1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ireland
IRELAND, an island lying west of Great Britain, and forming with it the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It extends from 51° 26′ to 55° 21′ N., and from 5° 25′ to 10° 30′ W. It is encircled by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the east is separated from Great Britain by narrow shallow seas, towards the north by the North Channel, the width of which at the narrowest part between the Mull of Cantire (Scotland) and Torr Head is only 131 m.; in the centre by the Irish Sea, 130 m. in width, and in the south by St George’s Channel, which has a width of 69 m. between Dublin and Holyhead (Wales) and of 47 m. at its southern extremity. The island has the form of an irregular rhomboid, the largest diagonal of which, from Torr Head in the north-east to Mizen Head in the south-west, measures 302 m. The greatest breadth due east and west is 174 m., from Dundrum Bay to Annagh Head, county Mayo; and the average breadth is about 110 m. The total area is 32,531 sq. m.
Ireland is divided territorially into four provinces and thirty-two counties:—(a) Ulster (northern division): Counties Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Monaghan, Tyrone. (b) Leinster (eastern midlands and south-east): Counties Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, King’s County, Longford, Louth, Meath, Queen’s County, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow. (c) Connaught (western midlands): Counties Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo. (d) Munster (south-western division): Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford.
Physical Geography.—Ireland stands on the edge of the European “continental shelf.” Off the peninsula of Mullet (county Mayo) there are 100 fathoms of water within 25 m. of the coast which overlooks the Atlantic; eastward, northward and southward, in the narrow seas, this depth is never reached. The average height of the island is about 400 ft., but the distribution of height is by no means equal. The island has no spinal range or dominating mountain mass. Instead, a series of small, isolated clusters of mountains, reaching from the coast to an extreme distance of some 70 m. inland, almost surrounds a great central plain which seldom exceeds 250 ft. in elevation. A physical description of Ireland, therefore, falls naturally under three heads—the coasts, the mountain rim and the central plain.
The capital city and port of Dublin lies a little south of the central point of the eastern coast, at the head of a bay which marks a sudden change in the coastal formation. Southward from its northern horn, the rocky headland of Howth, the coast Coasts. is generally steep, occasionally sheer, and the mountains of county Wicklow approach it closely. Northward (the direction first to be followed) it is low, sandy and fringed with shoals, for here is one point at which the central plain extends to the coast. This condition obtains from 53° 25′ N. until at 54° N. the mountains close down again, and the narrow inlet or fjord of Carlingford Lough separates the abrupt heights of the Carlingford and Mourne Mountains. Then the low and sandy character is resumed; the fine eastward sweep of Dundrum Bay is passed, the coast turns north again, and a narrow channel gives entry to the island-studded lagoon of Strangford Lough. Reaching county Antrim, green wooded hills plunge directly into the sea; the deep Belfast Lough strikes some 10 m. inland, and these conditions obtain nearly to Fair Head, the north-eastern extremity of the island. Here the coast turns westward, changing suddenly to sheer cliffs, where the basaltic formation intrudes its strange regular columns, most finely developed in the famous Giant’s Causeway.
The low land surrounding the plain-track of the Bann intervenes between this and the beginning of a coastal formation which is common to the north-western and western coasts. From the oval indentation of Lough Foyle a bluff coast trends north-westward to Malin Head, the northernmost promontory of the island. Thence over the whole southward stretch to Mizen Head in county Cork is found that physical appearance of a cliff-bound coast fretted with deep fjord-like inlets and fringed with many islands, which throughout the world is almost wholly confined to western seaboards. Mountains impinge upon the sea almost over the whole length, sometimes, as in Slieve League (county Donegal), immediately facing it with huge cliffs. Eight dominant inlets appear. Lough Foyle is divided from Lough Swilly by the diamond-shaped peninsula of Inishowen. Following the coast southward, Donegal Bay is divided from Galway Bay by the hammer-like projection of county Mayo and Connemara, the square inlet of Clew Bay intervening. At Galway Bay the mountain barrier is broken, where the great central plain strikes down to the sea as it does on the east coast north of Dublin. After the stern coast of county Clare there follow the estuary of the great river Shannon, and then three large inlets striking deep into the mountains of Kerry and Cork—Dingle Bay, Kenmare river and Bantry Bay, separating the prongs of the forklike south-western projection of the island. The whole of this coast is wild and beautiful, and may be compared with the west coast of Scotland and even that of Norway, though it has a strong individuality distinct from either; and though for long little known to travellers, it now possesses a number of small watering-places, and is in many parts accessible by railway. The islands though numerous are not as in Scotland and Norway a dominant feature of the coast, being generally small and often mere clusters of reefs. Exceptions, however, are Tory Island and North Aran off the Donegal coast, Achill and Clare off Mayo, the South Arans guarding Galway Bay, the Blasquets and Valencia off the Kerry coast. On many of these desolate rocks, which could have afforded only the barest sustenance, there are remains of the dwellings and churches of early religious settlers who sought solitude here. The settlements on Inishmurray (Sligo), Aranmore in the South Arans, and Scattery in the Shannon estuary, had a fame as retreats of piety and learning far outside Ireland itself, and the significance of a pilgrimage to their sites is not yet wholly forgotten among the peasantry, while the preservation of their remains has come to be a national trust.
The south coast strikes a mean between the east and the west. It is lower than the west though still bold in many places; the inlets are narrower and less deep, but more easily accessible, as appears from the commercial importance of the harbours of Cork and Waterford. Turning northward to the east of Waterford round Carnsore Point, the lagoon-like harbour of Wexford is passed, and then a sweeping, almost unbroken, line continues to Dublin Bay. But this coast, though differing completely from the western, is not lacking in beauty, for, like the Mournes in county Down, the mountains of Wicklow rise close to the sea, and sometimes directly from it.
Every mountain group in Ireland forms an individual mass, isolated by complex systems of valleys in all directions. They seldom exceed 3000 ft. in height, yet generally possess a certain dignity, whether from their commanding position Mountains. or their bold outline. Every variety of form is seen, from steep flat-topped table-mountains as near Loughs Neagh and Erne, to peaks such as those of the Twelve Pins or Bens of Connemara. Unlike the Scottish Highlands no part of them was capable of sheltering a whole native race in opposition to the advance of civilization, though early customs, tradition and the common use of the Erse language yet survive in some strength in the wilder parts of the west. From the coasts there is almost everywhere easy access to the interior through the mountains by valley roads; and though the plain exists unbroken only in the midlands, its ramifications among the hills are always easy to follow. Plain and lowland of an elevation below 500 ft. occupy nearly four-fifths of the total area; and if the sea were to submerge these, four distinct archipelagos would appear, a northern, eastern, western and south-western. The principal groups, with their highest points, are the Mournes (Slieve Donard, 2796 ft.) and the Wicklow mountains (Lugnaquilla, 3039) on the east; the Sperrins (Sawel, 2240) in the north; the Derryveagh group in the north-west (Errigal, 2466); the many groups or short ranges of Sligo, Mayo and Galway (reaching 1695 ft. in the Twelve Pins of Connemara); in the south-west those of Kerry and Cork, where in Carrantuohill or Carntual (3414) the famous Macgillicuddy Reeks which beautify the environs of Killarney include the highest point in the island; and north-east from these, the Galtees of Tipperary (3018) and Slieve Bloom, the farthest inland of the important groups. Nearer the south coast are the Knockmealdown (2609) and Commeragh Mountains (2470) of county Waterford.
It will be realized from the foregoing description that it is impossible to draw accurate boundary lines to the great Irish plain, yet it rightly carries the epithet central because it distinctly divides the northern mountain groups from the Central plain. southern. The plain is closely correlated with the bogs which are the best known physical characteristic of Ireland, but the centre of Ireland is not wholly bog-land. Rather the bogs of the plain are intersected by strips of low-lying firm ground, and the central plain consists of these bright green expanses alternating with the brown of the bogs, of which the best known and (with its offshoots) one of the most extensive is the Bog of Allen in the eastern midlands. But the bogs are not confined to the plain. They may be divided into black and red according to the degree of moisture and the vegetable matter which formed them. The black bogs are those of the plain and the deeper valleys, while the red, firmer and less damp, occur on the mountains. The former supply most of the peat, and some of the tree-trunks dug out of them have been found so flexible from immersion that they might be twisted into ropes. Owing to the quantity of tannin they contain, no harmful miasma exhales from the Irish bogs.
The central plain and its offshoots are drained by rivers to all the coasts, but chiefly eastward and westward, and the water-partings in its midst are sometimes impossible to define. The main rivers, however, have generally a mountain Rivers. source, and according as they are fed from bogs or springs may be differentiated as black and bright streams. In this connexion the frequent use of the name Blackwater is noticeable. The principal rivers are—from the Wicklow Mountains, the Slaney, flowing S. to Wexford harbour, and the Liffey, flowing with a tortuous course N. and E. to Dublin Bay; the Boyne, fed from the central plain and discharging into Drogheda Bay; from the mountains of county Down, the Lagan, to Belfast Lough, and the Bann, draining the great Lough Neagh to the northern sea; the Foyle, a collection of streams from the mountains of Tyrone and Donegal, flowing north to Lough Foyle. On the west the rivers are generally short and torrential, excepting the Erne, which drains the two beautiful loughs of that name in county Fermanagh, and the Shannon, the chief river of Ireland, which, rising in a mountain spring in county Cavan, follows a bow-shaped course to the south and south-west, and draws off the major part of the waters of the plain by tributaries from the east. In the south, the Lee and the Blackwater intersect the mountains of Kerry and Cork flowing east, and turn abruptly into estuaries opening south. Lastly, rising in the Slieve Bloom or neighbouring mountains, the Suir, Nore and Barrow follow widely divergent courses to the south to unite in Waterford harbour.
The lakes (called loughs—pronounced lochs) of Ireland are innumerable, and (apart from their formation) are almost all contained in two great regions, (1) The central plain by its nature abounds in loughs—dark, peat-stained pools with low Lakes. shores. The principal of these lie in county Westmeath, such as Loughs Ennel, Owel and Derravaragh, famed for their trout-fishing in the May-fly season. (2) The Shannon, itself forming several large loughs, as Allen, Ree and Derg; and the Erne, whose course lies almost wholly through loughs—Gowna, Oughter and the Loughs Erne, irregular of outline and studded with islands—separate this region from the principal lake-region of Ireland, coincident with the province of Connaught. In the north lie Loughs Melvin, close above Donegal Bay, and Gill near Sligo, Lough Gara, draining to the Shannon, and Lough Conn near Ballina (county Mayo), and in the south, the great expanses of Loughs Mask and Corrib, joined by a subterranean channel. To the west of these last, the mountains of Connemara and, to a more marked degree, the narrow plain of bog-land between them and Galway Bay, are sown with small lakes, nearly every hollow of this wild district being filled with water. Apart from these two regions the loughs of Ireland are few but noteworthy. In the south-west the lakes of Killarney are widely famed for their exquisite scenic setting; in the north-east Lough Neagh has no such claim, but is the largest lake in the British Isles, while in the south-east there are small loughs in some of the picturesque glens of county Wicklow.
Climate.—The climate of Ireland is more equable than that of Great Britain as regards both temperature and rainfall. No district in Ireland has a rainfall so heavy as that of large portions of the Highlands of Scotland, or so light as that of several large districts in the east of Great Britain. In January the mean temperature scarcely falls below 40° F. in any part of Ireland, whereas over the larger part of the eastern slope of Great Britain it is some 3° lower; and in July the extremes in Ireland are 59° in the north and 62° in Kilkenny. The range from north to south of Great Britain in the same month is some 10°, but the greater extent of latitude accounts only for a part of this difference, which is mainly occasioned by the physical configuration of the surface of Ireland in its relations to the prevailing moist W.S.W. winds. Ireland presents to these winds no unbroken mountain ridge running north and south, which would result in two climates as distinct as those of the east and west of Ross-shire; but it presents instead only a series of isolated groups, with the result that it is only a few limited districts which enjoy climates approaching in dryness the climates of the whole of the eastern side of Great Britain. (O. J. R. H.)
|Drawn and Engraved by Justus Perthes, Gotha, Germany||
Geology.—Ireland, rising from shallow seas on the margin of the submarine plateau of western Europe, records in its structure the successive changes that the continent itself has undergone. The first broad view of the country shows us a basin-shaped island consisting of a central limestone plain surrounded by mountains; but the diverse modes of origin of these mountains, and the differences in their trend, suggest at once that they represent successive epochs of disturbance. The north-west highlands of Donegal and the Ox Mountains, with their axes of folding running north-east and south-west, invite comparison with the great chain of Leinster, but also with the Grampians and the backbone of Scandinavia. The ranges from Kerry to Waterford, on the other hand, truncated by the sea at either end, are clearly parts of an east and west system, the continuation of which may be looked for in South Wales and Belgium. The hills of the north-east are mainly the crests of lava-plateaux, which carry the mind towards Skye and the volcanic province of the Faeroe Islands. The two most important points of contrast between the geology of Ireland and that of England are, firstly, the great exposure of Carboniferous rocks in Ireland, Mesozoic strata being almost absent; and, secondly, the presence of volcanic rocks in place of the marine Eocene of England.
The fact that no Cambrian strata have been established by palaeontological evidence in the west of Ireland has made it equally difficult to establish any pre-Cambrian system. The great difference in character, however, between the Silurian strata at Pomeroy in county Tyrone and the adjacent metamorphic series makes it highly probable that the latter masses are truly Archean. They form an interesting and bleak moorland between Cookstown and Omagh, extending north-eastward into Slieve Gallion in county Londonderry, and consist fundamentally of mica-schist and gneiss, affected by earth-pressures, and invaded by granite near Lough Fee. The axis along which they have been elevated runs north-east and south-west, and on either flank a series of “green rocks” appears, consisting of altered amygdaloidal andesitic lavas, intrusive dolerites, coarse gabbros and diorites, and at Beagh-beg and Creggan in central Tyrone ancient rhyolitic tuffs. Red and grey cherts, which have not so far yielded undoubted organic remains occur in this series, and it has in consequence been compared with the Arenig rocks of southern Scotland. The granite invades this “green-rock” series at Slieve Gallion and elsewhere, but is itself pre-Devonian. Even if the volcanic and intrusive basic rocks prove to be Ordovician (Lower Silurian), which is very doubtful, the metamorphic series of the core is clearly distinct, and appears to be “fundamental” so far as Ireland is concerned.
The other metamorphic areas of the north present even greater difficulties, owing to the absence of any overlying strata older than the Old Red Sandstone. Their rocks have been variously held to be Archean, Cambrian and Silurian, and their general trend has undoubtedly been determined by post-Silurian earth-movements. Hence it is useful to speak of them merely as “Dalradian,” a convenient term invented by Sir A. Geikie for the metamorphic series of the old kingdom of Dalriada. They come out as mica-schists under the Carboniferous sandstones of northern Antrim, and disappear southward under the basaltic plateaux. The red gneisses near Torr Head probably represent intrusive granite; and this small north-eastern exposure is representative of the Dalradian series which covers so wide a field from central Londonderry to the coast of Donegal. The oldest rocks in this large area are a stratified series of mica-schists, limestones and quartzites, with numerous intrusive sheets of diorite, the whole having been metamorphosed by pressure, with frequent overfolding. Extensive subsequent metamorphism has been produced by the invasion of great masses of granite. Similar rocks come up along the Ox Mountain axis, and occupy the wild west of Mayo and Connemara. The quartzites here form bare white cones and ridges, notably in Errigal and Aghla Mt. in county Donegal, and in the group of the Twelve Bens in county Galway.
Following on these rocks of unknown but obviously high antiquity, we find fossiliferous Ordovician (Lower Silurian) strata near Killary harbour on the west, graduating upwards into a complete Gotlandian (Upper Silurian) system. Massive conglomerates occur in these series, which are unconformable on the Dalradian rocks of Connemara. In the Wenlock beds of the west of the Dingle promontory there are contemporaneous tuffs and lavas. Here the Ludlow strata are followed by a thick series of barren beds (the Dingle Beds), which have been variously claimed as Upper Silurian and Lower Devonian. No certain representative of the Dingle Beds has been traced elsewhere throughout the south of Ireland, where the Old Red Sandstone succeeds the uptilted Silurian strata with striking unconformity. The Silurian rocks were indeed greatly folded before the Old Red Sandstone was laid down, the general trend of the folds being from south-west to north-east. The best example of these folds is the axis of Leinster, its core being occupied by granite which is now exposed continuously for 70 m., forming a moorland from Dublin to New Ross. On either flank the Silurian shales, slates and sandstones, which are very rarely fossiliferous, rise with steep dips. They are often contorted, and near the contact with the granite pass into mica-schists and quartzites. The foothills and lowlands throughout southern Wicklow and almost the whole of Wexford, and the corresponding country of western Wicklow and eastern Kildare, are thus formed of Silurian beds, in which numerous contemporaneous and also intrusive igneous rocks are intercalated, striking like the chain N.E. and S.W. In south-eastern Wexford, in northern Wicklow (from Ashford to Bray), and in the promontory of Howth on Dublin Bay, an apparently earlier series of green and red slates and quartzites forms an important feature. The quartzites, like those of the Dalradian series, weather out in cones, such as the two Sugarloaves south of Bray, or in knob-set ridges, such as the crest of Howth or Carrick Mt. in county Wicklow. The radial or fan-shaped markings known as Oldhamia were first detected in this series, but are now known from Cambrian beds in other countries; in default of other satisfactory fossils, the series of Bray and Howth has long been held to be Cambrian.
All across Ireland, from the Ballyhoura Hills on the Cork border to the southern shore of Belfast Lough, slaty and sandy Silurian beds appear in the axes of the anticlinal folds, surrounded by Old Red Sandstone scarps or Carboniferous Limestone lowlands. These Silurian areas give rise to hummocky regions, where small hills abound, without much relation to the trend of the axis of elevation. The most important area appears north of the town of Longford, and extends thence to the coast of Down. In Slieve Glah it reaches a height of 1057 ft. above the sea. Granite is exposed along its axis from near Newry to Slieve Croob, and again appears at Crossdoney in county Cavan. These occurrences of granite, with that of Leinster, in connexion with the folding of the Silurian strata, make it highly probable that many of the granites of the Dalradian areas, which have a similar trend and which have invaded the schists so intimately as to form with them a composite gneiss, date also from a post-Silurian epoch of earth-movement. Certain western and northern granites are however older, since granite boulders occur in Silurian conglomerates derived from the Dalradian complex.
