Catholic Worship restored

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXV

Although the English people had adopted the reformed religion nationally, there were still a few persons whom neither favour nor indifference could induce to renounce the ancient faith ;and this brief respite from persecution tended to confirm and strengthen those who wavered. In Ireland, always Catholic, the joy was unbounded. Archbishop Dowdall immediately prepared to hold a provincial synod at Drogheda, where enactments were made for depriving the conforming prelates and priests. Happily their number was so few that there was but little difficulty in making the necessary arrangements.

The only prelates that were removed were Browne, of Dublin; Staples, of Meath; Lancaster, of Kildare; and Travers, of Leighlin. Goodacre died a few months after his intrusion into the see of Armagh; Bale, of Ossory, fled beyond the seas; Casey, of Limerick, followed his example. All were English except the latter, and all, except Staples, were professing Protestants at the time of their appointment to their respective sees. Bale, who owed the Kilkenny people a grudge, for the indignant and rather warm reception with which they treated him on his intrusion into the see, gives a graphic account of the joy with which the news of Edward's death was received.

The people "flung up their caps to the battlements of the great temple;" set the bells ringing; brought out incense and holy water, and formed once more a Catholic procession, chanting the Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis, as of old. In fact, "on the accession of Mary to the throne, so little had been done in the interest of the Reformation, that there was little or nothing to undo. She issued a licence for the celebration of Mass in Ireland, where no other service was or had been celebrated worth mentioning, and where no other supreme head had been ever in earnest acknowledged but the Pope."[9]

But the Irish obtained no temporal advantages during this reign—an illustration of the truth of what I have before remarked, that the nation has suffered almost as much from political as from religious causes. The work of extermination still went on. The boundaries of the Pale were increased thereby. Leix was designated the Queen's county, and the fort of Campa obtained the name of Maryborough, in compliment to the Queen. Offaly was named the King's county, and the fortress of Daingàan, Philipstown, in compliment to her Spanish consort.


[9] Pope.—Lib. Mun. Hib. part i. p. 37.