry as soon as it appeared.

More recent Secondary and Tertiary layers[3] occur almost exclusively in the north-east; amongst these we are interested chiefly in the beds of red marl in the vicinity of Belfast, which contain almost pure rock-salt to a thickness of 200 feet (Jukes, p. 554), and the chalk overlaid with a layer of basalt which covers the whole of County Antrim. Generally speaking, there are no important geological developments in Ireland between the end of the Carboniferous Period and the Ice Age.

It is known that after the Tertiary Epoch there was an era in which the low-lying lands of the medium latitudes of Europe were submerged by the sea, and in which such a low temperature prevailed in Europe that the valleys between the protruding island mountain tops were filled with glaciers which extended down to the sea. Icebergs used to separate themselves from these glaciers and carry rocks of all sizes which had been detached from the mountains, out to sea. When the ice melted, the rocks and other debris were deposited — a process still daily occurring on coasts of the polar regions.

During the Ice Age, Ireland too, with the exception of the mountain tops, was submerged by the sea. The degree of submergence may not have been the same everywhere, but an average of 1,000 feet below the present level can be accepted; the granite mountain chains south of Dublin must have been submerged by over 1,200 feet.

If Ireland had been submerged by only 500 feet, only the mountain chains would have remained exposed. These would then have formed two semi-circular groups of islands around a wide strait extending from Dublin to Galway. A still greater submergence would have made these islands smaller and decreased their number, until, at a submergence of 2,000 feet, only the most extreme tips would have risen above the water.

Ireland has an area of 32,509 English square miles. 13,243 square miles are 0-250 feet above sea-level; 11,797 are 251-500 feet above sea-level; 5,798 are 501-1,000 feet above sea-level; 1,589 are 1,001-2,000 feet above sea-level; 82 square miles are over 2,001 feet above sea-level.

As the submersion slowly proceeded, the limestone plains and mountain slopes must have been swept clean of much of the older rock covering them; subsequently there followed the depositing of the drift peculiar to the Ice Age on the whole of the area covered by water. Pieces of rock eroded from the mountain islands and fine fragments of rock scraped away by the glaciers as they pushed their way slowly and powerfully through the valleys — earth, sand, gravel, stones, rocks, worn smooth within the ice but sharp-edged above it — all this was carried out to sea and gradually deposited on the sea-bed by icebergs which were detaching themselves from the shore. The layer formed in this way varies according to circumstances and contains loam (originating from argillaceous slate), sand (originating from quartz and granite), limestone gravel (derived from limestone formations), marl (where finely-crumbled limestone mixes with loam) or mixtures of all these components; but it always contains a mass of stones of all sizes, sometimes rounded, sometimes sharp, ranging up to colossal erratic boulders, which are commoner in Ireland than in the North-German Plain or between the Alps and the Jura.

During the subsequent re-emergence of the land from the sea, this newly-formed surface was given roughly its present structure. In Ireland, little washing away appears to have taken place then; with few exceptions varying thicknesses of drift cover all the plains, extend into all the valleys, and are also often found high up on the mountain slopes. Limestone is the most frequently occurring stone in them, and for this reason the whole stratum is usually called limestone gravel here. Big blocks of limestone are also extensively strewn over all the lowlands, one or more in nearly every field; apart from limestone, a lot of other local rocks, especially granite, are naturally to be found near the mountains they originated from. From the northern side of Galway Bay granite appears commonly in the plain extending south-east as far as the Galty Mountains and more rarely as far as Mallow (County Cork).

The north of the country is covered with drift to the same height above sea-level as the central plain; a similar deposit, originating from the local, mainly Silurian rocks, is to be found between the various more or less parallel mountain chains running through the south. This appears plentifully in Flesk and Laune valley near Killarney.

The glacier tracks on the mountain slopes and valley bottoms are common and unmistakable, particularly in the south-west of Ireland. Only in Oberhasli and here and there in Sweden do I remember seeing more sharply-stamped ice-trails than in Killarney (in the Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe).

The emergence of the land during or after the Ice Age seems to have been so considerable that Britain was for a time connected by dry land not only with the Continent, but also with Ireland. At least this seems the only way the similarity between the fauna of these lands can be explained. Ireland has the following extinct large mammals in common with the Continent: the mammoth, the Irish giant stag, the cave-bear, a kind of reindeer, and so on. In fact, an emergence of less than 240 feet over the present level would be enough to connect Ireland with Scotland, and one of less than 360 feet would join Ireland and Wales with wide bridges of land.

See Map 15a in Stielers Handatlas, 1868.[4] This map, as well as No. 15d, specially of Ireland, picture the ground structure very clearly.

The fact that Ireland emerged to a higher level after the Ice Age than at present is proved by the underwater peat bogs with upright tree trunks and roots which occur all around the coast, and which are identical in every detail with the lowest layers of the neighbouring inland peat bogs.

* * *

From an agricultural point of view, Ireland’s soil is almost entirely formed from the drift of the Ice Age, which here, thanks to its slate and limestone origin, is not the barren sand with which the Scottish, Scandinavian and Finnish granites have covered such a large part of North Germany, but an extremely fertile, light loam. The variety in the rocks, whose decomposition contributed — and is still contributing to this soil, provides it with a corresponding variety of the mineral elements required for vegetable life; and if one of these, say lime, is greatly lacking in the soil, plenty of pieces of limestone of all sizes are to be found everywhere — quite apart from the underlying limestone bed — so it can be added quite easily.

When the well-known English agronomist, Arthur Young, toured Ireland in the 1770s, he did not know what amazed him more: the natural fertility of the soil or the barbaric manner in which the peasants cultivated it. “A light, dry, soft, sandy, loam soil” prevails where the land is good at all. In the “Golden Vale” of Tipperary and also elsewhere he found:

“the same sort of sandy reddish loam I have already described, incomparable land for tillage.” From there, in the direction of Clonmel, “the whole way through the — same rich vein of red sandy loam I have so often mentioned: I examined it in several fields, and found it to be of an extraordinary fertility, and as fine turnip land as ever I saw.”

Further:

“The rich land reaches from Charleville, at the foot of the mountains, to Tipperary, by Kilfenning, a line of twenty-five miles, and across from Ardpatrick to within four miles of Limerick, sixteen miles.” “The richest in the country is the Corcasses on the Maag, about Adair, a tract of five miles long, and two broad, down to the Shannon.... When they break this land up, they sow first oats, and get 20 barrels an acre, or 40 common barrels, and do not reckon that an extra crop; they take ten or twelve in succession, upon one ploughing, till the crops grow poor, and then they sow one of horse beans, which refreshes the land enough to take ten crops of oats more; the beans are very good.... Were such barbarians ever heard of?”

Further, near Castle Oliver, County Limerick,

“the finest soil in the country is upon the roots of mountains; it is a rich, mellow, crumbling, putrid, sandy loam, eighteen inches to three feet deep, the colour a reddish brown. It is dry sound land, and would do for turnips exceedingly well, for carrots, for cabbages, and in a word for everything. I think, upon the whole, it is the richest soil I ever saw, and such as is applicable to every purpose you can wish; it will fat the largest bullock, and at the same time do equally well for sheep, for tillage, for turnips, for wheat, for beans, and in a word, for every crop ... you must examine into the soil before you will believe that a country, which has so beggarly an appearance, can be so rich and fertile.”

On the river Blackwater near Mallow,

“there are tracts of flat land in some places one quarter of a mile broad; the grass everywhere remarkably fine.... It is the finest sandy land I have anywhere seen, of a reddish-brown colour, would yield the greatest arable crops in the world, if in tillage; it is five feet deep, and has such a principle of adhesion, that it burns into good brick, yet it is a perfect sand.... The banks of this river, from its source to the sea, are equally remarkable for beauty of prospect, and fertility of soil.” ‘Triable, sandy loams, dry but fertile, are very common, and they form the best soils in the kingdom, for tillage and sheep. Tipperary and Roscommon abound particularly in them. The most fertile of all are the bullock pastures of Limerick, and the banks of the Shannon in Clare, called the Corcasses.... Sand, which is so common in England, and yet more common through Spain, France, Germany, and Poland, quite from Gibraltar to Petersburg, is nowhere met with in Ireland, except for narrow slips of hillocks, upon the sea coast. Nor did I ever meet with, or hear of a chalky soil.” [Arthur Young, A Tour in Ireland, 3 vols. London, 177 ..., Vol. 2, pp. 28, 135, 143, 154, 165; Vol. 2, Part II, p. 4.]

Young’s judgement on the soil of Ireland is summarised in the following sentences:

“If I was to name the characteristics of an excellent soil, I would say that upon which you may fat an ox and feed off a crop of turnips. By the way, I recollect little or no such land in England, yet it is not uncommon in Ireland.” (Vol. 2, p. 271.) — “Natural fertility, acre for acre over the two kingdoms, is certainly in favour of Ireland.” (Vol. 2, Part 11, p. 3.) — “As far as I can form a general idea of the soil of the two kingdoms, Ireland has much the advantage.” (Vol. 2, Part 11, p. 9.)

In 1808-10, Edward Wakefield, an Englishman likewise versed in agronomy, toured Ireland and recorded the result of his observations in a valuable work. [Edward Wakefield, An Account of Ireland, Statistical and Political, London, 1812, 2 vols.] His remarks are better-ordered, more extensive and fuller than those in Young’s travel-book; on the whole, both agree.

Wakefield found little disparity in the nature of the soil in Ireland on the whole. Sand occurs only on the coast (it is so seldom found inland that large quantities of sea sand are transported inland for improving the turf and loam soils); chalky soil is unknown (the chalk in Antrim is, as has already been mentioned, covered with a layer of basalt, the products of the decomposition of which produce a highly fertile soil. In England the chalky soils are the worst), “. . . tenacious clays, such as those found in Oxfordshire, in some parts of Essex, and throughout High Suffolk, I could never meet with. ...” The Irish call all loamy soils clay; there might be real clay in Ireland as well, but not on the surface as in several parts of England in any case. Limestone or limestone gravel is to be found everywhere. “The former is a useful production, and is converted into a source of wealth that will always be employed with advantage.” Mountains and peat bogs certainly reduce the fertile surface considerably. There is little fertile land in the north; yet even here there are highly luxuriant valleys in every county, and Wakefield unexpectedly found a highly fertile tract even in furthest Donegal amongst the wildest mountains. The extensive cultivation of flax in the north is in itself sufficient proof of fertility, as this plant does not thrive in poor soil.

“A great portion of the soil in Ireland throws out a luxuriant herbage, springing up from a calcareous subsoil, without any considerable depth. I have seen bullocks of the weight of 180 stone, rapidly fattening on land incapable of receiving the print of a horse’s foot, even in the wettest season, and where there were not many inches of soil. This is one species of the rich soil of Ireland, and is to he found throughout Roscommon, in some parts of Galway, Clare, and other districts. Some places exhibit the richest loam that I ever saw turned up by a plough; this is the case throughout Meath in particular. Where such soil occurs, its fertility is so conspicuous, that it appears as if nature had determined to counteract the bad effects produced by the clumsy system of its cultivators. On the banks of the Fergus and Shannon, the land is of a different kind, but equally productive, though the surface presents the appearance of a marsh. These districts are called ‘the caucasses’ (so designated by Wakefield as distinct from Young); the substratum is a blue silt, deposited by the sea, which seems to partake of the qualities of the upper stratum; for this land can be injured by no depth of ploughing.

“In the counties of Limerick and Tipperary there is another kind of rich land, consisting of a dark, friable, dry, sandy loam which, if preserved in a clean state, would throw out corn for several years in succession. It is equally well adapted to grazing and tillage, and I will venture to say, seldom experiences a season too wet, or a summer too dry. The richness of the land, in some of the vales, may be accounted for by the deposition of soil carried thither from the upper grounds by the rain. The subsoil is calcareous, so that the very richest manure is thus spread over the land below, without subjecting the farmer to any labour.” (Vol. I, pp. 79, 80.)

If a thinnish layer of heavy loam lies directly on limestone, the land is not suited to tillage and bears only a miserable crop of grain, but it makes excellent sheep-pastures. This improves it further by producing a thick grass mixed with white clover and. ... [There is an omission in the manuscript. According to Wakefield it is “wild burnet"] (Vol. I, p. 80.)

Dr. Beaufort [Beaufort, Revd. Dr., Memoir of a Map of Ireland, 1792, pp. 75-76. Quoted in Wakefield, Vol. I, p. 36.] states that there occur in the west, particularly in Mayo, many turloughs — shallow depressions of different sizes, which fill with water in the winter, although not visibly connected with streams or rivers. In the summer this drains away through underground fissures in the limestone, leaving luxurious firm grazing-ground.

“Independently of the caucasses,” Wakefield continues, “the richest soil in Ireland is to be found in the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, Roscommon, Longford, and Meath. In Longford there is a farm called Granard Kill, which produced eight crops of potatoes without manure. Some parts of the County of Cork are uncommonly fertile, and upon the whole, Ireland may be considered as affording land of an excellent quality, though I am by no means prepared to go the length of many writers, who assert, that it is decidedly acre for acre richer than England.” (Vol. I, p. 81.)

The last observation, directed against Young, rests on a misunderstanding of Young’s opinion, quoted above. Young does not say that Ireland’s soil is more productive than England’s, each taken in their present state of cultivation — which is naturally far higher in England; Young merely states that the natural fertility of the soil is greater in Ireland than in England. This does not contradict Wakefield.

After the last famine, in 1849, Sir.[The word “Ministry” appears above the “Sir"] Robert Peel sent a Scottish agronomist, Mr. Caird, to Ireland to report on means of improving agriculture there. In a publication issued soon afterwards he said about the west of Ireland — the worst stricken part of the country apart from the extreme north-west:

“I was much surprised to find so great an extent of fine fertile land. The interior of the country is very level, and its general character stony and dry; the soil dry and friable. The humidity of the climate causes a very constant vegetation, which has both advantages and disadvantages. It is favourable for grass and green crops,["green crops” embrace all cultivated fodder crops, as well as carrot, beetroot, turnip and potato, that is, everything except corn, grasses and garden plants] but renders it necessary to employ very vigorous and persevering efforts to extirpate weeds. The abundance of lime everywhere, both in the rock itself, and as sand and gravel beneath the surface, are of the greatest value.”

Caird also confirms that County Westmeath consists of the finest pasture land. Of the region north of Lough Corrib (County Mayo) he writes:

“The greater part of this farm” (a farm of 500 acres) “is the finest feeding land for sheep and cattle-dry, friable, undulating land, all on limestone. The fields of rich old grass are superior to anything we have, except in small patches, in any part of Scotland I at present remember. The best of it is too good for tillage, but about one half of it might be profitably brought under the plough.... The rapidity with which the land on this limestone subsoil recovers itself, and, without any seeds being sown, reverts to good pasture, is very remarkable”

[Caird, The Plantation Scheme, or the West of Ireland as a Field for Investment, Edinburgh, 1850. He also wrote travel reports on the condition of agriculture in the main counties of England for The Times of 1850-51. The above quotations are found on pp. 6, 17-18, 121]

Finally we note a French authority [Léonce de Lavergne, Rural Economy of England, Scotland and Ireland. translated from the French, Edinburgh, 1855]:

“Of the two divisions of Ireland, that of the north-west, embracing a fourth of the island, and comprehending the province of Connaught, with the adjacent counties of Donegal, Clare, and Kerry, resembles Wales, and even, in its worst parts, the Highlands of Scotland. Here again are two millions of unsightly hectares, the frightful aspect of which has given rise to the national proverb, ‘Go to the devil or Connaught’. [This expression, as will be seen later, owes its origin not to the dark mountains of Connaught, but to the darkest period in the entire history of Ireland.[5]] The other, or south-east and much larger division, since it . : . includes the provinces of Leinster, Ulster, and Munster, equal to about six millions of hectares, is at least equal in natural fertility to England proper. It is not all, however, equally good; the amount of humidity there is still greater than in England. Extensive bogs cover about a tenth of the surface; more than another tenth is occupied with mountains and lakes. In fact, five only out of eight millions of hectares in Ireland are cultivated (pp. 9, 10). Even the English admit that Ireland, in point of soil, is superior to England.... Ireland contains eight millions of hectares. Rocks, lakes, and bogs occupy about two millions of these, and two millions more are indifferent land. The remainder — that is to say, about half the country — is rich land, with calcareous subsoil. What better could be conceived?” (p. 343.)

We see therefore that all authorities agree that Ireland’s soil contains all the elements of fertility to an extraordinary degree. This, not only in its chemical ingredients but also in its structure. The two extremes of heavy impenetrable clay, completely impermeable, and loose sand, completely permeable, do not occur. But Ireland has another disadvantage. While the mountains are mainly along the coast, the watersheds between the inland river basins are mostly lowlying, and therefore the rivers are not capable of carrying all the rain water out to sea. Thus extensive peat bogs arise inland, especially on the watersheds. In the plain alone 1,576,000acres are covered with peat bogs. These are largely depressions or troughs in the land, most of which were once shallow lake basins which were gradually overgrown with moss and marsh plants and were filled up with their decomposing remains. As with our north-German moors, their only use is for turf cutting. With the present system of agriculture cultivation can only gradually reclaim their edges. The soil in these former lake basins is mainly marl and its lime content (varying from 5per cent to 90 per cent) is due to the shells of fresh-water mussels. Thus the material for their development into arable land exists within each of these peat bogs. Apart from this, most of them are rich in iron ore. Besides these low-lying peat bogs, there are 1,254,000acres of mountain moor. These are the result of deforestation in a damp climate and are one of the peculiar beauties of the British Isles. Wherever flat or almost flat summits were deforested — and this occurred extensively in the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century to provide the iron works with charcoal — a layer of peat formed under the influence of rain and mist and gradually spread down the slopes where the conditions were favourable. Such moors cover the ridges of the mountain chain dividing Northern England from north to south almost as far as Derby; and are found in abundance wherever substantial mountain ranges are marked on the map of Ireland. Yet, the peat bogs of Ireland are by no means hopelessly lost to agriculture; on the contrary, in time we shall see what rich fruits some of these, and the two million hectares of the “indifferent land” contemptuously mentioned by Lavergne, can produce given correct management.

* * *

Ireland’s climate is determined by her position. The Gulf Stream and the prevailing south-west winds provide warmth and make for mild winters and cool summers. In the south-west the summer lasts far into October which, according to Wakefield (Vol. 1, p. 221), is there regarded as the best month for sea bathing. Frost is rare and of short duration, snow usually melts immediately on the low-lying land. Spring weather prevails throughout the winter in the inlets of Kerry and Cork, which are open to the south-west and protected from the north; here, and in certain other places, myrtle thrives in the open (Wakefield mentions a country-residence where it grows into trees 16feet high and is used to make stable-brooms, Vol. 1, p. 55), and laurel, arbutus and other evergreen plants grow into substantial trees. In Wakefield’s time, the peasants in the south were still leaving their potatoes in the open all winter — and they had not been frost-bitten since 1740. On the other hand, Ireland also suffers the first powerful downpour of the heavy Atlantic rain clouds. Ireland’s average rainfall is at least 35 inches, which is considerably more than England’s average, yet is definitely lower than that of Lancashire and Cheshire and scarcely more than the average for the whole of the West of England. In spite of this the Irish climate is decidedly pleasanter than the English. The leaden sky which often causes days of continual drizzle in England is mostly replaced in Ireland by a continental April sky; the fresh sea-breezes bring on clouds quickly and unexpectedly, but drive them past equally quickly, if they do not come down immediately in sharp showers. And even when the rain lasts for days, as it does in late autumn, it does not have the chronic air it has in England. The weather, like the inhabitants, has a more acute character, it moves in sharper, more sudden contrasts; the sky is like an Irish woman’s face: here also rain and sunshine succeed each other suddenly and unexpectedly and there is none of the grey English boredom.

The Roman, Pomponius Mela, gives us the oldest report on the Irish climate (in De situ orbis) in the first century of our era:

“Above Brittaine is Ireland, almost of like space but on both sides equall, with shores evelong, of a evyll ayre to rypen things that are sown, but so aboundant of Grasse which is not onelie rancke but also sweete, that the Cattell may in small parte of the daye fyll themselves, and if they bee not kept from feedying, they burste with grazing over-long.”

Coeli ad maturanda semina iniqui, verum adeo luxuriosa herbis non laetis modo sed etiam dulcibus!” We find this part amongst others translated into modern English by Mr. Goldwin Smith, Professor of History formerly of Oxford and now in Cornell University, America. He reports that it is difficult to gather in the harvest of wheat in a large part of Ireland and continues:

“Its (Ireland’s) natural way to commercial prosperity seems to be to supply with the produce of its grazing and dairy farms the population of England.

[Goldwin Smith, Irish History and Irish Character, Oxford and London, 1861. — What is more amazing in this work, which, under the mask of “objectivity,” justifies English policy in Ireland, the ignorance of the professor of history, or the hypocrisy of the liberal bourgeois? We shall touch on both again later.

From Mela to Goldwin Smith and up to the present day, how often has this assertion been repeated — since 1846,[6] especially by a noisy chorus of Irish landowners — that Ireland is condemned by her climate to provide not Irishmen with bread but Englishmen with meat and butter, and that the destiny of the Irish people is, therefore, to be brought over the ocean to make room in Ireland for cows and sheep!

It can be seen that to establish the facts on the Irish climate is to unravel a topical political question. And indeed the climate only concerns us here insofar as it is important for agriculture. Rain measurements, at their present incomplete stage of observations, are only of secondary importance for our purpose; how much rain falls is not so important as how and when it falls. Here agronomical judgements are most important.

Arthur Young considers that Ireland is considerably damper than England; this is the cause of the amazing grass-bearing qualities of the soil. He speaks of cases when turnip- and stubble-land, left unploughed, produced a rich harvest of hay in the next summer, a thing of which there is no example in England. He further mentions that the Irish wheat is much lighter than that grown in drier lands; weeds and grass spring up in abundance under even the best management, and the harvests are so wet and so troublesome to bring in that revenue suffers greatly. (Young’s Tour, Vol. 2, p. 100)

At the same time, however, he points out that the soil in Ireland counteracts this dampness of the climate. It is generally stony, and for this reason lets the water through more easily.

“Harsh, tenacious, stoney, strong loams, difficult to work, are not uncommon (in Ireland]; but they are quite different from English clays. If as much rain fell upon the clays of England (a soil very rarely met with in Ireland, and never without much stone) as falls upon the rocks of her sister-island, those lands could not be cultivated. But the rocks here are cloathed with verdure; — those of limestone with only a thin covering of mold, have the softest and most beautiful turf imaginable.” (Vol. 2, Part II, pp. 3-4.)

The limestone is known to be full of cracks and fissures which let the excess water through quickly.

Wakefield devotes to the climate a very comprehensive chapter in which he summarises all the earlier observations up to his own time. Dr. Boate (Natural History of Ireland, 1645)[7] describes the winters as mild, with three or four periods of frost every year, each of which usually lasts for only two or three days; the Liffey in Dublin freezes over scarcely once in 10 to 12 years. March is usually dry and fine, but then the weather becomes rainy; there are seldom more than two or three consecutive dry days in summer; and in the late autumn it is fine again. Very dry summers are rare, and dearth never occurs because of drought, but mostly because of too much rain. It seldom snows on the plains, so cattle remain in the open all the year round. Yet years of heavy snow do occur, as in 1635, when the people had difficulty in providing shelter for the cattle. (Wakefield, Vol. 1, p. 216 and following.)

In the beginning of the last century, Dr. Rutty (Natural History of the County of Dublin) made accurate meteorological observations which stretched over 50 years, from 1716 to 1765. During this whole period the proportion of south and west winds to north and east winds was 73:37 (10,878 south and west against 6,329 north and east). Prevailing winds were west and south-west, then came north-west and south-east, and most rarely north-east and east. In summer, autumn and winter west and south-west prevail. East is most frequent in spring and summer, when it occurs twice as frequently as in autumn and winter; north-east is most frequent in spring when, likewise, it is twice as frequent as in autumn and winter. As a result of this, the temperatures are more even, the winters milder and the summers cooler than in London, while on the other hand the air is damper. Even in summer, salt, sugar, flour, etc., soak dampness out of the air, and corn must be kiln-dried, a practice unknown in some parts of England. (Wakefield, Vol. I. pp. 172-81.)

Rutty could at that time only compare Irish climate with that in London, which, as in all Eastern England, is drier, to be sure. If material on Western and especially North-Western England had been at his disposal, he would have found that his description of the Irish climate — distribution of winds over the year, wet summers, in which sugar, salt, etc., are ruined in unheated rooms — fits this area completely, except that Western England is colder in winter.

Rutty also kept data on the meteorological aspect of the seasons. In the fifty years referred to, there were 16 cold, late or too dry springs: a little more than in London; further, 22 hot and dry, 24 wet, and 4 changeable summers: a little damper than in London, where the number of dry and wet summers is equal; further, 16 fine, 12 wet, 22 changeable autumns: again a little damper and more changeable than in London; and 13 frosty, 14 wet and 23 mild winters: which is considerably damper and milder than in London.

According to measurements made in the Botanical Gardens in Dublin, the following total amount of rain fell each month in the ten years between 1802 and 1811 (in inches): December: 27.31; July: 24.15; November: 23.49; August: 22.47; September: 22.27; January: 21.67; October: 20.12; May: 19.50; March: 14.69; April: 13.54; February: 12.32; June: 12.07. Average for the year: 23.36 (Wakefield, Vol. I, p. 191). These ten years were unusually dry. Kane (Industrial Resources, p. 73) gives an average of 30.87 inches for 6 years in Dublin and Symons (English Rainfall) puts it at 29.79 inches for 1860-62. Because of the fleeting nature of local showers in Ireland, such measurements mean very little unless they extend over many years and are undertaken at many stations. This is proved among other things by the fact that, of the three stations measuring rainfall in Dublin in 1862, the first recorded 24.63, the second 28.04, and the third 30.18 inches as the average. The average amount of rainfall recorded by 12 stations in different parts of Ireland in the years 1860-62, was not quite 39 inches according to Symons (individual averages varied from 25.45 to 51.44 inches).

In his book about Ireland’s climate, Dr. Patterson says:

“The frequency of our showers, and not the amount of rainfall itself, has caused the popular notion about the wetness of our climate.... Sometimes the spring sowing is a little delayed because of wet weather, but our springs are so frequently cold and late that early sowing is not always advisable. If frequent summer and autumn showers make our hay and corn harvests risky, then vigilance and diligence would be just as successful in such exigencies as they are for the English in their ‘catching’ harvests, and improved cultivation would ensure that the seed-corn would aid the peasants’ efforts.” .” [Dr. W. Patterson, An Essay on the Climate of Ireland, Dublin, 1804]

In Londonderry the number of rain-free days each year between 1791 and 1802 varied from 113 to 148 — the average for the period was over 126. In Belfast the same average emerged. In Dublin it varied from 168 to 205, average 179 (Patterson, ibid.).

