Hell or Connaught

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

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The majority of the Catholic nobility and gentry were banished; the remainder of the nation, thus more than decimated, were sent to Connaught. On the 26th of September, 1653, all the property of the Irish people was declared to belong to the English army and adventurers, "and it was announced that the Parliament had assigned Connaught [America was not then accessible] for the habitation of the Irish nation, whither they must transplant, with their wives, and daughters, and children, before 1st May following, under the penalty of death, if found on this side of the Shannon after that day."[7] It must not be supposed that this death penalty was a mere threat; I shall give instances to prove the contrary. Any man, woman, or child who had disobeyed this order, no matter from what cause, could be instantly executed in any way, by any of these soldiers or adventurers, without judge, jury, or trial. It was in fact constituting a special commission for the new comers to murder [8] all the old inhabitants.

Connaught was selected for two reasons: first, because it was the most wasted province of Ireland; and secondly, because it could be, and in fact was, most easily converted into a national prison, by erecting a cordon militaire across the country, from sea to sea. To make the imprisonment more complete, a belt four miles wide, commencing one mile to the west of Sligo, and thence running along the coast and the Shannon, was to be given to the soldiery to plant. Thus, any Irishman who attempted to escape, would be sure of instant capture and execution.

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[7] Day.—Cromwellian Settlement, p. 163.

[8] Murder.—"Whenever any unwary person chanced to pass these limits, he was knocked on the head by the first officer or soldier who met him. Colonel Astell killed six women in this way."—Ibid. p. 164.


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