A CONCISE HISTORY OF IRELAND

PART V

THE PERIOD OF THE PENAL LAWS

1695-1829.

From A Concise History of Ireland by P. W. Joyce

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BEFORE the year 1695 there were many penal enactments against Irish Catholics; but they were intermittent and not persistently carried out. But after that date they were, for nearly a century, systematic and continuous, and as far as possible enforced. Accordingly this Period is specially distinguished as the Period of the Penal Laws.

These laws were the work of the governing classes; the great body of the English people, whether in England or Ireland, had no hand in them. And as in 1641 Catholics saved many of the settlers from destruction, numberless instances are recorded where Catholics were protected from the operation of the laws by the pitying kindness of their Protestant neighbours. In many instances the laws could not be carried out, partly on account of their excessive severity, and partly from the passive resistance of the general body of Protestants.

Towards the close of the eighteenth century the penal code was gradually relaxed; and, except in a few particulars the Emancipation act of 1829 put an end to the penal enactments against Catholics.

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