National Bondage, 1608-1641

From The Historic Case for Irish Independence by Darrell Figgis

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20. The whole nation was in bondage. Neither in matters civil nor in matters religious had it a name or a right. Wandering in wild bands among the hills its people looked upon their own lands in the possession of strangers; or they laboured on those lands as hewers of wood and drawers of water to the stranger. The practice of their faith was forbidden in public; and leading dignitaries of the Church were imprisoned, altars profaned and images hewn down. An oath admitting the English King's religious supremacy in Ireland being required before any public office could be accepted, the nation was excluded from such offices and from the practice of the law. Other devices were employed to complete the subjection. For example, the manufacture of woollen cloths was to be discouraged, because, as Lord Strafford, the English Governor in Ireland, wrote, anno 1633: "In reasons of State, so long as they did not indrape their own wools, they must of necessity fetch their clothing from us, and consequently in a sort depend upon us for their livelihood, and thereby become so dependent upon this Crown, as they could not depart from us without nakedness to themselves and children." "I can now say," wrote the same Governor, "that the King is as absolute here as any prince in the world can be."

Oppressed and enraged the nation only waited for a day of retribution. They established communication with those of their race who had fled the country, and had won distinction in the armies of France and Spain. Preparations were made for a national rising. Their plans were betrayed so far as the City of Dublin was concerned; yet in the Autumn of 1641 and during the winter following every part of the country rose. Wherever there had been plantations there the shock was first felt. The hewers of wood and drawers of water joined with those who swept down from the hills, and the Planters were driven headlong. There were fierce and bitter reprisals, which the contemporary Broadsheets in London represented as great massacres. It is surprising that the reprisals were not more extensive than they were. In Ulster, in Connacht, and in parts of Munster the Plantations were undone during the course of the winter, and the war between the nations was resumed.

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