This group of N.E. and S.W. ridges and hollows, so conspicuous in the present conformation of Donegal, Sligo and Mayo, in the axis of Newry, and in the yet bolder Leinster Chain, was impressed upon the Irish region at the close of Silurian times, and is clearly a part of the “Caledonian” system of folds, which gave to Europe the guiding lines of the Scottish Highlands and of Scandinavia.
On the land-surface thus formed the Devonian lakes gathered, while the rivers poured into them enormous deposits of sand and conglomerate. A large exposure of this Old Red Sandstone stretches
from Enniskillen to the Silurian beds at Pomeroy, and some contemporaneous andesites are included, reminding us of the volcanic activity at the same epoch in Scotland. The numerous “felstone” dikes, often lamprophyric, occurring in the north and west of Ireland, are probably also of Devonian age. The conglomerates appear at intervals through the limestone covering of central Ireland, and usually weather out as conspicuous scarps or “hog’s-backs.” The Slieve Bloom Mountains are thus formed of a dome of Old Red Sandstone folded on a core of unconformable Silurian strata; while in several cases the domes are worn through, leaving rings of Old Red Sandstone hills, scarping inwards towards broad exposures of Silurian shales. The Old Red Sandstone is most fully manifest in the rocky or heather-clad ridges that run from the west of Kerry to central Waterford, rising to 3414 ft. in Carrantuohill in Macgillicuddy’s Reeks, and 3015 ft. in Galtymore. In the Dingle Promontory the conglomerates of this period rest with striking unconformity on the Dingle Beds and Upper Silurian series. Here there may be a local break between Lower and Upper Devonian strata. The highest beds of Old Red Sandstone type pass up conformably in the south of Ireland into the Lower Carboniferous, through the “Yellow Sandstone Series” and the “Coomhola Grits” above it. The Yellow Sandstone contains Archanodon, the oldest known fresh-water mollusc, and plant-remains; the Coomhola Grits are marine, and are sometimes regarded as Carboniferous, sometimes as uppermost Devonian.
In the south, the Carboniferous deposits open with the Carboniferous Slate, in the base of which the Coomhola Grits occur. Its lower part represents the Lower Carboniferous Shales and Sandstones of the central and northern areas, while its upper part corresponds with a portion of the Carboniferous Limestone. The Carboniferous Limestone, laid down in a sea which covered nearly the whole Irish area, appears in the synclinal folds at Cork city and Kenmare, and is the prevalent rock from the north side of the Knockmealdown Mountains to Enniskillen and Donegal Bay. On the east it spreads to Drogheda and Dublin, and on the west to the heart of Mayo and of Clare. Loughs Mask and Corrib are thus bounded on the west by rugged Silurian and Dalradian highlands, and on the east appear as mere water-filled hollows in the great limestone plain.
The Lower Carboniferous Sandstones are conspicuous in the region from Milltown near Inver Bay in southern Donegal to Ballycastle in county Antrim. In the latter place they contain workable coal-seams. The Carboniferous Limestone often contains black flint (chert), and at some horizons conglomerates occur, the pebbles being derived from the unconformable ridges of the “Caledonian” land. A black and often shaly type called “calp” contains much clay derived from the same land-surface. While the limestone has been mainly worn down to a lowland, it forms fine scarps and table-lands in county Sligo and other western regions. Subterranean rivers and water-worn caves provide a special type of scenery below the surface. Contemporaneous volcanic action is recorded by tuffs and lavas south-east of Limerick and north of Philipstown. The beds above the limestone are shales and sandstones, sometimes reaching the true Coal-Measures, but rarely younger than the English Millstone Grit. They are well seen in the high ground about Lough Allen, where the Shannon rises on them, round the Castlecomer and Killenaule coalfields, and in a broad area from the north of Clare to Killarney. Some coals occur in the Millstone Grit horizons. The Upper Coal-Measures, as a rule, have been lost by denudation, much of which occurred before Triassic times. South of the line between Galway and Dublin the coal is anthracitic, while north of this line it is bituminous. The northern coalfields are the L. Carboniferous one at Ballycastle, the high outliers of Millstone Grit and Coal-Measures round Lough Allen, and the Dungannon and Coalisland field in county Tyrone. The last named is in part concealed by Triassic strata. The only important occurrences of coal in the south are in eastern Tipperary, near Killenaule, and in the Leinster coalfield (counties Kilkenny and Carlow and Queen’s County), where there is a high synclinal field, including Lower and Middle Coal-Measures, and resembling in structure the Forest of Dean area in England.
The “Hercynian” earth-movements, which so profoundly affected north-west and north-central Europe at the close of Carboniferous times, gave rise to a series of east and west folds in the Irish region. The Upper Carboniferous beds were thus lifted within easy reach of denuding forces, while the Old Red Sandstone, and the underlying “Caledonian” land-surface, were brought up from below in the cores of domes and anticlines. In the south, even the Carboniferous Limestone has been so far removed that it is found only in the floors of the synclinals. The effect of the structure of these folds on the courses of rivers in the south of Ireland is discussed in the paragraphs dealing with the geology of county Cork. The present central plain itself may be regarded as a vast shallow synclinal, including a multitude of smaller folds. The earth-wrinkles of this epoch were turned into a north-easterly direction by the pre-existing Leinster Chain, and the trend of the anticlinal from Limerick to the Slieve Bloom Mountains, and that of the synclinal of Millstone Grit and Coal-Measures from Cashel through the Leinster coalfield, bear witness to the resistance of this granite mass. The Triassic beds rest on the various Carboniferous series in turn, indicating, as in England, the amount of denudation that followed on the uplift of the Hercynian land. Little encouragement can therefore be given in Ireland to the popular belief in vast hidden coalfields.
The Permian sea has left traces at Holywood on Belfast Lough and near Stewartstown in county Tyrone. Certain conglomeratic beds on which Armagh is built are also believed to be of Permian age. The Triassic sandstones and marls, with marine Rhaetic beds above, are preserved mainly round the basaltic plateaus of the north-east, and extend for some distance into county Down. An elongated outlier south of Carrickmacross indicates their former presence over a much wider area. Rock-salt occurs in these beds north of Carrickfergus.
The Jurassic system is represented in Ireland by the Lower Lias alone, and it is probable that no marine beds higher than the Upper Lias were deposited during this period. From Permian times onward, in fact, the Irish area lay on the western margin of the seas that played so large a part in determining the geology of Europe. The Lower Lias appears at intervals under the scarp of the basaltic plateaus, and contributes, as in Dorsetshire and Devonshire, to the formation of landslips along the coast. The alteration of the fossiliferous Lias by dolerite at Portrush into a flinty rock that looked like basalt served at one time as a prop for the “Neptunist” theory of the origin of igneous rocks. Denudation, consequent on the renewed uplift of the country, affected the Jurassic beds until the middle of Cretaceous times. The sea then returned, in the north-east at any rate, and the first Cretaceous deposits indicate the nearness of a shore-line. Dark “green-sands,” very rich in glauconite, are followed by yellow sandstones with some flint. These two stages represent the Upper Greensand, or the sandy type of the English Gault. Further sands represent the Cenomanian. The Turonian is also sandy, but in most areas was not deposited, or has been denuded away during a local uplift that preceded Senonian times. The Senonian limestone itself, which rests in the extreme north on Trias or even on the schists, is often conglomeratic and glauconitic at the base, the pebbles being worn from the old metamorphic series. The term “Hibernian Greensand” was used by Tate for all the beds below the Senonian; the quarrymen know the conglomeratic Senonian as “Mulatto-stone.” The Senonian chalk, or “White Limestone,” is hard, with numerous bands of flint, and suffered from denudation in early Eocene times. Probably its original thickness
was not more than 150 ft., while now only from 40 to 100 ft. remain. This chalk appears to underlie nearly the whole basaltic plateaus, appearing as a fringe round them, and also in an inlier at Templepatrick. The western limit was probably found in the edge of the old continental land in Donegal. Chalk flints occur frequently in the surface-deposits of the south of Ireland, associated with rocks brought from the north during the glacial epoch, and probably also of northern origin. It is just possible, however, that here and there the Cretaceous sea that spread over Devonshire may have penetrated the Irish area.
After the Irish chalk had been worn into rolling downs, on which flint-gravels gathered, the great epoch of volcanic activity opened, which was destined to change the character of the whole north-west European area. The critical time had arrived when the sea was to be driven away eastward, while the immense ridges due to the “Alpine” movements were about to emerge as the backbones of new continental lands. Fissure after fissure, running with remarkable constancy N.W. and S.E., broke through the region now occupied by the British Isles, and basalt was pressed up along these cracks, forming thousands of dikes, from the coast of Down to the Dalradian ridges of Donegal. One of these on the north side of Lough Erne is 15 m. long. The more deep-seated type of these rocks is seen in the olivine-gabbro mass of Carlingford Mountain; but most of the igneous region became covered with sheets of basaltic lava, which filled up the hollows of the downs, baked the gravels into a layer of red flints, and built up, pile upon pile, the great plateaus of the north. There was little explosive action, and few of the volcanic vents can now be traced. After a time, a quiet interval allowed of the formation of lakes, in which red iron-ores were laid down. The plant-remains associated with these beds form the only clue to the post-Cretaceous period in which the volcanic epoch opened, and they have been placed by Mr Starkie Gardner in recent years as early Eocene. During this time of comparative rest, rhyolites were extruded locally in county Antrim; and there is very strong evidence that the granite of the Mourne Mountains, and that which cuts the Carlingford gabbro, were added at the same time to the crust. The basalt again broke out, through dikes that cut even the Mourne granite, and some of the best-known columnar masses of lava overlie the red deposits of iron-ore and mark this second basaltic epoch. The volcanic plateaus clearly at one time extended far west and south of their present limits, and the denudation of the lava-flows has allowed a large area of Mesozoic strata also to disappear.
Volcanic activity may have extended into Miocene times; but the only fossiliferous relics of Cainozoic periods later than the Eocene are the pale clays and silicified lignites on the south shore of Lough Neagh, and the shelly gravels of pre-glacial age in county Wexford. Both these deposits may be Pliocene. Probably before this period the movements of subsidence had set in which faulted the basalt plateaus, lowered them to form the basin of Lough Neagh, and broke up the continuity of the volcanic land of the North Atlantic area. As the Atlantic spread into the valleys on the west of Ireland, forming the well-known marine inlets, Europe grew, under the influence of the “Alpine” movements, upon the east; and Ireland was caught in, as it were, on the western edge of the new continent. It seems likely that it was separated from the British region shortly before the glacial epoch, and that some of the ice which then abutted on the country travelled across shallow seas. The glacial deposits profoundly modified the surface of the country, whether they resulted from the melting of the ice-sheets of the time of maximum glaciation, or from the movements of local glaciers. Boulder-clays and sands, and gravels rearranged by water, occur throughout the lowlands; while the eskers or “green hills,” characteristic grass-covered ridges of gravel, rise from the great plain, or run athwart valleys and over hill-sides, marking the courses of sub-glacial streams. When the superficial deposits are removed, the underlying rocks are found to be scored and smoothed by ice-action, and whole mountain-sides in the south and west have been similarly moulded during the Glacial epoch. In numerous cases, lakelets have gathered under rocky cirques behind the terminal moraines of the last surviving glaciers.
There is no doubt that at this epoch various movements of elevation and subsidence affected the north-west of Europe, and modern Ireland may have had extensions into warmer regions on the west and south, while the area now left to us was almost buried under ice. In post-Glacial times, a subsidence admitted the sea into the Lagan valley and across the eastern shore in several places; but elevation, in the days of early human occupation, brought these last marine deposits to light, and raised the beaches and shore-terraces some 10 to 20 ft. along the coast. At Larne, Greenore and in the neck between Howth and Dublin, these raised beaches remain conspicuous. To sum up, then, while the main structural features of Ireland were impressed upon her before the opening of the Mesozoic era, her present outline and superficial contours date from an epoch of climatic and geographical change which falls within the human period.
See maps and explanatory memoirs of the Geological Survey of Ireland (Dublin); G. Wilkinson, Practical Geology and Ancient Architecture of Ireland (London, 1845); R. Kane, Industrial Resources of Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 1845); G. H. Kinahan, Manual of the Geology of Ireland (London, 1878); E. Hull, Physical Geology and Geography of Ireland (2nd ed., London, 1891); G. H. Kinahan, Economic Geology of Ireland (Dublin, 1889); A. McHenry and W. W. Watts, Guide to the Collection of Rocks and Fossils, Geol. Survey of Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 1898).
Economics and Administration
Population.—Various computations are in existence of the population of Ireland prior to 1821, in which year the first government census was taken. According to Sir William Petty the number of inhabitants in 1672 was 1,320,000. About a century later the tax-collectors estimated the population at a little over 2,500,000, and in 1791 the same officials calculated that the number had risen to over 4,200,000. The census commissioners returned the population in 1821 as 6,801,827, in 1831 as 7,767,401, and in 1841 as 8,196,597. It is undoubted that a great increase of population set in towards the close of the 18th century and continued during the first 40 years or so of the 19th. This increase was due to a variety of causes—the improvement in the political condition of the country, the creation of leaseholds after the abolition of the 40s. franchise, the productiveness and easy cultivation of the potato, the high prices during the war with France, and probably not least to the natural prolificness of the Irish people. But the census returns of 1851 showed a remarkable alteration—a decrease during the previous decade of over 1,500,000—and since that date, as the following table shows, the continuous decrease in the number of its inhabitants has been the striking feature in the vital statistics of Ireland.
Decrease per cent. of Population 1841-1901.
The cause of the continuous though varying decrease which these figures reveal has been emigration. This movement of population took its first great impulse from the famine of 1846 and has continued ever since. When that disaster fell upon the country it found a teeming population fiercely competing for a very narrow margin of subsistence; and so widespread and devastating were its effects that between 1847 and 1852 over 1,200,000 of the Irish people emigrated to other lands. More than 1,000,000 of these went to the United States of America, and to that country the main stream has ever since been directed. Between 1851 and 1905 4,028,589 emigrants left Ireland—2,092,154 males and 1,936,435 females, the proportion of females to males being extraordinarily high as compared with the emigration statistics of other countries. Between these years the numbers fluctuated widely—1852 showing the highest total, 190,322 souls, and 1905 the lowest, 30,676 souls. Since 1892, however, the emigrants in any one year have never exceeded 50,000, probably because the process of exhaustion has been so long in operation. As Ireland is mainly an agricultural country the loss of population has been most marked in the rural districts. The urban population, indeed, has for some years shown a tendency to increase. Thus in 1841 the rural population was returned as 7,052,923 and the urban as 1,143,674, while the corresponding figures in 1901 were respectively 3,073,846 and 1,384,929. This is further borne out by the percentages given in the above table, from which it will be seen that the greatest proportional decrease of population has occurred in the two provinces of Munster and Connaught, which may be regarded as almost purely agricultural. That the United States remained the great centre of attraction for Irish emigrants is proved by the returns for 1905, which show that nearly 80% of the whole number for the year sailed for that country. Ireland does little to swell the rising tide of emigration that now flows from England and Scotland to British North America.
Turning now to the census figures of 1901, we find that the population had diminished as compared with 1891 by 245,975. During the decade only three counties, Dublin, Down and Antrim, showed any increase, the increase being due to the growth of certain urban areas. Of the total population of 4,458,775, 2,200,040 were males and 2,258,735 were females. The inhabitants of the rural districts (3,073,846) decreased during the decade by over 380,000; that of the urban districts, i.e. of all towns of not less than 2000 inhabitants (1,384,929) increased by over 140,000. This increase was mainly due to the growth of a few of the larger towns, notably of Belfast, the chief industrial centre of Ireland. Between 1891 and 1901 Belfast increased from 273,079 to 349,180; Dublin from 268,587 to 289,108; and Londonderry, another industrial centre in Ulster, from 33,200 to 39,873. On the other hand, towns like Cork (75,978), Waterford (26,743) and Limerick (38,085), remained almost stationary during the ten years, but the urban districts of Pembroke and of Rathmines and Rathgar, which are practically suburbs of Dublin, showed considerable increases.
From the returns of occupation in 1901, it appears that the indefinite or non-productive class accounted for about 55% of the entire population. The next largest class was the agricultural, which numbered 876,062, a decrease of about 40,000 as compared with 1891. The industrial class fell from 656,410 to 639,413, but this represented a slight increase in the percentage of the population. The professional class was 131,035, the domestic 219,418, and the commercial had risen from 83,173 in 1891 to 97,889 in 1901. The following table shows the number of births and deaths registered in Ireland during the five years 1901-1905.
The number of illegitimate births is always very small in proportion to the legitimate. In 1905 illegitimate births numbered 2710 or 2.6 of the whole, a percentage which has been very constant for a number of years.
Railways.—The first act of parliament authorizing a railway in Ireland was passed in 1831. The railway was to run from Dublin to Kingstown, a distance of about 6 m., and was opened in 1834. In 1836 the Ulster railway to connect Belfast and Armagh, and the Dublin and Drogheda railway uniting these two towns were sanctioned. In the same year commissioners were nominated by the crown to inquire (inter alia) as to a general system for railways in Ireland, and as to the best mode of directing the development of the means of intercourse to the channels whereby the greatest advantage might be obtained by the smallest outlay. The commissioners presented a very valuable report in 1838, but its specific recommendations were never adopted by the government, though they ultimately proved of service to the directors of private enterprises. Railway development in Ireland progressed at first very slowly and by 1845 only some 65 m. of railway were open. During the next ten years, however, there was a considerable advance, and in 1855 the Irish railways extended to almost 1000 m. The total authorized capital of all Irish railways, exclusive of light railways, at the end of 1905 was £42,881,201, and the paid-up capital, including loans and debenture stock, amounted to £37,238,888. The total gross receipts from all sources of traffic in 1905 were £4,043,368, of which £2,104,108 was derived from passenger traffic and £1,798,520 from goods traffic. The total number of passengers carried (exclusive of season and periodical ticket-holders) was 27,950,150. Under the various acts passed to facilitate the construction of light railways in backward districts some 15 lines have been built, principally in the western part of the island from Donegal to Kerry. These railways are worked by existing companies.