According to Wakefield, Irish harvests fall as follows: wheat mostly in September, more rarely in August, occasionally in October; barley usually a little later than wheat; and oats approximately a week after barley, therefore usually in October. After considerable research, Wakefield concluded that not nearly enough material existed for a scientific description of the Irish climate, but nowhere does he state that it provides a serious obstacle to the cultivation of corn. In fact he finds, as we shall see, that the losses incurred during wet harvest times are due to entirely different causes, and states so quite explicitly:

“The soil of Ireland is so fertile, and the climate so favourable, that under a proper system of agriculture, it will produce not only a sufficiency of corn for its own use, but a superabundance which may be ready at all times to relieve England when she may stand in need of assistance.” (Vol. 2, p. 61.)

At that time, of course — 1812 — England was at war with the whole of Europe and America,[8] and it was much more difficult to import corn — corn was the primary need. Now America, Rumania, Russia and Germany deliver sufficient corn, and the question now is rather one of cheap meat. And because of this Ireland’s climate is no longer suited to tillage.

Ireland has grown corn since ancient times. In her oldest laws, recorded long before the arrival of Englishmen, the “sack of wheat” is already a definite measurement of value. Fixed quantities of wheat, malt-barley and oatmeal are quite regularly mentioned in the tributes of inferiors to tribal and other chiefs [Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland — Senchus Mor. Two volumes. Dublin, published in 1865 and 1869.[9] See Vol. 2. The value of one sack of wheat was 1 screpall (denarius) or 20-24 grains of silver. The value of the screpall is fixed by Dr. Petrie in Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, anterior to the Anglo-Norman Invasion, Dublin, 1845.]

After the English invasion, the cultivation of corn diminished because of the continual battles, without ever ceasing completely; it increased between 1660 and 1725 and decreased again from 1725 to about 1780; more corn as well as a greater quantity of potatoes was again sown between 1780 and 1846, and since then they have both given way to the steadily advancing cattle pastures. If Ireland were not suited to the cultivation of corn, would it have been grown for over a thousand years?

Of course there are regions, in which because of the proximity of mountains the rainfall is always greater, and which are less suited to wheat-growing — notably in the south and west. Besides the good years, a series of wet summers will often occur there, as between 1860-62, which do great harm to the wheat. Wheat, however, is not Ireland’s principal grain, and Wakefield even complains that too little of it is grown for lack of a market — the only one being the nearest mill. For the most part, barley is grown only for the secret distilleries (secret because of taxation). Ireland’s principal grain was and still is oats. In 1810 no less than 10 times as much oats was grown as of all the other sorts of corn put together. As oats are harvested after wheat and barley, the harvest is usually in late September or October when the weather is usually fine, especially in the south. And in any case, oats can take a considerable amount of rain.

We have already seen that Ireland’s climate, as far as the amount and distribution of rain throughout the year is concerned, corresponds almost entirely with that of the North-West of England. The rainfall is much greater in the mountains of Cumberland, Westmorland, and North Lancashire (in Coniston 96.03, in Windermere 75.02 inches, average in the years 1860-62), than in certain stations in Ireland known to me, and yet hay is made and oats are grown there. In the same years the rainfall varied in South Lancashire from 25.11 in Liverpool to 59.13 in Bolton, the average being about 40 inches; in Cheshire it varied from 33.02 to 43.40 inches, the average being approximately 37 inches. In Ireland, as we saw, it was not quite 39 inches in the same years. (All figures from Symons.) In both counties corn of all kinds, and in particular wheat, is cultivated; Cheshire carried on mainly cattle-rearing and dairy farming until the last epidemic of cattle-plague, but since most of the cattle perished the climate suddenly became quite admirably suited for wheat-growing. If there had been an epidemic of cattle-plague in Ireland causing devastation similar to that in Cheshire, instead of preaching that Ireland’s natural occupation is cattle-raising, they would point to the place in Wakefield which says that Ireland is destined to be England’s granary.

If one looks at the matter impartially and without being misled by the cries of the interested parties, the Irish landowners and the English bourgeois, one finds that Ireland, like all other places, has some parts which because of soil and climate are more suited to cattle-rearing, and others to tillage, and still others — the vast majority — which are suited to both. Compared with England, Ireland is more suited to cattle-rearing on the whole; but if England is compared with France, she too is more suited to cattle-rearing. Are we to conclude that the whole of England should be transformed into cattle pastures, and the whole agricultural population be sent into the factory towns or to America — except for a few herdsmen — to make room for cattle, which are to be exported to France in exchange for silk and wine? But that is exactly what the Irish landowners who want to put up their rents and the English bourgeoisie who want to decrease wages demand for Ireland: Goldwin Smith has said so plainly enough. And yet the social revolution inherent in this transformation from tillage to cattle-rearing would be far greater in Ireland than in England. In England, where large-scale agriculture prevails and where agricultural labourers have already been replaced by machinery to a large extent, it would mean the transplantation of at most one million; in Ireland, where small and even cottage-farming prevails, it would mean the transplantation of four million: the extermination of the Irish people.

It can be seen that even the facts of nature become points of national controversy between England and Ireland. It can also be seen, however, how the public opinion of the ruling class in England — and it is only this that is generally known on the Continent — changes with the fashion and in its own interests. Today England needs grain quickly and dependably — Ireland is just perfect for wheat-growing. Tomorrow England needs meat — Ireland is only fit for cattle pastures. The existence of five million Irish is in itself a smack in the eye to all the laws of political economy, they have to get out but whereto is their worry!

 

______

Notes

The draft shows that Engels’s work was to consist of four long chapters, the last two being subdivided into sections. Engels actually succeeded in finishing only the first chapter — “Natural Conditions.” The second chapter — “Ancient Ireland” — is unfinished. The manuscript breaks off where Engels intended to throw light on the social structure of Irish society before the invasion of the English conquerors in the second half of the 12th century. Engels did not begin writing the last two chapters, which were to describe the development of the country up to the events of his own day, although he had compiled most of the material for them. In his letter to Sigismund Borkheim in 1872, Engels mentioned that the Franco-Prussian war, the Paris Commune, the clash with the Bakuninists in the International, etc., interrupted his work. Engels used the results of his research in his theoretical works, including The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, and in his letters to various correspondents. The fragment History of Ireland and some preparatory material Engels collected for this work were first published in 1948 in Russian in the Marx-Engels Archives, Vol. X.

 

[1] Engels is referring to the formation of a centralised feudal state in England after her conquest in 1066 by William, Duke of Normandy. The reforms carried out in the 12th century by Henry II Plantagenet were particularly instrumental in strengthening the King’s power. One of the objects of the English monarchy’s aggressive designs was Ireland, a country at an earlier stage of social and political development than England, and still in a state of feudal decentralisation. Between 1169 and 1171 part of the island was conquered by the Anglo-Norman barons, who founded a colony there known as the Pale.

 

[2] A reference to County Laoighis (Leix) in Central Ireland, which, in 1557, following the confiscation by the Tudors of the lands of local tribal communities (the clans), was renamed Queen’s County in honour of Mary Tudor, the English Queen. The neighbouring Offaley County, the population of which had also fallen victim to the expropriation policy of the English colonial authorities, was renamed King’s County in honour of Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain.

 

[3] In modern terms — deposits of the Mesozoic and Cainozoic periods.

 

[4] A. Stieler, Handatlas, Gotha, 1868.

 

[5] A reference to the period of cruel reprisals against the Irish population and their wholesale expropriation, which began soon after the suppression of the Irish national liberation uprising of 1641-52 by the troops of the English bourgeois republic. According to the Acts of the English Parliament of 1652 and 1653, some of the Irish landowners, who were declared guilty of revolt, were to be forcibly moved to the barren province of Connaught and the swampy southern County of Clare. Resettlement was carried out under pain of execution.

On the eve of the 1798 Irish uprising, Connaught, and to an even greater extent the bordering counties of the province of Ulster in the north, became the scene of widespread terrorism by the English mercenaries and Protestant gangs hired by the landlords from among their menials (Ancient Britts, Orangemen, etc.), against the local Catholic population and its self-defence units. Under the pretext of confiscating arms from the population and billeting, soldiers and the Orangemen committed all kinds of outrages, torturing and murdering Irish people who fell into their hands and burning down their homes. Many Catholic peasants were evicted from Ulster after receiving threatening notes reading: “Go to the devil or Connaught.”

 

[6] A reference to the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, leading to the inflow of cheap corn to England and creating conditions which from the point of view of the landlords and bourgeoisie favoured the development of stock-breeding in Ireland.

Corn Laws — the high import tariffs on corn, aimed at limiting or prohibiting the import of corn to England — were introduced in 1815 in the interests of the big landlords. The struggle over the Corn Laws between the industrial bourgeoisie and the landed aristocracy ended in 1846 with the passing by the Peel Government of a Repeal Bill. This was a heavy blow to the landed aristocracy and promoted the development of capitalism in England.

 

[7] G. Boate, Ireland’s Natural History, London, 1652. Engels, like Wakefield, gives an earlier date of publication.

 

[8] The reference is to England’s participation in the war against Napoleonic France and the European countries depending on her (in 1812 England fought Napoleon in alliance with Russia, Spain and Portugal), and to the Anglo-American war which broke out in the same year because the English ruling classes had refused to recognise the sovereignty of the U.S.A. and attempted to re-establish colonial rule there. The war was won by the United States in 1814.

 

[9] The third volume of this publication, comprising the conclusion of the collection Senchus Mor (The Great Book of Old), appeared in 1873, after Engels had written the passage in this book. Senchus Mor is one of the most detailed written records of the laws of the Brehons, the guardians of and commentators on laws and customs in Celtic Ireland.

 

 

 

2.

Ancient Ireland

 

The writers of ancient Greece and Rome, and also the fathers of the Church, give very little information about Ireland.

Instead there still exists an abundant native literature, in spite of the many Irish manuscripts lost in the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It includes poems, grammars, glossaries, annals and other historical writings and law-books. With very few exceptions, however, this whole literature, which embraces the period at least from the eighth to the seventeenth centuries, exists only in manuscript. For the Irish language printing has existed only for a few years only from the time when the language began to die out. Of this rich material, therefore, only a small part is available.

Amongst the most important of these annals are those of Abbot Tigernach (died 1088), those of Ulster, and above all, those of the Four Masters. These last were collected in 1632-36 in a monastery in Donegal under the direction of Michael O'Clery, a Franciscan monk, who was helped by three other Seanchaidhes (antiquarians), from materials which now are almost all lost. They were published in 1856 from the original Donegal manuscript which still exists, having been edited and provided with an English translation by O'Donovan.

Annala Rioghachta Eireann. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters. Edited, with an English Translation, by Dr. Jolin O'Donovan. Second edition, Dublin, 1856, 7 volumes in 4°

The earlier editions by Dr. Charles O'Conor (the first part of the Four Masters, and the Annals of Ulster) are untrustworthy in text and translation.[1]

The beginning of most of these annals presents the mythical prehistory of Ireland. Its base was formed by old folk legends, which were spun out endlessly by poets in the 9th and 10th centuries and were then brought into suitable chronological order by the monk-chroniclers. The Annals of the Four Masters begins with the year of the world 2242, when Caesair, a granddaughter of Noah, landed in Ireland forty days before the Flood; other annals have the ancestors of the Scots, the last immigrants to Ireland, descend in direct line from Japheth and bring them into connection with Moses, the Egyptians and the Phoenicians, as the German chroniclers of the Middle Ages connected the ancestors of the Germans with Troy, Aeneas or Alexander the Great. The Four Masters devote only a few pages to this legend (in which the only valuable element, the original folk-legend, is not distinguishable even now); the Annals of Ulster leave it out altogether; and Tigernach, with a critical boldness wonderful for his time, explains that all the written records of the Scots before King Cimbaoth (approximately 300 B.C.) are uncertain. But when new national life awoke in Ireland at the end of the last century, and with it new interest in Irish literature and history, just these monks’ legends were counted to be their most valuable constituent. With true Celtic enthusiasm and specifically Irish naivete, belief in these stories was declared an intrinsic part of national patriotism, and this offered the supercunning world of English scholarship — whose own efforts in the field of philological and historical criticism are gloriously enough well known to the rest of the world — the desired pretext for throwing everything Irish aside as arrant nonsense.

One of the most naive products of that time is The Chronicles of Eri, being the History of the Gaal Sciot Iber, or the Irish People, translated from the original manuscripts in the Phoenician dialect of the Scythian language by O'Connor, London, 1822, 2 volumes. The Phoenician dialect of the Scythian language is naturally Celtic Irish, and the original manuscript is a verse chronicle chosen at will. The publisher is Arthur O'Connor, exile of 1798,[2] uncle of Feargus O'Connor who was later leader of the English Chartists, an ostensible descendant of the ancient O'Connors, Kings of Connaught, and, after a fashion, the Irish Pretender to the throne. His portrait appears in front of the title, a man with a handsome, jovial Irish face, strikingly resembling his nephew Feargus, grasping a crown with his right hand. Underneath is the caption: “O'Connor — cear-rige, head of his race, and O'Connor, chief of the prostrate people of his nation: ‘Soumis, pas vaincus’ (subdued, not conquered).”

Since the thirties of this century a far more critical spirit has come into being in Ireland, especially through Petrie and O'Donovan. Petrie’s already-mentioned researches prove that the most complete agreement exists between the oldest surviving inscriptions, which date from the 6th and 7th centuries, and the annals, and O'Donovan is of the opinion that these begin to report historical facts as early as the second and third centuries of our era. It makes little difference to us whether the credibility of the annals begins several hundred years earlier or later since, unfortunately, during that period they are almost wholly fruitless for our purpose. They contain short, dry notices of deaths, accessions to the throne, wars, battles, earthquakes, plagues, Scandinavian raiding expeditions, but little that has reference to the social life of the people. If the whole juridical literature of Ireland were published, the annals would acquire a completely different meaning; many a dry notice would obtain new life through explanations found in the law-books.

Almost all of these law-books, which are very numerous, still await the time when they will see the light of day. On the insistence of several Irish antiquarians, the English Government agreed in 1852 to appoint a commission for publishing the ancient laws and institutions of Ireland. But the commission consisted of three lords (who are never far away when there is state money to be spent), three lawyers of the highest rank, three Protestant clergymen, and Dr. Petrie and an official who is the chief surveyor in Ireland. Of these gentlemen only Dr. Petrie and two clergymen, Dr. Graves (now Protestant Bishop of Limerick) and Dr. Todd, could claim to understand anything at all about the tasks of the commission, and of these three Petrie and Todd have since died. The commission was instructed to arrange the transcription, translation and publication of the legal content of the ancient Irish manuscripts, and to employ the necessary , people for that purpose. It employed the two best people that were to be had, Dr. O'Donovan and Professor O'Curry, who copied, and made a rough translation of, a large number of manuscripts; both died, however, before anything was ready for publication. Their successors, Dr. Hancock and Professor O'Mahony, then took up the work, so that up to the present the two volumes already cited, containing the Senchus Mor, have appeared. According to the publishers’ acknowledgment only two of the members of the commission, Graves and Todd, have taken part in the work, through some annotations to the proofs. Sir Th. Larcom, a member of the commission, placed the original maps of the survey of Ireland at the disposal of the publishers for the verification of place names. Dr. Petrie soon died, and the other gentlemen confined their activities to drawing their salaries conscientiously for 18 years.

That is how public works are carried out in England, and even more so in English-ruled Ireland. Without jobbery, they cannot begin.

Jobbery: the using of public office to one’s private advantage or to that of relations and friends, and likewise the using of public money for indirect bribery in the interests of a party, is called jobbery in England. An individual transaction is called a job. The English colony in Ireland is the main centre of jobbery.

No public interest may be satisfied without a pretty sum or some fat sinecures being siphoned off for lords and government proteges. With the money that the wholly superfluous commission has wasted the entire unpublished historical literature could have been published in Germany — and better.

The Senchus Mor has until now been our main source for information about conditions in ancient Ireland. It is a collection of ancient legal decisions which, according to the later composed introduction, was compiled on the orders of St. Patrick, and with his assistance brought into harmony with Christianity, rapidly spreading in Ireland. The High King of Ireland, Laeghaire (428-458, according to the Annals of the Four Masters), the Vice-Kings, Corc of Munster and Daire, probably a prince of Ulster, and also three bishops: St. Patrick, St. Benignus and St. Cairnech, and three lawyers: Dubthach, Fergus and Rossa, are supposed to have formed the “commission” which compiled the book — and there is no doubt that they did their work more cheaply than the present commission, who only had to publish it. The Four Masters give 438 as the year in which the book was written.

The text itself is evidently based on very ancient heathen materials. The oldest legal formulas in it are written in verse with a precise metre and the so-called consonance, a kind of alliteration or rather consonant-assonance, which is peculiar to Irish poetry and frequently goes over to full rhyme. As it is certain that old Irish law-books were translated in the fourteenth century from the so-called Fenian dialect (Berla Feini), the language of the fifth century, into the then current Irish (Introduction (Vol. I), p. xxxvi and following) it emerges that in the Senchus Mor too the metre has been more or less smoothed out in places; but it appears often enough along with occasional rhymes and marked consonance to give the text a definite rhythmical cadence. It is generally sufficient to read the translation in order to find out the verse forms. But then there are also throughout it, especially in the latter half, numerous pieces of undoubted prose; and, whereas the verse is certainly very ancient and has been handed down by tradition, these prose insertions seem to originate with the compilers of the book. At any rate, the Senchus Mor is quoted frequently in the glossary composed in the ninth or tenth century, and attributed to the King and Bishop of Cashel, Cormac, and it was certainly written long before the English invasion.

All the manuscripts (the oldest of which appears to date from the beginning of the 14th century or earlier) contain a series of mostly concordant annotations and longer commenting notes on this text. The annotations are in the spirit of old glossaries; quibbles take the place of etymology and the explanation of words, and comments are of varying quality, being often badly distorted or largely incomprehensible, at least without knowledge of the rest of the law-books. The age of the annotations and comments is uncertain. Most of them, however, probably date from after the English invasion. As at the same time they show only a very few traces of developments in the law outside the text itself, and these are only a more precise establishment of details, the greater part, which is purely explanatory, can certainly also be used with some discretion as a source concerning earlier times.

The Senchus Mor contains:

1. The law of distraint [Pfändungsrecht], that is to say, almost the whole judicial procedure;
2. The law of hostages, which during disputes were put up by people of different territories;
3. The law of Saerrath and Daerrath (see below)[3]; and
4. The law of the family.

From this we obtain much valuable information on the social life of that time, but, as long as many of the expressions are unexplained and the rest of the manuscripts is not published, much remains dark.

In addition to literature, the surviving architectural monuments, churches, round towers, fortifications and inscriptions also enlighten us about the condition of the people before the arrival of the English.

From foreign sources we need only mention a few passages about Ireland in the Scandinavian sagas and the life of St. Malachy by St. Bernard,[4] which are not fruitful sources, and then come immediately to the first Englishman to write about Ireland from his own experience.

Sylvester Gerald Barry, known as Giraldus Cambrensis, Archdeacon of Brecknock, was a grandchild of the amorous Nesta, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales, and mistress of Henry I of England and the ancestor of almost all the Norman leaders who took part in the first conquest of Ireland. In 1185 he went with John (later “Lackland”) to Ireland and in the following years wrote, first, the Topographia Hibernica, a description of the land and the inhabitants, and then the Hibernia Expugnata, a highly-coloured history of the first invasion. It is mainly the first work which concerns us here. Written in highly pretentious Latin and filled with the wildest belief in miracles and with all the church and national prejudices of the time and the race of its vain author, the book is nevertheless of great importance as the first at all detailed report by a foreigner.

Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, ed. J. S, Brewer, London, Longmans, 1863.[5] — A (weak) English translation of the historical works including the two works already mentioned was published in London by Bohn in 1863 (The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis).

From here on, Anglo-Norman sources about Ireland naturally become more abundant; however, little knowledge is gained about the social circumstances of the part of the island that remained independent, and it is from this that conclusions regarding ancient conditions could be drawn. It is only towards the end of the 16th century, when Ireland as a whole was first systematically subjugated, that we find more detailed reports about the actual living conditions of the Irish people, and these naturally contain a strong English bias. We shall find later that, in the course. of the 400 years which elapsed since the first invasion, the condition of the people changed little, and not for the better. But, precisely because of this, these newer writings — Hanmer, Campion, Spenser, Davies, Camden, Moryson and others[6] — which we shall have to consult frequently, are one of our main sources of information on a period 500 years earlier, and a welcome and indispensable supplement to the poor original sources.

* * *

The mythical prehistory of Ireland tells of a series of immigrations which took place one after the other and mostly ended with the subduing of the island by the new immigrants. The three last ones are: that of the Firbolgs, that of the Tuatha-de-Dananns, and that of the Milesians or Scots, the last supposed to have come from Spain. Popular writing of history changed Firbolgs (fir — Irish fear, Latin vir, Gothic vair — man) into Belgian without further ado; the Tuatha-de-Dananns (tuatha — Irish people, tract of land, Gothic thiuda) into Greek Danai or German Danes as they felt the need. O'Donovan is of the opinion that something historical lies at the basis of at least the immigrations named above. According to the annals there occurred in the year 10 A.D. an insurrection of the aitheach tuatha (which Lynch, who is a good judge of the old language, translated in the seventeenth century as: plebeiorum hominum gens), that is, a plebeian revolution, in which the whole of the nobility (saorchlann) was slain. This points to the dominion of Scottish conquerors over the older inhabitants. O'Donovan draws the conclusion from the folk-tales that the Tuatha-de-Dananns, who were later transformed in folk-lore into elves of the mountain forest, survived up to the 2nd or 3rd century of our era in isolated mountain areas.

There is no doubt that the Irish were a mixed people even before large numbers of English settled among them. As early as the twelfth century, the predominant type was fair-haired as it still is. Giraldus (Top. Hib. III, 26) says of two strangers, that they had long yellow hair like the Irish. But there are also even now, especially in the west, two quite different types of black-haired people. The one is tall and well-built with fine facial features and curly hair, people whom one thinks that one has already met in the Italian Alps or Lombardy; this type occurs most frequently in the south-west. The other, thickset and short in build, with coarse, lank, black hair and flattened, almost negroid faces, is more frequent in Connaught. Huxley attributes this darkhaired element in the originally light-haired Celtic population to an Iberian (that is, Basque) admixture,[7] which would be correct in part at least. However, at the time when the Irish come clearly into the light of history, they have become a homogeneous people with Celtic speech and we do not find anywhere any other foreign elements, apart from the slaves acquired by conquest or barter, who were mostly Anglo-Saxons.

The reports of the classical writers of antiquity about that people do not sound very flattering. Diodorus recounts that those Britons who inhabit the island called Iris (or Irin? it is in the accusative, Irin) eat people.[8] Strabo gives a more detailed report:

“Concerning this island [Jerne] I have nothing certain to tell, except that its inhabitants are more savage than the Britons, since they are man-eaters as well as heavy eaters [poluyagoi; according to another manner of reading pohyagoi — herbivorous], and since, further, they count it an honourable thing, when their fathers die, to devour them, and openly to have intercourse, not only with the other women, but also with their mothers and sisters."[9]

The patriotic Irish historians have been more than a little indignant over this alleged calumny. It was reserved to more recent investigation to prove that cannibalism, and especially the devouring of parents, was a stage in the development of probably all nations. Perhaps it will be a consolation to the Irish to know that the ancestors of the present Berliners were still honouring this custom a full thousand years later:

Aber Weletabi, die in Germania sizzent, tie wir Wilze heizên, die ne scament A nieht ze chedenne daz — sie iro parentes mit mêren rehte ezen sulîn, danne die wurme.” ["But the Weletabi who reside in Germany, which we call Wilze, who are not ashamed to say that they have a greater right to eat their parents than the worms have."] (Notker, quoted in Jacob Grimm’s Rechtsaltertümer, p. 488.)

And we shall see the consuming of human flesh reoccur more than once under English rule. As far as the phanerogamy (to use an expression of Fourier’s[10]), which the Irish are reproached with, is concerned: such things occurred amongst all the barbarous peoples, and much more amongst the quite unusually gallant Celts. It is interesting to note that even then the island carried the present native name: Iris, Irin and Jerne are identical with Eire and Erinn; and how even Ptolemy already knew the present name of the capital, Dublin, Eblana (with the right accent Eblana).[11] This is all the more noteworthy since the Irish Celts have since ancient times given this city another name, Athcliath, and for them Duibhlinn — the black pool — is the name of a place on the River Liffey.

Moreover we also find the following passage in Pliny’s Historiae Naturalis, IV, 16:

“The Britons travel there” (to Hibernia) “in boats of willow. branches across which animal-skins have been sewn together.”

And later Solinus says of the Irish:

“They cross the sea between Hibernia and Britannia in boats of willow-branches, which they overlay with a cover of cattle-hide.” (C. Jul. Solini, Cosmographia, Ch. 25.)

In the year 1810, Wakefield found that on the whole west coast of Ireland “no other boats occurred except ones which consisted of a wooden frame covered over with a horse- or ox-hide.” The shape of these boats varies according to the district, but they are all distinguished by their extraordinary lightness, so that mishaps rarely occur on them. Naturally they are of no use on the open sea, for which reason fishing can only take place in the creeks and amongst the islands. Wakefield saw these boats in Malbay, County Clare. They were 15 feet long, 5 feet wide and 2feet deep. Two cowhides with the hair on the inside and tarred on the outside were used for one of these, and they were arranged for two rowers. Such a boat cost about 30 shillings. (Wakefield, Vol. 2, p. 97.) Instead of woven willows — a wooden frame! What an advance in 1,800 years and after nearly 700 years of the “civilising” influence of the foremost maritime nation in the world!

As for the rest, several signs of progress can be seen. Under King Cormac Ulfadha, who was placed on the throne in the second half of the third century, his son-in-law, Finn McCumhal, is said to have reorganised the Irish militia — the Fianna Eirionn [Feini, Fenier, is the name given to the Irish nation throughout the Senchus Mor. Feinechus, Fenchus, Law of the Fenians, often stands for the Senchus or for another lost law-book. Feine, grad feine also designates the plebs, the lowest free class of people] — probably on the lines of the Roman legion with differentiation between light troops and troops of the line; all the later Irish armies on which we have detailed information have the following categories of troops: the kerne — light troops — and the galloglas — heavy troops or troops of the line. Finn’s heroic deeds are celebrated in many old songs, some of which still exist; these and perhaps a few Scottish-Gaelic traditions form the basis of Macpherson’s Ossian (Irish Oisin, son of Finn), in which Finn appears as Fingal and the scene is transferred to Scotland.[12] In Irish folk-lore Finn lives on as Finn Mac-Caul, a giant, to whom some wonderful feat of strength is ascribed in almost every locality of the island.

