Renewed War, 1689-1691

From The Historic Case for Irish Independence by Darrell Figgis

PreviousContentsNext

24. Yet, before these things could be reached, further tribulations were in store. The nadir of oppression had not yet been discovered. The owners of Irish land being now Englishmen, or wealthy Irishmen suborned by that ownership, the nation at large, as their servants and tenants-at-will, were tied to the English State chariot, and any struggles that took place within that chariot for the possessions of its reins had an unhappy effect on those who were harnessed to its train. So when the English deposed their King in 1688, and called in a Dutch prince to take his place, Ireland was once again thrown into the midst of warfare. England escaped the war, because the deposed King fled that country, and Ireland became its cockpit because the King settled himself within its shores. A curious spectacle was therefore to be seen. Irishmen had in times past been called "rebels" because they admitted no allegiance to a foreign monarch. Now they were called "rebels" because they did for the first time espouse that allegiance.

For the King was a Catholic; he had, while King in England, appointed representatives in Ireland who annulled the oppression of Catholic faith, thus winning an answering gratitude; and now that he was King only in Ireland, acting under the counsel of these same representatives, he set in motion the forms of the accepted English constitution. He called a parliament that remains the only representative assembly that ever sat in Ireland since the obliteration of the elder National State. To that parliament came men of Irish names, names that connoted in the districts from which they came the old Stateships. Such an assembly had never met before; nor has it ever met since. It is not, therefore, remarkable to find it setting itself to annulling some of the grievous injustices of the past, and to the protection of National welfare. An act was passed asserting the absolute legislative independence of the nation; another to cancel the recent settlements of land, and to re-create as nearly as possible the state as it had existed in 1641; another to subsidise a National marine and to encourage mariners; another to declare freedom of faith for all sections, each section to collect church tithes from its own people; and sundry others, to the total number of thirty-five, that intended to found stability on prosperity, equity and independence. The proceedings of this assembly, however, proceeded no further than the Statute Book, and were afterwards even expunged from that insecure retreat, for war once again swept over the land.

The Prince of Orange and King of England waged war on the King of Ireland and titular King of England. The war continued with varying fortunes for two years, and was concluded in the Autumn of 1691 by the surrender of Limerick on terms that gave the vanquished the full honours of war. The result was a further division of land, on the principle of the spoils to the victor. The only change this meant was that most of the remaining Catholic landowners, and landowners of Irish lineage, were attainted, outlawed and dispossessed, to the number of about four thousand; and their property suitably divided. The last of the Irish nation were submerged, and, however the large holdings of land might vary hereafter as to their ownership, the nation was excluded from recognition; for a new and concluding helotage was now to be devised.

PreviousContentsNext