STORY OF IRELAND

By A. M. Sullivan

CHAPTER LIII.

From the Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900)

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A MEMORABLE EPOCH—HOW MILESIAN IRELAND FINALLY DISAPPEARED FROM HISTORY; AND HOW A NEW IRELAND—IRELAND IN EXILE—APPEARED FOR THE FIRST TIME—HOW "PLANTATIONS" OF FOREIGNERS WERE DESIGNED FOR THE "COLONIZATION" OF IRELAND, AND THE EXTIRPATION OF THE NATIVE RACE.

I HAVE narrated at very considerable length the events of that period of Irish history with which the name of Hugh O'Neill is identified. I have done so, because that era was one of most peculiar importance to Ireland; and it is greatly necessary for Irishmen to fully understand and appreciate the momentous meaning of its results. The war of 1599-1602 was the last struggle of the ancient native rule to sustain itself against the conquerors and the jurisdiction of their civil and religious code. Thenceforth—at least for two hundred years subsequently—the wars in Ireland which eventuated in completing the spoliation, ruin, and extinction of the native nobility, were wars in behalf of the English sovereign as the rightful sovereign of Ireland also.

Never more in Irish history do we find the authority of the ancient native dynasties set up, recognized, and obeyed. Never more do we find the ancient laws and judicature undisturbedly prevailing in any portion of the land. With the flight of the Northern chieftains all claims of ancient native dynasties to sovereignty of power, rights, or privileges, disappeared, never once to reappear; and the ancient laws and constitution of Ireland, the venerable code that had come down inviolate through the space of fifteen hundred years, vanished totally and forever! Taking leave, therefore, of the chapter of history to which I have devoted so much space, we bid farewell to Milesian Ireland—Ireland claiming to be ruled by its own native princes, and henceforth have to deal with Ireland as a kingdom subject to the Scotto-English sovereign.

The date at which we have arrived is one most remarkable in our history in other respects also. If it witnessed the disappearance of Milesian Ireland, it witnessed the first appearance in history of that other Ireland, which from that day to the present has been in so great a degree the hope and the glory of the parent nation—a rainbow set in the tearful sky of its captivity—Ireland in exile! In the beginning of the seventeenth century "the Irish abroad" are first heard of as a distinct political element. The new power thus born into the world was fated to perform a great and marvelous part in the designs of Providence. It has endured through the shock of centuries—has outlived the rise and fall of dynasties and states—has grown into gigantic size and shape; and in the influence it exercises at this moment on the course ana policy of England, affords, perhaps, the most remarkable illustration recorded outside Holy Writ, of the inevitability of retributive justice. To expel the people of Ireland from their own country, to thrust them out as outcast wanderers and exiles all over the world—to seize their homes and possess their heritage, will be found to have been for centuries the policy, the aim, and untiring endeavor of the English government. The scheme which we are about to see King James prosecuting (Munster witnessed its inauguration in the previous reign) has ever since haunted the English mind; namely, the expulsion of the native Irish race, and the "planting" or "colonizing" of their country by English settlers.

The history of the world has no parallel for such a design, pursued so relentlessly through such a great space of time. But God did not more signally preserve His chosen people of the Old Law than He has preserved the Irish nation in captivity and in exile. They have not melted away, as the calculations of their evictors anticipated. They have not become fused or transformed by time or change. They have not perished where all ordinary probabilities threatened to the human race impossibility of existence. Prosperity and adversity in their new homes have alike failed to kill in their hearts the sentiment of nationality, the holy love of Ireland, the resolution of fulfilling their destiny as the Heraclidae of modern history. They preserve to-day, all over the world, their individuality as markedly as the children of Israel did theirs in Babylon or in Egypt.

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