Christianity must have penetrated Ireland quite early, at least the east coast of it. Otherwise the fact that so many Irishmen played an important part in Church-history even long before Patrick cannot be explained. Pelagius the Heretic is usually taken to be a Welsh monk from Bangor; but there was also an ancient Irish monastery, Bangor, or rather Banchor at Carrickfergus. That he comes from the Irish monastery is proved by Hieronymus, who describes him as being “stupid and heavy with Scottish gruel” (“scotorum pultibus praegravatus”).[13] This is the first mention of Irish oatmeal gruel (Irish lite, Anglo-lrish stirabout), which even then, before the introduction of potatoes, was the staple food of the Irish people and after that continued to be so alongside with the latter. Pelagius’s chief followers were Celest us and Albinus, also Scots, that is, Irishmen. According to Gennadius,[14] Celestius wrote three detailed letters to his parents from the monastery, and from them it can be seen that alphabetical writing was known in Ireland in the fourth century.

The Irish people are called Scots and the land Scotia in all the writings of the early Middle Ages; we find this term used by Claudianus, Isidorus, Beda, the geographer of Ravenna, Eginhard and even by Alfred the Great: “Hibernia, which we call Scotland” (“lgbernia the ve Scotland hatadh”).[15] The present Scotland was called Caledonia by foreigners and Alba, Albania by the inhabitants; the transfer of the name Scotia, Scotland, to the northern area of the eastern isle did not occur until the eleventh century. The first substantial emigration of Irish Scots to Alba is taken to have been in the middle of the third century; Ammianus Marcellinus already knows them there in the year 360.[16] The emigrants used the shortest sea-route, from Antrim to the peninsula of Kintyre; Nennius explicitly says that the Britons, who then occupied all the Scottish lowlands up to the Clyde and Forth, were attacked by the Scots from the west, by the Picts from the north.[17] Further, the seventh of the ancient Welsh historical Triads[18] reports that the gwyddyl ffichti (see below) came to Alba over the Norse Sea (Mor Llychlin) and settled on the coast. Incidentally, the fact that the sea between Scotland and the Hebrides is called the Norse Sea shows that this ‘Triad was written after the Norse conquest of the Hebrides. Large numbers of Scots came over again at about the year 500, and they gradually formed a kingdom, independent of both Ireland and the Picts. They finally subdued the Picts in the ninth century under Kenneth MacAlpin and created the state to which the name Scotland, Scotia was transferred, probably first by the Norsemen about 150 years later.

Invasions of Wales by the gwyddyl ffichti or Gaelic Picts are mentioned in ancient Welsh sources (Nennius, the Triads) of the fifth and sixth centuries. These are generally accepted as being invasions of Irish Scots. Gwyddyl is the Welsh form of gavidheal, as the Irish call themselves. The origin of the term Picts can be investigated by someone else.

Patricius (Irish Patrick, Patraic, as the Celts always pronounce their c as k in the Ancient Roman way) brought Christianity to dominance in the second quarter of the fifth century without any violent convulsions. Trade with Britain, which had been of long standing, also became livelier at this time; architects and building workers came over and the Irish learned from them to build with mortar, while up to then they had only known dry-stone building. As mortar building occurs between the seventh and twelfth centuries, and then only in church buildings, that is proof enough that its introduction is connected with that of Christianity, and further, that from then on the clergy, as the representative of foreign culture, severed itself completely from the people in its intellectual development. Whilst the people made no, or only extremely slow, social advances, there soon developed amongst the clergy a literary learning which was extraordinary for the time and which, in accordance with the custom then, manifested itself mostly in zeal for converting heathens and founding monasteries. Columba converted the British Scots and the Picts; Gallus (founder of St. Gallen) and Fridolin the Allemanni, Kilian the Franks on the Main, Virgilius the city of Salzburg. All five were Irish. The Anglo-Saxons were also converted to Christianity mainly by Irish missionaries. Furthermore, Ireland was known throughout Europe as a nursery of learning, so much so that Charlemagne summoned an Irish monk, Albinus, to teach at Pavia, where another Irishman, Dungal, followed him later. The most important of the many Irish scholars, who were famous at that time but are now mostly forgotten, was the “Father,” or as Erdmann calls him, the “Carolus Magnus” [Charles the Great] of philosophy in the Middle Ages-Johannes Scotus Erigena. Hegel says of him, “Real philosophy began first with him."[19]He alone understood Greek in Western Europe in the ninth century, and by his translation of the writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, he restored the link with the last branch of the old philosophy, the Alexandrian Neoplatonic school.[20] His teaching was very bold for the time. He denied the “eternity of damnation,” even for the devil, and brushed close to Pantheism. Contemporary orthodoxy, therefore, did not fail to slander him. It took a full two hundred years before the branch of learning founded by Erigena was developed by Anselm of Canterbury.

More about Erigena’s doctrine and works is to be found in Erdmann’s Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, 2. Aufl., Berlin, 1869, Bd. 1, S. 241-47. Erigena, who was not a clergyman, shows real Irish wit. When Charles the Bald, King of France, who was sitting opposite him at table, asked him the difference between a Scot and a sot, Erigena answered: “The width of a table.”

Before this development of culture could have an effect on the people, it was interrupted by the raids of the Norsemen. The raids, which form the main staple product of Scandinavian, and particularly Danish, patriotism, occurred too late, and the nations from which they originated were too small for them to result in conquest, colonisation, and the forming of states on a large scale as had been the case with the earlier invasions of the Germans. Their advantage which they bequeathed on historical development is infinitesimal in comparison with the immense and fruitless (even for the Scandinavians themselves) disturbances they caused.

Ireland was far from being inhabited by a single nation at the end of the eighth century. Supreme royal power over the whole island existed only in appearance, and by no means always at that. The provincial kings, whose number and territories were continually changing, fought amongst themselves, and the smaller territorial princes likewise carried on their private feuds. On the whole, however, these internal wars seem to have been governed by certain customs which held the ravages within definite limits, so that the country did not suffer too much. But this was not to last. In 795, a few years after the English had been first raided by the same plundering nation, Norsemen landed on the Isle of Rathlin, off the coast of Antrim, and burnt everything down; in 798, they landed near Dublin, and after this they are mentioned nearly every year in the annals as heathens, foreigners, pirates, and never without additional reports of the losccadh (burning down) of one or more places. Their colonies on the Orkneys, Shetlands and Hebrides (Southern Isles, Sudhreyjar in the old Norse sagas) served them as operational bases against Ireland, and against what was later known as Scotland, and against England. In the middle of the ninth century, they were in possession of Dublin, [the assertion of Snorri in the Haraldsaga,[21] that Harald Harfagr’s sons, Thorgils and Frodi, were the first of the Norsemen to occupy Dublin — that is, at least 50 years later than stated — is in direct contradiction with all Irish accounts which are unimpeachable for this period. Evidently Snorri is confusing Harald Harfagr’s son Thorgils with the Thorgils (Turgesius) mentioned later] which, according to Giraldus, they rebuilt for the first time into a proper city. He also attributes the building of Limerick and Waterford to them. The name Waterford is only a nonsensical anglicisation of the ancient Norse Vedhrafiördhr, which means either storm-bay [Welterföhrde] or ram-bay [Widderbucht]. Naturally, as soon as the Norsemen settled down in the land, their prime necessity was to have fortified harbour-towns. The population of these long remained Scandinavian, but in the twelfth century it had long since assimilated Irish speech and customs. The quarrelling of the Irish princes amongst themselves greatly simplified pillage and settlement for the Norsemen, and even the temporary conquest of the whole island. The extent to which the Scandinavians considered Ireland as one of their regular pillage grounds is shown by the so-called death-song of Ragnar Lodbrôk, the Krâkumâl, composed about the year 1000 in the snaketower of King Ella of Northumberland.[22] In this song all the ancient pagan savagery is massed together, as if for the last time, and under the pretext of celebrating King Ragnar’s heroic deeds in song, all the Nordic peoples’ raids in their own lands, on coasts from Dunamunde to Flanders, Scotland (here already called Skotland, perhaps for the first time) and Ireland are briefly pictured. About Ireland is said:

“We hew’d with our swords, heap'd high the slain,
Glad was the wolf’s brother of the furious battle’s feast;
Iron struck brass-shields; Ireland’s ruler, Marsteinn,
Did not starve the murder-wolf or eagle;
In Vedhrafiördhr the raven was given a sacrifice.

We hew'd with our swords, started a game at dawn,
A merry battle against three kings at Lindiseyri;
Not many could boast that they fled unhurt from there.

Falcon fought wolf for flesh, the wolf’s fury, devoured many;
The blood of the Irish flow'd in streams on the beach in the battle.”

Hiuggu ver medh hiörvi, hverr lâthverr of annan;
gladhr, vardh gera brôdhir getu vidh sôknar laeti,
lêt ei örn nê ylgi, sâ er Îrlandi styrdhi,
(môt vardh mâlms ok rîtar) Marsteinn konungr fasta;
vardh î Vedhra firdhi valtafn gefit hrafni.

Hiuggu ver medh hiörvi, hadhum sudhr at morni
leik fyrir Lindiseyri vidh lofdhûnga threnna;
fârr âtti thvî fagna (fêll margr î gyn ûlfi,
haukr sleit hold medh vargi), at hann heill thadhan kaemi;
Yra blôdh î oegi aerit fêll um skaeru.”

Vedhrafiordlir is, as we have said, Waterford; I do not know whether Lindiseyri has been discovered anywhere. On no account does it mean Leinster as Johnstone translates it[23]; eyri (sandy neck of land, Danish öre) points to a quite distinct locality. Valtafn can also mean falcon feed and is generally translated as such here, but as the raven is Odin’s holy bird, the word obviously has both meanings.

By the first half of the ninth century, a Norse Viking Thorgils, called Turgesius by the Irish, had succeeded in submitting all Ireland to his rule. But, with fits death in 844, his kingdom fell apart, and the Norsemen were driven out. The invasions and battles continued with varying success. Finally, at the beginning of the eleventh century, Ireland’s national hero, Brian Borumha, originally King of only a part of Munster, gained the kingship of all Ireland and gave the decisive battle to the concentrated force of the invading Norsemen on the 23rd April (Good Friday), 1014, at Clontarf, close to Dublin, as a result of which the power of the invaders was broken forever.

The Norsemen who had settled in Ireland, and on whom Leinster was dependent (the King of Leinster, Maolmordha, had come to the throne in 999 with their help and was maintained there by it), had sent messengers to the Hebrides, the Orkneys, Denmark and Norway asking for reinforcements, in anticipation of the impending decisive battle. Help came to them in large numbers. The Niâlssaga[24] recounts how Jarl Sigurd Laudrisson armed himself for the departure on the Orkneys, and how Thorstein Siduhallsson, Hrafn the Red and Erlinger of Straumey went with him, and how he arrived in Dublin (Durflin) with all his army on Palm Sunday.

“Brodhir had already arrived with his whole force. Brodhir tried to learn by means of sorcery how the battle would turn out, and the answer was this: if the battle was fought on a Friday, King Brian would win the victory but die; and that if it was fought before that time, then all who were against him would fall. Then Brodhir said that they should not fight before Friday.”

There are two versions of the battle itself, that of the Irish annals and the Scandinavian one of the Nialssaga. According to the latter:

“King Brian had come up to the fortified town” (Dublin) “with his entire army, and on Friday the army” (of the Norsemen) “issued from the town. Both hosts arranged themselves in battle array. Brodhir headed one wing, King Sigtrygg” (King of the Dublin Norsemen according to the Annals of Inisfallen) “the other. We must say that King Brian did not wish to give battle on Good Friday; therefore a shield-burg was set about him and his army stationed in front of that. Ulf Hraeda headed the wing facing Brodhir, and Ospak and his sons headed the wing facing Sigtrygg, but Kerthialfadh stood in the middle and had the flag carried before him.”

When the battle began Brodhir was driven into a wood by Ulf Hraeda where he found safety. Jarl Sigurd had a hard struggle against Kerthialfadh, who fought his way to the flag and slew the flag-bearer as well as the next man who seized the flag; then all refused to carry the flag and Jarl Sigurd took the flag from the staff and hid it in his clothing. Soon after he was pierced by a spear, and with this his part of the army appears to have been defeated. Meanwhile Ospak attacked the Norsemen in the rear and defeated Sigtrygg’s wing after a hard fought battle.

“Thereupon the entire host took to flight. Thorstein Hallson stopped while the others were fleeing and tied his shoe thong. Then Kerthialfadh asked him why lie was not running too.

“ ‘Because I can’t get home this evening anyway,’ said Thorstein, as I live out in Iceland!’ Kerthialfadh spared him.”

Brodhir now saw from his hiding-place that Brian’s army was pursuing those who fled from the battle and that few people remained at the shield-burg. Then he ran out of the wood, broke through the shield-burg and slew the King. (Brian, who was 88, was obviously not capable of joining in the battle and had remained in the camp.)

“Then Brodhir shouted: ‘Let it pass from mouth to mouth that Brodhir felled Brian!’ “

But the pursuers returned, surrounded Brodhir and seized him alive.

“Ulf Hraeda slit open his belly, led him round and round an oak-tree, and in this way unwound all his intestines out of his body, and Brodhir did not die before they were all pulled out of him. Brodhir’s men were slain to the last man.”

According to the Annals of Inisfallen the Norse army was divided into three sections. The first consisted of the Dublin Norsemen and 1,000 Norwegian volunteers, who all wore long shirts of mail. The second was made up of the Irish auxiliary forces from Leinster under King Maolmordha. The third consisted of reinforcements from the Islands and Scandinavia under Bruadhair, the commander of the fleet that had brought them, and Lodar, the Jarl of the Orkneys. Against these Brian also placed his troops in three sections; but the names of the leaders given here do not correspond with those given in the Nialssaga, and the account of the battle is insignificant. The following account, given in the Four Masters, is shorter and clearer:

“A.D. 1013 (given here as everywhere mistakenly for 1014). The foreigners of the west of Europe assembled against Brian and Maelseachlainn” (usually called Malachy, King of Meath under Brian’s High Kingship); “and they took with them ten hundred men with coats of mail. A spirited, fierce, violent, vengeful, and furious battle was fought between them — the likeness of which was not to be found at that time — at Cluaintarbh” (Meadow of the Bulls, now Clontarf) “on the Friday before Easter precisely. In this battle were slain Brian ... in the eighty-eighth year of his age; Murchadh, his son, in the sixtythird year of his age; Conaing, ... the son of Brian’s brother; Toirdhealbhach, son of Murchadh. . .” (there follow a multitude of names). “The” (enemy) “forces were afterwards routed by dint of battling, bravery, and striking, by Maelseachlainn, from Tulcainn to Athcliath” (Dublin), “against the foreigners and the Leinstermen; and there fell Maolmordha, son of Murchadh, son of Finn, King of Leinster.... There was a countless slaughter of the Leinstermen along with them. There were also slain Dubhgall, son of Amhlanibh” (usually called Anlaf or Olaf), “and Gillaciarain, son of Gluniairn, two tanists of the foreigners, Sichfrith, son of Lodar, Earl of the Orkneys (iarla Insi h Oirc); Brodar, chief of the Danes, who was the person that slew Brian. The ten hundred in armour were cut to pieces, and at the least three thousand of the foreigners were there slain.”

The Niâlssaga was written in Iceland approximately 100 years after the battle; the Irish annals are based, at least in part, on contemporary information. The two are completely independent of each other. Yet not only do they correspond in all the main points, but they also complete each other. We can only find out who Brodhir and Sigtrygg were from the Irish annals. Sigurd Laudrisson is the name of Sichfrith, Lodar’s son. Sichfrith is in fact the correct Anglo-Saxon form of the ancient Norse name, Sigurd. In Ireland, Scandinavian names appear — on coins as well as in the annals — mainly in their Anglo-Saxon forms, not in the ancient Norse. In the Niâlssaga the names of Brian’s generals are adapted for easier pronunciation by the Scandinavians. One of the names, Ulf Hraeda, is, in fact, ancient Norse, but it would be risky as some do to conclude from this that Brian had Norsemen in his army too. Ospak and Kerthialfadh appear to be Celtic names; the latter might be a distortion of the Toirdhealbhach mentioned in the Four Masters. The date of the battle — given as the Friday after Palm Sunday in the one, and as the Friday before Easter in the other — is the same in both, as is also the place of the battle. Although this is given as Kantaraburg (otherwise Canterbury)[25] in the Niâlssaga, it is also explicitly said to be close to the gates of Dublin. The course of the battle is reported more precisely in the Four Masters: The Norsemen attacked Brian’s army on the Plain of Clontarf. From there they were thrown back beyond the Tolka, a little stream near the northern part of Dublin, towards the city. Both report that Brodhir slew King Brian, but more detailed accounts are given only in the Norse source.

It can be seen that our reports on this battle are quite informative and authentic, considering the barbarity of that time. There are not many eleventh-century battles on which such reliable and corroborating accounts are available from both sides. This does not prevent Professor Goldwin Smith from describing it as a “shadowy conflict” (Ir. His., p. 48). Certainly, the most robust facts quite often take on a “shadowy” form in our Professor’s head.

After their defeat at’ Clontarf, the Norse raids became less frequent and less dangerous. The Dublin Norsemen soon came under the domination of the neighbouring Irish princes, and, after one or two generations, were assimilated by the native population . The only compensation the Irish got for the devastation caused by the Scandinavians was three or four cities and the beginnings of a trading bourgeoisie.

* * *

The further back we go into history, the more the characteristics distinguishing different peoples of the same race disappear. This is partly because of the nature of the sources, which in the measure in which they are older become thinner and contain only the most essential information, and partly because of the development of the peoples themselves. The less remote the individual branches are from the original stock, the nearer they are to each other and the more they resemble each other. Jacob Grimm has always quite correctly treated the information given by Roman historians, who described the War of the Cimbri,[26] Adam of Bremen and Saxo Grammaticus, all the literary written records from Beowulf and Hildebrandslied to the Eddas[27]and the sagas, all the books of law from the Leges barbarorum[28]to the ancient Danish and ancient Swedish laws and the old Germanic judicial procedures as equally valuable sources of information on the German national character, customs and legal conditions. A specific characteristic may be of purely local significance, but the character reflected in it is common to the whole race; and the older the sources used, the more local differences disappear.

just as the Scandinavians and the Germans differed less in the seventh and eighth centuries than they do today, so also must the Irish Celts and the Gallic Celts have originally resembled each other more than present-day Irishmen and Frenchmen. Therefore we should not be surprised to find in Caesar’s description of the Gauls many features which are ascribed to the Irish by Giraldus some twelve hundred years later, and which, furthermore, are discernible in the Irish national character even today, in spite of the admixture of Germanic blood. ...

 

_____

Notes

[1] Engels is referring to the collection Rerum Hibernicarum Scriptores Veleres (Ancient Annalists of Ireland), published in four volumes in 1814, 1825 and 1826 by Charles O'Conor in Buckingham.

The collection contains the first publication of part of the Annales IV Magistrorum, the Annales Tigernachi, which were written between the 11th and 15th centuries and described events from the close of the third century, the Annales Ultonienses (compiled by various chroniclers between the 15th and 17th centuries and describing events beginning with the mid-5th century), and the Annales Inisfalensis (generally assumed to have been compiled from 1215 onwards, and treating events up to 1318), mentioned by Engels.

 

[2] Arthur O'Connor was one of the few leaders of the United Irishmen society, which prepared the 1798 uprising, who managed to escape execution. After his release from gaol in 1803 O'Connor was banished to France, where he stayed to the end of his days.

 

[3] Saerrath and Daerrath — two forms of tenancy in ancient Ireland, whereby the tenant, generally an ordinary member of the community, was given the use of stock and later also of land by the chief of the clan or tribe and by other representatives of the tribal elite. They involved partial loss of personal freedom (especially in the case of Daerrath) and various onerous duties. These forms of dependence were typical of the period of the disintegration of tribal relations in ancient Irish society and of the early stages of feudalisation. At this time land tenure was on the whole still communal, while stock and farming implements were already private property, and private landownership already existed in embryonic form. Engels’s “see below” refers to the section of this chapter which remained unwritten.

 

[4] S. Bernard, Vita S. Malachiae.

 

[5] The works of Giraldus Cambrensis on Ireland, Topographia Hibernica and Expugnatio Hibernica (in Engels’s manuscript Hibernia Expugnata), were included in the 5th volume of the Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, mentioned by Engels, the publication of which was begun by J. S. Brewer. The 5th volume published by J. F. Dimock appeared in 1867.

 

[6] A reference to the following works: M. Hanmer, The Chronicle of Ireland; E. Campion, History of Ireland; E. Spencer, A View of the State of Ireland, published in Ancient Irish Histories. The Works of Spencer, Campion, Hanmer and Marleburrough, vols. I-II, Dublin, 1809, and also to: John Davies, Historical Tracts, London, 1786; W. Camden, Britannia, London, 1637; F. Moryson, An Itinerary Containing Ten Years Travels Through the Twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohmerland, Switzerland, Netherland, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Turkey, France, England, Scotland and Ireland, London, 1617.

 

[7] Engels is referring to Huxley’s public lecture on the subject “The Forefathers and Forerunners of the English People,” read in Manchester on January 9, 1870. A detailed account of the lecture was published in the Manchester Examiner and The Times on January 12, 1870.

 

[8] Diodorus Siculus, Bibliothecae historicae, Vol. 5.

 

[9] Strabo, Geographic, translated by K. Kärcher, Buch 7, Tübingen, 1835.

 

[10] Ch. Fourier, Le nouveau monde industriel et societaire on invention du procede d'industrie attrayante et naturelle distribuee en series passionnees. The first edition appeared in Paris in 1829. For the passage mentioned by Engels see p. 399 of that edition.

 

[11] Claudius Ptolemaeus, Geographia, Book 11, Chapter 2.

 

[12] A reference to The Poems of Ossian written by the Scottish poet James Macpherson, who published them in 1760-65. He ascribed them to Ossian, the legendary Celtic bard. Macpherson’s poems are based on an ancient Irish epos in a later Scottish interpretation.

 

[13] S. Eusebius Hieronymus, Commentariorum in Jeremiam Prophetam libri sex. Prologus.

 

[14] Gennadius, Illustrium, virorum, catologus.

 

[15] The references are to the following medieval works: Claudianus, De IV consulatu Honorii Augusti panegiricus; Isidorus Hispalensis, Etymologiarum, libri XX; Beda Venerabilis, Historiae Ecclesiasticae libri quinque; Anonymus Ravenatis, De Geographiae libri V; Egin hard, Vita et gesta Karoli Magni; Alfred the Great, Anglo-Saxon Version of the Historian Orosius. In all probability Engels used extracts from the above-mentioned works contained in K. Zeuss, Die Deutschen und die Nachbarstaemme. See pp. 568-69 of the edition published in Munich in 1837.

 

[16] Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum gestarum libri XXXI, liber XX.

 

[17] Nennius, Historia Brittonum, with an English Version by Gunn, London, 1819, § 15.

 

[18] Triads — medieval Welsh works written in the form characteristic of the poetry of the ancient Celts of Wales, with persons, things, events, etc., arranged in sets of three. As regards their content the Triads are historical, theological, judicial, poetical and ethical. The early Triads were composed not later than the 10th century, but the extant manuscripts of these works relate to the period from the12th to the 15th century.

 

[19] G.W.F. Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie (Lectures on the History of Philosophy), Bd. 3. In: Werke, Bd. XV, Berlin, 1836, S. 160.

 

[20] Alexandrian Neoplatonic school — a trend in ancient philosophy originating in the 3rd century A. D. in Alexandria during the decline of the Roman Empire. The source of neoplatonism was Plato’s idealism, and the idealistic aspect of Aristotle’s teaching, interpreted in a mystical spirit by the neoplatonic philosophers. In the 5th century A. D. an unknown adherent of this school, who attempted to combine the Christian teaching with neoplatonism, signed his works with the name of Dionysius the Areopagite, the first Christian Bishop of Athens.

 

[21] Haraldsaga was written early in the 13th century by the Icelandic poet and chronicler Snorri Sturluson. He tells of the life and exploits of the Norwegian King Harald (9th-10th centuries), founder of the Harfagr dynasty.

 

[22] Krakumal (Song of Kraka) — a medieval Scandinavian poem, composed as the death-song of Ragnar Lodbrok (9th century), a Danish Viking taken prisoner and put to death by Ella, the King of Northumberland. According to the legend Kraka, Ragnar’s wife, sang the song to her children to inspire in them the desire to avenge their father’s death. Engels used the text of the song as given in the reader: F. E. Ch. Dietrich, Altnordisches Lesebuch, Leipzig, 1864, S. 73-80.

 

[23] Johnstone, Lodbrokar — Quida; or, the Death Song of Lodbroke, London, 1782.

 

[24] Niâlssaga — an Icelandic saga which according to recent research was recorded at the end of the 13th century from oral tradition and ancient written monuments. The central theme is the life story of Gunnar, an Icelandic Hawding (a member of the clan nobility) and his friend Bond Nial (a free community member), an expert on and commentator of ancient customs and laws. The saga tells of the battle of the Norsemen against the Irish King Brian Born, and is an authentic source for the study of a major event in Irish history the Irish victory over the Norse invaders in 1014 at the battle of Clontarf. Engels quoted the excerpt from the Niâlssaga according to the text of the reader: F. E. Ch. Dietrich, Altnordisches Lesebuch, Leipzig, 1864, S. 103-08.

 

[25] Modern scholars transcribe the name of King Brian’s residence in Munster as Kankaraborg, or Kincora.

 

[26] The Cimbri and Teutons, Germanic tribes, invaded Southern Gaul and Northern Italy in 113-101 B.C. In 101 B.C. these tribes were routed by the Roman General Marius in the battle of Vercelli (Northern Italy). The battle of the Romans against the Cimbri and Teutons was described by Plutarch in his biography of Marius, by Tacitus in Germania, and by other ancient historians.

 

[27] Beowulf — a poem about the legendary hero Beowulf is supposed to have been recorded in the 8th century and ranks as the finest known work of Anglo-Saxon poetry. The poem is based on folk sagas about the life of the Germanic tribes of the early 6th century.

Hildebrandslied — an 8th century German epic poem, of which only some passages have survived.

Edda — a collection of epic poems and songs about the lives and deeds of the Scandinavian gods and heroes. It has come down to us in a manuscript dating from the 13th century, discovered in 1643 by the Icelandic Bishop Sveinsson — the so-called Elder Edda — and in a treatise on the poetry of the scalds compiled in the early 13th century by Snorri Sturluson (Younger Edda).

