On the Ancient Races of Ireland: Anglo-Normans - Sir William Wilde

We are now coming to a later period. The Romans had occupied Britain, the Saxons followed; the Danes had partial possession for a time; the Heptarchy prevailed until Harold, the last of the Saxon kings, fell at Hastings, and England bowed beneath that mixture of Norman, Gaulish, Scandinavian, and general Celtic blood that William brought with him from the shores of France. The Saxon dynasty was at an end, but the Britons of the day accepted their fate; and not only the soldiers, but the Norman barons fused with the people of that kingdom, and largely contributed to make it what it now is. This fusion of races, this assimilation of sentiments, this interchange of thought, this kindly culture, the higher elevating the lower, among whom they permanently reside, must always tend to great and good ends in raising a people to a nobler intellectual state.

The Anglo-Normans came here in 1172, a very mixed race, but their leaders were chiefly of French or Norman extraction. Why they came, or what they did, it is not for me to expatiate upon. I wish, however, to correct an assertion commonly made, to the effect that the Norman barons of Henry II. then conquered Ireland. They occupied some towns, formed a "Pale," levied taxes, sent in soldiery, distributed lands, and introduced a new language; but the "King's writ did not run;" the subjugation of Ireland did not extend over the country at large, and it remained till 1846 and the five or six following years to complete the conquest of the Irish race, by the loss of a tuberous esculent and the Governmental alteration in the value of a grain of corn. Then there went to the workhouse or exile upwards of two millions of the Irish race, besides those who died of pestilence. Having carefully investigated and reported upon this last great European famine, I have come to the conclusion just stated, without, taking into consideration its political, religious, or national aspects.