The following table shows the principal Irish railways, their mileage and the districts which they serve.
|Name of Railway.||Mileage.||Districts Served.|
|Great Southern & Western||1083||The southern half of Leinster, the whole of Munster, and part of Connaught, the principal towns served being Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Sligo.|
|Midland Great Western||538||The central districts of Ireland and a great part of Connaught, the principal towns served being Dublin, Athlone, Galway and Sligo.|
|Great Northern||533||The northern half of Leinster and a great part of Ulster, the principal towns served being Dublin, Belfast, Londonderry, Dundalk, Drogheda, Armagh and Lisburn.|
|Northern Counties (now owned by the Midland Railway of England)||249||The counties of Antrim, Tyrone and Londonderry.|
|Dublin & South Eastern||161||The counties of Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford.|
|Donegal||106||The counties of Tyrone and Donegal.|
|Londonderry & Lough Swilly||99||The counties of Londonderry and Donegal.|
|Cork, Bandon & South Coast||95||The counties of Cork and Kerry.|
|Belfast & County Down||76||The county of Down.|
There is no lack of cross-channel services between Ireland and Great Britain. Belfast is connected by daily sailings with Glasgow, Ardrossan, Liverpool, Feetwood, Barrow and Heysham Harbour, Dublin with Holyhead and Liverpool, Greenore (Co. Down) with Holyhead, Larne (Co. Antrim) with Stranraer, Rosslare (Co. Wexford) with Fishguard and Kingstown (Co. Dublin) with Holyhead.
Navigable Waterways.—Ireland is intersected by a network of canals and waterways, which if efficiently managed and developed would prove of immense service to the country by affording a cheap means for the carriage of goods, especially agricultural produce. Two canals—the Grand and the Royal—connect Dublin with the Shannon; the former leading from the south of Dublin to Shannon Harbour and thence on the other side of that river to Ballinasloe, with numerous branches; the latter from the north side of Dublin to Cloondera on the Shannon, with a branch to Longford. The Barrow Navigation connects a branch of the Grand canal with the tidal part of the river Barrow. In Ulster the Bann navigation connects Coleraine, by means of Lough Neagh, with the Lagan navigation which serves Belfast; and the Ulster canal connects Lough Neagh with Lough Erne. The river Shannon is navigable for a distance of 143 m. in a direct course and occupies almost a central position between the east and west coasts.
Agriculture.—Ireland possesses as a whole a soil which is naturally fertile and easily cultivated. Strong heavy clay soils, sandy and gravelly soils, are almost entirely absent; and the mixture of soil arising from the various stratifications and from the detritus carried down to the plains has created many districts of remarkable richness. The “Golden Vein” in Munster, which stretches from Cashel in Tipperary to near Limerick, probably forms the most fertile part of the country. The banks of the rivers Shannon, Suir, Nore, Barrow and Bann are lined with long stretches of flat lands capable of producing fine crops. In the districts of the Old and New Red Sandstone, which include the greater part of Cork and portions of Kerry, Waterford, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Mayo and Tipperary, the soil in the hollows is generally remarkably fertile. Even in the mountainous districts which are unsuitable for tillage there is often sufficient soil to yield, with the aid of the moist atmosphere, abundant pasturage of good quality. The excessive moisture in wet seasons in however hostile to cereal crops, especially in the southern and western districts, though improved drainage has done something to mitigate this evil, and might do a great deal more.
Irish political history has largely affected the condition of agriculture. Confiscations and settlements, prohibitive laws (such as those which ruined the woollen industry), penal enactments against the Roman Catholics, absenteeism, the creation for political purposes of 40s. freeholders, and other factors have combined to form a story which makes painful reading from whatever point of view, social or political, it be regarded. Happily, however, at the beginning of the 20th century Irish agriculture presented two new features which can be described without necessarily arousing any party question—the work of the Department of Agriculture and the spread of the principle of co-operation. Another outstanding feature has been the effect of the Land Purchase Acts in transferring the ownership of the land from the landlords to the tenants. Before dealing with these three features, some general statistics may be given bearing upon the condition of Irish agriculture.
Number of Holdings.—Before 1846 the number of small holdings was inordinately large. In 1841, for example, there were no less than 310,436 of between 1 and 5 acres in extent, and 252,799 of between 5 and 15 acres. This condition of affairs was due mainly to two causes—to the 40s. franchise which prevailed between 1793 and 1829, and after that date to the fierce competition for land by a rapidly increasing population which had no other source of livelihood than agriculture. But the potato famine and the repeal of the Corn Laws, occurring almost simultaneously, caused an immediate and startling diminution in the number of smaller holdings. In 1851 the number between 1 and 5 acres in extent had fallen to 88,033 and the number between 5 and 15 acres had fallen to 191,854. Simultaneously the number between 15 and 30 acres had increased from 79,342 to 141,311, and the number above 30 acres from 48,625 to 149,090.
Since 1851 these tendencies have not been so marked. Thus in 1905 the number of holdings between 1 and 5 acres was 62,126, the number between 5 and 15 acres 154,560, the number between 15 and 30 acres 134,370 and the number above 30 acres 164,747. Generally speaking, however, it will be seen from the figures that since the middle of the 19th century holdings between 1 and 30 acres have decreased and holdings over 30 acres have increased. Of the total holdings under 30 acres considerably more than one-third are in Ulster, and of the holdings over 30 acres more than one-third are in Munster. The number of holdings of over 500 acres is only 1526, of which 475 are in Connaught. A considerable proportion, however, of these larger holdings, especially in Connaught, consist of more or less waste land, which at the best can only be used for raising a few sheep.
Tillage and Pasturage.—The fact that probably about 1,000,000 acres formerly under potatoes went out of cultivation owing to the potato disease in 1847 makes a comparison between the figures for crops in that year with present figures somewhat fallacious. Starting, however, with that year as the most important in Irish economic history in modern times, we find that between 1847 and 1905 the total area under crops—cereals, green crops, flax, meadow and clover—decreased by 582,348 acres. Up to 1861, as the area formerly under potatoes came back gradually into cultivation, the acreage under crops increased; but since that year, when the total crop area was 5,890,536 acres, there has been a steady and gradual decline, the area in 1905 having fallen to 4,656,227 acres. An analysis of the returns shows that the decline has been most marked in the acreage under cereal crops, especially wheat. In 1847 the number of acres under wheat was 743,871 and there has been a steady and practically continuous decrease ever since, the wheat acreage in 1905 being only 37,860 acres. In that year the wheat area, excluding less than 5000 acres in Connaught, was pretty equally divided between the other three provinces. Oats has always been the staple cereal crop in Ireland, but since 1847 its cultivation has declined by over 50%. In that year 2,200,870 acres were under oats and in 1905 only 1,066,806 acres. Nearly one-half of the area under oats is to be found in Ulster; Leinster and Munster are fairly equal; and Connaught has something over 100,000 acres under this crop. The area under barley and rye has also declined during the period under review by about one-half—from 345,070 acres in 1847 to 164,800 in 1905. The growing of these crops is confined almost entirely to Leinster and Munster. Taking all the cereal crops together, their cultivation during the last 60 years has gradually declined (from 3,313,579 acres in 1847 to 1,271,190 in 1905) by over 50%. The area, however, under green crops—potatoes, turnips, mangel-wurzel, beet, cabbage, &c., shows during the same period a much less marked decline—only some 300,000 acres. There has been a very considerable decrease since about 1861 in the acreage under potatoes. This is probably due to two causes—the emigration of the poorer classes who subsisted on that form of food, and the gradual introduction of a more varied dietary. The total area under potatoes in 1905 was 616,755 acres as compared with 1,133,504 acres in 1861. Since about 1885 the acreage under turnips has remained fairly stationary in the neighbourhood of 300,000 acres, while the cultivation of mangel-wurzel has considerably increased. Outside the recognized cereal and green crops, two others may be considered, flax and meadow and clover. The cultivation of the former is practically confined to Ulster and as compared with 20 or 30 years ago has fallen off by considerably more than 50%, despite the proximity of the linen industry. The number of acres under flax in 1905 was only 46,158. The Department of Agriculture has made efforts to improve and foster its cultivation, but without any marked results as regards increasing the area sown. During the period under review the area under meadow and clover has increased by more than 50%, rising from 1,138,946 acres in 1847 to 2,294,506 in 1905. It would thus appear that a large proportion of the land which has ceased to bear cereal or green crops is now laid down in meadow and clover. The balance has become pasturage, and the total area under grass in Ireland has so largely increased that it now embraces more than one-half of the entire country. This increase of the pastoral lands, with the corresponding decrease of the cropped lands, has been the marked feature of Irish agricultural returns since 1847. It is attributable to three chief reasons, the dearth of labour owing to emigration, the greater fall in prices of produce as compared with live stock, and the natural richness of the Irish pastures. The following table shows the growth of pasturage and the shrinkage of the crop areas since 1860.
One more table may be given showing the proportional areas under the various kinds of crops, grass, woods and plantations, fallow, bog, waste, &c., over a series of years.
Produce and Live Stock.—With the decrease of the area under cereal and green crops and the increase of pasturage there has naturally been a serious fall in the amount of agricultural produce and a considerable rise in the number of live stock since the middle of the 19th century. Thus in 1851 the number of cattle was returned as 2,967,461 and in 1905 as 4,645,215, the increase during the intervening period having been pretty gradual and general. Sheep in 1851 numbered 2,122,128 and in 1905 3,749,352, but the increase in this case has not been so continuous, several of the intervening years showing a considerably higher total than 1905, and for a good many years past the number of sheep has tended to decline. The number of pigs has also varied considerably from year to year, 1905 showing an increase of about 150,000 as compared with 1851.
The Department of Agriculture.—By an act of 1899 a Department of Agriculture and other industries and technical instruction was established in Ireland. To this department were transferred numerous powers and duties previously exercised by other authorities, including the Department of Science and Art. To assist the department the act also provided for the establishment of a council of agriculture, an agricultural board and a board of technical instruction, specifying the constitution of each of the three bodies. Certain moneys (exceeding £180,000 per annum) were placed by the act at the disposal of the department, provisions were made for their application, and it was enacted that local authorities might contribute funds. The powers and duties of the department are very wide, but under the present section its chief importance lies in its administrative work with regard to agriculture. In the annual reports of the department this work is usually treated under three heads: (1) agricultural instruction, (2) improvement of live stock, and (3) special investigations.
1. The ultimate aim of the department’s policy in the matter of agricultural instruction is, as defined by itself, to place within the reach of a large number of young men and young women the means of obtaining in their own country a good technical knowledge of all subjects relating to agriculture, an object which prior to the establishment of the department was for all practical purposes unattainable. Before such a scheme could be put into operation two things had to be done. In the first place, the department had to train teachers of agricultural subjects; and secondly, it had to demonstrate to farmers all over Ireland by a system of itinerant instruction some of the advantages of such technical instruction, in order to induce them to make some sacrifice to obtain a suitable education for their sons and daughters. In order to accomplish the first of these two preliminaries, the department established a Faculty of Agriculture at the Royal College of Science in Dublin, and offered a considerable number of scholarships the competition for which becomes increasingly keen. They also reorganized the Albert Agricultural College at Glasnevin for young men who have neither the time nor the means to attend the highly specialized courses at the Royal College of Science; and the Munster Institute at Cork is now devoted solely to the instruction of girls in such subjects as butter-making, poultry-keeping, calf-rearing, cooking, laundry-work, sewing and gardening. In addition to these three permanent institutions, local schools and classes have been established in different parts of the country where systematic instruction in technical agriculture is given to young men. In this and in other branches of its work the department is assisted by agricultural committees appointed by the county councils. The number of itinerant instructors is governed entirely by the available supply of qualified men. The services of every available student on completing his course at the Royal College of Science are secured by some county council committee. The work of the itinerant instructors is very varied. They hold classes and carry out field demonstrations and experiments, the results of which are duly published in the department’s journal. The department has also endeavoured to encourage the fruit-growing industry in Ireland by the establishment of a horticultural school at Glasnevin, by efforts to secure uniformity in the packing and grading of fruit, by the establishment of experimental fruit-preserving factories, by the planting of orchards on a large scale in a few districts, and by pioneer lectures. As the result of all these efforts there has been an enormous increase in the demand for fruit trees of all kinds.
2. The marked tendency which has been visible for so many years in Ireland for pasturage to increase at the expense of tillage makes the improvement of live-stock a matter of vital importance to all concerned in agriculture. Elaborate schemes applicable to horse-breeding, cattle-breeding and swine-breeding, have been drawn up by the department on the advice of experts, but the working of the schemes is for the most part left to the various county council committees. The benefits arising from these schemes are being more and more realized by farmers, and the department is able to report an increase in the number of pure bred cattle and horses in Ireland.
3. The special investigations carried out by the department naturally vary from year to year, but one of the duties of each instructor in agriculture is to conduct a number of field experiments, mainly on the influence of manures and seeds in the yield of crops. The results of these experiments are issued in the form of leaflets and distributed widely among farmers. One of the most interesting experiments, which may have far-reaching economic effects, has been in the cultivation of tobacco. So far it has been proved (1) that the tobacco plant can be grown successfully in Ireland, and (2) that the crop when blended with American leaf can be manufactured into a mixture suitable for smoking. But whether Irish tobacco can be made a profitable crop depends upon a good many other considerations.
Agricultural Co-operation.—In 1894 the efforts of a number of Irishmen drawn from all political parties were successfully directed towards the formation of the Irish Agricultural Organization Society, which has for its object the organizing of groups of farmers on co-operative principles and the provision of instruction in proper technical methods. The society had at first many difficulties to confront, but after the first two or three years of its existence its progress became more rapid, and co-operation became beyond all question one of the most hopeful features in Irish agriculture.
Perhaps the chief success of the society was seen in the establishment of creameries, which at the end of 1905 numbered 275—123 in Ulster, 102 in Munster, 20 in Leinster and 30 in Connaught. The members numbered over 42,000 and the trade turnover for the year was £1,245,000. Agricultural societies have been established for the purchase of seed, implements, &c., on co-operative lines and of these there are 150, with a membership of some 14,000. The society was also successful in establishing a large number of credit societies, from which farmers can borrow at a low rate of interest. There are also societies for poultry-rearing, rural industries, bee-keeping, bacon-curing, &c., in connexion with the central organization. The system is rounded off by a number of trade federations for the sale and purchase of various commodities. The Department of Agriculture encourages the work of the Organization Society by an annual grant.
Land Laws.—The relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland have been a frequent subject of legislation (see History below). Under the act of 1881, down to the 31st of March 1906, the rents of 360,135 holdings, representing nearly 11,000,000 acres, had been fixed for the first statutory term of 15 years either by the land commissioners or by agreements between landlords and tenants, the aggregate reduction being over 20% as compared with the old rents. The rents of 120,515 holdings, representing over 3,500,000 acres, had been further fixed for the second statutory term, the aggregate reduction being over 19% as compared with the first term rents. Although the acts of 1870 and 1881 provided facilities for the purchase of holdings by the tenants, it was only after the passing of the Ashbourne Act in 1885 that the transfer of ownership to the occupying tenants began on an extended scale. Under this act between 1885 and 1902, when further proceedings were suspended, the number of loans issued was 25,367 (4221 in Leinster; 5204 in Munster; 12,954 in Ulster, and 2988 in Connaught) and the amount was £9,992,536. Between August 1891 and April 1906, the number of loans issued under the acts of 1891 and 1896 was 40,395 (7838 in Leinster; 7512 in Munster; 14,955 in Ulster, and 10,090 in Connaught) and the amount was £11,573,952. Under the Wyndham Act of 1903 the process was greatly extended.
The following tables give summarized particulars, for the period from the 1st of November 1903 to the 31st of March 1906, of (1) estates for which purchase agreements were lodged in cases of sale direct from landlords to tenants; (2) estates for the purchase of which the Land Commission entered into agreements under sects. 6 and 8 of the act; (3) estates in which the offers of the Land Commission to purchase under sect. 7 were accepted by the land judge; and (4) estates for the purchase of which, under sections 72 and 79, originating requests were transmitted by the Congested Districts Board to the Land Commission:—
|Sections 6 and 8||54||3,567||1,231,014||1,226,832||4,182|
|Sections 72 and 79||67||5,606||975,211||975,211||..|
|Sections 6 and 8||40||3,047||1,048,459||1,047,007||1,452|
|Sections 72 and 79||12||763||199,581||199,581||..|
It will be seen from these two tables that though the amount of advances applied for during the period dealt with amounted to over
£35,000,000 the actual advances made were less than £10,000,000. It will be seen further that the act operated almost entirely by means of direct sales by landlords to tenants. Of the total amount advanced up to March 31, 1906, almost one-half was in respect of estates in the province of Leinster, the balance being divided pretty equally between estates in the other three provinces.
Fisheries.—The deep-sea and coast fisheries of Ireland form a valuable national asset, which still admits of much development and improvement despite the fact that a considerable number of acts of parliament have been passed to promote and foster the fishing industry. In 1882 the Commissioners of Public Works were given further powers to lend money to fishermen on the recommendation of the inspectors of fisheries; and under an act of 1883 the Land Commission was authorized to pay from time to time such sums, not exceeding in all £250,000, as the Commissioners of Public Works might require, for the creation of a Sea Fishery Fund, such fund to be expended—a sum of about £240,000 has been expended—on the construction and improvement of piers and harbours. Specific acts have also been passed for the establishment and development of oyster, pollan and mussel fisheries. Under the Land Purchase Act 1891, a portion of the Sea Fisheries Fund was reserved for administration by the inspectors of fisheries in non-congested districts. Under this head over £36,000 had been advanced on loan up to December 31, 1905, the greater portion of which had been repaid. In 1900 the powers and duties of the inspectors of fisheries were vested in the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. Under the Marine Works Act 1902, which was intended to benefit and develop industries where the people were suffering from congestion, about £34,000 was expended upon the construction and improvement of fishery harbours in such districts.
