The English Settlers

Justin McCarthy
Chapter VI | Start of Chapter

We are so accustomed now to regard Ulster as the division of Ireland most devoted to English rule that we have to refresh our memories of history to realize that Ulster was the Irish province which held out longest and most resolutely against English dominion. But the conquest of Ulster was practically accomplished when time and opportunity allowed it to be taken in hand. The disposal of the lands to English and Scotch companies secured every possible facility for a thorough replantation of the soil. Each of these companies brought over its own colony of traders, workers and business men, who settled down upon the land and made the very best of its resources, converting waste spaces into homes of thriving industry. There were many other settlers who had not the business capacity of the companies, and whose only object was to make all the money they could out of Ireland while the patronage of King James lasted. Many well authenticated tales are preserved of sudden fortunes made in this way, and of the means by which the work was accomplished. Some of these would make an exciting story-book, with adventures none the less interesting because of their utter audacity and unscrupulousness and their bewildering success. But, on the whole, the plantation of Ulster was conducted more nearly on business principles than any of the former attempts at the English colonization of Ireland. Efforts were made to establish manufactures in the province, and not to leave the means of men's living dependent merely on the produce of the soil.