"Hell or Connacht," 1653-1654

22. The land of three of the four provinces was prepared for plantations among Cromwell’s soldiers, and the whole nation was to be removed to the fourth. The famous watchword was: “To Hell or Connacht.”

To ease the burden of those who would be compelled to travel the road, Bristol traders were given license to choose men and women for transhipment as slaves to the West Indies.

All priests who had not been killed at sight during the war were to leave the country by a given date.

Over 600,000 men, women, and children had perished during the war.

About 850,000 remained; and for these, or so many of them as were not transhipped as slaves or hanged, the decree went forth that if they were found east of the Shannon beyond a certain date they were also to be killed.

The date given was May the first, 1654; and so through the winter months the roads of Ireland were lined with the families of a stricken people, hunted from the places they knew, going they knew not whither.

There were none to guard or house them on their way, and none to house them where they went.

Ironically enough, some of those who took the road were the descendants of earlier Planters, and were now to be kneaded into the Irish nation.

There was peace in the land, but it was the peace of a vast desolation.

The howl of the wolf could be heard from the City of Dublin. And then the land of the three Provinces was divided out as spoils among the soldiers of Cromwell’s armies.