For administrative purposes Ireland is divided into 31 deep-sea and coast fisheries and during 1905, 6190 vessels were engaged in these districts, giving employment to a total of 24,288 hands. Excluding salmon, nearly one million hundredweights of fish were taken, and including shell-fish the total money received by the fishermen exceeded £414,000. In the same year 13,436 hands were engaged in the 25 salmon fishing districts into which the country is divided. In addition to the organized industry which exists in these salmon districts, there is a good deal of ordinary rod and line fishing in the higher reaches of the larger rivers and good trout fishing is obtainable in many districts.
Mining.—The mineral produce of Ireland is very limited, and its mines and quarries in 1905 gave employment to only about 6000 persons. Coal-fields are found in all the provinces, but in 1905 the total output was less than 100,000 tons and its value at the mines was given as £43,000. Iron ore is worked in Co. Antrim, over 113,000 tons having been produced in 1905. Alum clay or bauxite, from which aluminium is manufactured, is found in the same county. Clays of various kinds, mainly fire and brick clay, are obtained in several places and there are quarries of marble (notably in Connemara), slate, granite, limestone and sandstone, the output of which is considerable. Silver is obtained in small quantities from lead ore in Co. Donegal, and hopes have been entertained of the re-discovery of gold in Co. Wicklow, where regular workings were established about 1796 but were destroyed during the Rebellion.
Woollen Manufacture.—At an early period the woollen manufactures of Ireland had won a high reputation and were exported in considerable quantities to foreign countries. Bonifazio Uberti (d. c. 1367) refers in a posthumous poem called Dita mundi to the “noble serge” which Ireland sent to Italy, and fine mantles of Irish frieze are mentioned in a list of goods exported from England to Pope Urban VI. In later times, the establishment of a colony from the German Palatinate at Carrick-on-Suir in the reign of James I. served to stimulate the manufacture, but in the succeeding reign the lord-deputy Strafford adopted the policy of fostering the linen trade at the expense of the woollen in order to prevent the latter from competing with English products. An act of the reign of Charles II. prohibited the export of raw wool to foreign countries from Ireland as well as England, while at the same time Ireland was practically excluded by heavy duties from the English markets, and as the Navigation Act of 1663 did not apply to her the colonial market was also closed against Irish exports. The foreign market, however, was still open, and after the prohibition of the export of Irish cattle to England the Irish farmers turned their attention to the breeding of sheep, with such good effect that the woollen manufacture increased with great rapidity. Moreover the improved quality of the wool showed itself in the improvement of the finished article, to the great alarm of the English manufacturer. So much trade jealousy was aroused that both Houses of Parliament petitioned William III. to interfere. In accordance with his wishes the Irish parliament in 1698 placed heavy additional duties on all woollen clothing (except friezes) exported from Ireland, and in 1699 the English Parliament passed an act prohibiting the export from Ireland of all woollen goods to any country except England, to any port of England except six, and from any town in Ireland except six. The cumulative effect of these acts was practically to annihilate the woollen manufacture in Ireland and to reduce whole districts and towns, in which thousands of persons were directly or indirectly supported by the industry, to the last verge of poverty. According to Newenham’s tables the annual average of new drapery exported from Ireland for the three years ending March 1702 was only 20 pieces, while the export of woollen yarn, worsted yarn and wool, which to England was free, amounted to 349,410 stones. In his essay on the Trade of Ireland, published in 1729, Arthur Dobbs estimated the medium exports of wool, worsted and woollen yarn at 227,049 stones, and he valued the export of manufactured woollen goods at only £2353. On the other hand, the imports steadily rose. Between 1779 and 1782 the various acts which had hampered the Irish woollen trade were either repealed or modified, but after a brief period of deceptive prosperity followed by failure and distress, the expansion of the trade was limited to the partial supply of the home market. According to evidence laid before the House of Commons in 1822 one-third of the woollen cloth used in Ireland was imported from England. A return presented to Parliament in 1837 stated that the number of woollen or worsted factories in Ireland was 46, employing 1321 hands. In 1879 the number of factories was 76 and the number of hands 2022. Since then the industry has shown some tendency to increase, though the number of persons employed is still comparatively very small, some 3500 hands.
Linen Manufacture.—Flax was cultivated at a very early period in Ireland and was both spun into thread and manufactured into cloth. In the time of Henry VIII. the manufacture constituted one of the principal branches of Irish trade, but it did not prove a very serious rival to the woollen industry until the policy of England was directed to the discouragement of the latter. Strafford, lord-deputy in the reign of Charles I., did much to foster the linen industry. He invested a large sum of his own money in it, imported great quantities of flax seed from Holland and induced skilled workmen from France and the Netherlands to settle in Ireland. A similar policy was pursued with even more energy by his successor in office, the duke of Ormonde, at whose instigation an Irish act was passed in 1665 to encourage the growth of flax and the manufacture of linen. He also established factories and brought over families from Brabant and France to work in them. The English parliament in their desire to encourage the linen industry at the expense of the woollen, followed Ormonde’s lead by passing an act inviting foreign workmen to settle in Ireland, and admitting all articles made of flax or hemp into England free of duty. In 1710, in accordance with an arrangement made between the two kingdoms, a board of trustees was appointed to whom a considerable sum was granted annually for the promotion of the linen manufacture; but the jealousy of English merchants interposed to check the industry whenever it threatened to assume proportions which might interfere with their own trade, and by an act of George II. a tax was imposed on Irish sail-cloth imported into England, which for the time practically ruined the hempen manufacture. Between 1700 and 1777 the board of trustees expended nearly £850,000 on the promotion of the linen trade, and in addition parliamentary bounties were paid on a considerable scale. In 1727 Arthur Dobbs estimated the value of the whole manufacture at £1,000,000. In 1830 the Linen Board ceased to exist, the trade having been for some time in a very depressed condition owing to the importation of machine-made yarns from Scotland and England. A year or two later, however, machinery was introduced on a large scale on the river Bann. The experiment proved highly successful, and from this period may be dated the rise of the linen trade of Ulster, the only great industrial manufacture of which Ireland can boast. Belfast is the centre and market of the trade, but mills and factories are to be found dotted all over the eastern counties of Ulster.
In 1850 the number of spindles was 396,338 and of power looms 58; in 1905 the corresponding figures were 826,528 and 34,498. In 1850 the number of persons employed in flax mills and factories was 21,121; in 1901 the number in flax, hemp and jute textile factories was 64,802.
Cotton Manufacture.—This was introduced into Ireland in 1777 and under the protection of import duties and bounties increased so rapidly that in 1800 it gave employment to several thousand persons, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Belfast. The trade continued to grow for several years despite the removal of the duties; and the value of cotton goods exported from Ireland to Great Britain rose from £708 in 1814 to £347,606 in 1823. In 1822 the number of hands employed in the industry was stated to be over 17,000. The introduction of machinery, however, which led to the rise of the great cotton industry of Lancashire, had very prejudicial effects, and by 1839 the number of persons employed had fallen to 4622. The trade has dwindled ever since and is now quite insignificant.
Silk Manufacture.—About the end of the 17th century French Huguenots settled in Dublin and started the manufacture of Irish poplin, a mixture of silk and wool. In 1823 between 3000 and 4000 persons were employed. But with the abolition of the protective duties in 1826 a decline set in; and though Irish poplin is still celebrated, the industry now gives employment to a mere handful of people in Dublin.
Distilling and Brewing.—Whisky has been extensively distilled in Ireland for several centuries. An excise duty was first imposed in 1661, the rate charged being 4d. a gallon. The imposition of a duty gave rise to a large amount of illicit distillation, a practice which still prevails to some extent, though efficient police methods have largely reduced it. During recent years the amount of whisky produced has shown a tendency to decrease. In 1900 the number of gallons charged with duty was 9,589,571, in 1903 8,215,355, and in 1906 7,337,928. There are breweries in most of the larger Irish towns, and Dublin is celebrated for the porter produced by the firm of Arthur Guinness & Son, the largest establishment of the kind in the world. The number of barrels of beer—the inclusive term used by the Inland Revenue Department—charged with duty in 1906 was 3,275,309, showing an increase of over 200,000 as compared with 1900.
The following table shows the net annual amount of excise duties received in Ireland in a series of years:—
Other Industries.—Shipbuilding is practically confined to Belfast, where the firm of Harland and Wolff, the builders of the great “White Star” liners, have one of the largest yards in the world, giving employment to several thousand hands. There are extensive engineering works in the same city which supply the machinery and other requirements of the linen industry. Paper is manufactured on a considerable scale in various places, and Balbriggan is celebrated for its hosiery.
Commerce and Shipping.—From allusions in ancient writers it would appear that in early times Ireland had a considerable commercial intercourse with various parts of Europe. When the merchants of Dublin fled from their city at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion it was given by Henry II. to merchants from Bristol, to whom free trade with other portions of the kingdom was granted as well as other advantages. In the Staple Act of Edward III., Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Drogheda are mentioned as among the towns where staple goods could be purchased by foreign merchants. During the 15th century the trade of these and other towns increased rapidly. With the 17th century began the restrictions on Irish trade. In 1637 duties were imposed on the chief commodities to foreign nations not in league with England. Ireland was left out of the Navigation Act of 1663 and in the same year was prohibited from exporting cattle to England in any month previous to July. Sir William Petty estimated the value of Irish exports in 1672 at £500,000 per annum, and owing principally to the prosperity of the woollen industry these had risen in value in 1698 to £996,000, the imports in the same year amounting to £576,000. A rapid fall in exports followed upon the prohibition of the export of woollen manufactures to foreign countries, but in about 20 years’ time a recovery took place, due in part to the increase of the linen trade. Statistics of exports and imports were compiled for various years by writers like Newenham, Arthur Young and César Moreau, but these are vitiated by being given in Irish currency which was altered from time to time, and by the fact that the method of rating at the custom-house also varied. Taking the figures, however, for what they are worth, it appears that between 1701 and 1710 the average annual exports from Ireland to all parts of the world were valued at £553,000 (to Great Britain, £242,000) and the average annual imports at £513,000 (from Great Britain, £242,000). Between 1751 and 1760 the annual values had risen for exports to £2,002,000 (to Great Britain, £1,068,000) and for imports to £1,594,000 (from Great Britain, £734,000). Between 1794 and 1803 the figures had further risen to £4,310,000 (to Great Britain, £3,667,000) and £4,572,000 (from Great Britain £3,404,000). It is clear, therefore, that during the 18th century the increase of commerce was considerable.
In 1825 the shipping duties on the cross-Channel trade were abolished and since that date no official figures are available as to a large part of Irish trade with Great Britain. The export of cattle and other animals, however, is the most important part of this trade and details of this appear in the following table:—
The value of the animals exported in 1905 was estimated (at certain standard rates) at about £14,000,000.
Since 1870 the Board of Trade has ceased to give returns of the foreign and colonial trade for each of the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. Returns are given, however, for the principal ports of each kingdom. Between 1886 and 1905 these imports at the Irish ports rose from £6,802,000 in value to £12,394,000 and the exports from £825,000 to £1,887,000.
The following table shows the value of the total imports and exports of merchandise in the foreign and colonial trade at the ports of Dublin, Belfast and Limerick in each of the years 1901-1905:—
The Department of Agriculture published in 1906 a report on the imports and exports at Irish ports for the year 1904. In this report,
the compiling of which presented great difficulties in the absence of official returns, are included (1) the direct trade between Ireland and all countries outside of Great Britain, (2) the indirect trade of Ireland with those same countries via Great Britain, and (3) the local trade between Ireland and Great Britain. The value of imports in 1904 is put at £55,148,206, and of exports at £46,606,432. But it is pointed out in the report that while the returns as regards farm produce, food stuffs, and raw materials may be considered approximately complete, the information as to manufactured goods—especially of the more valuable grades—is rough and inadequate. It was estimated that the aggregate value of the actual import and export trade in 1904 probably exceeded a total of £105,000,000. The following table gives some details:—
|I. Farm Produce, Food and Drink Stuffs—|
|(a) Live-stock, meat, bacon, fish and dairy produce||£3,028,170||£23,445,122|
|(b) Crops, fruit, meal, flour, &c.||11,859,201||1,721,753|
|(c) Spirits, porter, ale, &c.||919,161||4,222,194|
|(d) Tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, &c.||4,230,478||1,121,267|
|II. Raw Materials—|
|(d) Animal and vegetable products||4,529,002||3,067,398|
|III. Goods, partly manufactured or of simple manufacture||7,996,143||2,576,993|
|IV. Manufactured goods.||17,059,611||9,934,145|
From the figures given in the report it would appear that there was in 1904 an excess of imports amounting to over £8,500,000. But owing to the imperfect state of existing information, it is impossible to say with any certainty what is the real state of the balance of visible trade between Ireland and other countries.
Shipping returns also throw some light upon the commercial condition of Ireland. Old figures are not of much value, but it may be stated that Arthur Dobbs gives the number of ships engaged in the Irish trade in 1721 as 3334 with a tonnage of 158,414. According to the statistics of César Moreau the number of ships belonging to Irish ports in 1788 was 1016 with a tonnage of over 60,000, and in 1826 they had increased, according to the trade and navigation returns, to 1391 with a tonnage of over 90,000. In 1905 the vessels registered at Irish ports numbered 934 with a tonnage of over 259,000. In the same year the vessels entering and clearing in the colonial and foreign trade numbered 1199 with a tonnage of over 1,086,000, and the vessels entering and clearing in the trade between Great Britain and Ireland numbered 41,983 with a tonnage of over 9,776,000.
Government, &c.—The executive government of Ireland is vested in a lord-lieutenant, assisted by a privy council and by a chief secretary, who is always a member of the House of Commons and generally of the cabinet. There are a large number of administrative departments and boards, some, like the Board of Trade, discharging the same duties as the similar department in England; others, like the Congested Districts Board, dealing with matters of purely Irish concern.
Parliamentary Representation.—The Redistribution of Seats
Act 1885 entirely altered the parliamentary representation
of Ireland. Twenty-two small boroughs were disenfranchi
The towns of Galway, Limerick and Waterford lost one member
each, while Dublin and Belfast were respectively divided into
four divisions, each returning one member. As a result of these
changes 85 members now represent the counties, 16 the boroughs,
and 2 Dublin University—a total of 103. The total number
of electors (exclusive of Dublin University) in 1906 was 686,661;
113,595 for the boroughs and 573,066 for the counties. Ireland
is represented in the House of Lords by 28 temporal peers
elected for life from among the Irish peers.
Local Government.—Irish local government was entirely remodelled by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, which conferred on Ireland the same system and measure of self-government enjoyed by Great Britain. The administrative and fiscal duties previously exercised by the grand jury in each county were transferred to a county council, new administrative counties being formed for the purposes of the act, in some cases by the alteration of existing boundaries. To the county councils were also assigned the power of assessing and levying the poor rate in rural districts, the management of lunatic asylums, and the administration of certain acts such as the Explosives Act, the Technical Education Act and the Diseases of Animals Act. Subordinate district councils, urban and rural, were also established as in England and Scotland to manage the various local areas within each county. The provisions made for the administration of the Poor Law by the act under consideration are very complicated, but roughly it may be said that it was handed over to these new subordinate local bodies. Six towns—Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry and Waterford—were constituted county boroughs governed by separate county councils; and five boroughs—Kilkenny, Sligo, Clonmel, Drogheda and Wexford—retained their former corporations. The act provides facilities for the conversion into urban districts of (1) towns having town commissioners who are not sanitary authorities and (2) non-municipal towns with populations of over 1500 and entitled to petition for town commissioners.
Justice.—The Supreme Court of Judicature is constituted as follows: the court of appeal, which consists of the lord chancellor, the lord chief justice, and the master of the rolls and the chief baron of the exchequer as ex-officio members, and two lords justices of appeal; and the high court of justice which includes (1) the chancery division, composed of the lord chancellor, the master of the rolls and two justices, (2) the king’s bench division composed of the lord chief justice, the chief baron of the exchequer and eight justices, and (3) the land commissions with two judicial commissioners. At the first vacancy the title and rank of chief baron of the exchequer will be abolished and the office reduced to a puisne judgeship. By the County Officers and Courts (Ireland) Act 1877, it was provided that the chairmen of quarter sessions should be called “county court judges and chairmen of quarter sessions” and that their number should be reduced to twenty-one, which was to include the recorders of Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Londonderry and Galway. At the same time the jurisdiction of the county courts was largely extended. There are 66 resident (stipendiary) magistrates, and four police magistrates in Dublin.
Police.—The Royal Irish Constabulary were established in 1822 and consisted at first of 5000 men under an inspector-general for each of the four provinces. In 1836 the entire force was amalgamated under one inspector-general. The force, at present consists of about 10,000 men of all ranks, and costs over £1,300,000 a year. Dublin has a separate metropolitan police force.
Crime.—The following table shows the number of persons committed for trial, convicted and acquitted in Ireland in 1886, 1891, 1900 and 1905:—
Of the 1367 convicted in 1905, 375 were charged with offences against the person, 205 with offences against property with violence, 545 with offences against property without violence, 52 with malicious injury to property, 44 with forgery and offences against the currency, and 146 with other offences. In 1904, 81,775 cases of drunkenness were brought before Irish magistrates as compared with 227,403 in England and 43,580 in Scotland.
Poor Law.—The following table gives the numbers in receipt of indoor and outdoor relief (exclusive of persons in institutions for the blind, deaf and dumb, and for idiots and imbeciles) in, the years 1902-1905, together with the total expenditure for relief of the poor:—
|Year.|| Aggregate number relieved
during the year.
| Total Annual |
The average daily number in receipt of relief of all kinds (except outdoor relief) during the same years was as follows: 1902, 41,163; 1903, 43,600; 1904, 43,721; 1905, 43,911. The percentage of indoor paupers to the estimated population in 1905 was 1.00.