 

[28] Leges barbarorum — records of the common law of various Germanic tribes, compiled between the 5th and 9th centuries.

 

 


Preparatory Material

 

The preparatory material for Engels’s uncompleted History of Ireland is vast. Passages copied from various sources fill the better part of 15 large exercise-books. In addition, there are numerous notes and fragments on separate pages and a large number of newspaper cuttings. The material is extremely varied, including analyses of sources (ancient laws, medieval chronicles, legal and historical treatises of the 16th and 17th centuries, travel notes, etc.), passages from books, notably, those relating to Irish history from ancient times to the 1860s, and jottings of Engels’s own thoughts. Some of the notes represent Engels’s own synthesis of data drawn from several sources. Engels generally made remarks, sometimes sharply critical ones, on the excerpts taken from the works of various authors.

Only a small part of Engels’s manuscript has been published to date (in Russian, in the edition: Marx-Engels Archives, Vol. X,Moscow, 1948). The materials chosen for this volume show Engels’s own creative contribution to the study of Irish history. They include the plan for his book, containing also in general outline his own division into periods of Irish history, the most complete and significant fragments, a chronological review of events from ancient times to the mid-17th century and the work “Varia on the History of the Irish Confiscations.”

 

Draft Plan

 

1. Natural conditions
2. Ancient Ireland
3. English conquests

1) First invasion
2) Pale and Irishry
3) Subjugation and expropriation. 152...-1691

4. English rule

1) Penal Laws.[1] 1691-1780
2) Rebellion and Union. 1780-1801
3) Ireland in the United Kingdom
a) The period of the small peasants. 1801-1846
b) The period of extermination. 1846-1870

_________

Footnotes

[1] Penal Code or penal laws — a set of laws passed by the English for Ireland at the end of the 17th and in the first half of the 18th centuries on the pretext of struggle against Catholic conspiracies. These laws deprived the indigenous Irish, the majority of whom were Catholics, of all civil and political rights. They limited the right of Catholics to inheritance, to the acquisition and alienation of property, and introduced the practice of confiscating property for petty offences. The Penal Code was used as an instrument for the expropriation of the Irish who still owned land. It established unfavourable lease terms for Catholic peasants, promoting their dependence on the English landlords. The ban on Catholic schools, the stern punishment meted out to Catholic priests, and other measures were intended to stamp out Irish national traditions. The penal laws were abrogated, and then only in part, at the end of the 18th century under the influence of the growing national liberation struggle in Ireland.

 

 

Notes.

 

Ir[ish] literature? — 17th century, poet[ical], histor[ical], jurid[ical], then completely suppressed due to the extirpation of the lr[ish] literary language — exists only in manuscript — publication is beginning only now — this is [possible] only with an oppressed people. See Serbs, etc.

The English knew how to reconcile people of the most diverse races with their rule. The Welsh, who held so tenaciously to their nationality and language, have fused completely with the British Empire. The Scottish Celts, though rebellious until 1745[1] and since almost completely exterminated first by the government and then by their own aristocracy, do not even think of rebellion. The French of the Channel Isles fought bitterly against France during the Great Revolution. Even the Frisians of Heligoland,[2] which Denmark sold to Britain, are satisfied with their lot; and a long time will probably pass before the laurels of Sadowa and the conquests of the North — German Confederation[3] wrench from their throats a pained wail about unification with the “great fatherland.” Only with the Irish the English could not cope. The reason for this is the enormous resilience of the Irish race. After the most savage suppression, after every attempt to exterminate them, the Irish, following a short respite, stood stronger than ever before: it seemed they drew their main strength from the very foreign garrison forced on them in order to oppress them. Within two generations, often within one, the foreigners became more Irish than the Irish, Hiberniores ipsis Hibernis. The more the Irish accepted the English language and forgot their own, the more Irish they became.

The bourgeoisie turns everything into a commodity, hence also the writing of history. It is part of its being, of its condition for existence, to falsify all goods: it falsified the writing of history. And the best — paid historiography is that which is best falsified for the purposes of the bourgeoisie. Witness Macaulay, who, for that very reason, is the inept G. Smith’s unequalled paragon.

Queen’s Evidence. — Rewards for Evidence.

England is the only country where the state openly dares to bribe witnesses, [be it] by an offer of exemption from punishment, be it by ready cash. That prices are fixed for the betrayal of the sojourn of a political persecutee is comprehensible, but that they say: who gives me evidence on grounds of which somebody can be sentenced as the contriver of some crime or another — this infamy is something not only the Code, but also Pr[ussian] common law have left to Eng[lish] law. That collateral evidence is required alongside with that given by the informer is useless; generally there is suspicion of somebody, or else it is fabricated, and the informer only has to adjust his lies accordingly.

Whether this pretty usage [saubere Usus] has its roots already in Eng[lish] legal proceedings is hard to say, but it is certain that it has received its development on Irish soil at the time of the Tories"’ and the penal laws.

On March 15, 1870, when the government removed an Irish sheriff (Coote of Monaghan) on the plea that he had packed the jury panel, G. H. Moore, M. P. for Mayo, said in Parliament:

“If Capt. Coote had done all the things of which he had been accused, he had only followed the practice which, in political cases, had been habitually sanctioned by the Institute Executive.”

As one instance out of many that might be cited, he would mention that though County Cork had a proportion of 500,000 Catholics against 50,000 Protestants, at the time of the Fenian trials in 1865,[4] a jury Panel was called, composed of 360 Protestants and 40 Catholics!

The German Legion of 1806-13 was also sent to Ireland. Thus, the good Hanoverians who refused to put up with French (bondage] rule, were used by the English to preserve the English rule in Ireland!

The agrarian murders in Ireland cannot be suppressed because and as long as they are the only effective remedy against the extermination of the people by the landlords. They help, that is why they continue, and will continue, in spite of all the coercive laws. Their number varies, as it does with all social phenomena; they can even become epidemic in certain circumstances, when they occur at quite insignificant occasions. The epidemic can be suppressed, but the sickness itself cannot.

 

_______

Footnotes

[1] A reference to the uprising of the Scottish highlanders in 1745. The rebellion was the result of oppression and eviction from the land carried out in the interests of the Anglo-Scottish landed aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Part of the nobility in the Scottish Highlands, who supported the claims to the English crown of the overthrown Stuart dynasty (the official aim of the insurgents was to enthrone Charles Edward, the grandson of James II), took advantage of the dissatisfaction of the highlanders. The suppression of the rebellion put an end to the clan system in the Scottish Highlands and brought about increased evictions.

 

[2] The Island of Heligoland (North Sea) was in early times settled by a Germanic tribe, the Frisians. Having become a Danish possession in the 18th century, it was captured by the English in 1807 and ceded to England in 1814 by the Treaty of Kiel. In 1890, England gave Heligoland to Germany in exchange for Zanzibar.

 

[3] The Prussians defeated ‘the Austrians in the Austro-Prussian war on July 3, 1866, near the village of Sadowa, in the vicinity of the town of Königgraetz in Bohemia (now Hradec Králové).

North-German Confederation — a federal German state established in 1867 under the leadership of Prussia after her victory over Austria in 1866. It existed until the formation, in January 1871, of the German Empire, incorporating in addition to the North-German Confederation the South-German states.

 

[4] The name given in Ireland to those who took Dart in the movement against the colonial authorities and landlords in the latter half of the 17th and early 18th centuries. The name was derived from the original meaning of the word — a bully, a ruffian. The Tories were mostly peasants, their leaders — expropriated Irish noblemen. At the end of the 17th century there emerged detachments made up of peasants alone — the rapparees. The authorities used extremely brutal methods in the fight against the Tories and rapparees. Those caught were hung, drawn and quartered. People giving information leading to their capture received high rewards. In England the nickname Tory was given by the Whigs to their opponents — the representatives of the conservative aristocratic circles, supporting the absolutist claims of the Stuarts, who were restored in 1660.

 

[5] A reference to the trial held in Dublin in the autumn of 1865 of the prominent participants in the Fenian movement, accused of organising an anti-government plot. The main accused were O'Leary, Luby, Kickham and O'Donovan Rossa, the publishers and editors of The Irish People, the Fenian newspaper suppressed by the police on September 15. Many other Fenians were also arrested on denunciation by agents provocateurs and traitors. The picked jury was composed of supporters of English rule hostile to the Irish revolutionaries. The sentences were extremely severe: O'Leary, Luby and Kickham were sentenced to twenty years of penal servitude and O'Donovan Rossa to penal servitude for life.

 

 

 

Chronology of Ireland.

 

Chronology of Ireland was compiled by Engels mainly according to the book by Thomas Moore, outstanding Irish poet and historian, The History of Ireland, vols. I-IV, Paris, 1835-46. Engels admired this book for wealth of facts, literary merits and the author’s deep sympathy with the oppressed people. Apart from the “Chronology,” Engels used also other passages from the book. Scientifically Moore’s The History of Ireland did not excel other works on Irish history written in the first half of the 19th century, and reflected many of the shortcomings of Irish romantic historiography of that period. This largely explains Engels’s wish to make the information he drew from it fuller and more precise by turning to other sources, references to which crop up frequently in the “Chronology of Ireland.” Engels, however, did not have the opportunity at that time to make all the necessary corrections to Moore’s dating of events. Yet, the general line of Ireland’s historical development in his work, and his appraisals of events and people are extremely valuable and have been corroborated by later historical research. “Chronology of Ireland” ends, as does Moore’s book, with 1646, the climax of the 1641-52 Irish uprising. Engels traced the subsequent course of this uprising in his excerpts from other books.

 

