Injustices in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Preface to First Edition continued

For centuries Ireland was left to the mercy and the selfishness of colonists. Thus, with each succeeding generation, the feeling of hatred towards the English was intensified with each new act of injustice, and such acts were part of the normal rule of the invaders. A lord deputy was sent after a time to rule the country. Perhaps a more unfortunate form of government could not have been selected for Ireland. The lord deputy knew that he was subject to recall at any moment; he had neither a personal nor a hereditary interest in the country. He came to make his fortune there, or to increase it. He came to rule for his own benefit, or for the benefit of his nation. The worst of kings has, at least, an hereditary interest in the country which he governs; the best of lord deputies might say that, if he did not oppress and plunder for himself, other men would do it for themselves: why, then, should he be the loser, when the people would not be gainers by his loss?

When parliaments began to be held, and when laws were enacted, every possible arrangement was made to keep the two nations at variance, and to intensify the hostility which already existed. The clergy were set at variance. Irish priests were forbidden to enter certain monasteries, which were reserved for the use of their English brethren; Irish ecclesiastics were refused admission to certain Church properties in Ireland, that English ecclesiastics might have the benefit of them. Lionel, Duke of Clarence, when Viceroy of Ireland, issued a proclamation, forbidding the "Irish by birth" even to come near his army, until he found that he could not do without soldiers, even should they have the misfortune to be Irish. The Irish and English were forbidden to intermarry several centuries before the same bar was placed against the union of Catholics and Protestants. The last and not the least of the fearful series of injustices enacted, in the name of justice, at the Parliament of Kilkenny, was the statute which denied, which positively refused, the benefit of English law to Irishmen, and equally forbid them to use the Brehon law, which is even now the admiration of jurists, and which had been the law of the land for many centuries.