Congested Districts Board.—This body was constituted by the Purchase of Land Act 1891, and is composed of the chief secretary, a member of the Land Commission and five other members. A considerable sum of money was placed at its disposal for carrying out the objects for which it was created. It was provided that where more than 20% of the population of a county lived in electoral divisions of which the total rateable value, when divided by the number of the population, gave a sum of less than £1, 10s. for each individual, these divisions should, for the purposes of the act, form a separate county, called a congested districts county, and should be subject to the operations of the board. In order to improve the condition of affairs in congested districts, the board was empowered (1) to amalgamate small holdings either by directly aiding migration or emigration of occupiers, or by recommending the Land Commission to facilitate amalgamation, and (2) generally to aid and develop out of its resources agriculture, forestry, the breeding of live-stock, weaving, spinning, fishing and any other suitable industries. Further provisions regulating the operations of funds of the board were enacted in 1893, 1896, 1899 and 1903; and by its constituting act the Department of Agriculture was empowered to exercise, at the request of the board, any of its powers and duties in congested districts.
Religion.—The great majority of the Irish people belong to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1891 the Roman Catholics numbered 3,547,307 or 75% of the total population, and in 1901 they numbered 3,308,661 or 74%. The adherents of the Church of Ireland come next in number (581,089 in 1901 or 13% of the population), then the Presbyterians (443,276 in 1901 or 10% of the population), the only other denomination with a considerable number of members being the Methodists (62,006 in 1901). As the result of emigration, which drains the Roman Catholic portion of the population more than any other, the Roman Catholics show a larger proportional decline in numbers than the Protestants; for example, between 1891 and 1901 the Roman Catholics decreased by over 6%, the Church of Ireland by a little over 3%, the Presbyterians by less than 1%, while the Methodists actually increased by some 11%. The only counties in which the Protestant religion predominates are Antrim, Down, Armagh and Londonderry.
The Roman Catholic Church is governed in Ireland by 4 archbishops, whose sees are in Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Tuam, and 23 bishops, all nominated by the pope. The episcopal emoluments arise from the mensal parishes, the incumbency of which is retained by the bishops, from licences and from an annual contribution, varying in amount, paid by the clergy of the diocese. The clergy are supported by fees and the voluntary contributions of their flocks. At the census of 1901 there were 1084 parishes, and the clergy numbered 3711. In addition to the secular clergy there are several communities of regular priests scattered over the country, ministering in their own churches but without parochial jurisdiction. There are also numerous monasteries and convents, a large number of which are devoted to educational purposes. The great majority of the secular clergy are educated at Maynooth College (see below).
The Protestants of Ireland belong mainly to the Church of Ireland (episcopalian) and the Presbyterian Church. (For the former see Ireland, Church of).
The Presbyterian Church, whose adherents are found principally in Ulster and are the descendants of Scotch settlers, was originally formed in the middle of the 17th century, and in 1840 a reunion took place of the two divisions into which the Church had formerly separated. The governing body is the General Assembly, consisting of ministers and laymen. In 1906 there were 569 congregations, arranged under 36 presbyteries, with 647 ministers. The ministers are supported by a sustentation fund formed of voluntary contributions, the rents of seats and pews, and the proceeds of the commutation of the Regium Donum made by the commissioners under the Irish Church Act 1869. Two colleges are connected with the denomination, the General Assembly’s College, Belfast, and the Magee College, Londonderry. In 1881 the faculty of the Belfast College and the theological professors of the Magee College were incorporated and constituted as a faculty with the power of granting degrees in divinity.
The Methodist Church in Ireland was formed in 1878 by the Union of the Wesleyan with the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists. The number of ministers is over 250.
Education.—The following table shows that the proportion per cent of the total population of five years old and upwards able to read and write has been steadily rising since 1861:—
|Proportion per cent.|
|Read and write||41||49||59||71||79|
|Neither read nor write||39||33||25||18||14|
Further details on the same subject, according to provinces and religious denominations in 1901, are subjoined:—
|Read and write||80||80||70||72|
|Neither read nor write||13||15||19||21|
|Read and write||95||95||81||93|
|Neither read nor write||4||3||10||4|
|Read and write||97||96||88||95|
|Neither read nor write||2||2||5||2|
|Read and write||97||97||90||96|
|Neither read nor write||2||2||5||2|
|Read and write||91||91||90||94|
|Neither read nor write||7||7||4||5|
|Read and write||83||81||79||72|
|Neither read nor write||11||14||12||21|
Language.—The number of persons who speak Irish only continues to decrease. In 1881 they numbered 64,167; in 1891, 38,192; and in 1901, 20,953. If to those who spoke Irish only are added the persons who could speak both Irish and English, the total number who could speak Irish in 1901 was 641,142 or about 14% of the population. The purely Irish-speaking population is to be found principally in the province of Connaught, where in 1901 they numbered over 12,000. The efforts of the Gaelic League, founded to encourage the study of Gaelic literature and the Irish language, produced results seen in the census returns for 1901, which showed that the pupils learning Irish had very largely increased as compared with 1891.
The university of Dublin (q.v.), which is for practical purposes identical with Trinity College, Dublin, was incorporated in 1591. The government is in the hands of a board consisting of the provost and the senior fellows, assisted by Universities and colleges. a council in the election of professors and in the regulation of studies. The council is composed of the provost (and, in his absence, the vice-provost) and elected members. There is also a senate, composed of the chancellor or vice-chancellor and all doctors and masters who have kept their names on the books of Trinity College. Religious tests were abolished in 1873, and the university is now open to all; but, as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the students, even since the abolition of tests, have always belonged to the Church of Ireland, and the divinity school is purely Protestant.
In pursuance of the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879, the Queen’s University in Ireland was superseded in 1882 by the Royal University of Ireland, it being provided that the graduates and students of the former should have similar rank in the new university. The government of the Royal University was vested in a senate consisting of a chancellor and senators, with power to grant all such degrees as could be conferred by any university in the United Kingdom, except in theology. Female students had exactly the same rights as male students. The university was simply an examining body, no residence in any college nor attendance at lectures being obligatory. All appointments to the senate and to fellowships were made on the principle that one half of those appointed should be Roman Catholics and the other half Protestants; and in such subjects as history and philosophy there were two courses of study prescribed, one for Roman Catholics and the other for Protestants. In 1905 the number who matriculated was 947, of whom 218 were females, and the number of students who passed the academic examinations was 2190. The university buildings are in Dublin and the fellows were mostly professors in the various colleges whose students were undergraduates.
The three Queen’s Colleges, at Belfast, Cork and Galway, were founded in 1849 and until 1882 formed the Queen’s University. Their curriculum comprised all the usual courses of instruction, except theology. They were open to all denominations, but, as might be expected, the Belfast college (dissolved under the Irish Universities Act 1908; see below) was almost entirely Protestant. Its situation in a great industrial centre also made it the most important and flourishing of the three, its students numbering over 400. It possessed an excellent medical school, which was largely increased owing to private benefactions.
The Irish Universities Act 1908 provided for the foundation of two new universities, having their seats respectively at Dublin and at Belfast. The Royal University of Ireland at Dublin and the Queen’s College, Belfast, were dissolved. Provision was made for a new college to be founded at Dublin. This college and the existing Queen’s Colleges at Cork and Galway were made constituent colleges of the new university at Dublin. Letters patent dated December 2, 1908, granted charters to these foundations under the titles of the National University of Ireland (Dublin), the Queen’s University of Belfast and the University Colleges of Dublin, Cork and Galway. It was provided by the act that no test of religious belief should be imposed on any person as a condition of his holding any position in any foundation under the act. A body of commissioners was appointed for each of the new foundations to draw up statutes for its government; and for the purpose of dealing with any matter calling for joint action, a joint commission, half from each of the above commissions, was established. Regulations as to grants-in-aid were made by the act, with the stipulation that no sum from them should be devoted to the provision or maintenance of any building, or tutorial or other office, for religious purposes, though private benefaction for such purposes is not prohibited. Provisions were also made as to the transfer of graduates and students, so that they might occupy under the new régime positions equivalent to those which they occupied previously, in respect both of degrees and the keeping of terms. The commissioners were directed to work out schemes for the employment of officers already employed in the institutions affected by the new arrangements, and for the compensation of those whose employment could not be continued. A committee of the privy council in Ireland was appointed, to be styled the Irish Universities Committee.
The Roman Catholic University College in Dublin may be described as a survival of the Roman Catholic University, a voluntary institution founded in 1854. In 1882 the Roman Catholic bishops placed the buildings belonging to the university under the control and direction of the archbishop of Dublin, who undertook to maintain a college in which education would be given according to the regulations of the Royal University. In 1883 the direction of the college was entrusted to the Jesuits. Although the college receives no grant from public funds, it has proved very successful and attracts a considerable number of students, the great majority of whom belong to the Church of Rome.
The Royal College of Science was established in Dublin in 1867 under the authority of the Science and Art Department, London. Its object is to supply a complete course of instruction in science as applicable to the industrial arts. In 1900 the college was transferred from the Science and Art Department to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.
Maynooth (q.v.) College was founded by an Irish act of parliament in 1795 for the training of Roman Catholic students for the Irish priesthood. By an act of 1844 it was permanently endowed by a grant from the consolidated fund of over £26,000 a year. This grant was withdrawn by the Irish Church Act 1869, the college receiving as compensation a lump sum of over £372,000. The average number of students entering each year is about 100.
There are two Presbyterian colleges, the General Assembly’s College at Belfast, which is purely theological, and the Magee College, Londonderry, which has literary, scientific and theological courses. In 1881 the Assembly’s College and the theological professors of Magee College were constituted a faculty with power to grant degrees in divinity.
In addition to the foregoing, seven Roman Catholic institutions were ranked as colleges in the census of 1901:—All Hallows (Drumcondra), Holycross (Clonliffe), University College (Blackrock), St Patrick’s (Carlow), St Kieran’s (Kilkenny), St Stanislaus’s (Tullamore) and St Patrick’s (Thurles). In 1901 the aggregate number of students was 715, of whom 209 were returned as under the faculty of divinity.
As regards secondary schools a broad distinction can be drawn according to religion. The Roman Catholics have diocesan schools, schools under religious orders, monastic and convent schools, and Christian Brothers’ schools, which were Schools. attended, according to the census returns in 1901, by nearly 22,000 pupils, male and female. On the other hand are the endowed schools, which are almost exclusively Protestant in their government. Under this heading may be included royal and diocesan schools and schools upon the foundation of Erasmus Smith, and others privately endowed. In 1901 these schools numbered 55 and had an attendance of 2653 pupils. To these must be added various private establishments, which in the same year had over 8000 pupils, mainly Protestants. Dealing with these secondary schools as a whole the census of 1901 gives figures as to the number of pupils engaged upon what the commissioners call the “higher studies,” i.e. studies involving instruction in at least one foreign language. In 1881 the number of such pupils was 18,657; in 1891, 23,484; and in 1901, 28,484, of whom 17,103 were males and 11,381 females, divided as follows among the different religions—Roman Catholics 18,248, Protestant Episcopalians 5669, Presbyterians 3011, Methodists 760, and others 567. This increase in the number of pupils engaged in the higher studies is probably due to a large extent to the scheme for the encouragement of intermediate education which was established by act of parliament in 1879. A sum of £1,000,000, part of the Irish Church surplus, was assigned by that act for the promotion of the intermediate secular education of boys and girls in Ireland. The administration of this fund was entrusted to a board of commissioners, who were to apply its revenue for the purposes of the act (1) by carrying on a system of public examinations, (2) by awarding exhibitions, prizes and certificates to students, and (3) by the payment of results fees to the manager of schools. An amending act was passed in 1900 and the examinations are now held under rules made in virtue of that act. The number of students who presented themselves for examination in 1905 was 9677; the amount expended in exhibitions and prizes was £8536; and the grants to schools amounted to over £50,000. The examinations were held at 259 centres in 99 different localities.
Primary education in Ireland is under the general control of the commissioners of national education, who were first created in 1831 to take the place of the society for the education of the poor, and incorporated in 1845. In the year of their incorporation the schools under the control of the commissioners numbered 3426, with 432,844 pupils, and the amount of the parliamentary grants was £75,000; while in 1905 there were 8659 schools, with 737,752 pupils, and the grant was almost £1,400,000. Of the pupils attending in the latter year, 74% were Roman Catholics, 12% Protestant Episcopalians and 11% Presbyterians. The schools under the commissioners include national schools proper, model and workhouse schools and a number of monastic and convent schools. The Irish Education Act of 1892 provided that the parents of children of not less than 6 nor more than 14 years of age should cause them to attend school in the absence of reasonable excuse on at least 150 days in the year in municipal boroughs and in towns or townships under commissioners; and provisions were made for the partial or total abolition of fees in specified circumstances, for a parliamentary school grant in lieu of abolished school fees, and for the augmentation of the salaries of the national teachers.
There are 5 reformatory schools, 3 for boys and 2 for girls, and 68 industrial schools, 5 Protestant and 63 Roman Catholic.
By the constituting act of 1899 the control of technical education in Ireland was handed over to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction and now forms an important part of its work. The annual sum of £55,000 was allocated Technical instruction. for the purpose, and this is augmented in various ways. The department has devoted itself to (1) promoting instruction in experimental science, drawing, manual instruction and
domestic economy in day secondary schools, (2) supplying funds to country and urban authorities for the organization of schemes for technical instruction in non-agricultural subjects—these subjects embracing not only preparation for the highly organized industries but the teaching of such rural industries as basket-making, (3) the training of teachers by classes held at various centres, (4) the provision of central institutions, and (5) the awarding of scholarships.
Revenue and Expenditure.—The early statistics as to revenue and expenditure in Ireland are very fragmentary and afford little possibility of comparison. During the first 15 years of Elizabeth’s reign the expenses of Ireland, chiefly on account of wars, amounted, according to Sir James Ware’s estimate, to over £490,000, while the revenue is put by some writers at £8000 per annum and by others at less. In the reign of James I. the customs increased from £50 to over £9000; but although he obtained from various sources about £10,000 a year and a considerable sum also accrued from the plantation of Ulster, the revenue is supposed to have fallen short of the expenditure by about £16,000 a year. During the reign of Charles I. the customs increased fourfold in value, but it was found necessary to raise £120,000 by yearly subsidies. According to the report of the committee appointed by Cromwell to investigate the financial condition of Ireland, the revenue in 1654 was £197,304 and the expenditure £630,814. At the Restoration the Irish parliament granted an hereditary revenue to the king, an excise for the maintenance of the army, a subsidy of tonnage and poundage for the navy, and a tax on hearths in lieu of feudal burdens. “Additional duties” were granted shortly after the Revolution. “Appropriate duties” were imposed at different periods; stamp duties were first granted in 1773, and the post office first became a source of revenue in 1783. In 1706 the hereditary revenue with additional duties produced over £394,000.
Returns of the ordinary revenue were first presented to the Irish parliament in 1730. From special returns to parliament the following table shows net income and expenditure over a series of years up to 1868:—
The amount of imperial revenue collected and expended in Ireland under various heads for the five years 1902-1906 appears in the following tables:—
|Voted.||Local Taxation Accounts.||Total
| Estimated |
| Exchequer |
Subtracting in each year the total expenditure from the estimated true revenue it would appear from the foregoing table that Ireland contributed to imperial services in the years under consideration the following sums: £2,570,000, £2,852,000, £2,200,500, £2,186,500 and £1,811,500.
The financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland have long been a subject of controversy, and in 1894 a royal commission was appointed to consider them, which presented its report in 1896. The commissioners, though differing on several points, were practically agreed on the following five conclusions: (1) that Great Britain and Ireland must, for the purposes of a financial inquiry, be considered as separate entities; (2) that the Act of Union imposed upon Ireland a burden which, as events showed, she was unable to bear; (3) that the increase of taxation laid upon Ireland between 1853 and 1860 was not justified by the then existing circumstances; (4) that identity of rates of taxation did not necessarily involve equality of burden; (5) that, while the actual tax revenue of Ireland was about one-eleventh of that of Great Britain, the relative taxable capacity of Ireland was very much smaller, and was not estimated by any of the commissioners as exceeding one-twentieth. This report furnished the material for much controversy, but little practical outcome; it was avowedly based on the consideration of Ireland as a separate country, and was therefore inconsistent with the principles of Unionism.
The public debt of Ireland amounted to over £134,000,000 in 1817, in which year it was consolidated with the British national debt.
Local Taxation.—The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 effected considerable changes in local finance. The fiscal duties of the grand jury were abolished, and the county council which took the place of the grand jury for both fiscal and administrative purposes was given three sources of revenue: (1) the agricultural grant, (2) the licence duties and other imperial grants, and (3) the poor rate. These may be considered separately. (1) It was provided that the Local Government Board should ascertain the amount of county cess and poor rate levied off agricultural land in Ireland during the year ending (as regards the poor rate) on the 29th of September, and (as regards the county cess) on the 21st of June 1897; and that half this amount, to be called the agricultural grant, should be paid annually without any variation from the original sum out of the consolidated fund to a local taxation account. The amount of the agricultural grant was ascertained to be over £727,000. Elaborate provisions were also made in the act for fixing the proportion of the grant to which each county should be entitled, and the lord-lieutenant was empowered to pay half-yearly the proportion so ascertained to the county council. (2) Before the passing of the act grants were made from the imperial exchequer to the grand juries in aid of the maintenance of lunatics and to boards of guardians for medical and educational purposes and for salaries under the Public Health (Ireland) Act. In 1897 these grants amounted to over £236,000. Under the Local Government Act they ceased, and in lieu thereof it was provided that there should be annually paid out of the consolidated fund to the local taxation account a sum equal to the duties collected in Ireland on certain
specified local taxation licences. In addition, it was enacted that a fixed sum of £79,000 should be forthcoming annually from the consolidated fund. (3) The county cess was abolished, and the county councils were empowered to levy a single rate for the rural districts and unions, called by the name of poor rate, for all the purposes of the act. This rate is made upon the occupier and not upon the landlord, and the occupier is not entitled, save in a few specified cases, to deduct any of the rate from his rent. For the year ending the 31st of March 1905, the total receipts of the Irish county councils, exclusive of the county boroughs, were £2,964,298 and their total expenditure was £2,959,961, the two chief items of expenditure being “Union Charges” £1,002,620 and “Road Expenditure” £779,174. During the same period the total receipts from local taxation in Ireland amounted to £4,013,303, and the amount granted from imperial sources in aid of local taxation was £1,781,143.