? Immigration of the Scots (Milesians).
200 B.C. ? King Kimbaoth.
A.D. 2 ? King Conary the Great?
258 ? First Scottish settlement in Albany (Scotland).
King Cormac Ulfadha.-Finn McCumhal.
396 Irish invasion of Great Britain. King Nial of the Nine Hostages.
406 Dathy, last of the Irish heathen kings.
403 St. Patrick brought to Ireland from France as slave. He fled in 410.
432 Returned as converter and died in 465.
684 Egfrid, King of Northumberland, sailed his navy to Ireland.
795 First Danish invasion, thenceforth regularly renewed (first invasion of England in 787).
818-33 King Concobar.
839-46 Feidlim, King of Munster.
844 Turgesius died and Danes were expelled.
849 New Danish invasion.
853 Olaf, Ivar and Sitrick arrived. Nose-money tribute.
901-08 Cormac McCulinan, King of Munster.
902 Leinster expelled Danes from Dublin.
926 Muirkeartach’s first victory over Danes.
937 Battle of Brunanburh. Olaf of Dublin takes part 224
939 Muirkeartach-ruler of all Ireland.
943 Muirkeartach died.
944 King Donogh died.
969 Mahon, King of Munster, and his brother Brian Boromhe (King Kennedy’s son) defeated Limerick Danes at Sulchoide and, pursuing them, captured Limerick, which they burned.
976 Mahon assassinated by another chieftain, Maolmua. Brian Boru, King of all Munster, defeated Maolmua and other chieftains involved in the plot, conquered Iniscathy (Shannon estuary) from the Danes and expelled them from the other Shannon islands.
980 Malachy the Great (of the Hy Nials) became King of Tara (at that time there were only two kingdoms in Ireland-Cashel and Tara); defeated the Danes at Tara, subjugated them and freed all Irish war prisoners (c. 2,000). Leinster and other vassal chieftains [Unterfursten) plotted against Brian, but were foiled.
982 Malachy overran Brian’s possessions.
983 Malachy overran Leinster. Brian made war.
They signed an agreement consummating the division of Ireland, with Leinster remaining a tributary of the Southern Kingdom.
988 Another war broke out between the two with changing fortune, until
997 the agreement formalising the division was reaffirmed.
998-1000 The two made common cause in war against Danes, achieving notable success.
1000 Again war between the two; Malachy, the weaker, submitted before the battle.
1001 Brian Boru became King of Tara and all Ireland.
1008 Defeated the rebellious Southern Hy Nials at Athlone. General peace set in.
1013 Sitrick= Sigtrygg, the Danish King of Dublin, and his allies from Leinster invaded Meath, where Malachy was local king, and defeated him.
Brian denied Malachy help, but in summer marched against and ravaged Leinster.
1014 Large-scale invasion of Ireland by the Norsemen. They made Dublin their main base. Brian marched on Dublin. Battle of Clontarf on April 23 (Good Friday). The Danes defeated (described in Nialssaga; see Dietrich, [Altnordisches Lesebuch] p. 52).
Brian was assassinated in his tent by the Norwegian Admiral Brodar; his son Morrough fell too. After the battle strife broke out anew over succession and supremacy.
1015 Malachy again became King of Ireland and repulsed a new Danish invasion. Numerous inland risings and new clashes with the Danes who never recovered after Clontarf.
1022 Malachy abdicated and withdrew to a cloister, where he soon died. No new supreme king was elected. Wars of succession followed in Munster until
1064 Turlough, Brian Boru’s nephew, became King and
1072 annexed Dublin, Leinster and Meath.
1070 Murchad, the first Irish King of the Dublin Danes, who now assimilate rapidly.
Ulster was also finally subjugated by Turlough.
1086 Turlough died. Wars of succession followed.
1090 Treaty of Lough Neagh: Murkertach, son of Turlough, made King of the South, and Domnal O'Lochlin, chief of the Hy Nials, King of the North. But war broke out between them at once, lasting 28 years. In
1103 Murkertach was defeated.
1114 Murkertach, who fell sick, abdicated in favour of Dermot, his brother.
1121 Domnal O'Lochlin died. New wars of succession followed.
1088 Tigernach (pronounced Tiarna), the chronicler, died.
1086 Marianus Scotus died in Mayence.
1136 Tordelvac O'Connor, King of Connaught, made King of all Ireland, but continuously attacked by the kings of Munster, until
1151 the Momons were totally defeated at Moinmor and Munster was subjugated. But a rising followed at once
1153 by Murtogh O'Lochlin, King of Tyrone, chief of Ulster and member of the Hy Nials, who, however, was also defeated.
1152 Synod in Kells. Resolutions against simony, usury, priest marriage and concubinage.
Later, a prescript by Cardinal Legate Paparo, introducing payment of tithe in Ireland.
1156 Tordelwach died. His son Roderic O'Connor-King of Connaught; but Murtogh O'Lochlin made King of all Ireland, meeting but little resistance from Roderic.
Otherwise, peace.
1166 Murtogh died. Roderic O'Connor became King of Ireland. Held
1167 counsel with all chiefs and prelates at Athboy, where a retinue of 30,000 people gathered. This was exactly four years before the English invasion!
1153 Dermot McMurchad, King of Leinster, abducted Dervorgilla, wife of Tiernan O'Ruark, chief of Breffny in East Connaught.
1154 Tordelwach forced him to return her and protected O'Ruark. However, his successor O'Lochlin sided with Dermot, while Roderic again on O'Ruark’s side.
1166 Roderic sent reinforcements to help O'Ruark and drove out Dermot, who fled
1168 to England and appealed for help to Henry II. The latter had soon after 1155 obtained from Pope Adrian IV (an Englishman by name of Breakspear) a bull allowing him in return for recognising extended temporal papal court authority to conquer Ireland in order to reform the Irish church, with every Irish household paying the Pope 1d. yearly.
1169-71 Conquest of South and East Ireland by the English.[1]
1173 Marauding by the English.
1174 Strongbow and Hervey of Mount Maurice defeated by Donald O'Brian. General uprising. Raymond Le Gros brought 30 knights, 100 men-at-arms and 30 archers from England and restored order. He became Strongbow’s son-in-law and enfeoffed Idrone, Fethard and Glascarrig; captured Limerick from Donald O'Brian.
1175 O'Brian beleaguered Limerick, but was defeated at Cashel. Here Irishmen, the princes of Ossory and Kinsale, sided with the English. Roderic and O'Brian accepted defeat. Roderic was reaffirmed as King of all Ireland under English suzerainty, exclusive of Leinster, Meath and the coast from Waterford to Dungarvan. These were put directly under English rule. Roderic acknowledged that the Kings of England were for all time Lords Paramount in Ireland and the fee of the soil should be in them. Meanwhile, old laws remained and chieftains retained full power in Roderic’s possessions, making war on each other as before.
1176 Strongbow died.
1177 English invasion of Ulster under de Courcy failed. Ditto of Connaught under Milo de Cogan without pretext and just as unsuccessful. The Irish laid waste the land and withdrew to the hills, attacking the English as the latter withdrew, and defeating them.
1178 De Courcy defeated in Ulster and pressed back to Downpatrick.
1182 De Cogan (Milo) assassinated in Desmond.
Uprising in Munster. Strife among Irish, as a result of which Roderic abdicated in favour of his son, Connor Manmoy.
1184-85 New reinforcements of the English. Continuous plunder of the country, especially of Ulster, by the English.
1185 John (Lackland), 12 years old, sent to Ireland as Lord. His retinue insulted the Irish chiefs, and a general uprising broke out. Irish clans, long subdued in the Pale, were driven out by the English and their land confiscated. Even Welsh were mistreated by John’s men. Now the Irish began a small war with some success, destroying isolated forts and detachments. But soon they resumed wars against each other, so that by and large the English held their ground.
1189 Henry II died. Uprisings against the English broke out continuously until the end of the century. Continuous internal wars between the Irish and those Irishmen who fought on the side of the English.
1198 Strife broke out among the English barons.
After Roderic’s death a war of succession began in Connaught between his sons Carrach, supported by William de Burgh (of the Fitz-Adelms), and Cathal, backed by J. de Courcy and Walter de Lacy.
Soon thereafter the rivalry between John de Courcy and Hugh de Lacy culminated in
1205 de Courcy’s capture by the King and the transfer of his county in Ulster to de Lacy.
1205-16 Ireland mostly quiet until John’s death.
1216 HENRY III. Ten years old. Earl Pembroke, Strongbow’s heir in Leinster, Earl Marshal of England, appointed administrator. Magna Carta[2] extended to Ireland (i.e., for the English).
1219-20 War between William Earl Pembroke (son of the above) and Hugh de Lacy over some border land, with O'Neill of Tyrone helping de Lacy.
1245 Maurice Fitz-Gerald, Lord Justice of Ireland, supplied an Irish army which included Feidlim, King of Connaught, to aid King Henry in the war against Wales. This campaign was conducted voluntarily by the Irish barons, for they were not obligated to serve outside Ireland; “may this not be considered a precedent.”
1244 and 1254 Henry ordered the indigenous Irish chiefs to provide him with troops in Scotland and Gascogne. Nothing is known of whether they complied.
1255 Irish troops sailed to help Earl of Chester and the Welsh against the English, but were defeated before landing by Prince Edward (later 1). Thereupon, Irish troops dispatched to help the King against the Welsh.
1259 Uprising of the McCarthys of Desmond, almost all of whose land was given over to the Geraldines.[3] The Geraldines were expelled, but the success was not lasting, because other chiefs denied help.
1264 Feud between the de Burghs and Geraldines, until finally the Irish Parliament (?) in Kilkenny and the new Lord justice Barry put an end to it.
1270 A new strong uprising of the Irish, but only destruction and a small war resulted; English power remained vigorous.
1272 EDWARD I. Early in his reign, the Irish (of the Pale) petitioned that English law be extended to them.
That same year, 1272, the Irish rose again.
Invasion of Ireland by Scots, followed by a raid of Scotland by Richard de Burgh and Sir Eustace de Poer with Irish troops employing their favourite method of smoking the Scots out of the caves.
1276-80 Many wars against the Irish.
1277 Wars of succession between the O'Brians of Thomond; Thomas de Clare, son of Earl of Gloucester, took advantage of this to establish himself in the country. In the meantime, the Irish warred among themselves in Connaught, of which Lord justice Robert de Ufford wrote the King that it would be fine if the rebels killed each other, because it did not cost the King’s treasury anything and would help instil peace in the country (Vol. III, p. 33)
1280 Edward called on lords spiritual and temporal and all the other Englishmen in Ireland to hold counsel about the petition asking for the Irish to be placed under English law. He was in favour (the Irish promised 8 , 000 marks for it), because the laws of the Irish From were “hateful in the sight of God” and so Davies unjust that they could not be considered as laws, though he did not wish to act without the consent of the lords. However, the barons appear not to have taken any notice, with still only a few Irishmen admitted within the pale of English law.
Feuds between the de Burghs and the Geraldines, likewise between other barons, throughout Edward’s reign. Similar strife between the Irish chiefs.
At last,
1295 Lord Justice Sir John Wogan convened Parliament to settle the feuds, devising an armistice that lasted two years. This Parliament was, of course, no more than a gathering of barons and prelates. For its decisions see excerpts [from Moore, History of Ireland, Book of Excerpts II,] p. 12.[4]
1299 When Anglo-lrish auxiliary troops set out for the Scottish war[5] an uprising occurred in the Maraghie mountains and in Oriel.
Peace ensued for a number of years after the troops returned.
1303 Again, Anglo-lrish troops from Ulster set out for Scotland.
1306 Irish rising in Meath crushed in the Battle of Glenfell.
1307 Irish rising in Offaley and Connaught.
1307 EDWARD II.
1309 Parliament in Kilkenny: acts against gross or 1310 exactions and general misconduct of the nobility.
1312 The Byrnes and O’tooles of Wicklow marched on Dublin, while English bondsmen [Lehnsleute] in Oriel rebelled.
1307 Robert Bruce, who had fled to Rachlin Island, Antrim County, where he was in hiding all winter, helped by the Irish, set out for Galloway with 300 Scotsmen and 700 Irish troops, but was intercepted by Duncan M'Dowal, a local chief, at embarkation and defeated.
1315 After Robert Bruce’s victory at Bannock burn in 1314,[6] Edward Bruce and 6,000 men landed in Antrim, the Irish joining him en masse, and conquered Ulster; he was crowned King of Ireland in Dundalk, defeated the English under de Burgh on the Banne River, Down County, and waited for reinforcements from Scotland. While Feidlim O'Connor of Connaught marched off with the English, Roderic O'Connor rebelled; Connaught was swept by insurrection; but Feidlim defeated Roderic, who was killed in battle; whereupon Feidlim banded with Bruce. Munster, too, rose against the English; even several of the great lords (English) and many English people made common cause with Bruce. The latter defeated the English in Meath, marched on Kildare and defeated them once more; an insurrection in Leinster, especially Wicklow (Byrnes, O’tooles and O'Moores), held in check by the English.
1316 Food shortages compelled Bruce to withdraw to Ulster, where he idled. The English Lord Justice, Butler, suppressed the rising in Wicklow, then the English marched against 1316 Feidlim, defeating him (he fell) at Athenry.
Robert Bruce arrived in Ireland with a large force, and Carrickfergus surrendered; at the end of the year, Robert Bruce marched on Dublin, but did not dare to attack; instead he headed for Naas and Kilkenny, ravaging the land up to Limerick and thereby cutting himself off from food supplies, losing many men through hunger, especially due to the lateness of the season.
1317 In May, Bruce brought his half-starved army to Ulster and departed for Scotland, leaving the troops to his brother Edward, probably because he was disappointed in the Irish. The Scots were quiet, but the Irish, like the English barons, were again at each other’s throats.
1318 Finally, Edward Bruce was defeated and killed by the English at Faughard in Dundalk.
1327 EDWARD III. Feud between Maurice Fitz-Thomas, later Earl of Desmond, and Lord Arnold Poer, consequent on which
1328 the Irish rose in Leinster under Donald M'Morrough of the old Dermot clan.
1329 Pacification of feuding barons by Lord justice Roger Outlaw. The Irish again petitioned that they might be permitted to use the law of England without being obliged to purchase charters of denization, which the King advised the barons to concede, but which the latter again shelved ad acta.
New feuds among the barons and risings of the Irish in the south and east, until finally
1330 Fitz-Thomas, Earl of Desmond, helped by the O'Brians (who had rebelled shortly before!) defeated the rebels. Soon thereafter O'Brian rebelled again; a new war ensued, in which the de Burghs indulged in plunder and abuse during their march across Fitz-Thomas’s estates, causing another feud; Lord Justice Sir John Darcy had to lock up the chiefs of both houses.
1331 New rebellions in Leinster.
1332 Royal decree issued that the Irish and English should have the same law (English), excluding villeins (betagii, classed with the English villanis). But the decree was stillborn. Like wise, a royal ordinance against absenteeism; twenty-two absentees (English lords) were to accompany the King on his voyage to Ireland, but this did not materialise.
1339 Irish risings all over Ireland, with here and there assimilated barons on the Irish side.
1341 Sir John Morris, Knight, Lord justice of Ireland. On pretext of money shortage due to the war against France, he took back all estates, titles and jurisdiction granted by Edward III and Edward 11, and demanded settlement of all due, even void, crown debts.
1342 He ordered all Anglo-lrish or Irish officials and judges, or officials and judges with Anglo-lrish or Irish wives to be replaced by imported Englishmen (the power of the Anglo-lrish lords was to be broken).
Convened Parliament in Dublin in October.
Opposed Parliament of Nobles, especially of the Desmonds, in Kilkenny; a protest petition was sent to the King, who acknowledged receipt, which was as far as matters seem to have gone. Morris’s orders of restitution remained in force.
1343 Sir Ralph Ufford, husband of the Countess Dowager of Ulster, was made Lord Justice, and
1345 convened Parliament in Dublin, while Desmond convened one in Callan; Ufford came to grips with him and compelled him to comply. Ufford died in 1346, and the King’s fight against the lords seems to have ended for a time.
1353 The confiscated possessions (1342) were returned.
1361 Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward, appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Marched without the Irish lords, whom he slighted, against O'Brian of Thomond, and was defeated; then he called on them for help, and the latter defeated the Irish.
1364 Lionel returned to England.
1367 Parliament of Kilkenny.[7] At this time, Ireland was so peaceful that the King’s writran in Ulster and Connaught and the revenues of those provinces were regularly accounted for in the Exchequer.
1369-70 New risings of the O’tooles and others in Leinster, and of O'Connor and O'Brian in the south-west; they were suppressed.
1364 Dublin University founded.
1377 RICHARD II. Almost every Parliament (English) of his reign demanded supplies and men for war in Ireland.
1394 Richard landed in Waterford with 4,000 horsemen and 30,000 archers to reconquer Ireland. The chiefs of Leinster and Ulster, numbering 75, expressed submission. Those of Ulster were to pay the bonaght[8] to the Earl of Ulster, while those of Leinster relinquished all their land and promised help against all other Irish, for which they would keep land thus conquered.
1395 No sooner Richard and his army returned than raids were renewed into the Pale.
1399 Richard marched against Ireland again, but in his absence
1399 HENRY IV, Bolingbroke of Lancaster, usurped the English throne and took Richard prisoner on his return.
1402 The O'Byrnes of Wicklow were defeated by John Drake, Mayor of Dublin.
1407 War against McMorrough of Leinster; yielded no decisive results, though by and large favourable for the English.
1410 Parliament in Dublin. An Act made it treason to exact coynye and livery.[9] During an excursion by Thomas Le Botiller, Prior of Kilmainham and Lord Justice, with 1,500 kerns (Irish infantry) against O'Byrne, half went over to the enemy and the English had to withdraw. An act was introduced whereby the Irish were prohibited to migrate without special licence to assure enough hands for the fields.
1413 HENRY V.
1414 Talbot victorious over Irish borderers.
1417 200 Irish horsemen and 300 infantry under Thomas Butler, Prior of Kilmainham, went to France as auxiliary troops[10] the horsemen on ponies, unsaddled, clothed in armour, the infantry with shields, spears and large knives. They fought very well and won much acclaim.
1421 New wars with the Irish, the latter being defeated in Leinster and Oriel.
1422 HENRY VI.
1432 Sir Thomas Stanley, Lord Lieutenant, repulsed unusually strong Irish attacks.
1438 For the second time an Act was passed in English Parliament that all people born in Ireland (except beneficed clergymen, English estate holders and a few others) must at once return to the country of their birth. A similar act was passed in Irish Parliament to curb the exodus to England.
1449 Duke of York, heir of Earl March and as such Earl of Ulster and Cork, Lord of Connaught, Clare, Trim and Meath, hence nominally Lord of 1/3 of Ireland, was appointed Lord Lieutenant for ten years.
As usual, wars and feuds continued.
Throughout the hundred years, the government contended with financial difficulties. Ireland’s annual deficit was about £1,500.
1450 York returned to contest the English throne.
1460 York defeated and killed at Wakefield, [11] where he was accompanied by “the flower of all the English colonies (in Ireland), specially of Ulster and Meath, whereof many noblemen and gentlemen were slain at Wakefield” (Davies).
1460 EDWARD IV.
1463-67 Earl of Desmond became Lord Lieutenant; ascendancy of the Geraldines. Carlow, Ross, Dunbar’s Island and Dungarvan bestowed to Desmond; he was also made beneficiary of a large annuity chargeable on the principal seigniories belonging to the Crown in the Pale. But Desmond was too Irish and too popular, and hence.
1467 Lord Worcester became his successor, imprisoning Desmond, indicting him under the Statute of Kilkenny for alliance and intermarriage with the Irish. (It was through this marital connection with the Irish that Desmond was able to uphold the King’s authority in Munster; as for the Statute, it was long out of use in the south.) Parliament of Drogheda found Desmond attainted of treason for “alliance, fostering, and alterage with the King’s enemies, for furnishing them with horses, harness, and arms, and supporting them against the King’s subjects.” He was beheaded in Drogheda on February 5, 1468.
1468 Worcester recalled, while Earl Kildare, the Geraldine, though also attainted, was restored and even made Lord Lieutenant.
1476 John, Earl of Ormond (attainted under Edward as follower of Henry VI), restored to all his possessions and in high favour.
The Butlers rose, the Geraldines fell, but regained favour in 1478.
1478 Thomas, Earl Kildare, died. His son, Gerald Fitz-Thomas, Earl Kildare, was made Lord Deputy (of the Duke of Clarence, who was Lord Lieutenant).
1483 EDWARD V and RICHARD III.
1485 HENRY VII. Confirmed the Yorkists (the Geraldines and others) in their Irish offices, and installed no Lancasterites beside them. However, Thomas, Earl Ormond (attainted by Edward IV), was reinstated in his Irish and English estates and made member of the English Privy Council (he was brother of James).
1486 In Dublin, posing as young Earl of War wick, son of the Duke of Clarence, Lambert Simnel was crowned King Edward VI. Kildare and the Pale, excluding Waterford, the Butlers and a few foreign bishops, swore allegiance, and the Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV, sent 2,000 German mercenaries under Martin Schwarz, to support him. These and Irish levies were then sent to England, landed in Furness, and pushed forward
1487 to Stoke (Nottinghamshire) on June 6, where they were annihilated. “The Iryshemen, and these although they foughte hardely and stuck to it were mostly valiantly, yet because they were after the degenerate manner of their country almost naked, English![12] without harneys or armour, they were stricken down and slain like dull and brute beasts” (Hall). Simnel was captured and sent to the royal kitchen as scullion (Spiessdreher) (Gordon). Kildare, whose power the King feared, was pardoned and remained Lord Deputy-Dubliners, however, were penalised and their ships, goods and merchandise given by the King to the Waterforders.
1488 Sir Richard Edgecomb sent to Ireland with 500 men to receive the new oath and proclaim the official pardon for the rebellion.
1489 Henry invited the Irish lords to Greenwich and chastised them; they would have crowned apes if he had stayed away much longer, he said, and made ex-King Simnel serve them at table.
Continuous wars among the natives.
1492 Kildare suddenly deposed and W. Fitz-Symons, Archbishop of Dublin, made Lord Deputy. Thereupon the border Irish rebelled and raided the Pale. Perkin Warbeck, the false Richard of York, landed in Cork; the city took his side, but Warbeck left at once, going to the court of the French King.
1494 Sir Edward Poynings sent to Ireland as Lord Deputy with 1,000 men and diverse English jurists. Parliament of Drogheda.
Re The Poynings’s Act: no parliament in Poynings’s Ireland may convene in council (English Act see Privy Council) without approval of the Butt. King. Kildare, too, attainted of treason and sent to England as prisoner,
1496 but regains favour and is appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. From then on Kildare was loyal to the King and waged violent wars against the Irish.
1497 Warbeck, who returned to Ireland (Cork) from Scotland, was joined by Earl Desmond, but, after unsuccessfully besieging Waterford, went to Cornwall. (This is now contested by virtue of a letter by Henry VII, according to which Warbeck landed “in the wyIde Irisherie” in difficult circumstances and would have been captured by Kildare and Desmond if he had not made a hasty escape.)
1496-1500 Kildare’s wars against the Irishry in Ulster, Connaught and Munster (Davies says [in Hist. Tracts, ed. 1786, p. 48] those were his “private quarrels,” which is confirmed in detail by Gordon), all of them victorious, until finally Ulick Burke, Lord Clanricarde, called MacWilliam, a son-in-law of Kildare, chief of a mighty troop of “degenerate English,” placed himself at the head of a general uprising in the south and west. Kildare set out with his entire Anglo-Irish force and a few Irish and On defeated the rebels in Axtberg (Knoc-tuadh), August 19, even miles off Galway; Galway and Athenry
1504 surrendered, and the spirit of the Irish was thereby broken (?!) (in the country where Black Rent[13] was paid until 1528!!). Kildare’s arrogance as first Irish lord was ever in evidence in government matters and wars.
1509 HENRY VIII.
Kildare continued his campaigns against the Irish. In 1509, he undertook a big campaign against James, eldest son of Earl Desmond, O'Brian, etc.
1513 Kildare died. His son Gerald, Lord Deputy, warred on against the Irish until 1517, was mostly successful, yet as always the victories were not decisive, and he had to begin all over again after a few years. However, like his father, he was very popular among the Irish, who considered him “rather as the chief of a great leading sept than as acknowledged ruler of the whole kingdom” by virtue of his Irish nature and many family ties with the Irish. In 1519, Kildare fell out of favour through Wolsey and was recalled to England.
1520 Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, was appointed Lord Lieutenant. An Englishman, he held the Irish in check. He reconciled two old enemies, Earl Desmond, the assimilated Geraldine who often espoused the Irish cause, with Earl Ormond, follower of the English, but not for long. On the whole, he acted skilfully, though this did not prevent continuous wars. He resigned and was 1521 followed by Sir Piers Butler, eighth Earl of Ormond who, though married to the sister of Earl Kildare, 1522-23 destroyed a number of the latter’s castles.
War between the two. At last, Ormond was dismissed and
1524 Kildare made Deputy.
In 1523, Desmond entered into an alliance with Francis 1 of France, who intended to, but did not, invade Ireland. Desmond was persecuted, concealed himself and remained undiscovered.
1526 Kildare was again recalled to England and thrown into the Tower, then released upon security.
(Ormond relinquished his title of Earl of Ormond in favour of Sir Thomas Boleyn and became Earl of Ossory.)
1528 O'Connor of Offaley treacherously captured a Deputy (of the Lord Lieutenant Richard Nugent, Lord of Delvin). This O'Connor was Kildare’s son-in-law. Violent strife followed among the Anglo-lrish.
1530 Kildare returned in the retinue of the new Lord Deputy, Sir William Skeffington. He extended his Irish family ties, giving his daughter away in marriage to Fergananym O'Carrol, and laid waste the estates of his rival, Ormond-Ossory.
1532 Kildare again made Lord Lieutenant. Prosecuted war against all his enemies as enemies of the Crown, and fortified and armed his castles to resist the King if the necessity arose; however, he was again recalled to England, and on his departure 1534 his 21-year-old son Thomas (Lord Thomas Fitz-Gerald) stayed behind as his Deputy.
The latter was led to believe that his father had been beheaded in the Tower and that he, too, and all his family, would suffer the same fate. He rode to the Council with 140 horsemen, laid down all his insignia of office and publicly withdrew his allegiance to the King. Then he started a rebellion.
The Council took refuge in Dublin Castle, which Fitz-Gerald beleaguered. Fitz-Gerald also plundered Ossory’s estates, but without marked success. In the meantime, Dublin townsmen captured the force besieging the Castle and Fitz-Gerald concluded an armistice with Ossory in order to take Dublin, but was defeated. Ossory mean while (though threatened in the south by the rebellious Desmond) laid waste Carlow and Kildare. Fitz-Gerald was excommunicated because his troops caused the death of the Archbishop of Dublin.-The war was fought half-heartedly by both sides, though most of the Pale was ravaged, until finally O'Connor (from Offaley) and then Lord Thomas Fitz-Gerald surrendered in 1535 and Fitz-Gerald was shipped to England. He surrendered on a solemn promise of pardon (Gordon [Vol. II, p. 238).
1536 The five uncles of Fitz-Gerald, of whom three had opposed the rebellion, and ten other lords were invited to a feast by Lord Grey and there put under guard (Gordon [Vol. I), p. 238) and sent to London. They and Lord Thomas Fitz-Gerald were executed in Tyburn (the elder Kildare died in London earlier). Thereby the power of the Geraldines was providentially terminated.
Only a 12-year-old boy escaped abroad.
1536 ff. Lord Leonard Grey, Lord Deputy, made war on the indigenous population, especially the O'Connors.
1538 Peaceful expedition (hosting) by Grey to Galway through Offaley, Ely O'Carrol, Ormond, Arrah and Thornond. MacWilliam deposed as chief of Clanricarde and the captaincy given to Ulick de Burgh, later Earl of Clanricarde. All chiefs whose possessions Grey crossed, were made to swear allegiance, but, as Ormond wrote Cromwell, “neither from them nor any other from all the Irishry” could faith be expected once the troops departed.
1539 According to O'Conor the confederation was directed against the Reformation. Large confederation of the northern chiefs and of Desmond and the Fitz-Geralds in the south to reinstate Gerald Fitz-Gerald, son of the executed Earl Kildare, in his rights. Gradually, the confederation expanded. The allies sought the help of the Emperor and of France, reviving the idea of Ireland as an independent kingdom under O'Neill. The confederates also contacted the King of Scotland, who was also against the Reformation,[14] now an issue against the King in Irish matters. (The confederation fell apart after the Battle of Ballahoe [O'Conor, p. 10), of which no details are available.)
In the autumn, Lord Grey traversed the south once more at the head of his troop, but without any special success, though compelling Gerald Fitz-Gerald (and his friends) to flee to France and later to Italy.
(Queen Mary reinstated him.) Otherwise, there was peace and order in Ireland, and only the bastard Geraldines (a completely assimilated family) were, “by the permission of God, killing one another” (Lord Grey’s letter). John Alen, Lord Chancellor, wrote Cromwell: “I never did see, in my time, so great a resort to law as there is this term, which is a good sign of quiet and obedience. This country was in no such quiet these many years.”
1540 See Gordon. Lord Grey recalled and soon executed. Some clashes with the Irish, though nothing of significance, for by and large the country was calm. Sir Anthony St. Leger, Lord Deputy, subdued the Cavenaghs of Carlow, the O'Moores of Leix and diverse other minor clans. O'Connor submitted too, and so did O'Donnell. As for O'Neill, the King entered into negotiations with him.
1541 By an Act of Parliament Henry was proclaimed King of Ireland.
From now on the Irish chiefs became vassals [of the King] and came under English law (probably a consequence of the unsuccessful confederation of 1539).
Turlogh O’toole of North Wicklow was the first to go to England of his own volition, followed by Earl Desmond, who was at once made member of the King’s Council. Irish lords and Irish nobles appeared in 1541 Parliament; they had not done so in many years or had never appeared there before. Ormond translated the English speeches to the Irish.
1542 O'Neill submitted and became Earl of Tyrone, while his son was made Lord Duncannon. This time the peace was real; Desmond even ordered the arrest of two other Geraldines engaged in a feud, Lord Roche and the White Knight,* both were dispatched to Dublin and slept in the same bed, suffering each other quite well. O'Brian became Earl Thomond and MacWilliam became eighth Earl of Clanricarde. These Irish chiefs were so lacking in money that the government had to provide them with clothes in which to come to Parliament (see Davies).
All these lords acknowledged the King’s supremacy.
1544 Again, Irish kerns served in the English army in France.
1545 Likewise against the Scots, though actually they did not land in Scotland.
England owed all these successes, the first real subjugation of Ireland, to St. Leger.
1547 EDWARD VI.
1550 French envoys went to O'Donnell and O'Neill in Ulster.
1550 New liturgy introduced in Ireland. Long debates among the clergy, while English soldiers plundered cloisters and churches, and destroyed sacred pictures. By and large, however, only among the higher classes were there a few converts to the new religion.
1552 War of succession between the sons of Earl Tyrone (O'Neill) in Ulster. In the south, feuds between Earl Thomond and his relatives, and in Connaught between Clanricarde and another de Burgh.
1553 MARY. St. Leger reappointed Lord Deputy in Ireland until 1558.
Gerald Fitz-Gerald reinstated as eleventh Earl Kildare (and Baron of Offaley). Continued feuds between the chiefs.
1556? After 13 years an Irish Parliament was finally reconvened, repealing all acts against the Pope and others passed since the Act of the 20th year of Henry VIII.
1557 Leix was incorporated in the Pale as Queen’s County and Offaley as King’s County,[15] the Moores and O'Connors having been banished under Edward VI and now almost all annihilated (see Gordon).
1558 ELIZABETH. New oath of supremacy taken from which only two Irish bishops abstained; the entire Irish Parliament took the oath, making the Reformation in the Pale official and formalising it on paper.
All acts of 1556 (?) were declared null andvoid.
1560 Feud between Shane O'Neill (“The O'Neill”) and the Dublin government, which would make Calwagh O'Donnell of Donegal Earl Tyrconnel if he agreed to help it, but O'Neill takes him prisoner. Finally, 1561 Shane submits directly to the Queen and goes to her in England, but encounters difficulties in obtaining an audience. When Matthew’s son, then Earl of Tyrone, died, he returned to Ireland and in time claimed supremacy (independence) in all Ulster, but 1564 finally made peace and submitted to the Queen.
1565 Open war between Desmond and Ormond, with Desmond wounded and captured by the latter.
1564 To win the Queen’s favour, O'Neill made war on the island Scots settled along the coast of Ulster (Antrim) and defeated them.
But Elizabeth and her representatives did not keep their word and endeavoured to trip up O'Neill. Again, a war broke out. Ulster was ravaged by an English army, but O'Neill withdrew to his unapproachable hills. Most of the chiefs of Ulster
1567 submitted, as did O'Neill’s subjects, leaving O'Neill no choice but to flee to the Antrim Scots, where he was assassinated on the instigation of Piers, an English officer (see Gordon).
1570 Desmond captured and shipped to England.
Rising of the Geraldines under James Fitz-Maurice, who took Kilmallock and turned to Spain for help. But order was soon restored by Sir John Perrot, Lord President of Munster, and Fitz-Maurice was compelled to submit.
Excommunication of Elizabeth[16] is joyfully received in Ireland.
Uprising of Clanricarde’s sons.
Thomond (who fled to France) plots to asassinate Sir Edward Fitton, Lord President of Connaught; later, Thomond regained the Queen’s favour through the English Ambassador in France.
See Davies, p. 200 ff. Act of attainder against Shane O'Neill, whereby more than half of Ulster went to the Crown. The Lord Deputy in Council was also empowered to accept surrenders and re-grant under English tenure (see Gordon).
Another Act declared the old clan system of chieftainship totally abolished, unless granted by the Crown. This reservation made the Act illusory, for the Crown had to tolerate what it could not hinder.
Seven new counties with sheriffs (?) and other officials established (see Davies), but without assizes.
1572 Sir Thomas Smith tried to establish an English plantation in Ulster, but it was too weak and the indigenous population wiped out the colonists.
1579 Landing by James Fitz-Maurice, brother of Earl Desmond, in Smerwick, Kerry County, with three ships and 100 men, Catholics of different nationalities; but he and his Irish followers were killed when requisitioning in Tipperary. Thereupon, the invasion was soon defeated.
Leix and Offaley still rebellious, especially Rory Oge O'Moore, who was killed in 1578.
After the invasion of Smerwick was repulsed, a rising by Desmond followed, whose betrayal was now confirmed in captured papers. He was defeated, his castles were seized, but he escaped.
1580 Rising in Wicklow under Lord Baltinglass.
Setback for the English infantry, which ventured into the hills and valleys, in the Valley of Glendalough, says Gordon (Vol. II, p. 271).
Landing of 700 Spaniards in Smerwick with arms for 5,000. However, their fort was captured by Lord Grey de Wilton, the Lord Deputy, and all of them massacred after surrendering and placing themselves at the discretion of the victors.
1583 Desmond, who stalked undiscovered in the south escaping from pursuit, was killed by peasants whose cattle he seized. He was the last of the Fitz-Geralds to be Earl Desmond.
1584 Sir John Perrot was reappointed Lord Deputy. He was instructed, among other things, “to consider how Munster may be repeopled and how the forfeited lands in Ireland (Desmond and others) may be disposed of to the advantage of Queen and subject.”
1587 As son of Matthew of Dungannon, heir of the earldom, Hugh O'Neill petitioned Irish Parliament to name him Earl of Tyrone and allow him possession of the estates. He led a troop of horsemen in the service of the Queen against Desmond, but had secret designs of becoming more than just Earl of Tyrone. He was granted the title and then from the Queen also his possessions on condition that he should claim no authority over the lords bordering on his county.
1588 Sir John Perrot returned to England, saying he found the Irish much more manageable than the Anglo-lrish and even the English Government. Fell into disfavour and died in the Tower.
The government in Dublin-it was still Perrot-arrested Hugh O'Donnell, son of the O'Donnell, and two sons of Shane O'Neill by resorting to subterfuge (they were given drink aboard a ship), and brought them to Dublin as hostages to ensure the loyalty of the old O'Donnell; they were held in captivity for three years.
1591 "Red Hugh” (O'Donnell) escaped and at home was (with his father’s consent) proclaimed chief of Tyrconnel; he concluded an alliance with O'Neill Tyrone (who had flirted with both sides, until he had reason to fear for his life). O'Neill taught his men war craft (he had a bodyguard of 600 infantry and introduced a system of short term training [Krumpersystem]), and laid in equipment and ammunition.
1597 Sir John Norris sent to Ireland with troops as Lord General to restore the imperilled authority of the Queen, but died the same year.
Tyrone declared himself the O'Neill, which amounted to high treason.’ He concluded an alliance with the other O'Neills, the Magennisses, M'Mahons and O'Donnells, and was appointed allied commander; when he heard that 2,000 fresh English troops were en route, he struck out, capturing and demolish ing Fort Portmor on Blackwater, but was compelled by Bagenal (his brother-in-law), who was Marshal of Ireland, to lift the siege of Monaghan. However, on getting reinforcements he made Bagenal retreat.
1592-96 When the English advanced with fresh forces, O'Neill set fire to his own town of Dungannon and many villages, withdrawing into his forests. It came to light that he had offered Ireland to the King of Spain in return for 3,000 troops and money subsidies.
Meanwhile, the insurgents in the north, whom Sir John Perrot had armed against the Antrim Scots and who had many veteran soldiers among them, were now very strong. Hence,
1596 new negotiations were begun. Tyrone submitted, and the insurgents demanded religious freedoms, which were finally granted by the Queen. But again hopeful news arrived of munition shipments from Spain, prompting Tyrone to blockade
1598 Fort Blackwater; he decisively defeated Marshal Bagenal (whom he killed with his own hands), who had hurried to the rescue.
Now, the rest of Ulster rose too.
1599 Devereux, Earl Essex, the Queen’s favourite, was sent to Ireland with 20,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. He wasted the summer in a march on Munster, his rearguard being defeated by the O'Moores on the return march, and finally, after his army was decimated by disease, went to Ulster, where O'Neill Tyrone inveigled him in parleys, and he lost more time. (Tyrone demanded freedom to practise Catholicism, confirmation of the Ulster chiefs in their possessions of the past 200 years, and all officials and judges and half the garrison to be Irish.)
In the end Essex returned to England and Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, replaced him as Lord Deputy, with Sir George Carew (author of Pacata Hibernia) as Lord President of Munster.
In the meantime, Tyrone went to Munster to incite the local chiefs, especially James Fitz-Thomas, Earl of Desmond, and Florence McCarthy. Mountjoy sent strong troops to the northern border forts of the Pale, Dundalk, Carlingford, and others, while marching on Ulster and issuing the order to cut off Tyrone’s retreat at Athlone or Limerick. But Tyrone escaped by forced marches, whereupon Mountjoy deployed strong garrisons to Lough Foyle (Derry?) and Ballyshannon, which kept the Ulster people in check.
A campaign against the O'Moores of Leix. The English totally destroyed the harvest.
1600 Carew planned to assassinate the Sugan Earl (straw rope earl) of Desmond and McCarthy. Mountjoy restored order in Kildare and Carlow, and all Ireland was subjugated save Tyrone.
Coinage of Ireland embased by Elizabeth.
1601 Two Spanish ships dropped anchor at Kilbeg, Donegal, bringing arms, equipment and money for Tyrone.
Twice, a price was set on Tyrone’s head: £2,000 if alive and £1,000 if dead. But this was futile, as were the prices on the heads of the insurgent chiefs hiding in Munster.
However, the Sugan Earl was finally captured. No one could be found for money to show the way through the forests to Tyrone ‘s possessions.
Attempt on Tyrone by an assassin hired by the English Government; it failed.
On September 22, five thousand Spaniards landed at Kinsale and occupied the town.
Mountjoy laid siege, with part of the southern Catholics declaring against the Spaniards or neutral, while the bulk sided with them. Tyrone, Tyrrell, O'Donnell, etc., marched against Mountjoy, and fortified themselves in a swampy area, cut off his supplies, but were prevailed upon by the Spaniards to give battle on December 23 and were totally defeated. O'Donnell escaped to Spain, Tyrone to his possessions, while the Spaniards surrendered on a promise to be allowed to depart freely.
O'Donnell was active in Spain for Ireland.
Mountjoy went north and laid waste all Tyrone.
1602 Fort Dunboy (at Bantry), the last fort of the Spanish (it belonged to Daniel O’sullivan), was captured and its Irish garrison massacred.
1603 Finally, peace was concluded between Mountjoy and Tyrone, whereupon the latter submitted, but was confirmed in his possessions. Then Elizabeth died. All Ireland was subjugated for the first time.
1603 JAMES I. Everybody expected him to restore the Catholic religion. It was at once reintroduced in Waterford, Cashel, Clonmel and Limerick, but these were quickly brought to their senses by Mountjoy. James, however, demanded that all officials, barristers and graduates of universities gave the oath of supremacy and also restored the Act of Uniformity.[17] He at once purged the Dublin Council of Catholics. Although the penal laws against the Papists were upheld, they were not applied. But in 1605 all Catholic priests were banished on pain of death (Sir Arthur Chichester was now Deputy) and, according to O'Conor, Catholic church services were banned by proclamation.
Gavelkind and tanistry[18] were again repealed by a judgement of the King’s Bench, the English inheritance law introduced, the land of Irish smallholders directly confirmed by the Crown and these placed directly under Crown protection, whereby clanship was visibly broken, while all duties of the clan people were converted into money rent to their landlord. Yet all this was done gradually. Tyrone and Roderic O'Donnell, brother of Red Hugh, went to England, where the former was confirmed in his possessions and the latter made Earl of Tyrconnel. Both of them were so closely watched by spies that Tyrone complained he could not drink a full carouse of sack, but the state was advertised thereof within a few hours after.
1607 Land litigation between O'Neill Tyrone and Sir Donogh (Donald Ballagh) O’shane (O'Cahan), a neighbouring chief, before the Lord Deputy and an English court; this convinced Tyrone that he must either submit completely, or rebel again. But now there were English forts and garrisons in his possessions, and the clanship was weakened.
The existence of this plot strongly doubted even by Smith Ireland herself was too weak, and salvation could come only from abroad. Hence a plot by Tyrone, Tyrconnel and Richard Nugent, Baron Delvin, to rebel with Spanish help.
[Irish History ...] p. 100. See [Excerpts] IX, [p.] 13.[19] The plot was betrayed by Earl Howth, who had just become Protestant. Tyrone and Tyrconnel were summoned before the Dublin Council, escaped to France and from there to Brussels. Introduction of English law and the many court charges instantly lodged against him brought home to Tyrone that it was all over now with chieftainship.
Finally, he went to Rome, where he died in 1616. The main branch of the Hy Nials ended shortly with the assassination of his son in Brussels.
James, meanwhile, found it necessary to declare publicly that the two earls did not flee religious persecutions, because never persecuted on religious grounds. But who would believe that?
1608 Uprising by Sir Cahir O'Doherty, Chief of Irish-Owen, who captured Culmore Fort by a trick, attacked Derry, and held out for five months, until finally killed.
Plantation of Ulster, where the Crown acquired 800,000 acres (English) or almost all Donegal, Tyrone, Coleraine, Fermanagh, Cavan and Armagh (supremacy converted into land holdings!) through the forfeiture of Tyrone, Tyrconnel, O'Doherty, etc. Each holding was divided into lots of three classes: 1) 2,000 English acres for servitors of the Crown, either the great officers of state or rich adventurers from England; 2) 1,500 acres for servitors of the Crown in Ireland with permission to take either English or Irish tenants; 3) 1,000 acres for the natives.
The City of London received large grants in Derry on the condition of spending £20,000 for building the towns of Derry and Coleraine. A standing army was formed to guard the Colony. Thus, six out of 32 counties were expropriated and thoroughly plundered.
The Brehon Laws[20] were simultaneously completely abolished and replaced by English law, but, as if to render the state of outlawry of the Irish complete, while thus forbidden the use of their own country’s law, they were still shut out as aliens and enemies from the law of their masters.
1613 The first Parliament in 27 years, and the first to represent more than just the Pale, opened in Dublin. Since the previous Parliament 17 new counties were constituted and 40 boroughs incorporated, of which most were mere villages consisting of a few houses built by Ulster undertakers.[21] Though the lords of the Pale remonstrated, new boroughs were constantly fabricated to as sure a Protestant majority, the manoeuvre proving eminently successful. This caused recusant members to secede, but the matter was later settled. No anti-Catholic bills were tabled, but in recompense the Catholics voted for bills of attainder against Tyrone, etc.-This was a despicable thing to do, because nothing had been proved, but it justified the confiscations in Ulster. —
Further, a bill was passed whereby all laws against Irish enemies were abolished and all put under the jurisdiction of English law.
1623 Royal proclamation that all Catholic priests secular and regular had to leave the Kingdom in 40 days, after which all persons were prohibited to converse with them.
1613 See O'Conor,18, 2.[22] Commission instituted to inquire into defective titles to land in Ireland and escheated lands. It declared all land between Arklow and Slane rivers and many estates in Leitrim, Longford, Westmeath, King’s and Queen’s counties, totalling 82,500 acres, as Crown property. All was confiscated and granted to English and Irish colonists as in Ulster.
A feeling of general insecurity arises among landholders, because resumption by the Crown under Henry VII of all land granted since Edward I, as well as the land of absentees, and various other similar juridical discoveries were now used to contest every thing. Besides, many titles to land had either been lost or defective. A whole class of “discoverers” (of flaws in titles) appeared, consisting of “needy adventurers from England”; whenever the jurymen decided against the King, they were locked up. The Attorney-General declared that, with all Irish having been expelled when possession was first taken of the Pale, no Irish could have even an acre of freehold[23] in the five counties.
Wholesale resettlement of clans followed.
Seven clans moved from Queen’s County to Kerry; 25 landowners, mostly O'Ferrels, were expropriated without compensation.
Instructive was the case of Byrnes of Wicklow (from Carte’s Life of Ormonde in Matthew O'Conor’s History of the Irish Catholics).[24]
1625 CHARLES I. Very short of money, he lost no time in coming to terms with the Catholic lords and gentry in Ireland. For three years they paid him £40,000 annually, in return for which he granted the following “graces”: “Recusants[25] to be allowed to practise in courts of law, and sue the livery of their lands out of the Courts of Wards, on taking an oath of civil allegiance instead of the oath of supremacy; that the claims of the Crown (to defective titled lands) should be limited to the last 60 years; that the inhabitants of Connaught be permitted to make a new enrolment of their estates,” i.e., that their estates should be assured for them (etc., etc., 51 points in all), “and that a Parliament should be held to confirm these graces and establish every man in the undisturbed possession of his own land.” Further, reforms of all kinds, extortions through courts of law and soldiers, monopolies and penal laws against religion, and promise of an “act of oblivion and general pardon” (see O'Conor).
Lord Falkland convened Parliament to confirm these graces, but not under the Great Seal of England (as required by the Acts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth); the English Council protested and Parliament did not take place.
The Lords justices indulged in flagrant persecutions, confiscating 16 monasteries because the Carmelites had held public services.
1633 Sir Thomas Wentworth, later Earl of Strafford, Lord Deputy. At that time the Irish Channel teemed with pirates, and he could not cross without being escorted by a warship. He quickly alienated everybody.
Only a few members of the Privy Council were admitted to sittings. Ireland was ruled in accordance with the theory of the absolute royal prerogative. Catholics and Protestants .alike were compelled by threats and cajolery jointly to pay £20,000 more in voluntary taxes. An order was issued that no one of any rank could leave Ireland without the permission of the Lord Deputy, and that no complaint could be lodged against him before the English royal court unless first submitted to him.
Finally, however, a Parliament was necessary to obtain money, however much Wentworth dreaded it due to the question of graces, and particularly the restriction of Crown claims to 60 years, which made a difference of £20,000 annually.
Wentworth saw to it that many army officers were chosen, which placed him in a position to tilt the scales between the Catholics and Protestants and thereby squeeze money out of both by threats.
1634 Parliament opened. Wentworth insisted on subsidies at once for a number of years and the Commons foolishly conceded six subsidies, whereupon a convocation of the clergy also conceded eight subsidies of £3,000 each.
The lords, however, demanded redress of grievances and confirmation of graces, to which Wentworth replied brazenly that he had never even sent them to the King (which was untrue).
The same Parliament passed the two Statutes of Wills and Uses, whereby the Crown was allowed to interfere in the upbringing of the “heirs apparent” of big landowners, hoping thus gradually to convert them to Protestantism.
1635 Wentworth intended to drive out all Connaught landowners and recultivate the whole province. Leland, Vol. III, quoted by O'Conor. Violation of graces begun in Connaught.
Wentworth came before the Grand jury of Roscommon, where all landowners were gathered (“being anxious,” he said, “to have persons of such means as might answer the King a round fine in the castle chamber in case they should prevaricate”), and told them that the best means of enriching the county was a plantation like Ulster; hence, they should investigate the King’s title to the estates concerned. A proclamation was issued “that by an easy composition they should be allowed to buy indefeasible titles.” The Justices of the Peace all being bribed (“more or less in the pound of the first year’s rent were bestowed by the King upon the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chief Baron of Ireland”) while the juries were either packed or intimidated, the verdicts always favoured the King, as in the case of Sligo and Mayo.
In Galway, however, there was resistance and the juries decided against the King, but Wentworth importuned and harassed the landowners so that they finally transferred title to their estates to the King and pleaded for mercy. But Wentworth now wished the jury to announce it had judged falsely and admit perjury. This was rejected, whereupon the Sheriff was fined £1,000 and the members of the jury £4,000 each and were to be held in Dublin Castle until payment and remorse.
Furthermore, people were imprisoned right and left for harmless speeches and brought before military courts, which naturally found them guilty.
1636 To protect the English wool trade Wentworth banned wool exports even to England, except against licenses sold by himself, pocketing much money in this way; he introduced cultivation and weaving of flax successfully in Ireland (but with profit for himself).
Wentworth’s principle was to rule Ireland so that she could not exist without the Crown. Hence, a government salt monopoly was introduced.
1640 When the Scottish war broke out,[26] Wentworth was made Earl of Strafford and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a title no one had held since Essex. A new Irish Parliament voted in four new subsidies. Strafford recruited 8,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry to reinforce the troops in Ireland. However, these 9,000 were nearly all Catholics.
Each subsidy of about £40,000. In June, Parliament reconvened and since most officers were away, the Catholics were in the majority. It was now agreed 1) to reduce incomes of the priesthood, 2) to redistribute the subsidies for this reason, because the Lord Lieutenant’s distribution was unlawful and unjust.
Meanwhile(end of 1640) Long Parliament convened, whose opposition began. Charles ordered the page on which these decisions were recorded to be torn out of the Journal of the Commons and Lords.
1641 February See O'Conor.[27] But Parliament decided to send to Charles a deputation with a Remonstrance of Grievances. Despite Strafford’s objections, the deputation arrived in England. Apart from the delay in confirming the graces, the grievances listed arbitrary interventions and decisions by the Lord Lieutenant; chicanery of the courts of law, heavy penalties to suppress freedom of speech and press; unlawful powers of special tribunals; insecurity of person and property, and monopoly; total of 16 items.
Strafford indicted by Long Parliament and executed. His various tyrannies in Ireland were held up against him, including the charge that he had established a tobacco monopoly for his own profit. As to the charge that he had collected taxes with military help and applied martial law, he maintained that this had always been so in Ireland and that the Provost Marshal had always hung people “who were going up and down the country and could not give a good accord of themselves” (what good was it, therefore, to introduce English law if it worked against the nation and could only be applied per martial law?).
All that could be said for Strafford was that he had applied the Penal Code against Catholics solely to extort money (for the Crown).
A new conspiracy in the north: Roger O'Moore, whose ancestors had been driven out of Offaley (in Edward’s and Mary’s reigns), Lord Maguire, Baron of Iniskillen, who still had remnants of his clan in Fermanagh, Hugh McMahon, Tyrone’s grandSon, Colonel Byrn and Sir Phelim O'Neill, strongly supported by Irish driven out by the plantation. Also supported by many Connaught chiefs recently expelled by Strafford. Earl Antrim plotted with them in the name of the King, who would, since the Irish Government gravitated towards Parliament, deal with them and the Lords of the Pale, and would depose that government.
1641 Dublin Castle was to be captured first, October 23, but the conspiracy was betrayed and Sir William Parsons, one of the Lords justices, had everyone within reach arrested (McMahon, Maguire, etc.), while O'Moore and others escaped.
Meanwhile, fighting broke out in Ulster and Phelim O'Neill, ass and pig (see O'Conor[28]), captured Charlemount by treachery; all other castles in the eight northern counties were attacked and captured, or quickly starved out. In eight days everything was captured and Phelim had gathered 30,000 men.
(The Lords Justices and generally the now dominant party in Ireland planned to exterminate all Irish and Anglo-lrish Catholics and replace them with English and Scottish Protestants-see Cromwell’s plan.) After outbreak of the revolt in Ulster, a company was formed in London in February [1642], petitioning Parliament to sell the ten million acres to be confiscated in Ireland, using the proceeds to prosecute a war of annihilation; the company offered to be middleman.
The whole story sounds apocryphal, resting on the hearsay evidence of Dr. H. Jones; the congregation seems never to have taken place, or to have been of a different nature. After outbreak of the rebellion in October, a large congregation of Catholics in Multifarnam Abbey, Westmeath County, debated the policy of whether to kill or simply drive out the Protestants. Phelim settled the issue by having Lord Charlemount and his other prisoners killed, and by letting all Englishmen and Scots be massacred in three parishes; furious over the fall of Newry he also ordered the burning of the town and cathedral of Armagh despite its surrender, and had 100 people killed. It is possible, however, that the killing of the Catholics of Island Magee at Carrickfergus by government troops occurred earlier and provoked the Catholics.
Leitrim (the O'Rourkes), the O'Ferrells of Longford (where plantations were also laid out) and the O'Byrnes of Wicklow rebelled on October 12; Wexford and Carlow, the Tooles and Cavanaghs, that is, all the Irish clans driven out by James, joined the rising and advanced to the walls of Dublin.
Evidently, the rising was due to the refusal to convene Parliament. See O'Conor.[29] All quiet in Munster until December, but Lord President Sir William St. Leger provoked the gentlemen to rise under Philip O'Dwyer by his arrogance and by calling them all rebels. They captured Cashel.
In Connaught, where Lord Ranelagh was Lord President, the rising was also general, compelling Ranelagh to resign. Galway alone was saved for the government by Lord Clanricarde (the same Clanricarde whose property Wentworth and his tribunals had ravaged), but he, too, was put under restraint by the Lords Justices. The rising was just what the latter wanted; they wished no submission save in battle, for that entailed forfeiture of lands. Except Galway and a few castles in Roscommon all Connaught was engulfed by the insurrection.
Phelim O'Neill now beleaguered Drogheda; at Julian’s Town Bridge, three miles from Drogheda, he drove a small force sent to relieve the besieged back to Dublin, causing much fear there; regiments went over to the rebels and Sir Charles Coote, then besieging Wicklow, was hastily recalled.
The lords and gents of the Pale, whom the government had supplied with some arms but who were at once required to return them as Catholics and told to leave Dublin and go to their estates, where they could do nothing unarmed but submit to the insurgents and thereby become traitors, could not hold out any longer. Sir Charles Coote, Governor of Dublin, roamed up and down the Pale and did nothing but “kill, burn, and destroy” in accordance with his instructions. Men of estate were taken along as prisoners to assure the King’s escheats upon attainders, while the rest of the population were executed under martial law, including a Catholic priest, Father Higgins, who was under Earl Ormond’s protection and had a safe-conduct.
The Lords Justices ordered the prisoners, McMahon and others, to be tortured to determine whether the King was behind the rebellion, but in vain.
Drogheda was bravely defended by Sir Henry Tichbourne, a soldier of the Cromwell school. He repulsed an escalade. Whereupon the town was merely blockaded, its food stores running low. Finally in February [1642], after a three months’ siege, Marquis Ormond with 3,000 infantry and 500 horsemen arrived to relieve the beleaguered town and the Irish withdrew at once.
In view of the ravages inflicted by government troops in the Pale, even by Ormond, the Catholic Lords of the Pale arranged a meeting with Roger 0 Moore, Byrn and McMahon, whereupon, following the Irish plea that they had risen for the King’s rights and that his Irish subjects should be just as free as those in England, an alliance was concluded-the first between Irish and Anglo-Irish of the Pale-and the Pale revolted. This was followed by the desertion of those few Catholics outside the Pale who had hesitated.
It appears that from March to October the clergy and gentry were dominant, and from October on the Commons were also represented. See O'Conor. Catholic priests reappeared from hiding, holding synods in Kells on March 22, 1642, and particularly in Kilkenny in May 1642, deciding to send envoys to the Emperor, the King of France, and the Pope. Soon there then the after money, arms, equipment and officers clergy and (mostly Irish who had served in foreign armies) arrived from all parts of Europe to help the Irish. A General Assembly was then instituted in Kilkenny in October with two chambers: a Council of 12 persons to govern the judiciary, the judges, etc., and a Supreme Council, serving as the provisional government. Supreme Commanders were appointed for the provinces: Owen O'Neill, the Spanish colonel, in Ulster, Preston in Leinster, Garret Barry in Munster and Colonel John Burke in Connaught.
The people of the Pale were still craving for peace with the government and made frequent approaches. The Irish also demanded a reversal of attainders. An address was sent to the King, setting forth the grounds for the movement and the wishes of the Irish Catholics, in which they called themselves the National Assembly.
Owen O'Neill had been commander of Arras during the French siege in 1640 and in contrast to Sir Phelim O'Neill was closely enough related to the royal family to be declared The O'Neill. Besides, he was a good officer.
Thomas Preston, brother of Lord Gormanstown, Colonel in Imperial and Spanish service, had distinguished himself during the Dutch siege of Lowen. He brought three ships, cannon, small arms and equipment, with four colonels, several engineers and 500 other Irish officers.
At this time, Ormond defeated an Irish detachment under Lord Mountgarret in Kildare (at Kilrush). Thereafter, Preston was defeated at Tymahoo and some other (?) detachment at Raconell. In spite of this, the insurgents were doing well. Finally, Charles, who needed support against the English Parliament, authorised Ormond to negotiate a year’s armistice. The negotiations began, and an armistice followed. Meanwhile, the Lords Justices continued to act in the spirit of the Parliament. “The parliament pamphlets were by them received as oracles, their commands obeyed as laws, and the extirpation preached as a gospel.” And to leave the rebels no avenue of escape, submissions by individuals were turned down. Even the quietest Catholics of the Pale, Lord Dunsany, Sir J. Netterville, and others, were imprisoned, tortured and arraigned whole sale for high treason on the strength of thus obtained confessions. Estates were seized en masse and their owners flung into gaol. More than “1,000 indictments were found by a Grand jury against such men in two days,” and another about 2,000 were “in reserve on the record.”
Scarampi, the Pope’s legate, arrived in Kilkenny with troops and military supplies.
He reinforced the old Irish party, which primarily proposed to restore the Catholic religion to its full splendour, refused to trust the King, denounced the armistice, paid none of the subsidies demanded by the King and meant to fight the King and the English Parliament. the King was not to be trusted for had he not betrayed Strafford after promising that not a hair on his head would be touched.
1643 The Anglo-lrish moderates were opposed to this, finally bringing about a year’s armistice on the basis of previously negotiated articles (their content?). When billets had been arranged for the respective armies and the armistice ratified by the Lords Justices and the Council on September 19, 1643, the Irish agreed to pay the King £30,000, half in money and half in cattle.
At once, five regiments were dispatched from Ireland to reinforce the King’s army in England.
Indignation ran high in Ireland, as in England, over this armistice (that is, among the Catholics in Ireland and the Parliament party in England). The Lords justices and the Council in Dublin, likewise opposed, obstructed it in every way they could. English Parliament pronounced Marquis Ormond “traitor against the three kingdoms.” The Cavaliers,[30] too, were discontented. The 20,000 English and Scots in Ulster “vowed to live and die in opposition to the cessation.”
Meanwhile, a new Remonstrance to the King was drawn up by the Catholics in Trim, enumerating their grievances, demanding redress and then placing 10,000 troops at the King’s disposal.
That was the famous Remonstrance of Trim.
However, simultaneously, Ormond marched on Rossa and defeated General Preston (what about the armistice?).
Four parties in Ireland: 1) Irish Catholic, 2) Anglo-Irish Catholic (the bulk of the Confederates was recruited from these two parties), 3) the King’s party, and 4) the Puritans.
For all this see O'Conor. While Ormond negotiated with the Confederates in Kilkenny to extort money for the King and, if possible, hoodwink them over the agreed points, the King invited Confederate delegates to Oxford. The delegates arrived with brusque demands: complete freedom of religion and repeal of the penal laws against Catholics; a free Parliament with suspension of Poynings’s Law of 1494 while it sat (because it said nothing could be done without the English Council); repeal of all Irish Acts and Ordinances since August 1641; also a general amnesty and an Act of Limitation for Security of Estates; offices should be impartially granted to Catholics; passage of an Act establishing the independence of the Irish state and Parliament from the English; investigation of the massacres (committed by both sides during the war). The delegates of the Irish Protestants (who also came to Oxford) demanded, on the other hand, that all penal laws be preserved, the Catholic priests banned and Catholics excluded from all offices. The Solemn League and Covenant[31] was established at this time; Monroe and his Scots in the north accepted it at once, and so did most officers and men of the King’s army under Ormond. English Parliament put Monroe in command of all troops in Ulster and he captured Belfast, where there were many Royalists, in a surprise attack.
Ormond, in the meantime, obtained the King’s permission to amnesty “as to life and lands” all rebels returning into the King’s service, as the chief means of breaking up the Confederation, which succeeded in many respects. O'Neill was now so badly off in the north that he had to plead for arms and equipment in Kilkenny, which he received; he was also appointed commander in Connaught, while Lord Castlehaven was made Supreme Commander.
Rinuccini, Archbishop of Fermo, was now the Pope’s nuncio, arriving with considerable arms and equipment.
1645 Charles commanded Ormond to conclude peace with the Irish at any cost, in order to release the army for England. He was quite willing to suspend Poynings’s Act “for such bills as might be agreed upon” and to abolish the penal laws. But Ormond baulked, possibly because he was too much a Protestant, but probably because he knew that it was farthest from Charles’s mind to keep his word. (?) Hence,
1646 Lord Herbert, Earl of Glamorgan, was sent to Kilkenny, concluding a treaty with the Confederates whereby the latter remained in possession of all churches and church revenues that had not in fact passed into Protestant possession and were allowed to hold public church services; the Catholic clergy was not to be punished for exercising their jurisdiction over their parishes. In return, 10,000 men under Glamorgan were placed at the King’s disposal and two-thirds of the church revenues for three years were allotted for the upkeep of this army. For this Glamorgan was empowered by Charles above his signature and private seal. The treaty consisted of two parts, one public and the other secret (which contained the stipulation on religion). It was farthest from Charles’s mind ever to ratify the treaty. As Hallam said, “his want of faith was not to the Protestant but to the Catholic.”
But the secret was soon out. Sir Charles Coote, a Puritan, was sent to Connaught to capture Sligo, in which he succeeded, but M. O'Kelly, Catholic Archbishop of Tuam tried to recapture it, falling in battle. A copy of the secret treaty was found in his belongings and made public at once.
The situation became extremely confused.
Limerick, for example, stood neutral, because preoccupied with internal conflicts. In Connaught, three Presidents: one for the King, another for English Parliament (Coote) and one more for the Supreme Council of the Confederation.
The King disavowed Glamorgan, the treaty therefore became null and void, and the peace earlier concluded by Ormond was ratified by the Irish Commissioners on March 28.
Naturally, this did not suit the Covenanters, and Monroe had 60 men and 18 women massacred in Newry. O'Neill with 5,000 infantry and 500 cavalry marched against Armagh towards the end of May and stationed himself at Benburb, where on June 5 he was attacked by Monroe, whom he totally defeated, whereupon Monroe, who had lost all his artillery, abandoned Portedown, Downpatrick and other places.[32]