Loans.—The total amount issued on loan, exclusive of closed sources, by the Commissioners of Public Works, up to the 31st of March 1906, was £26,946,393, of which £15,221,913 had been repaid to the exchequer as principal and £9,011,506 as interest, and £1,609,694 had been remitted. Of the sums advanced, about £5,500,000 was under the Improvement of Lands Acts, nearly £3,500,000 under the Public Health Acts, over £3,000,000 for lunatic asylums, and over £3,000,000 under the various Labourers Acts.
Banking.—The Bank of Ireland was established in Dublin in 1783 with a capital of £600,000, which was afterwards enlarged at various times, and on the renewal of its charter in 1821 it was increased to £3,000,000. It holds in Ireland a position corresponding to the Bank of England in England. There are eight other joint-stock banks in Ireland. Including the Bank of Ireland, their subscribed capital amounts to £26,349,230 and their paid-up capital to £7,309,230. The authorized note circulation is £6,354,494 and the actual note circulation in June 1906 was £6,310,243, two of the banks not being banks of issue. The deposits in the joint-stock banks amounted in 1880 to £29,350,000; in 1890 to £33,061,000; in 1900 to £40,287,000; and in 1906 to £45,842,000. The deposits in the Post Office Savings Banks rose from £1,481,000 in 1880 to £10,459,000 in 1906, and the deposits in Trustee Savings Banks from £2,100,165 in 1880 to £2,488,740 in 1905.
National Wealth.—To arrive at any estimate of the national wealth is exceptionally difficult in the case of Ireland, since the largest part of its wealth is derived from agriculture, and many important factors, such as the amount of capital invested in the linen and other industries, cannot be included, owing to their uncertainty. The following figures for 1905–1906 may, however, be given: valuation of lands, houses, &c., £15,466,000; value of principal crops, £35,362,000; value of cattle, &c., £81,508,000; paid-up capital and reserve funds of joint-stock banks, £11,300,000; deposits in joint-stock and savings banks, £58,791,000; investments in government stock, transferable at Bank of Ireland, £36,952,000; paid-up capital and debentures of railway companies, £38,405,000; paid-up capital of tramway companies, £2,074,000.
In 1906 the net value of property assessed to estate duty, &c., in Ireland was £16,016,000 as compared with £306,673,000 in England and £38,451,000 in Scotland; and in 1905 the net produce of the income tax in Ireland was £983,000, as compared with £27,423,000 in England and £2,888,000 in Scotland.
Bibliography.—Agriculture: Accounts of the land systems of Ireland will be found in James Godkin’s Land War in Ireland (1870); Sigerson’s History of Land Tenure in Ireland (1871); Joseph Fisher’s History of Land Holding in Ireland (1877); R. B. O’Brien’s History of the Irish Land Question (1880); A. G. Richey’s Irish Land Laws (1880). General information will be found in J. P. Kennedy’s Digest of the evidence given before the Devon Commission (Dublin, 1847–1848); the Report of the Bessborough Commission, 1881, and of the commission on the agriculture of the United Kingdom, 1881. The Department of Agriculture publishes several official annual reports, dealing very fully with Irish agriculture.
Manufactures and Commerce: Discourse on the Woollen Manufacture of Ireland (1698); An Inquiry into the State and Progress of the Linen Manufacture in Ireland (Dublin, 1757); G. E. Howard, Treatise on the Revenue of Ireland (1776); John Hely Hutchinson, Commercial Restraints of Ireland (1779); Lord Sheffield, Observations on the Manufactures, Trade and Present State of Ireland (1785); R. B. Clarendon, A Sketch of the Revenue and Finances of Ireland (1791); the annual reports of the Flax Supply Association and other local bodies, published at Belfast; reports by the Department of Agriculture on Irish imports and exports (these are a new feature and contain much valuable information).
Miscellaneous: Sir William Petty, Political Anatomy of Ireland (1691); Arthur Dobbs, Essay on the Trade of Ireland (1729); Abstract of the Number of Protestant and Popish Families in Ireland (1726); Arthur Young, Tour in Ireland (1780); T. Newenham, View of the Circumstances of Ireland (1809), and Inquiry into the Population of Ireland (1805); César Moreau, Past and Present State of Ireland (1827); J. M. Murphy, Ireland, Industrial, Political and Social (1870); R. Dennis, Industrial Ireland (1887); Grimshaw, Facts and Figures about Ireland (1893); Report of the Recess Committee (1896, published in Dublin); Report of the Financial Relations Commission (1897); Sir H. Plunkett, Ireland in the New Century (London, 1905); Filson Young, Ireland at the Cross-Roads (London, 1904); Thom’s Almanac, published annually in Dublin, gives a very useful summary of statistics and other information. (W. H. Po.)
On account of its isolated position we might expect to find Ireland in possession of a highly developed system of legends bearing on the origins of its inhabitants. Ireland remained outside the pale of the ancient Roman world, and a state of society which was peculiarly Historical sources. favourable to the preservation of national folk-lore survived in the island until the 16th century. The jealousy with which the hereditary antiquaries guarded the tribal genealogies naturally leads us to hope that the records which have come down to us may shed some light on the difficult problems connected with the early inhabitants of these islands and the west of Europe. Although innumerable histories of Ireland have appeared in print since the publication of Roderick O’Flaherty’s Ogygia (London, 1677), the authors have in almost every case been content to reproduce the legendary accounts without bringing any serious criticism to bear on the sources. This is partly to be explained by the fact that the serious study of Irish philology only dates from 1853 and much of the most important material has not yet appeared in print. In the middle of the 19th century O’Donovan and O’Curry collected a vast amount of undigested information about the early history of the island, but as yet J. B. Bury in his monograph on St Patrick is the only trained historian who has ever adequately dealt with any of the problems connected with ancient Ireland. Hence it is evident that our knowledge of the subject must remain extremely unsatisfactory until the chief sources have been properly sifted by competent scholars. A beginning has been made by Sir John Rhys in his “Studies in Early Irish History” (Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. i.), and by John MacNeill in a suggestive series of papers contributed to the New Ireland Review (March 1906-Feb. 1907). Much might reasonably be expected from the sciences of archaeology and anthropology. But although Ireland is as rich as, or even richer in monuments of the past than, most countries in Europe, comparatively little has been done owing in large measure to the lack of systematic investigation.
It may be as well to specify some of the more important sources at the outset. Of the classical writers who notice Ireland Ptolemy is the only one who gives us any very definite information. The legendary origins first appear in Nennius and in a number of poems by such writers as Maelmura (d. 884), Cinaed Uah Artacáin (d. 975), Eochaid Ua Flainn (d. 984), Flann Mainistrech (d. 1056) and Gilla Coemgin (d. 1072). They are also embodied in the Leabhar Gabhála or Book of Invasions, the earliest copy of which is contained in the Book of Leinster, a 12th-century MS., Geoffrey Keating’s History, Dugald MacFirbis’s Genealogies and various collections of annals such as those by the Four Masters. Of prime importance for the earlier period are the stories known collectively as the Ulster cycle, among which the lengthy epic the Táin Bo Cúalnge takes first place. Amongst the numerous chronicles the Annals of Ulster, which commence with the year 441, are by far the most trustworthy. The Book of Rights is another compilation which gives valuable information with regard to the relations of the various kingdoms to one another. Finally, there are the extensive collections of genealogies preserved in Rawlinson B 502, the Books of Leinster and Ballymote.
Earliest Inhabitants.—There is as yet no certain evidence to show that Ireland was inhabited during the palaeolithic period. But there are abundant traces of man in the neolithic state of culture (see Sir W. R. W. Wilde’s Catalogue of the antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy). The use of bronze was perhaps introduced about 1450 B.C. The craniological evidence is unfortunately at present insufficient to show whether the introduction of metal coincided with any particular invasion either from Britain or the European continent. At any rate it was not until well on in the Bronze Age, perhaps about 600 or 500 B.C., that the Goidels, the first invaders speaking a Celtic language, set foot in Ireland. The newcomers probably overran the whole island, subduing but not exterminating the older race with which they doubtless intermarried freely, as pre-Celtic types are frequent among the populations of Connaught and Munster at the present day. What the language was that was spoken by the neolithic aborigines is a question which will probably never be settled. The division into provinces or “fifths” (Ulster, Leinster, Connaught, E. Munster and W. Munster) appears to be older than the historical period, and may be due to the Goidels. Between 300 B.C. and 150 B.C. various Belgic and other Brythonic tribes established themselves in Britain bringing with them the knowledge of how to work in iron. Probably much about the same time certain Belgic tribes effected settlements in the S.E. of Ireland. Some time must have elapsed before any Brythonic people undertook to defy the powerful Goidelic states, as the supremacy of the Brythonic kingdom of Tara does not seem to have been acknowledged before the 4th century of our era. The early Belgic settlers constituted perhaps in the main trading states which acted as intermediaries of commerce between Ireland and Gaul. In addition to these Brythonic colonies a number of Pictish tribes, who doubtless came over from Scotland, conquered for themselves parts of Antrim and Down where they maintained their independence till late in the historical period. Picts are also represented as having settled in the county of Roscommon; but we have at present no means of ascertaining when this invasion took place.
Classical Writers.—Greek and Roman writers seem to have possessed very little definite information about the island, though much of what they relate corresponds to the state of society disclosed in the older epics. Strabo held the inhabitants to be mere savages, addicted to cannibalism and having no marriage ties. Solinus speaks of the luxurious pastures, but the natives he terms an inhospitable and warlike nation. The conquerors among them having first drunk the blood of their enemies, afterwards besmear their faces therewith; they regard right and wrong alike. Whenever a woman brings forth a male child, she puts his first food on the sword of her husband, and lightly introduces the first auspicium of nourishment into his little mouth with the point of the sword. Pomponius Mela speaks of the climate as unfit for ripening grain, but he, too, notices the luxuriance of the grass. However, it is not until we reach Ptolemy that we feel we are treading on firm ground. His description is of supreme importance for the study of early Irish ethnography. Ptolemy gives the names of sixteen peoples in Ireland, several of which can be identified. As we should expect from our knowledge of later Irish history scarcely any towns are mentioned. In the S.E., probably in Co. Wicklow, we find the Manapii—evidently a colony from N.E. Gaul. North of them, perhaps in Kildare, a similar people, the Cauci, are located. In Waterford and Wexford are placed the Brigantes, who also occur in Yorkshire. The territory to the west of the Brigantes is occupied by a people called by Ptolemy the Iverni. Their capital he gives as Ivernis, and in the extreme S.W. of the island he marks the mouth of the river Iernos, by which the top of Dingle Bay called Castlemaine Harbour is perhaps intended. The Iverni must have been a nation of considerable importance, as they play a prominent part in the historical period, where they are known as the Érnai or Éraind of Munster. It would seem that the Iverni were the first native tribe with whom foreign traders came in contact, as it is from them that the Latin name for the whole island is derived. The earliest form was probably Iveriyō or Iveriyū, genitive Iveryonos, from which come Lat. Iverio, Hiverio (Antonine Itinerary), Hiberio (Confession of St Patrick), Old Irish Ériu, Hériu, gen. Hérenn with regular loss of intervocalic v, Welsh Iwerddon (from the oblique cases). West of the Iverni in Co. Kerry Ptolemy mentions the Vellabori, and going in a northerly direction following the coast we find the Gangani, Autini (Autiri), Nagnatae (Magnatae). Erdini (cf. the name Lough Erne), Vennicnii, Rhobogdii, Darini and Eblanii, none of whom can be identified with certainty. In south Ulster Ptolemy locates a people called the Voluntii who seem to correspond to the Ulidians of a later period (Ir. Ulaid, in Irish Lat. Uloti). About Queen’s county or Tipperary are situated the Usdiae, whose name is compared with the later Ossory (Ir. Os-raige). Lastly, in the north of Wexford we find the Coriondi who occur in Irish texts near the Boyne (Mid. Ir. Coraind). It would seem as if Ptolemy’s description of Ireland answered in some measure to the state of affairs which we find obtaining in the older Ulster epic cycle. Both are probably anterior to the foundation of a central state at Tara.
Legendary Origins.—We can unfortunately derive no further assistance from external sources and must therefore examine the native traditions. From the 9th century onwards we find accounts of various races who had colonized the island. These stories naturally become amplified as times goes on, and in what we may regard as the classical or standard versions to be found in Keating, the Four Masters, Dugald MacFirbis and elsewhere, no fewer than five successive invasions are enumerated. The first colony is represented as having arrived in Ireland in A.M. 2520, under the leadership of an individual named Partholan who hailed from Middle Greece. His company landed in Kenmare Bay and settled in what is now Co. Dublin. After occupying the island for 300 years they were all carried off by a plague and were buried at Tallaght (Ir. Tamlacht, “plague-grave”), at which place a number of ancient remains (probably belonging, however, to the Viking period) have come to light. In A.M. 2850 a warrior from Scythia called Nemed reached Ireland with 900 fighting men. Nemed’s people are represented as having to struggle for their existence with a race of sea-pirates known as the Fomorians. The latter’s stronghold was Tory Island, where they had a mighty fortress. After undergoing great hardship the Nemedians succeeded in destroying the fortress and in slaying the enemies’ leaders, but the Fomorians received reinforcements from Africa. A second battle was fought in which both parties were nearly exterminated. Of the Nemedians only thirty warriors escaped, among them being three descendants of Nemed, who made their way each to a different country (A.M. 3066). One of them, Simon Brec, proceeded to Greece, where his posterity multiplied to such an extent that the Greeks grew afraid and reduced them to slavery. In time their position became so intolerable that they resolved to escape, and they arrived in Ireland A.M. 3266. This third body of invaders is known collectively as Firbolgs, and is ethnologically and historically very important. They are stated to have had five leaders, all brothers, each of whom occupied one of the provinces or “fifths.” We find them landing in different places. One party, the Fir Galeoin, landed at Inber Slangi, the mouth of the Slaney, and occupied much of Leinster. Another, the Fir Domnand, settled in Mayo where their name survives in Irrus Domnand, the ancient name for the district of Erris. A third band, the Firbolg proper, took possession of Munster. Many authorities such as Keating and MacFirbis admit that descendants of the Firbolgs were still to be found in parts of Ireland in their own day, though they are characterized as “tattling, guileful, tale-bearing, noisy, contemptible, mean, wretched, unsteady, harsh and inhospitable.” The Firbolgs had scarcely established themselves in the island when a fresh set of invaders appeared on the scene. These were the Tuatha Dé Danann (“tribes of the god Danu”), who according to the story were also descended from Nemed. They came originally from Greece and were highly skilled in necromancy. Having to flee from Greece on account of a Syrian invasion they proceeded to Scandinavia. Under Nuadu Airgetláim they moved to Scotland, and finally arrived in Ireland (A.M. 3303), bringing with them in addition to the celebrated Lia Fáil (“stone of destiny”) which they set up at Tara, the cauldron of the Dagda and the sword and spear of Lugaid Lámfada. Eochaid, son of Erc, king of the Firbolgs, having declined to surrender the sovereignty of Ireland, a great battle was fought on the plain of Moytura near Cong (Co. Mayo), the site of a prehistoric cemetery. In this contest the Firbolgs were overthrown with great slaughter, and the remnants of the race according to Keating and other writers took refuge in Arran, Islay, Rathlin and the Hebrides, where they dwelt until driven out by Picts. Twenty-seven years later the Tuatha Dé had to defend themselves against the Fomorians, who were almost annihilated at the battle of north Moytura near Sligo. The Tuatha Dé then enjoyed undisturbed possession of Ireland until the arrival of the Milesians in A.M. 3500.