 

______

Notes for Chronology

 

[1] The Anglo-Saxon King AtheIstan defeated the Danes of Northumberland, and the Normans and Irish who came to their assistance, in the battle of Brurianburh (Central England) in 937.

 

[2] In the “Chronology of Ireland” Engels refers to this important landmark in Ireland’s history only in general outline; a detailed description of the beginning of the conquest of Ireland by the English is given in his other excerpts and notes. The Anglo-Norman barons from South Wales were the organisers of the first aggressive campaigns. The most influential among them, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (nicknamed Strongbow), consented to return the crown to Dermot, the King of Leinster, who had been banished from Ireland, on condition that the latter would give him his daughter in marriage and appoint him his successor. In May 1169, troops under the Anglo-Norman barons Fitzstephen and Prendergast landed on the south-eastern coast of Ireland. The next spring, troops under Maurice Fitzgerald and Raymond Le Gros invaded Ireland, and in August of the same year Pembroke himself captured Dublin. More and more feudal adventurers landed in Ireland in later years in search of booty. In October 1171, King Henry II invaded Ireland at the head of an army. Henry not only wanted to subjugate Ireland, but also to make the Anglo-Norman barons amenable to his wishes and foil their intention of creating a kingdom of their own. Henry forced the barons and the Irish chiefs to recognise him as the “supreme ruler” of Ireland, and placed his garrisons in the strong points of Wexford, Waterford and Dublin. He left Ireland in April 1172, leaving a Governor behind (Hugh de Lacy was the first).

In the fierce battles against the Anglo-Norman invaders, the Irish clans suffered defeat because of the lack of unity among their leaders and the enemy’s superiority in arms and tactics. The establishment of the Anglo-Norman colony in Ireland marked the beginning of the age-long struggle between conquerors and local population.

 

[3] Magna Carta Libertatum (the Great Charter of Liberties) — a deed the insurgent barons of England, supported by the knights and townspeople, forced King John Lackland to sign on June 15, 1215. Magna Carta introduced certain limitations to the royal prerogative primarily in the interests of the big feudal lords, and made the latter’s privileges secure. Some concessions were also granted to the knights and townspeople.

 

[4] Geraldines — Anglo-Irish aristocratic family descending from the first conquerors of Ireland, the Anglo-Norman nobles from South Wales. In Ireland the Geraldines became related with the clan chiefs, thereby acquiring considerable connections and influence. At the same time they participated in the wars of conquest against the indigenous Irish. From the beginning of the 14th century, two branches of the Geraldine family — the Earls of Desmond and the Earls of Kildare — played a particularly prominent role. Both were descendants of Maurice Fitzgerald, the leader of one of the first armies of the Anglo-Norman barons to invade Ireland in 1169-71.

 

[5] Engels is referring to his excerpts from Thomas Moore’s The History of Ireland. Regarding the 1295 Acts of Parliament, they say the following: In 1295 Irish Parliament. Acts:

“1) ... a new division of the kingdom into counties ...
"2) ... all such marchers as neglected to maintain their necessary wards should forfeit their lands....
"3) ... all absentees should assign [thus, already so early!], out of their Irish revenues, a competent portion for that purpose [for the maintenance of a military force.]
"4) ... no lord should wage war but by licence of the chief governor, or by special mandate of the king. ...
"5) ... an effort was made at this time to limit the number of their retainers, by forbidding every person, of whatever degree, to harbour more of such followers than he could himself maintain; and for all exactions and violences committed by these idle men ... their lords were to be made answerable.”

Engels’s remark (in italics) notes a feature typical of later times: the English owners of Irish estates did not reside in Ireland.

 

[6] In 1286, following the death of the Scottish King Alexander III, King Edward I of England laid claim to the Scottish crown and succeeded in annexing Scotland. In 1297, an uprising flared up against English rule, and in 1306 it developed into a full-scale war of independence. The revolt was headed by Robert Bruce, a remarkable soldier. In 1314, the army of Edward II was defeated and Scotland once again became an independent kingdom.

 

[7] On July 24, 1314, the Scots led by Robert Bruce defeated the far bigger English army at Bannockburn, thereby liberating Scotland from English rule.

 

[8] In 1367, the Parliament of the English colony in Kilkenny adopted the famous Statute of Kilkenny — a code of prohibitions designed to protect the colonists from the spread among them of Irish customs and habits. The adoption of the Statute was prompted by the desire of the English authorities to intensify their policy of conquest in Ireland and to legalise the inequality of the Irish population in the vanquished part of the island, as well as to counteract the separatist tendencies of the Anglo-Irish nobility, whose strength lay in their ties with the Irish clan chiefs. The racialist, colonialist Statute demanded that the Irish be treated as enemies and their laws (the laws of the Brehons, the keepers and commentators of ancient Irish law) as the customs of an inferior race. In the excerpts from Thomas Moore’s The History of Ireland Engels interprets the content of this Statute as follows (Engels’s own remarks are italicised): “The Statute of Kilkenny, 1367, directed against Irelandisation. Intermarriages with the natives, or any connection with them in the way of fostering or gossipred (see E. >Spencer, [A View of the State of Ireland)) should be considered and punished as high treason: — that any man of English race, assuming an Irish name, or using the Irish language, apparel, or customs, should forfeit all his lands and tenements: — that to adopt or submit to the Brehon law was treason ... that the English should not permit the Irish to pasture or graze upon their lands, nor admit them to any ecclesiastical benefices or religious houses... (Where were the Irish of the Pale to pasture their stock? At that time it was their main occupation!).”

 

[9] Bonaght — a duty which the supreme and local kings, and also major clan chiefs in Ireland, levied on the smaller vassal chiefs for the maintenance of the troops. After the English conquest it was often paid to the English crown and its representatives in Ireland.

 

[10] Coynye, livery-taxes in kind the rank-and-file members of Irish clans paid to their chiefs in the form of food and equipment for the troops.

 

[11] A reference to the participation of Irish troops in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, which lasted, with interruptions, from 1337 to 1453. At the end of the 14th century only a few strongholds in France remained in English hands, but in 1415 King Henry V launched a new invasion, beating the French knights at Agincourt and capturing the entire north-western part of the country. In the course of a stubborn struggle, attended by a great upsurge of patriotic feeling (,loan of Arc), the French halted the advance of the English and gradually drove them from their land.

 

[12] At Wakefield, the army of Richard, Duke of York, claimant to the English crown, was beaten on December 27, 1460, by the supporters of the ruling house of Lancaster. The battle was one of the episodes in the Wars of the Roses (1455-85), caused by the struggle for the English throne between the houses of York and Lancaster. The war was so called after the white and red roses, that were the emblems of the Yorkist and Lancastrian parties respectively. The war was attended by the destruction of the feudal nobility and ended in the accession of the new, Tudor dynasty.

 

[13] Degenerate English — the name given to members of the Anglo-Irish families, who had long since settled in Ireland, become related to the clan elite, and assimilated many Irish customs.

 

[14] In the 15th century the power of the English colony in Ireland was at a low ebb. The English feudal lords were exhausted by the Hundred Years’ War, and later owing to their feuds in the Wars of the Roses, the settlers in Ireland had great difficulty in withstanding the onslaught of the Irish clan chiefs. In order to get the latter to refrain from raids into the Pale they paid them an annual tribute, which became known as the “Black Rent.”

 

[15] The Reformation begun in England under King Henry VIII (Act o f Supremacy, which declared the King the head of the Church in place of the Pope, and other Acts) was completed under Elizabeth I (the adoption, in 1571, of the “39 articles” of the Anglican Church — a variety of Protestantism). The introduction of the Reformation to Catholic Ireland was a means of subjecting her to the English absolute monarchy and expropriating her population in favour of the English colonists on the pretext of struggle against Catholicism.

 

[16] A reference to County Laoighis (Leix) in Central Ireland, which, in 1557, following the confiscation by the Tudors of the lands of local tribal communities (the clans), was renamed Queen’s County in honour of Mary Tudor, the English Queen. The neighbouring Offaley County, the population of which had also fallen victim to the expropriation policy of the English colonial authorities, was renamed King’s County in honour of Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain.

 

[17] In view of the advance of the Reformation in England and the anti-Catholic policy of the government of Elizabeth I, Pope Pius V issued a special bull in February 1570, excommunicating Elizabeth and releasing her subjects from their oath of allegiance. Other acts of the Papal Curia against Elizabeth followed, and in 1576 she was deprived of her right to the Irish crown.

 

[18] A reference to the restitution by James I of the Act of Uniformity passed in 1559 during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Act confirmed the principles of the Anglican Reformation and decreed that worship was to be conducted according to a Book of Common Prayer sanctioned by the sovereign, as the head of the Church of England.

 

[19] Tanistry — a system regulating the inheritance of chieftainship of the Celtic clans and septs (tribes) in Ireland. Like many other Irish customs, it was a relic of the tribal system. According to this custom, the successor of the clan chief, the tanist, was appointed during the lifetime of the chief from a definite family in the clan, whose members were considered the “eldest and worthiest.”

Gavelkind — a term borrowed from the common law of the inhabitants of Kent and applied by English jurists to the Irish rules regulating the passing of the lands of a deceased member of the clan or sept into other hands. Ever since the time when tribal relations prevailed, land was regarded by the indigenous Irish not as private property but as a temporary tenure. Thus, after the death of its owner it did not pass to his descendants but was distributed among all free male kinsmen, including his sons out of wedlock. Although the lands of the chiefs and members of the clan elite were by that time no longer parcelled out after their death, they were not regarded as their private property and were not inherited by the family but passed to new ownership in accordance with the described tanistry principle.

 

[20] Engels is referring to his excerpts from the book: G. Smith, Irish History and Irish Character, Oxford, London, 1861. The excerpts have never yet been published.

 

[21] The third volume of this publication, comprising the conclusion of the collection Senchus Mor (The Great Book of Old), appeared in 1873, after Engels had written the passage in this book. Senchus Mor is one of the most detailed written records of the laws of the Brehons, the guardians of and commentators on laws and customs in Celtic Ireland.

 

[22] The name given at that time to landowners among the colonists, and also to land speculators.

 

[23] A reference to Engels’s work, published in 1948 in Russian in the Marx-Engels Archives, Vol. X, under the heading “Excerpts on the History of Ireland in the 17th and 18th Centuries.” These excerpts are based on material contained in the book: Matthew O'Conor, The History of the Irish Catholics from the Settlement in 1691 with a View of the State of Ireland from the Invasion by Henry II to the Revolution, Dublin, 1813. Engels supplemented this material with facts from many other works.

In particular, the reference is to the following passage (Engels’s own remark is italicised): After the confiscation carried out in Ulster, the estates of the native Irish, in other parts of the kingdom, were invaded on the score of defective titles. “The confusion of the civil wars, and the uncertainty and fluctuation of Brehon tenures rendered them an easy prey to the rapacity of the administration; 66,000 acres between Dublin and Waterford, the properties of the Cavanaghs, Nolans, Byrnes, and O’tooles were by inquisitions of office found to be the King’s, and although a considerable portion of these escheated lands was regranted to the natives, yet the establishment of an English Protestant colony on 16,500 acres gave new vigour to old animosities, and inflamed the old proprietors with implacable hatred to the spoilers” (p. 22). This happened apparently in 1612 or 1613.

In 1614, “A commission issued to inquire into titles in the King’s and Queen’s counties, in Westmeath, Longford, and Leitrim, the counties of the O'Mulley’s, O'Carroll’s, M'Coughlan’s, O'Doyne’s M'Geoghegan’s, and O'Mallachlin’s, 385,000 acres were in those districts found in the King, and planted as Ulster had been” (p. 24)

 

[24] Freehold — a category of small landownership which had come down from medieval England. The freeholder paid the lord a comparatively small rent in cash and was allowed to dispose of his land as he saw fit.

 

[25] Engels is referring to the following place in his notes from O'Conor’s book (the latter having borrowed the facts from Th. Carte, A History of the Life of James, Duke of Ormonde, vols. I-III, London, 1736):

“The incident with Phelim Bearn and his sons Brian and Turloug is illustrative. They owned the place of Ranelagh in County Wicklow according to a grant by Elizabeth (after the death of old Feag Bearn it had been regranted to Phelim) and James had issued orders on two occasions, one after another, that their rights should be accordingly respected. Nevertheless, Sir Richard Graham used counterfeited documents and invoked his connections in Dublin to seize part of the land belonging to Phelim, while Sir James Fitzpearce Fitzgerald tried to seize Brian’s share for himself in like manner but did not succeed. At long last the case was submitted to a commission in England where Sir William Parsons, who had formerly in his capacity of judge in Dublin said that the contested land belonged to Phelim and not to any dummy freeholders of Graham, now asserted that the opposite was true. Since things still did not go smoothly enough, Graham and Parsons (who had by that time also become interested) declared that the land belonged to the crown. This put the matter in a new light. Lord Esmond gave evidence in their favour. A commission headed by Sir William Parsons was immediately appointed to investigate the matter. Although the King had ordered that the case should be heard in the last instance also by the English Council, Sir William Parsons succeeded in gaining possession of Phelim’s land. He did not succeed, however, in seizing Brian’s land. After all attempts had failed, Parsons, Esmond and others succeeded in having the two brothers, Brian and Turloug, gaoled in Dublin Prison on grounds of false evidence given by criminals and other persons who were forced to perjury by torture. The main accusation was that they had concealed several runaway Irish rebels. From 1625 to 1628 there were unceasing attempts to have them convicted by resorting to false evidence and by reshuffling, lie composition of the jury, until, finally, Sir Franc s Ennesli later Lord of Mountnorris, and others came to their defence and a commission was appointed to investigate the charge. In December 1628, the commission found them not guilty and liberated them. However, the larger part of their possessions, notably Carrick Manor in Ranelagh, had by that time, by a grant of August 4, been handed over to Sir William Parsons, and they did not get it back!

All the above has been taken from Th. Carte (Life of Duke of Ormonde, Vol. I).”

 

[26] People who refused to conform to the established religion. In Ireland the name was applied to Roman Catholics, who were opposed to the Anglican Church.

 

[27] In 1639, the war between England and Scotland ensued from an uprising of the Scots following the attempts by Charles I and his counsellors to extend absolutist ways to Scotland and introduce the Anglican prayer book to which the Scottish Calvinists, or Presbyterians, objected. After a series of Scottish victories Charles was obliged to conclude a peace treaty in the autumn of 1639 in Berwick. Meanwhile, however, he made secret preparations for revenge. In desperate need of money for his military schemes, Charles called a Parliament (the Short Parliament) in the spring of 1640, dissolving it almost immediately, upon its refusal to grant war subsidies. Thereupon he called a new Parliament — known as the Long Parliament. The King’s conflict with that body eventually led to civil war — the English bourgeois revolution. Early in 1641, the Long Parliament declared the need for the establishment of lasting peace and closer union with Scotland.

 

[28] A reference to the following passage Engels took from Matthew O'Conor’s book: “1641. February. The deputies submitted to the King a remonstrance of grievances. There were complaints about fines, imprisonments and punishments in various shapes of torment and dishonour, for not joining in the established worship; the execution of martial law in the midst of profound peace; proclamations and acts of state made paramount to acts of the legislature; infringements of proclamations punished by imprisonment, by mutilation of members, and by confiscations, the constitution of Parliament subverted by the disfranchisement of cities and boroughs at the will of the court, the subversion of titles, and insecurity of all property by state inquisitions, by persecution of juries’, etc.”

 

[29] Engels is referring to the following passage in his notes from Matthew O'Conor’s book , which repudiates the slanderous inventions about “cruelty,” “treachery,” “conspiratorial tricks,” etc., of the Irish rebels and their Ulster leader — Phelim O'Neill (Engels’s own remarks are italicised):

“As regards the beating up of Protestants by Catholics, O'Conor maintains that the populous towns in the north remained in the hands of the English and thus served as refuges for the Protestant population of rural areas; many (Protestants) got safe to Derry, Enniskillen, Coleraine, and Carrickfergus, besides several thousands got safe to Dublin, 6,000 women and children were saved in Fermanagh, the Scots in Ulster did not come to harm, the capitulation of Bellyaghie was faithfully observed by the Catholics and generally at the commencement of the uprising no murders were committed (p. 33).

“Sir Phelim O'Neill was no coward; this can be seen from his constancy and fortitude in his last moments, his rejection of life and pardon, proffered to him on the terms of heaping dishonour and infamy on the grave of the late King’. (Carte, Ormonde, Vol. I,)

“The fact that at first (in October-December 1641) only the Irish who had been deprived of their possessions by James and ousted by the English settlers participated in the rebellion shows how badly it had been prepared.”

 

[30] A reference to the following passage in Engels’s notes from Matthew O'Conor’s book: “To all intents and purposes the government drove the English of the Pale and the Anglo-Irish lords of Munster into the rebel army to have reasons for new confiscations. The Catholics of the Pale kept their faith to the King particularly zealously and with all their power resisted participation in the uprising but had to [join it]. The situation became particularly clear to them when the Irish Parliament which was to convene on November 9 and to confirm the ‘graces’ was suddenly, and contrary to the King’s orders, postponed by the Lords Justices a few days before the date set for its convocation (p. 39). The session of Parliament was to have lasted only one day and it had been decided to submit to the King a remonstrance proposing that he should allow (the Irish Parliament) to suppress the uprising by its own forces. Lord Dillon, a Protestant who was sent to England, was arrested there by the (Long) Parliament and the remonstrance was destroyed. The impudence of the Lords justices could be explained by the fact that the English Commons had voted £20,000, 4,000 foot, 2,000 horse for fully squashing the resistance in Ireland and the reinforcements were expected (Resolution of November 3, 1641).”

 

[31] The roundheads — the name given to the supporters of Parliament during the English bourgeois revolution in the 17th century because of their puritan custom of cutting their hair close, while the cavaliers — supporters of the King — wore their hair long.

 

[32] Name of the agreement signed on September 25, 1643, between the Long Parliament and the Scottish Presbyterians; it reaffirmed the rights of the Scottish Calvinist Church and the freedoms and privileges of the Parliaments of both kingdoms; the terms of the agreement extended also to Scottish settlers in Ireland.

 

[33] Owen Roe O'Neill’s success at Benburb, which temporarily tipped the scale in the Irish Confederation in favour of radical elements who wanted to break not only with the Long Parliament but also with the King’s party, was a major victory of the Irish rebels. However, as a result of the incessant quarrels and the clashes of interests in the Confederate camp, the moderate Anglo-Irish aristocrats soon gained the upper hand and signed a new agreement with

Ormond, the commander of the Royalist forces. This enabled Cromwell and his followers (who had by now defeated the Royalist forces in England, proclaimed a republic and beheaded Charles I) to organise a punitive expedition to Ireland on the pretext of destroying a Royalist stronghold. The true aim of the expedition was the colonial subjugation of the country. On August 15, 1649, Cromwell’s army landed in Ireland and commenced the brutal suppression of the Irish rebellion, which was continued by Cromwell’s successors the Republican Generals Ireton and, later, Fleetwood. The last centres of resistance by the Irish, who had taken to guerilla warfare, were subdued in 1852.

 

 

Varia on the History of the Irish Confiscations.



This work of Engels’s is a rough generalisation of the historical material compiled by him; Engels strove to reveal the main features of the English Government’s policy in Ireland, which in the 16th and 17th centuries led to the subjugation of the entire island, mass evictions and the enslavement of the Irish population by new English landlords, making Ireland a mainstay of landlordism. Engels compiled his “Varia on the History of the Irish Confiscations” on the basis of numerous passages from a large number of books, and especially: J. Murphy, Ireland, Industrial, Political and Social, London, 1870. Of this book he made a special conspectus (as yet unpublished). In addition to Murphy he quoted or made references to passages from many other works. In the “Varia” Engels’s own remarks are italicised.

 

 

16th Century. Henry VIII

1536. Parliament in Dublin introduces the Oath of Supremacy and the King is given the privilege of taking the pick of all ecclesiastical livings. Quite different in the doing, however, for the subsequent insurrections were directed, among other things, against the Oath. Yet refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy was high treason in Ireland just as in England (Murphy, p. 249).

16th Century. Edward VI and Mary

Confiscations in Queen’s and King’s Counties. During the reign of Edward VI, as was usual in Ireland, the O'Moores of Leix and O'Connors of Offaley[1] carried on a feud with some lords of the Pale. The government qualified this as rebellion. General Bellingham, later Lord Deputy, was sent against them and forced them to submit. Advised to see the King and submit to him in person as O'Neill had done successfully in 1542. O'Moore and O'Connor, unlike O'Neill, were imprisoned and their estates were confiscated. But that was not the last of it. The inhabitants declared that the land belonged to the clans, not to the chiefs, who therefore could not forfeit it, and were, at most, liable to forfeiting their private domains. They declined to move out. The government sent troops, and had the land cleared after unintermittent fighting and extermination of the population (Murphy, p. 255)

This was the pattern [der ganze Grundriss] for all subsequent confiscations under Elizabeth and James. The Irish were denied all rights against the Anglo-Irish of the Pale, with resistance treated as rebellion. That sort of thing became usual.

By Acts in the 3rd and 4th years of the reign of Philip and Mary, c. 1 and 2, the Lord Deputy, the Earl of Sussex, was endowed with “full power and authority ... to give and to grant to all and every Their Majesties’ subjects, English or Irish ...at his election and pleasure, such estates in fee simple, fee tail,259 leases for term of years, life or lives” in these two counties “as for the more sure planting or strength of the countries with good subjects shall be thought unto his wisdom and discretion meet and convenient” (Murphy, p. 256).

16th Century. Elizabeth

English policy under Elizabeth: to keep Ireland in a state of division and strife. “Should we exert ourselves,” the English government averred, “in reducing Ireland to order and civility, it must soon acquire power, consequence and riches. The inhabitants will be thus alienated from England; they will cast themselves into the arms of some foreign power, or erect themselves into an independent and separate state. Let us rather connive at their disorders, for a weak and disordered people can never attempt to detach themselves from the Crown of England.” Thus Sir Henry Sidney and Sir John Perrot, successive Lord Deputies (the last-named the best that they ever had, in 1584-87), about the “horrid policy” against which they protest (Leland, Vol. II, p. 292 and Murphy, p. 246). Perrot’s intention of granting the Irish equal rights with the Anglo-lrish and obviating confiscations was blocked by the English party in Dublin. (Yet he it was who had O'Donnell’s son brought aboard a ship, filled with drink and borne away.)

Tyrone’s rebellion, among other things, against religious persecution: “he and other lords of Ulster entered into a secret combination, about this time, that they would defend the Roman Catholic religion ... that they would suffer no sheriffs nor garrisons to be within the compass of their territories, and that they would ... jointly resist all invasions of the English” (Camden). The conduct of Deputy Mountjoy in this war is described by Camden: “He made incursions on all sides, spoiled the corn, burnt all the houses and villages that could be found, and did so gall the rebels, that, pent in with garrisons and streightened more and more every day, they were reduced to live like wild beasts, skulking up and down the woods and deserts” (Murphy, p. 251).

See Holinshed Chronicles (p. 460) on how Ireland is laid waste in this war. Half the population is said to have been done in.

According to the returns for 1602 by John Tyrrell, the Mayor of Dublin, prices there climbed: wheat from 36/- to 180/- the quarter, barley malt from 10/- to 43/- and oat malt from 5/- to 22/- the barrel, peas from 5/- to 40/- the peck, oats from 3/4 to 20/the barrel, beef from 26/8 to 160/- the carcass, mutton ditto from 3/- to 26/-, veal ditto from 10/- to 29/-, lamb from 1/- to 6/- , and a pig from 8/- to 30/- (Leland, Vol. II, p. 422).

Desmond had estates confiscated in all counties of Munster except Clare, and also in Dublin. They were worth £7,000 per annum. Irish Parliament of 1586 expropriated 140 landowners by confiscation in Munster alone under the Act of the 28th year of Elizabeth’s reign, c. 7 and 8. McGeoghegan lists the names of the grantees of Desmond’s estates, with some families still nearly all in possession until 1847 (? probably cum grano salis).

The annual Crown rent on these estates was 2d to 3d per acre, with no indigenous Irish admitted as tenants and the government undertaking to keep adequate garrisons.

Neither provision was observed. Some estates were abandoned by the grantees and reoccupied by the Irish. Many of the undertakers stayed in England and appointed agents, who were “ignorant, negligent, and corrupt” (Leland, Vol. III).

17th Century. James I

Penal Laws against Catholics (Elizabeth, in 2nd year of reign, 1560, c. 1) are applied more and more since the beginning of the reign of James I, it becoming dangerous to practise Catholicism. Under Elizabeth 2 cl. 1, the fine of 12d was imposed for every non-attendance of a Protestant Church service and, in 1605, under James, imprisonment was added by Royal Proclamation and, hence, unlawfully. This did not help. Besides, in 1605 all Catholic priests were ordered out of Ireland in 40 days on pain of death.

Surrenders of Estates and Regrants (see Davies, 7b260). These followed the pronouncement of tanistry and gavelkind as unlawful by the Court of King’s Bench in the Hilary Term in the third year of the reign of James I.[2] A Royal Proclamation stipulated surrender of estates and regrant under new valid titles. Most Irish chiefs came forward to receive incontestable title at last, but this was made conditional on their giving up the clan relationship in favour of the English landlord-tenant relationship (Murphy, p. 261). This in 1605 (see “Chronology”).

Plantation of Ulster. According to Leland, Irish undertenants and servants were tacitly exempted from the Oath of Supremacy, whereas all the other planters were compelled to take it. Carte says that all Irish settlers, especially natives, who were allowed part of their land, were exempted, but this was irrelevant because trial for refusing to take the Oath was impracticable.

The Scottish Presbyterians in Ulster also resisted taking the Oath of Supremacy, and this was suffered by the authorities (Murphy, p. 266). That may have been useful for the Irish as well. — Carte estimates the number of English settlers in Ulster in 1641 at 20,000 and of Scottish settlers at 100,000 (Life of Ormonde, Vol. I, p. 177).

Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy, was rewarded for his services in this plantation with the territory of Innoshowen(?) “and all the lands possessed by O'Dogherty, a tract of country far exceeding the allotments generally made to northern undertakers” (Leland, Vol. II, p. 438). As early as 1633 these estates were valued at £10,000 per annum (Strafford’s State Letters, Vol. II, p. 294). Chichester was the ancestor of Marquis of Donegal, who would have £300,000 per annum for his Belfast estate alone, if another of his ancestors had not surrendered it to others under long leases (Murphy, p. 265).

The plantation of Ulster culminated the first period, with a new means discovered for confiscation: defective titles. This is effective under James and Charles, until Cromwell renews the invasion. See extracts from Carte, 2a,b.[3]

Another effective pretext for confiscation was that old Crown rents, long forgotten by Crown and landowners, were still due from many estates. These were now pulled out and, wherever unpaid, the estate was forfeited. No receipts existed, and that was enough (Murphy, p. 269).

Concerning the attempt to confiscate Connaught (see “Chronology,” and O'Conor, The History of the Irish Catholics[4]), recall James’s dirty trick [schöne Schweinerei]:

When the people of Connaught surrendered their titles to a specially appointed Royal Commission in 1616 and had these reconveyed by new patents, they paying £3,000 for their enrolment in Chancery, the titles were not registered. A new commission was named on this pretext in 1623 to declare them null and void by reason of deliberate default, an oversight that depended not on the landowners but the government. (See Carte, Life of Ormonde, Vol. I, pp. 47 and 48.) In the meantime, James died.

A Court of Wards for Ireland was established in 1614. Carte avers in The Life of Ormonde, Vol. I, p. 517, that no lawful basis existed for it as in England, being meant to bring up Catholic heirs in the Protestant religion and English customs. Its president was the good Sir William Parsons, who had helped plan it.

17th Century. Charles I

That the Irish insisted in the graces that “three score years’ possession (of an estate) should conclude His Majesty’s title” was understandable, for this was the law of England (Strafford’s State Letters, Vol. I, p. 279), enacted by the Act of the 21st year of James’s reign (Murphy, p. 274). Yet English law applied to the Irish only in so far as it suited the English government.

Strafford wrote the English Secretary of State on December 16, 1634, that in his Irish Parliament “the Protestants are the majority, and this may be of great use to confirm and settle His Majesty’s title to the Plantations of Connaught and Ormond; for this you may be sure of, all the Protestants are for Plantations, all the others are against them; so as these, being the great number, you can want no help they can give you therein. Nay, in case there be no title to be made good to these countries in the Crown, yet should not I despair, forth of reasons of state, and for the strength and security of the Kingdom, to have them passed to the King by an immediate Act of Parliament (State Letters, Vol. I, p. 353).

Outside Connaught, too, money was extorted continuously on pain of inquiry into titles. The O'Byrnes of Wicklow, for example, twice paid £15,000 to preserve a portion of their estates, while the City of London paid £70,000 to prevent confiscation of its plantations in Colrain and Derry for alleged breach of covenant (Leland, Vol. III, p. 40).

The Court of High Commission[5] [the Irish Star Chamber] established by Wentworth in the year 1633, after the English model, “with the same formality and the same tremendous powers” (Leland, Vol. III, p. 29), and this naturally without Parliament’s consent in order “to bring the people here to a conformity in religion, and, in the way to that, raise, perhaps, a good revenue to the Crown” (January 31, 1633, State Letters, Vol. I, p. 188). The Court saw to it that all newly-appointed officials, doctors, barristers, etc., and all those who “sued out livery of their estates” should take the Oath of Supremacy, which, as McAuley observed, was a religious inquisition where that of the Star Chamber was political. .

Then the Castle Chamber, called Star Chamber[6] as in England, which, Lord Deputy Chichester said, was “the proper court to punish jurors who will not find a verdict for the King upon good evidence” (oft-quoted passage from Desiderata Curiosa Hibernicae, Vol. I, p. 262).

It is said therein [(in the Remonstrance of Trim) the agents complain] that the penalties there employed consisted in “imprisonment and loss of ears” and “fines, pillory, boring through the tongue, marking on the forehead with an iron and other infamous punishments,” as this is also indicated in the indictment of Strafford (Murphy, p. 279).

When Strafford went to Connaught in 1635, he took with him 4,000 horse “as good lookers on, while the plantations were settling” (Strafford, State Letters, Vol. I, p. 454). In Galway he imposed fines not only on the jury that would not find a verdict for the King, but also the sheriff “for returning so insufficient, indeed, we conceive, so packed a jury, in £1,000 to His Majesty” (August 1635, Vol. I, p. 451).

As, by the 28th Act of Henry VIII, c. 5, 6 and 13, all recourse to the Pope’s jurisdiction was prohibited and all Irish came under the Protestant ecclesiastical courts, whose verdict could be appealed against to the King alone. They took cognizance to all marriages, baptisms, burials, wills, and administrations, and punished recusants for not going to church under the 2nd Act of Elizabeth, c. 2, and also collected the tithes. Bishop Burnet (Life of Dr. Bedel, Bishop of Kilmore, p. 89) said these courts were “often managed by a chancellor that bought his place and so thought he had a right to all the profits he could make out of it. And their whole business seemed to be nothing but oppression and extortion.... The officers of the court thought they had a sort of right to oppress the natives and that all was well got that was wrung from them ... they made it their business to draw people into trouble by vexatious suits, and to hold them so long in that, for 3d. worth of the tithe of turf, they would be put to a £5 charge.” In the graces, which never materialised, Protestant clergymen were to have been forbidden “to keep private prisons of their own” for spiritual offences, so that offenders should be committed to the King’s public gaols (Murphy, p. 281).

See Spenser, excerpt 51 about the Protestant clergy.[7]

Borlase and Parsons encouraged the rebellion everywhere. According to Lord Castlehaven’s Memoirs, they said: “The more rebels, the more confiscations.” Leland (Vol. III, p. 166), too, observes that, as before, “extensive forfeitures were the favourite object of the chief governors and their friends.”

By that time, the Irish Royalist army was to have been 50,000 strong through reinforcement from England and Scotland.

See Carte, The Life of Ormonde, Vol. III, p. 61, for the instructions to the army.[8]

The motto of the Kilkenny Confederates was: Pro deo, pro rege, et patria Hibernia unanimes (for God, King and Ireland unanimous); so that is where the Prussians lifted it from! (Borlase, Irish Rebellion, p. 128).

17th Century. Cromwell

Drogheda Massacre.[9] After a successful assault “quarter had been promised to all who should lay down their arms — a promise observed until all resistance was at an end. But at the moment that the city was completely reduced, Cromwell ... issued his fatal orders that the garrison should be put to the sword. His soldiers, many of them with reluctance, butchered the prisoners. The governor and all his gallant officers, betrayed to slaughter by the cowardice of some of their troops, were massacred without mercy. For five days this hideous execution was continued with every circumstance of horror” (Leland, Vol. III, p. 361). A number of Catholic ecclesiastics found within the walls were bayoneted. “Thirty persons only remained unslaughtered ... and these were instantly transported as slaves to Barbadoes” (Leland, Vol. III, p. 362).