All the early writers dwell with great fondness on the origin and adventures of this race. The Milesians came primarily from Scythia and after sojourning for some time in Egypt, Crete and in Scythia again, they finally arrived in Spain. In the line of mythical ancestors which extends without interruption up to Noah, the names of Fenius Farsaid, Goedel Glas, Eber Scot and Breogan constantly recur in Irish story. At length eight sons of Miled (Lat. Milesius) set forth to conquer Ireland. The spells of the Tuatha Dé accounted for most of their number. However, after two battles the newcomers succeeded in overcoming the older race; and two brothers, Eber Find and Eremon, divided the island between them, Eber Find taking east and west Munster, whilst Eremon received Leinster and Connaught. Lugaid, son of the brother of Miled, took possession of south-west Munster. At the same time Ulster was left to Eber son of Ir son of Miled. The old historians agree that Ireland was ruled by a succession of Milesian monarchs until the reign of Roderick O’Connor, the last native king. The Tuatha Dé are represented as retiring into the síd or fairy mounds. Eber Find and Eremon did not remain long in agreement. The historians place the beginnings of the antithesis between north and south at the very commencement of the Milesian domination. A battle was fought between the two brothers in which Eber Find lost his life. In the reign of Eremon the Picts are stated to have arrived in Ireland, coming from Scythia. It will have been observed that Scythia had a peculiar attraction for medieval Irish chroniclers on account of its resemblance to the name Scotti, Scots. The Picts first settled in Leinster; but the main body were forced to remove to Scotland, only a few remaining behind in Meath. Among the numerous mythical kings placed by the annalists between Eremon and the Christian era we may mention Tigernmas (A.M. 3581), Ollam Fodla (A.M. 3922) who established the meeting of Tara, Cimbaeth (c. 305 B.C.) the reputed founder of Emain Macha, Ugaine Mór, Labraid Loingsech, and Eochaid Feidlech, who built Rath Cruachan for his celebrated daughter, Medb queen of Connaught. During the 1st century of our era we hear of the rising of the aithech-tuatha, i.e. subject or plebeian tribes, or in other words the Firbolgs, who paid daer- or base rent to the Milesians. From a resemblance in the name which is probably fortuitous these tribes have been identified with the Attecotti of Roman writers. Under Cairbre Cinnchait (“cathead”) the oppressed peoples succeeded in wresting the sovereignty from the Milesians, whose princes and nobles were almost exterminated (A.D. 90). The line of Eremon was, however, restored on the accession of Tuathal Techtmar (“the legitimate”), who reigned A.D. 130-160. This ruler took measures to consolidate the power of the ardrí (supreme king). He constructed a number of fortresses on the great central plain and carved out the kingdom of Meath to serve as his mensal land. The new kingdom was composed of the present counties of Meath, Westmeath and Longford together with portions of Monaghan, Cavan, King’s Co. and Kildare. He was also the first to levy the famous Leinster tribute, the boroma, in consequence of an insult offered to him by one of the kings of that province. This tribute, which was only remitted in the 7th century at the instance of St Moling, must have been the source of constant war and oppression. A grandson of Tuathal’s, the famous Conn Cétchathach (“the hundred-fighter”), whose death is placed in the year 177 after a reign of about twenty years, was constantly at war with the Munster ruler Eogan Mór, also called Mog Nuadat, of the race of Eber Find. Eogan had subdued the Érnai and the Corco Laigde (descendants of Lugaid son of Ith) in Munster, and even the supreme king was obliged to share the island with him. Hence the well-known names Leth Cuinn or “Conn’s half” (north Ireland), and Leth Moga or “Mug’s half” (south Ireland). The boundary line ran from the Bay of Galway to Dublin along the great ridge of gravel known as Eiscir Riada which stretches across Ireland. Mog Nuadat had a son Ailill Aulom who plays a prominent part in the Irish sagas and genealogies, and his sons Eogan, Cian and Cormac Cas, all became the ancestors of well-known families. Conn’s grandson, Cormac son of Art, is represented as having reigned in great splendour (254-266) and as having been a great patron of learning. It was during this reign that the sept of the Dési were expelled from Meath. They settled in Munster where their name still survives in the barony of Decies (Co. Waterford). A curious passage in Cormac’s Glossary connects one of the leaders of this sept, Cairpre Musc, with the settlements of the Irish in south Wales which may have taken place as early as the 3rd century. Of greater consequence was the invasion of Ulster by the three Collas, cousins of the ardrí Muredach. The stronghold of Emain Macha was destroyed and the Ulstermen were driven across the Newry River into Dalriada, which was inhabited by Picts.
The old inhabitants of Ulster are usually termed Ulidians to distinguish them from the Milesian peoples who overran the province. With the advent of Niall Nóigiallach (“N. of the nine hostages” reigned 379-405) son of Eochaid Muigmedóin (358-366) we are treading safer ground. It was about this time that the Milesian kingdom of Tara was firmly established. Nor was Niall’s activity confined to Ireland alone. Irish sources represent him as constantly engaged in marauding expeditions oversea, and it was doubtless on one of these that St Patrick was taken captive. These movements coincide with the inroads of the Picts and Scots recorded by Roman writers. It is probably from this period that the Irish colonies in south Wales, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall date. And the earliest migrations from Ulster to Argyll may also have taken place about this time. Literary evidence of the colonization of south Wales is preserved both in Welsh and Irish sources, and some idea of the extent of Irish oversea activity may be gathered from the distribution of the Ogam inscriptions in Wales, south-west England and the Isle of Man.
Criticism of the Legendary Origins.—It is only in recent years that the Irish legendary origins have been subjected to serious criticism. The fondly cherished theory which attributes Milesian descent to the bulk of the native population has at length been assailed. MacNeill asserts that in MacFirbis’s genealogies the majority of the tribes in early Ireland do not trace their descent to Eremon and Eber Find; they are rather the descendants of the subject races, one of which figures in the list of conquests under the name of Firbolg. The stories of the Fomorians were doubtless suggested in part by the Viking invasions, but the origin of the Partholan legend has not been discovered. The Tuatha Dé do not appear in any of the earliest quasi-historical documents, nor in Nennius, and they scarcely correspond to any particular race. It seems more probable that a special invasion was assigned to them by later writers in order to explain the presence of mythical personages going by their name in the heroic cycles, as they were found inconvenient by the monkish historians. In the early centuries of our era Ireland would therefore have been occupied by the Firbolgs and kindred races and the Milesians. According to MacNeill the Firbolg tribal names are formed with the suffix -raige, e.g. Ciarraige, Kerry, Osraige, Ossory, or with the obscure words Corcu and mocu (maccu), e.g. Corco Duibne, Corkaguiney, Corco Mruad, Corcomroe, Macu Loegdae, Macu Teimne. In the case of corcu and mocu the name which follows is frequently the name of an eponymous ancestor. The Milesians on the other hand named themselves after an historical ancestor employing terms such as ui, “descendants,” cland, “children,” dál, “division,” cinél, “kindred,” or síl, “seed.” In this connexion it may be noted that practically all the Milesian pedigrees converge on three ancestors in the 2nd century—Conn Cétchathach king of Tara, Cathair Mór of Leinster, and Ailill Aulom of Munster,—whilst in scarcely any of them are mythological personages absent when we go farther back than A.D. 300. Special genealogies were framed to link up other races, e.g. the Éraind and Corcu Loegdi of Munster and the Ulidians with the Milesians of Tara.
The peculiar characteristic of the Milesian conquest is the establishment of a central monarchy at Tara. No trace of such a state of affairs is to be found in the Ulster epic. In the Táin Bó Cúalnge we find Ireland divided into fifths, each ruled over by its own king. These divisions were: Ulster with Emain Macha as capital, Connaught with Cruachu as residence, north Munster from Slieve Bloom to north Kerry, south Munster from south Kerry to Waterford, and Leinster consisting of the two kingdoms of Tara and Ailinn. Moreover, the kings of Tara mentioned in the Ulster cycle do not figure in any list of Milesian kings. It would appear then that the central kingdom of Tara was an innovation subsequent to the state of society described in the oldest sagas and the political position reflected in Ptolemy’s account. It was probably due to an invasion undertaken by Brythons from Britain, but it is impossible to assign a precise date for their arrival. Until the end of the 3rd century the Milesian power must have been confined to the valley of the Boyne and the district around Tara. At the beginning of the 4th century the three Collas founded the kingdom of Oriel (comprising the present counties of Armagh, Monaghan, north Louth, south Fermanagh) and drove the Ulidians into the eastern part of the province. Brian and Fiachra, sons of Eochaid Muigmedóin, conquered for themselves the country of the Ui Briuin (Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan) and Tír Fiachrach, the territory of the Firbolg tribe the Fir Domnann in the valley of the Moy (Co. Mayo). Somewhat later south Connaught was similarly wrested from the older race and colonized by descendants of Brian and Fiachra, later known as Ui Fiachrach Aidni and Ui Briuin Seola. The north of Ulster is stated to have been conquered and colonized by Conall and Eogan, sons of Niall Nóigiallach. The former gave his name to the western portion, Tír Conaill (Co. Donegal), whilst Inishowen was called Tír Eogain after Eogan. The name Tír Eogain later became associated with south Ulster where it survives in the county name Tyrone. The whole kingdom of the north is commonly designated the kingdom of Ailech, from the ancient stronghold near Derry which the sons of Niall probably took over from the earlier inhabitants. At the end of the 5th century Maine, a relative of the king of Tara, was apportioned a tract of Firbolg territory to the west of the Suck in Connaught, which formed the nucleus of a powerful state known as Hy Maine (in English commonly called the “O’Kelly’s country”). Thus practically the whole of the north and west gradually came under the sway of the Milesian rulers. Nevertheless one portion retained its independence. This was Ulidia, consisting of Dalriada, Dal Fiatach, Dal Araide, including the present counties of Antrim and Down. The bulk of the population here was probably Pictish; but the Dal Fiatach, representing the old Ulidians or ancient population of Ulster, maintained themselves until the 8th century when they were subdued by their Pictish neighbours. The relationship of Munster and Leinster to the Tara dynasty is not so easy to define. The small kingdom of Ossory remained independent until a very late period. As for Leinster none of the Brythonic peoples mentioned by Ptolemy left traces of their name, although it is possible that the ruling family may have been derived from them. It would seem that the Fir Galeoin who play such a prominent part in the Táin had been crushed before authentic history begins. The king of Leinster was for centuries the most determined opponent of the ardrí, an antithesis which is embodied in the story of the boroma tribute. When we turn to Munster we find that Cashel was the seat of power in historical times. Now Cashel (a loanword from Lat. castellum) was not founded Until the beginning of the 5th century by Core son of Lugaid. The legendary account attributes the subjugation of the various peoples inhabiting Munster to Mog Nuadat, and the pedigrees are invariably traced up to his son Ailill Aulom. Rhys adopts the view that the race of Eber Find was not Milesian but a branch of the Érnai, and this theory has much in its favour. The allegiance of the rulers of Munster to Niall and his descendants can at the best of times only have been nominal.
In this way we get a number of over-kingdoms acknowledging only the supremacy of the Tara dynasty. These were (1) Munster with Cashel as centre, (2) Connaught, (3) Ailech, (4) Oriel, (5) Ulidia, (6) Meath, (7) Leinster, (8) Ossory. Some of these states might be split up into various parts at certain periods, each part becoming for the time-being an over-kingdom. For instance, Ailech might be resolved into Tír Conaill and Tír Eogain according to political conditions. Hence the number of over-kingdoms is given variously in different documents. The supremacy was vested in the descendants of Niall Nóigiallach without interruption until 1002; but as Niall’s descendants were represented by four reigning families, the high-kingship passed from one branch to another. Nevertheless after the middle of the 8th century the title of ardrí (high-king) was only held by the Cinél Eogain (northern Hy Neill) and the rulers of Meath (southern Hy Neill), as the kingdom of Oriel had dropped into insignificance. The supremacy of the ardrí was more often than not purely nominal. This must have been particularly the case in Leth Moga.
Religion in Early Ireland.—Our knowledge of the beliefs of the pagan Irish is very slight. The oldest texts belonging to the heroic cycle are not preserved in any MS. before 1100, and though the sagas were certainly committed to writing several centuries before that date, it is evident that the monkish transcribers have toned down or omitted features that savoured too strongly of paganism. Supernatural beings play an important part in the Táin Bó Cualgne, Cuchulinn’s Sickbed, the Wooing of Emer and similar stories, but the relations between ordinary mortals and such divine or semi-divine personages is not easy to establish. It seems unlikely that the ancient Irish had a highly developed pantheon. On the other hand there are abundant traces of animistic worship, which have survived in wells, often associated with a sacred tree (Ir. bile), bulláns, pillar stones, weapons. There are also traces of the worship of the elements, prominent among which are sun and fire. The belief in earth spirits or fairies (Ir. aes síde, síd) forms perhaps the most striking feature of Irish belief. The sagas teem with references to the inhabitants of the fairy mounds, who play such an important part in the mind of the peasantry of our own time. These supernatural beings are sometimes represented as immortal, but often they fall victims to the prowess of mortals. Numerous cases of marriage between fairies and mortals are recorded. The Tuatha Dé Danann is used as a collective name for the aes síde. The representatives of this race in the Táin Bó Cualgne play a somewhat similar part to the gods of the ancient Greeks in the Iliad, though they are of necessity of a much more shadowy nature. Prominent among them were Manannán mac Lir, who is connected with the sea and the Isle of Man, and the Dagda, the father of a numerous progeny. One of them, Bodb Derg, resided near Portumna on the shore of Lough Derg, whilst another, Angus Mac-in-óg, dwelt at the Brug of the Boyne, the well-known tumulus at New Grange. The Dagda’s daughter Brigit transmitted many of her attributes to the Christian saint of the same name (d. 523). The ancient Brigit seems to have been the patroness of the arts and was probably also the goddess of fertility. At any rate it is with her that the sacred fire at Kildare which burnt almost uninterruptedly until the time of the Reformation was associated; and she was commonly invoked in the Hebrides, and until quite recently in Donegal, to secure good crops. Well-known fairy queens are Clidna (south Munster) and Aibell (north Munster). We frequently hear of three goddesses of war—Ana, Bodb and Macha, also generally called Morrígu and Badb. They showed themselves in battles hovering over the heads of the combatants in the form of a carrion crow. The name Bodb appears on a Gaulish stone as (Cathu-)bodvae. The Geniti glinni and demna aeir were other fierce spirits who delighted in carnage.
When we come to treat of religious rites and worship, our sources leave us completely in the dark. We hear in several documents of a great idol covered with gold and silver named Cromm Cruach, or Cenn Cruaich, which was surrounded by twelve lesser idols covered with brass or bronze, and stood on Mag Slecht (the plain of prostrations) near Ballymagauran, Co. Cavan. In one text the Cromm Cruach is styled the chief idol of Ireland. According to the story St Patrick overthrew the idol, and one of the lives of the saint states that the mark of his crosier might still be seen on the stone. In the Dindsenchus we are told that the worshippers sacrificed their children to the idol in order to secure corn, honey and milk in plenty. On the occasion of famine the druids advised that the son of a sinless married couple should be brought to Ireland to be killed in front of Tara and his blood mixed with the soil of Tara. We might naturally expect to find the druids active in the capacity of priests in Ireland. D’Arbois de Jubainville maintains that in Gaul the three classes of druids, vates and gutuatri, corresponded more or less to the pontifices, augurs and flamens of ancient Rome. In ancient Irish literature the functions of the druids correspond fairly closely to those of their Gaulish brethren recorded by Caesar and other writers of antiquity. Had we contemporary accounts of the position of the druid in Ireland prior to the introduction of Christianity, it may be doubted if any serious difference would be discovered. In early Irish literature the druids chiefly appear as magicians and diviners, but they are also the repositaries of the learning of the time which they transmitted to the disciples accompanying them (see Druidism). The Druids were believed to have the power to render a person insane by flinging a magic wisp of straw in his face, and they were able to raise clouds of mist, or to bring down showers of fire and blood. They claimed to be able to foretell the future by watching the clouds, or by means of divining-rods made of yew. They also resorted to sacrifice. They possessed several means for rendering a person invisible, and various peculiar and complicated methods of divination, such as Imbas forosna, tein laegda, and díchetal do chennaib, are described in early authorities. Whether or not the Irish druids taught that the soul was immortal is a question which it is impossible to decide. There is one passage which seems to support the view that they agreed with the Gaulish druids in this respect, but it is not safe to deny the possible influence of Christian teaching in the document in question. The Irish, however, possessed some more or less definite notions about an abode of everlasting youth and peace inhabited by fairies. The latter either dwell in the síd, and this is probably the earlier conception, or in islands out in the ocean where they live a life of never-ending delight. These happy abodes were known by various names, as Tír Tairngiri (Land of Promise), Mag Mell (Plain of Pleasures). Condla Caem son of Conn Cétchathach was carried in a boat of crystal by a fairy maiden to the land of youth, and among other mortals who went thither Bran, son of Febal, and Ossian are the most famous. The doctrine of metempsychosis seems to have been familiar in early Ireland. Mongan king of Dalriada in the 7th century is stated to have passed after death into various shapes—a wolf, a stag, a salmon, a seal, a swan. Fintan, nephew of Partholan, is also reported to have survived the deluge and to have lived in various shapes until he was reborn as Tuan mac Cairill in the 6th century. This legend appears to have been worked up, if not manufactured, by the historians of the 9th to 11th centuries to support their fictions. It may, however, be mentioned that Giraldus Cambrensis and the Speculum Regale state in all seriousness that certain of the inhabitants of Ossory were able at will to assume the form of wolves, and similar stories are not infrequent in Irish romance.
Conversion to Christianity.—In the beginning of the 4th century there was an organized Christian church in Britain; and in view of the intimate relations existing between Wales and Ireland during that century it is safe to conclude that there were Christians in Ireland before the time of St Patrick. Returned colonists from south Wales, traders and the raids of the Irish in Britain with the consequent influx of British captives sold into slavery must have introduced the knowledge of Christianity into the island considerably before A.D. 400. In this connexion it is interesting to find an Irishman named Fith (also called Iserninus) associated with St Patrick at Auxerre. Further, the earliest Latin words introduced into Irish show the influence of British pronunciation (e.g. O. Ir. trindóit from trinitāt-em shows the Brythonic change of ā to ó). Irish records preserve the names of three shadowy pre-Patrician saints who were connected with south-east Ireland, Declan, Ailbe and Ciaran.
In one source the great heresiarch Pelagius is stated to have been a Scot. He may have been descended from an Irish family settled in south Wales. We have also the statement of Prosper of Aquitaine that Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine as first bishop to the Scots that believe in Christ. But though we may safely assume that a number of scattered communities existed in Ireland, and probably not in the south alone, it is unlikely that there was any organization before the time of St Patrick. This mission arose out of the visit of St Germanus of Auxerre to Britain. The British bishops had grown alarmed at the rapid growth of Pelagianism in Britain and sought the aid of the Gaulish church. A synod summoned for the occasion commissioned Germanus and Lupus to go to Britain, which they accordingly did in 429; Pope Celestine, we are told, had given his sanction to the mission through the deacon Palladius. The heresy was successfully stamped out in Britain, but distinct traces of it are to be found some three centuries later in Ireland, and it is to Irish monks on the European continent that we owe the preservation of the recently discovered copies of Pelagius’s Commentary. Palladius’s activity in Britain probably marked him out as the man to undertake the task of bringing Ireland into touch with Western Christianity. In any case Prosper and the Irish Annals represent him as arriving in Ireland in 431 with episcopal rank. His missionary activity unfortunately is extremely obscure. Tradition associates his name with Co. Wicklow, but Irish sources state that after a brief sojourn there he proceeded to the land of the Picts, among whom he was beginning to labour when his career was cut short by death.