Petty (Political Anatomy of Ireland, Dublin edition of Petty’s tracts, 1769, pp. 312-15) estimates that 112,000 British and 504,000 Irish inhabitants of Ireland died in the war of 1641-52. In 1653, soldiers’ debentures[10] were sold at 4/- to 5/- in the pound, so that with 20/being the price [nominal] of two acres of land, and there being 8 million acres of good land in Ireland, all Ireland was purchasable for £1 million, though in 1641 it was worth £8 million. Petty estimates the value of livestock in Ireland in 1641 at £4 million, and in 1652 at less than £500,000, so that Dublin had to get meat from Wales. Corn was 12/- per barrel in 1641 and 50/- in 1652. Houses in Ireland worth £2 million in 1641, were worth less than £500,000 in 1653.

Leland, too, admits in Vol. III, p. 171, that “the favourite idea of both the Irish Government and the English Parliament (from 1642 onwards) was the utter extermination of all the Catholics of Ireland.”

See Lingard (History of England, Vol. VII, 4th ed., p. 102, Note) on the transportation of Irish as slaves to the West Indies (figures vary from 6,000 to 100,000). Of the 1,000 boys and 1,000 girls to be sent to Jamaica, the commissioners wrote in 1655: “Although we must use force in taking them up, yet it is so much for their own good and likely to be of such great advantage to the public, that you may have such number of them as you shall think fit” (Thurloe’s Papers, Vol. IV, p. 23).

“By the first Act of Settlement, the forfeiture of two-thirds of their estates had been pronounced against those who had borne arms against the Parliament and one-third of their estates against those who had resided in Ireland any time from October 1, 1649, to March 1, 1650, and had not manifested their constant good affection to Parliament. The Parliament had power to give them, in lieu thereof, other lands to the proportion of value thereof.” The second Act concerned resettlement (see Prendergast, Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, Book of Excerpts VII, 1a).[11]

Distribution of land to soldiers was limited to those who had served under Cromwell from 1649 (Murphy, p. 302).

See Carte, Life of Ormonde, Vol. II, p. 301, about some cases of land surveying, especially by adventurers.[12]

According to Leland (Vol. III, p. 410), the Commissioners in Dublin and Athlone kept considerable domains for themselves.

A plantation acre is equal to 1 acre, 2 roods, 19 perches, 5 yards, and 2 1/4 feet imperial statute measure, or 121 plantation acres may be taken as equal to 196 statute acres (Murphy, p. 302).

17th Century. Charles II

As a result of confiscations under Cromwell and Charles II, the 7,708,238 statute acres confiscated by Cromwell were distributed finally, by 1675, as follows:

 

  Statute acres
1) To Englishmen  
Adventurers 787,326
Soldiers 2,385,915
“Forty-Nine” Officers 450,380
Duke of York 169,431
Provisors 477,873
Duke of Ormond and Colonel Butler 257,516
Bishops’ Augmentations 31,596
Total 4,560,037
2) To Irishmen  
Decrees of Innocence 1,176,520
Provisors 491,001
King’s Letters of Restitution 46,398
Nominees in Possession 68,360
Transplantation 541,530
Total 2,323,809
Remaining still unappropriated in 1675, being part of towns or land possessed by English or Irish without title or doubtful 824,392
Total in statute acres 7,708,238

 

On “Forty-Nine” officers see O'Conor and Notes.[13] The Duke of York received a grant of all the lands held by the regicides who had been attainted. Provisors were persons in whose favour provisoes had been made by the Acts of Settlement and of Explanation.273 Nominees were the Catholics named by the King restored to their mansions and 2,000 acres contiguous.

At that time the profitable lands of Ireland were estimated at two-thirds of all land, or 12,500,000 statute acres. Of the rest, considerable tracts were occupied without title by soldiers and adventurers. In 1675, the twelve and a half million acres of arable were distributed as follows:

 

Granted to English Protestants of profitable land forfeited under the Commonwealth 4,560,037
Previously possessed by English Protestant Colonists and by the Church 3,900,000
Granted to the Irish 2,323,809
Previously possessed by “good affectioned” Irish 600,000
Unappropriated as above 824,391
Statute acres 12,208,237

 

This table was compiled by Murphy; the figure of 3,900,000 acres was taken from the Account published by the Cromwellian proprietors and the rest on the basis of the Grace Manuscript quoted by Lingard and the Report of the Commissioners to the English House of Commons, December 15, 1699. It accords with Petty (Political Anatomy), who wrote: “Of the whole 7,500,000 plantation acres of good land (in Ireland) the English and Protestants and the Church have this Christmas (1672) 5,140,000 (= 8,352,500 statute acres and the Irish have near half as much” (Murphy, pp. 314 and 315).

17th Century. William III[14]

 

By the Acts of Settlement and Explanation, 2,323,809 statute acres were granted to the Irish, they having 600,000 previously in their possession
  statute acres
Totalling 2,923,809
Of these lands, 1,060,792 plantation acres were escheated under William worth £211,623 6s. 3d. per annum (Report, of the Commissioners of the House of Commons. 1699) 1,723,787
The rest 1,200,022
  or as Murphy calculated (he probably erred when subtracting) 1,240,022
In addition, restituted by special favour of the King on pardoning (65 persons) 125,000
The Court of Claims restored (792 persons) 388,500
Total 513,500
Making the total possessed by the Irish 1,753,522

Compiled by Murphy on the basis of the Report of the Commissioners of the House of Commons (English) in December 1699.

 

__________

Footnotes

{1] A reference to County Laoighis (Leix) in Central Ireland, which, in 1557, following the confiscation by the Tudors of the lands of local tribal communities (the clans), was renamed Queen’s County in honour of Mary Tudor, the English Queen. The neighbouring Offaley County, the population of which had also fallen victim to the expropriation policy of the English colonial authorities, was renamed King’s County in honour of Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain.

 

[2] Fee tail — an estate the use of which is limited to a category of heirs stipulated in the grant; in practice it means life tenancy.

 

[3] Engels is referring to the following passage he took from J. Davies, Historical Tracts, London, 1786. “Under Elizabeth only several Irish chiefs surrendered their estates and were regranted all their lands. However, the inferior chiefs and peasants as before held their several portions in course of tanistry and gavelkind, so that English law extended only to the lords. But James sent two special commissions (to Ireland) — ‘the one, for accepting surrenders and for regranting estates, ...the other, for strengthening of defective titles’. These commissions, in particular, took care to secure also the under tenants [to the lord). Before accepting each surrendered estate the commission had to enquire: 1) of the limits of the land; 2) how much the lord himself holds in demesne and how much is possessed by his tenants and followers; 3) what customs, duties and services he receives. After that the owner was returned the ownership of his demesne, his duties however were valued and reduced into certain sums of money, to be paid yearly in lieu thereof as rents, but the lands were left to them. In the case of defective titles like steps were taken before the title was confirmed.”

 

[4] Tanistry — a system regulating the inheritance of chieftainship of the Celtic clans and septs (tribes) in Ireland. Like many other Irish customs, it was a relic of the tribal system. According to this custom, the successor of the clan chief, the tanist, was appointed during the lifetime of the chief from a definite family in the clan, whose members were considered the “eldest and worthiest.”

 

[5] Engels is referring to the following passage in his excerpts from the first volume of Carte’s book (Engels’s own remark is italicised):

Plantation in Leinster. Around the year 1608, the king’s title had been found to ‘all the lands between the river of Arekloe and that of Slane in the County of Wexford, and the former possessors thereof had to make surrenders of their lands into his hands. They amounted in all to 66,000 acres, 16,500 of which lying near the sea, the King determined to dispose of to an English colony, which was to be settled there, and to regrant the rest, in certain proportions, to the old proprietors under the like regulations and covenants as had been imposed on and submitted to by the planters of Ulster “. (p. 22). After that came the turn of Longford and Leytrim, and also of the lands belonging to O'Carrols, O'Molloys, Mac-Coughlans, the Foxes, O'Doynes, Mac Geoghegans, and O'Mclaghlins in the Counties of the King, Queen and Westmeath. These regions became wild again and Irelandised; they caused a lot of trouble to [the English] — they were now safe receptacles of thieves and robbers. In 1614 it was decided ‘to take a view of the counties and to enquire into the title which the Crown had to them or any part thereof’, thatis, to take away these lands and to appropriate their incomes. All this was done by a special commission.... ‘It was an age of adventurers and projectors; the general taste of the world ran in favour of new discoveries and plantings of countries; and such as were not hardy enough to venture into the remote parts of the earth, fancied they might make a fortune nearer home by settling and planting in Ireland. The improvement of the King’s revenues was the cover made use of by such projectors to obtain Commissions of enquiry into defective titles, and grants of concealed lands and rents belonging to the Crown, the great benefit of which was generally to accrue to the projector or discoverer, whilst the King was contented with an inconsiderable proportion of the concealment, or a small advance of the reserved rent’.”

 

[6] Engels is referring to the passage in his excerpts from M. O'Conor’s The History of the Irish Catholics, already referred to in his “Chronology of Ireland” (see Note 246). In addition to the quotation given in that note, the relevant passage contains data on confiscations made in 1614 in County Longford, neighbouring on Connaught Province. These confiscations victimised the Irish aristocratic family of the O'Ferells and 25 clans, who lost their property which was parcelled out to English colonists; the other clans of the county were banished to mountainous and unfertile lands. Of the attempts to confiscate land in one of the counties of Connaught Province itself (Leitrim) the following is said: “In Leitrim immense possessions of Bryan na Murtha O'Rourke had been granted to his son Teige by patent in the first year of King James’ reign by the King himself, and to the male heirs of his body. Teige died leaving several sons, their titles were clear, no plots or conspiracies could be urged to invalidate them. Then the commission declared them all to be bastards and confiscated their lands.”

 

[7]The Court of High Commission was founded in England in 1559 by Elizabeth I to deal with cases of breaches of royal edicts and Acts of Parliament, instrumental in furthering the Reformation, and with offences against the Church of England. It was directed not only against the Catholics but also against the radical Protestant sects — the Puritans.

 

[8] The Star Chamber was founded in England in 1487 by Henry VII as a special court for judging local barons. Under Elizabeth I it became one of the supreme judicial bodies investigating political crimes, a weapon in the ruthless struggle conducted against the opponents of feudal reaction and absolutism. Like the Court of High Commission, it was abolished by the Long Parliament in 1641.

In Ireland, the introduction by Strafford of similar institutions (one of them was called the Castle Chamber because it convened in Dublin Castle, the residence of the Lord Deputy) mainly served the purpose of expropriation and colonisation.

 

[9] Ed. Spencer, “A View of the State of Ireland,” in Ancient Irish Histories, Dublin, 1809. In Engels’s excerpts from Spencer’s book the following passage refers to the Irish clergy:

“... ye may find there ... gross simony, greedy covetousness, fleshly incontinency, careless sloth, and generally all disordered life in the common clergyman. And besides ... they do go and live like laymen, follow all kinds of husbandry and other worldly affairs as other Irishmen do. They neither read Scriptures, nor preach to the people, nor administer the Communion, but baptism they do, ... they take the tithes and offerings, and gather what fruit else they may of their livings, ... and some of them ... pay, as due, tributes and shares of their livings to their bishops. ...” Engels added the following remark: “All the above, apparently, refers to the Protestant priests of that time.”

 

[10] A reference to the order given in 1641 by Lords justices Parsons and Borlase to the English Commander, which contained instructions on the treatment of Irish rebels. The order instructed “to wound, kill, slay, and destroy all the rebels and their adherents and relievers, and burn, spoil, waste, consume, destroy, and demolish all the places, towns, and houses where the rebels were or have been relieved or harboured, and all the corn and hay there, and to kill and destroy all the men there inhabiting able to bear arms.”

 

[11] Drogheda, an ancient fortress in Eastern Ireland, was besieged on September 3, 1649, by Oliver Cromwell and taken by storm on September 12. In accordance with the order of the Commander-in-Chief to show no mercy to anyone caught with arms the three-thousand-strong Irish garrison was annihilated and many peaceful citizens were killed. Ruthless bloodshed by Cromwell’s troops also attended the capture of Wexford on October 11, 1649.

 

[12] Titles to plots of Irish land of definite size. They were given to soldiers of the Parliamentary army in lieu of wages. In many cases officers and speculators bought them from the soldiers for a song.

 

[13] A reference to the Act of Settlement adopted by the Long Parliament on August 12, 1652, during the English bourgeois revolution, following the suppression of the 1641-52 national liberation uprising in Ireland. The Act legalised the reign of terror and violence established by the English colonialists in Ireland and sanctioned the wholesale plunder of Irish lands in favour of the English bourgeoisie and the “new” bourgeoisified nobility. This Act declared the majority of Ireland’s indigenous population “guilty of revolt.” Even those Irishmen who had not been directly involved in the uprising but had failed to show the proper “loyalty” to the English Crown were considered “guilty.” Those declared “guilty” were classified into categories, depending on the extent of their involvement in the uprising, and subjected to brutal reprisals: execution, deportation, confiscation of property. On September 26, 1653, the Act of Settlement was supplemented by the Act of Satisfaction which prescribed the forcible resettlement of Irish people whose property had been confiscated to the barren province of Connaught and to Clare County and defined the procedure for allotting the confiscated land to the creditors of Parliament, the officers and men of the English army. Both Acts consolidated and extended the economic foundations of English landlordism in Ireland.

 

{14] The name given in the 16th-17th centuries to merchants and bankers, including speculators from the City of London. During the English bourgeois revolution in the 17th century “adventurers” loaned Parliament considerable sums of money for the war against the Royalists on the security of lands in Ireland. They engaged in the looting of these lands and also in the buying up of soldiers’ debentures. Among the “adventurers” were many statesmen, members of the gentry and civil servants.

 

[15] Engels is referring to his notes from Matthew O'Conor’s book, The History of the Irish Catholics, supplemented by excerpts from other sources. In this particular case the reference is to the passage dealing with the declaration made in 1660 by the government of Charles II at the outset of the Stuart Restoration. According to that declaration the “adventurers,” the officers and men of the Parliamentary army retained their possessions in Ireland, while officers of Ormonde’s Royalist army, who had served under him up to 1649 (hence the term “forty-nine officers”; in that year the majority of the defeated English Royalists left Ireland and the resistance to Cromwell’s troops was continued mainly by the Irish rebels), received compensation out of the same fund of confiscated Irish lands. Indigenous Irishmen, who had fought under the King’s banner during the Civil War and been deprived of their possessions because of it, received practically no compensation.

 

[16] The Act of Settlement was passed by the restored Stuart monarchy in 1662. The Act instituted a complicated procedure of enquiry into complaints and petitions for the return of lands to the Irish Catholics who had fought in civil war on the Royalist side. The satisfaction of complaints was encumbered by a whole system of casuistic objections and provisos. As a result, only a small part was considered and a still smaller satisfied (those who in fact received compensation for their forfeited lands were designated in the documents as “provisors”). The Act of Explanation passed in 1665 under pressure from the Protestant colonists cancelled all complaints not hitherto considered. It was called the “Black Act” in Ireland.

 

[17] Given below are data on the confiscations of Irish lands carried out by William III after the suppression of the 1689-91 Irish uprising, in violation of the surrender terms signed with the insurgents at Limerick.

 


Abstracts on Irish Art and Literature

 

Ancient Irish Literature

 

The writers of ancient Greece and Rome, and also the fathers of the Church, give very little information about Ireland.

Instead there still exists an abundant native literature, in spite of le many Irish manuscripts lost in the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It includes poems, grammars, glossaries, annals and other historical writings and law-books. With very few exceptions, however, this whole literature, which embraces the period at least from the eighth to the seventeenth century, exists only in manuscript. For the Irish language printing has existed only for a few years, only from the time when the language began to die out. Of this rich material, therefore, only a small part is available. Amongst the most important of these annals are those of Abbot Tigernach (died 1088), those of Ulster, and above all, those of the Four Masters. These last were collected in 1632-36 in a monastery in Donegal under the direction of Michael O'Clery, a Franciscan monk, who was helped by three other Seanchaidhes (antiquarians), from materials which now are almost all lost. They were published in 1856 from the original Donegal manuscript which still exists, having been edited and provided with an English translation by O'Donovan. The earlier editions by Dr. Charles O'Connor (the first part of the Four Masters, and the Annals of Ulster)are untrustworthy in text and translation.

The beginning of most of these annals presents the mythical prehistory of Ireland. Its base was formed by old folk legends, which were spun out endlessly by poets in the 9th and 10th centuries and were then brought into suitable chronological order by the monk-chroniclers. The Annals of the Four Masters begins with the year of the world 2242, when Caesair, a granddaughter of Noah, landed in Ireland forty days before the Flood; other annals have the ancestors of the Scots, the last immigrants to Ireland, descend in direct line from Japheth and bring them into connection with Moses, the Egyptians and the Phoenicians, as the German chroniclers of the Middle Ages connected the ancestors of the Germans with Troy, Aeneas or Alexander the Great. The Four Masters devote only a few pages to this legend (in which the only valuable element, the original folk-legend, is not distinguishable even now); the Annals of Ulster leave it out altogether; and Tigernach, with a critical boldness wonderful for his time, explains that all the written records of the Scots before King Cimbaoth (approximately 300 B.C.) are uncertain. But when new national life awoke in Ireland at the end of the last century, and with it new interest in Irish literature and history, just these monks’ legends were counted to be their most valuable constituent. With true Celtic enthusiasm and specifically Irish naivete, belief in these stories was declared an intrinsic part of national patriotism, and. this offered the supercunning world of English scholarship — whose own efforts in the field of philological. and historical criticism are gloriously enough well known to the rest of the world — the desired pretext for throwing everything Irish aside as arrant nonsense.

[One of the most naive products of that time is The Chronicles of Eri, being the History of the Gaal Sciot Iber, or the Irish People, translated from the original manuscripts in the Phoenician dialect of the Scythian Language by O'Connor, London, 1822, 2 volumes. The Phoenician dialect of the Scythian language is naturally Celtic Irish, and the original manuscript is a verse chronicle chosen at will. The publisher is Arthur O'Connor, exile of 1798,96 uncle of Feargus O'Connor who was later leader of the English Chartists, an ostensible descendant of the ancient O'Connors, Kings of Connaught, and, after a fashion, the Irish Pretender to the throne. His portrait appears in front of the title, a man with a handsome, jovial Irish face, strikingly resembling his nephew Feargus, grasping a crown with his right hand. Underneath is the caption: “O'Connor — cear-rige, head of his race, and O'Connor, chief of the prostrate people of his nation: ‘Soumis, pas vaincus’ [Subdued, not conquered]."]

 

* * *


Senchus Mor on Ancient Ireland

The Senchus Mor has until now been our main source for information about conditions in ancient Ireland. It is a collection of ancient legal decisions which, according to the later composed introduction, was compiled on the orders of St. Patrick, and with his assistance brought into harmony with Christianity, rapidly spreading in Ireland. The High King of Ireland, Laeghaire (428-458, according to the Annals of the Four Masters), the Vice-Kings, Corc of Munster and Daire, probably a prince of Ulster, and also three bishops: St. Patrick, St. Benignus and St. Cairnech, and three lawyers: Dubthach, Fergus and Rossa, are supposed to have formed the “commission” which compiled the book — and there is no doubt that they did their work more cheaply than the present commission, who only had to publish it. The Four Masters give 438 as the year in which the book was written.

The text itself is evidently based on very ancient heathen materials. The oldest legal formulas in it are written in verse with a precise metre and the so-called consonance, a kind of alliteration or rather consonant — assonance, which is peculiar to Irish poetry and frequently goes over to full rhyme. As it is certain that old Irish law-books were translated in the fourteenth century from the so-called Fenian dialect (Berla Feini), the language of the fifth century, into the then current Irish (Introduction (Vol. 1), p. xxxvi and following) it emerges that in the Senchus Mor too the metre has been more or less smoothed out in places; but it appears often enough along with occasional rhymes and marked consonance to give the text a definite rhythmical cadence. It is generally sufficient to read the translation in order to find out the verse forms. But then there are also throughout it, especially in the latter half, numerous pieces of undoubted prose; and, whereas the verse is certainly very ancient and has been handed down by tradition, these prose insertions seem to originate with the compilers of the book. At any rate, the Senchus Mor is quoted frequently in the glossary composed in the ninth or tenth century, and attributed to the King and Bishop of Cashel, Cormac, and it was certainly written long before the English invasion.

All the manuscripts (the oldest of which appears to date from the beginning of the 14th century or earlier) contain a series of mostly concordant annotations and longer commenting notes on this text. The annotations are in the spirit of old glossaries; quibbles take the place of etymology and the explanation of words, and comments are of varying quality, being often badly distorted or largely incomprehensible, at least without knowledge of the rest of the law-books. The age of the annotations and comments is uncertain. Most of them, however, probably date from after the English invasion. As at the same time they show only a very few traces of developments in the. law outside the text itself, and these are only a more precise establishment of details, the greater part, which is purely explanatory, can certainly also be used with some discretion as a source concerning earlier times.

The Senchus Mor contains:

1. The law of distraint [Pfändungsrecht], that is to say, almost the whole judicial procedure;
2. The law of hostages, which during disputes were put up by people of different territories;
3. The law of Saerrath and Daerrath (see below); and
4. The law of the family.

From this we obtain much valuable information on the social life of that time, but, as long as many of the expressions are unexplained and the rest of the manuscripts is not published, much remains dark.

In addition to literature, the surviving architectural monuments, churches, round towers, fortifications and inscriptions also enlighten us about the condition of the people before the arrival of the English.

* * *

 

Ancient Irish Poems

The manuscripts of still extant Irish poems believed to date from the early Milesian times, are accompanied by interlinear glosses without which they would be incomprehensible; but the glosses themselves are in an extremely archaic language and very difficult to understand.

 * * *

 

Ancient Scandanavian Epos

The quarrelling of the Irish princes amongst themselves greatly simplified pillage and settlement for the Norsemen, and even the temporary conquest of the whole island. The extent to which the Scandinavians considered Ireland as one of their regular pillage grounds is shown by the so-called death-song of Ragnar Lodbroôk, the Krâkumâl, composed about the year 1000 in the snaketower of King Ella of Northumberland. In this song all the ancient pagan savagery is massed together, as if for the last time, and under the pretext of celebrating King Ragnar’s heroic deeds in song, all the Nordic peoples’ raids in their own lands, on coasts from Dunamunde to Flanders, Scotland (here already called Skotland, perhaps for the first time) and Ireland are briefly pictured. About Ireland it is said:

“We hew'd with our swords, heap'd high the slain,
Glad was the wolf’s brother of the furious battle’s feast;
lion struck — brass-shields; Ireland’s ruler, Marsteinn,
Did not starve the murder-wolf or eagle;
In Vedbrafiördhr the raven was given a sacrifice.
We hew'd with our swords, started a game at dawn,
A merry battle against three kings at Lindiseyri;
Not many could boast that they fled unhurt from there.
Falcon fought wolf for flesh, the wolf’s fury devoured many;
The blood of the Irish flow'd in streams on the beach in the battle.”

“Hiuggu ver medh hiörvi, hverr la thverr of annan;
gladhr vardh gera brodhir getu vidh sôknar laeti,
lêt ei o:rn nêýlgi, sâer Irlandi stýrdhi,
(môt vardh mâlms ok rîtar) Marsteinn konungr fasta;
vardh î Vedhra firdhi valtafn gefit hrafni.

Hiuggu ver medh hio:rvi, hâdhum sudhr at morni
leik fyrir Lindiseyri vidh lofdhûnga threnna;
fârr âtti thvî fagna (fêll margr i gyn ûlfi,
haukr sleit hold medh vargi), at harm heill thadhan kaemi;
Ýra blödh î oegi aerit fêll um skaeru.”

Vedhrafiördhr is, as we have said, Waterford; I do not know whether Lindiseyri has been discovered anywhere. On no account does it mean Leinster as Johnstone translates it; eyri (sandy neck of land, Danish öre) points to a quite distinct locality. Valtafn can also mean falcon feed and is generally translated as such here, but as the raven is Odin’s holy bird, the word obviously has both meanings.


* * *

On Swift

Swift writes about grazing in A Short View of the State of Ireland in 1727: “As to the improvement of land, those few who attempt that or planting, thro’ covetousness or want of skill generally leave things worse than they were, neither succeeding in trees nor hedges, and by running into the fancy of grazing, after the manner of the Scythians, are every day depopulating the country.”

 


Notes for a Preface for a Collection of Irish Songs,

July 5 1870

 

Some Irish folk-music is very ancient, some has arisen in the last three to four hundred years, and some only in the last century. Especially much was written at the time by one of the last Irish bards, Carolan. In the past these bards or harpists — poets, composers and singers in one person — were quite numerous. Every Irish chieftain had his own bard in his castle. Many travelled the country as wandering singers, persecuted by the English, who correctly saw in them the main bearers of the national, anti-English tradition. Ancient songs about the victories of Finn Mac Cumhal (whom Macpherson stole from the Irish and turned into a Scot under the name Fingal in his Ossian, which is entirely based on Irish songs), about the magnificence of the ancient royal palace of Tara, the heroic deeds of King Brian Borumha, and later songs about the battles of Irish chieftains against the Sassenach (Englishmen) were all preserved in the living memory of the nation by the bards. And they also celebrated the exploits of contemporary Irish chieftains in their fight for independence. When in the 17th century, however, the Irish people were completely crushed by Elizabeth, James I, Oliver Cromwell and William of Orange, their landholdings robbed and given to English invaders, the Irish people outlawed in their own land and transformed into a nation of outcasts, the wandering singers were hounded in the same way as the Catholic priests, and had gradually died out by the beginning of this century. Their names are lost, of their poetry only fragments have survived, the most beautiful legacy they have left their enslaved, but unconquered people is their music.

Irish poems are all written in four-line verses. For this reason a four-line rhythm always lies at the basis of most, especially the ancient, Irish melodies, though sometimes it may be a little hidden, and frequently a refrain or conclusion on the harp follows it. Some of these ancient songs are even now, when in the largest part of Ireland Irish is understood only by the old people or even not at all, known only by their Irish names or first words. But the greater,’ more recent part has English names or texts.

The melancholy dominating most of these songs is still the expression of the national. disposition today. How could it be otherwise amongst a people whose conquerors are always inventing new, up-to-date methods of oppression? The latest method, which was introduced forty years ago and pushed to the extreme in the last twenty years, consists in the mass eviction of Irishmen from their homes and farms — which, in Ireland, is the same as eviction from the country. Since 1841 the population has dropped by two and a half million, and over three million Irishmen have emigrated. All this has been done for the profit of the big landowners of English descent, and on their instigation. If it goes on like this for another thirty years, there will be Irishmen only in America.


 

Marx - Engels

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