St Patrick.—At this juncture Germanus of Auxerre decided to consecrate his pupil Patrick for the purpose of carrying on the work begun by Palladius. Patrick would possess several qualifications for the dignity of a missionary bishop to Ireland. Born in Britain about 389, he had been carried into slavery in Ireland when a youth of sixteen. He remained with his master for seven years, and must have had ample opportunity for observing the conditions, and learning the language, of the people around him; and such knowledge would have been indispensable to the Christian bishop in view of the peculiar state of Irish society (see Patrick, St). The new bishop landed in Wicklow in 432. Leinster was probably the province in which Christianity was already most strongly represented, and Patrick may have entrusted this part of his sphere to two fellow-workers from Gaul, Auxilius and Iserninus. At any rate he seems rather to have addressed himself more especially to the task of founding churches in Meath, Ulster and Connaught. In Ireland the land nominally belonged to the tribe, but in reality a kind of feudal system existed. In order to succeed with the body of the tribe it was necessary to secure the adherence of the chief. The conversion in consequence was in large measure only apparent; and such pagan superstitions and practices as did not run directly counter to the new teaching were tolerated by the saint. Thus, whilst the mass of the people practically still continued in heathendom, the apostle was enabled to found churches and schools and educate a priesthood which should provide the most effective and certain means of conversion. It would be a mistake to suppose that his success was as rapid or as complete as is generally assumed. There can be no doubt that he met with great opposition both from the high-king Loigaire and from the druids. But though Loigaire refused to desert the faith of his ancestors we are told that a number of his nearest kinsmen accepted Christianity; and if there be any truth in the story of the codification of the Brehon Laws we gather that he realized that the future belonged to the new religion. St Patrick’s work seems to fall under two heads. In the first place he planted the faith in parts of the north and west which had probably not yet heard the gospel. He also organized the already existing Christian communities, and with this in view founded a church at Armagh as his metropolitan see (444). It is further due to him that Ireland became linked up with Rome and the Christian countries of the Western church, and that in consequence Latin was introduced as the language of the church. It seems probable that St Patrick consecrated a considerable number of bishops with small but definite dioceses which doubtless coincided in the main with the territories of the tuatha. In any case the ideal of the apostle from Britain was almost certainly very different from the monastic system in vogue in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries.
The Early Irish Church.—The church founded by St Patrick was doubtless in the main identical in doctrine with the churches of Britain and Gaul and other branches of the Western church; but after the recall of the Roman legions from Britain the Irish church was shut off from the Roman world, and it is only natural that there should not have been any great amount of scruple with regard to orthodox doctrine. This would explain the survival of the writings of Pelagius in Ireland until the 8th century. Even Columba himself, in his Latin hymn Altus prosator, was suspected by Gregory the Great of favouring Arian doctrines. After the death of St Patrick there was apparently a relapse into paganism in many parts of the island. The church itself gradually became grafted on to the feudal organization, the result of which was the peculiar system which we find in the 6th and 7th centuries. Wherever Roman law and municipal institutions had been in force the church was modelled on the civil society. The bishops governed ecclesiastical districts co-ordinate with the civil divisions. In Ireland there were no cities and no municipal institutions; the nation consisted of groups of tribes connected by kinship, and loosely held together by a feudal system which we shall examine later. Although St Patrick endeavoured to organize the Irish church on regular diocesan lines, after his death an approximation to the lay system was under the circumstances almost inevitable. When a chief became a Christian and bestowed lands on the church, he at the same time transferred all his rights as a chief; but these rights still remained with his sept, albeit subordinate to the uses of the church. At first all church offices were exclusively confined to members of the sept. In this new sept there was consequently a twofold succession. The religious sept or family consisted in the first instance not only of the ecclesiastical persons to whom the gift was made, but of all the céli or vassals, tenants and slaves, connected with the land bestowed. The head was the coarb (Ir. comarba, “co-heir”), i.e. the inheritor both of the spiritual and temporal rights and privileges of the founder; he in his temporal capacity exacted rent and tribute like other chiefs, and made war not on temporal chiefs only, the spectacle of two coarbs making war on each other not being unusual. The ecclesiastical colonies that went forth from a parent family generally remained in subordination to it, in the same way that the spreading branches of a ruling family remained in general subordinate to it. The heads of the secondary families were also called the coarbs of the original founder. Thus there were coarbs of Columba at Iona, Kells, Derry, Durrow and other places. The coarb of the chief spiritual foundation was called the high coarb (ard-chomarba). The coarb might be a bishop or only an abbot, but in either case all the ecclesiastics in the family were subject to him; in this way it frequently happened that bishops, though their superior functions were recognized, were in subjection to abbots who were only priests, as in the case of St Columba, or even to a woman, as in the case of St Brigit. This singular association of lay and spiritual powers was liable to the abuse of allowing the whole succession to fall into lay hands, as happened to a large extent in later times. The temporal chief had his steward who superintended the collection of his rents and tributes; in like manner the coarb of a religious sept had his airchinnech (Anglo-Irish erenach, herenach), whose office was generally, but not necessarily, hereditary. The office embodied in a certain sense the lay succession in the family.
From the beginning the life of the converts must have been in some measure coenobitic. Indeed it could hardly have been otherwise in a pagan and half-savage land. St Patrick himself in his Confession makes mention of monks in Ireland in connexion with his mission, but the few glimpses we get of the monastic life of the decades immediately following his death prove that the earliest type of coenobium differed considerably from that known at a later period. The coenobium of the end of the 5th century consisted of an ordinary sept or family whose chief had become Christian. After making a gift of his lands the chief either retired, leaving it in the hands of a coarb, or remained as the religious head himself. The family went on with their usual avocations, but some of the men and women, and in some cases all, practised celibacy, and all joined in fasting and prayer. It may be inferred from native documents that grave disorders were prevalent under this system. A severer and more exclusive type of monasticism succeeded this primitive one, but apart from the separation of the sexes the general character never entirely changed.
Diocesan organization as understood in countries under Roman Law being unknown, there was not that limitation of the number of bishops which territorial jurisdiction renders necessary, and consequently the number of bishops increased beyond all proportions. Thus, St Mochta, abbot of Louth, and a reputed disciple of St Patrick, is stated to have had no less than 100 bishops in his monastic family. All the bishops in a coenobium were subject to the abbot; but besides the bishop in the monastic families, every tuath or tribe had its own bishop. The church in Ireland having been evolved out of the monastic nuclei already described the tribe bishop was an episcopal development of a somewhat later period. He was an important personage, his status being fixed in the Brehon laws, from which we learn that his honour price was seven cumals, and that he had the right to be accompanied by the same number of followers as a petty king. The power of the bishops was considerable, as they were strong enough to resist the kings with regard to the right of sanctuary, ever a fertile source of dissension. The tuath bishop in later centuries corresponded to the diocesan bishop as closely as it was possible in two systems so different as tribal and municipal government. When diocesan jurisdiction was introduced into Ireland in the 12th century the tuath became a diocese. Many of the old dioceses represent ancient tuatha, and even enlarged modern dioceses coincide with the territories of ancient tribal states. Thus the diocese of Kilmacduagh was the territory of the Hui Fiachrach Aidne; that of Kilfenora was the tribe land of Corco-Mruad or Corcomroe. Many deaneries also represent tribe territories. Thus the deanery of Musgrylin (Co. Cork) was the ancient Muscraige Mitaine, and no doubt had its tribe bishop in ancient times. Bishops without dioceses and monastic bishops were not unknown outside Ireland in the Eastern and Western churches in very early times, but they had disappeared with rare exceptions in the 6th century when the Irish reintroduced the monastic bishops and the monastic church into Britain and the continent.
In the 8th and 9th centuries, when the great emigration of Irish scholars and ecclesiastics took place, the number of wandering bishops without dioceses became a reproach to the Irish church; and there can be no doubt that it led to much inconvenience and abuse, and was subversive of the stricter discipline that the popes had succeeded in establishing in the Western church. They were accused of ordaining serfs without the consent of their lords, consecrating bishops per saltum, i.e. of making men bishops who had not previously received the orders of priests, and of permitting bishops to be consecrated by a single bishop. This custom can hardly, however, be a reproach to the Irish church, as the practice was never held to be invalid; and besides, the Nicene canons of discipline were perhaps not known in Ireland until comparatively late times. The isolated position of Ireland, and the existence of tribal organization in full vigour, explain fully the anomalies of Irish discipline, many of which were also survivals of the early Christian practices before the complete organization of the church.
After the death of St Patrick the bond between the numerous church families which his authority supplied was greatly relaxed; and the saint’s most formidable opponents, the druids, probably regained much of their old power. The transition period which follows the loosening of a people’s faith in its old religion and before the authority of the new is universally accepted is always a time of confusion and relaxation of morals. Such a period appears to have followed the fervour of St Patrick’s time. To judge from the early literature the marriage-tie seems to have been regarded very lightly, and there can be little doubt that pagan marriage customs were practised long after the introduction of Christianity. The Brehon Laws assume the existence of married as well as unmarried clergy, and when St Patrick was seeking a bishop for the men of Leinster he asked for “a man of one wife.” Marriage among the secular clergy went on in Ireland until the 15th century. Like the Gaulish druids described by Caesar, the poet (fili) and the druid possessed a huge stock of unwritten native lore, probably enshrined in verse which was learnt by rote by their pupils. The exalted position occupied by the learned class in ancient Ireland perhaps affords the key to the wonderful outbursts of scholarly activity in Irish monasteries from the 6th to the 9th centuries. That some of the filid embraced Christianity from the outset is evident from the story of Dubthach. As early as the second half of the 5th century Enda, a royal prince of Oriel (c. 450-540), after spending some time at Whithorn betook himself to Aranmore, off the coast of Galway, and founded a school there which attracted scholars from all over Ireland. The connexion between Ireland and Wales was strong in the 6th century, and it was from south Wales that the great reform movement in the Irish monasteries emanated. Findian of Clonard (c. 470-548) is usually regarded as the institutor of the type of monastery for which Ireland became so famous during the next few centuries. He spent some time in Wales, where he came under the influence of St David, Gildas and Cadoc; and on returning to Ireland he founded his famous monastery at Clonard (Co. Meath) about 520. Here no less than 3000 students are said to have received instruction at the same time. Such a monastery consisted of countless tiny huts of wattles and clay (or, where stone was plentiful, of beehive cells) built by the pupils and enclosed by a fosse, or trench, like a permanent military encampment. The pupils sowed their own corn, fished in the streams, and milked their own cows. Instruction was probably given in the open air. Twelve of Findian’s disciples became known as the twelve apostles of Ireland, the monastic schools they founded becoming the greatest centres of learning and religious instruction not only in Ireland, but in the whole of the west of Europe. Among the most famous were Moville (Co. Down), founded by another Findian, c. 540; Clonmacnoise, founded by Kieran, 541; Derry, founded by Columba, 546; Clonfert, founded by Brendan, 552; Bangor, founded in 558 by Comgall; Durrow, founded by Columba, c. 553. The chief reform due to the influence of the British church seems to have been the introduction of monastic life in the strict sense of the word, i.e. communities entirely separated from the laity with complete separation of the sexes.
One almost immediate outcome of the reformation effected by Findian was that wonderful spirit of missionary enterprise which made the name of Scot and of Ireland so well known throughout Europe, while at the same time the Irish were being driven out of their colonies in Wales and south-west Britain owing to the advance of the Saxon power. In 563 Columba founded the monastery of Hí (Iona), which spread the knowledge of the Gospel among the Picts of the Scottish mainland. From this same solitary outpost went forth the illustrious Aidan to plant another Iona at Lindisfarne, which, “long after the poor parent brotherhood had fallen to decay, expanded itself into the bishopric of Durham.” And Lightfoot claims for Aidan “the first place in the evangelization of the English race. Augustine was the apostle of Kent, but Aidan was the apostle of England.” In 590 Columbanus, a native of Leinster (b. 543), went forth from Bangor, accompanied by twelve companions, to preach the Gospel on the continent of Europe. Columbanus was the first of the long stream of famous Irish monks who left their traces in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France; amongst them being Gallus or St Gall, founder of St Gallen, Kilian of Würzburg, Virgil of Salzburg, Cathald of Tarentum and numerous others. At the beginning of the 8th century a long series of missionary establishments extended from the mouths of the Meuse and Rhine to the Rhône and the Alps, whilst many others founded by Germans are the offspring of Irish monks. Willibrord, the apostle of the Frisians, for instance, spent twelve years in Ireland. Other Irishmen seeking remote places wherein to lead the lives of anchorites, studded the numerous islands on the west coast of Scotland with their little buildings. Cormac ua Liathain, a disciple of St Columba, visited the Orkneys, and when the Northmen first discovered Iceland they found there books and other traces of the early Irish church. It may be mentioned that the geographer Dicuil who lived at the court of Charlemagne gives a description of Iceland which must have been obtained from some one who had been there. The peculiarities which owing to Ireland’s isolation had survived were brought into prominence when the Irish missionaries came into contact with Roman ecclesiastics. The chief points of difference were the calculation of Easter and the form of the tonsure, in addition to questions of discipline such as the consecration of bishops per saltum and bishops without dioceses. With regard to tonsure it would seem that the druids shaved the front part of the head from ear to ear. St Patrick doubtless introduced the ordinary coronal tonsure, but in the period following his death the old druidical tonsure was again revived. In the calculation of Easter the Irish employed the old Roman and Jewish 84-years’ cycle which they may have received from St Patrick and which had once prevailed all over Europe. Shut off from the world, they were probably ignorant of the new cycle of 532 years which had been adopted by Rome in 463. This question aroused a controversy which waxed hottest in England, and as the Irish monks stubbornly adhered to their traditions they were vehemently attacked by their opponents. As early as 633 the church of the south of Ireland, which had been more in contact with Gaul, had been won over to the Roman method of computation. The north and Iona on the other hand refused to give in until Adamnán induced the north of Ireland to yield in 697, while Iona held out until 716, although by this time the monastery had lost its influence in Pictland. Owing to these controversies the real work of the early Irish missionaries in converting the pagans of Britain and central Europe, and sowing the seeds of culture there, is apt to be overlooked. Thus, when the Anglo-Saxon, Winfrid, surnamed Boniface, appeared in the kingdom of the Franks as papal legate in 723, to romanize the existing church of the time, neither the Franks, the Thuringians, the Alemanni nor the Bavarians could be considered as pagans. What Irish missionaries and their foreign pupils had implanted for more than a century quite independently of Rome, Winfrid organized and established under Roman authority partly by force of arms.
During the four centuries which elapsed between the arrival of St Patrick and the establishment of a central state in Dublin by the Norsemen the history of Ireland is almost a blank as regards outstanding events. From the time that the Milesians of Tara had come to be recognized as suzerains of the whole island all political development ceases. The annals contain nothing save a record of intertribal warfare, which the high-king was rarely powerful enough to stay. The wonderful achievements of the Irish monks did not affect the body politic as a whole, and it may be doubted if there was any distinct advance in civilization in Ireland from the time of Niall Nóigiallach to the Anglo-Norman invasion. Niall’s posterity held the position of ardrí uninterruptedly until 1002. Four of his sons, Loigaire, Conall Crimthand, Fiacc and Maine, settled in Meath and adjoining territories, and their posterity were called the southern Hy Neill. The other four, Eogan, Enna Find, Cairpre and Conall Gulban, occupied the northern part of Ulster. Their descendants were known as the northern Hy Neill. The descendants of Eogan were the O’Neills and their numerous kindred septs; the posterity of Conall Gulban were the O’Donnells and their kindred septs. Niall died in 406 in the English Channel whilst engaged in a marauding expedition. He was succeeded by his nephew Dathi, son of Fiachra, son of Eochaid Muigmedóin, who is stated to have been struck by lightning at the foot of the Alps in 428. Loigaire, son of Niall (428-463), is identified with the story of St Patrick. According to tradition it was during his reign that the codification of the Senchus Mór took place. A well-known story represents him as constantly at war with the men of Leinster. His successor, Ailill Molt (463-483), son of Dathi, is remarkable as being the last high-king for 500 years who was not a direct descendant of Niall.
In 503 a body of colonists under Fergus, son of Erc, moved from Dalriada to Argyll and effected settlements there. The circumstances which enabled the Scots to succeed in occupying Kintyre and Islay cannot now be ascertained. The little kingdom had great difficulty to maintain itself, and its varying fortunes are very obscure. Neither is it clear that bodies of Scots had not already migrated to Argyll. Diarmait, son of Fergus Cerbaill (544-565), of the southern Hy Neill, undoubtedly professed Christianity though he still clung to many pagan practices, such as polygamy and the use of druidical incantations in battle. The annals represent him as getting into trouble with the Church on account of his violation of the right of sanctuary. At an assembly held at Tara in 554 Curnan, son of the king of Connaught, slew a nobleman, a crime punishable with death. The author of the deed fled for sanctuary to St Columba. But Diarmait pursued him, and disregarding the opposition of the saint seized Curnan and hanged him. St Columba’s kinsmen, the northern Hy Neill, took up the quarrel, and attacked and defeated the king at Culdreimne in 561. In this battle Diarmait is stated to have employed druids to form an airbe druad (fence of protection?) round his host. A few years later Diarmait seized by force the chief of Hy Maine, who had slain his herald and had taken refuge with St Ruadan of Lothra. According to the legend the saint, accompanied by St Brendan of Birr, followed the king to Tara and solemnly cursed it, from which time it was deserted. It has been suggested that Tara was abandoned during the plague of 548-549. Others have surmised that it was abandoned as a regular place of residence long before this, soon after the northern and southern branches of the Hy Neill had consolidated their power at Ailech and in Westmeath. Whatever truth there may be in the legend, it demonstrates conclusively the absence of a rallying point where the idea of a central government might have taken root. Aed, son of Ainmire (572-598) of the northern Hy Neill, figures prominently in the story of St Columba. It was during his reign that the famous assembly of Drumcet (near Newtown-limavaddy in Co. Derry) was held. The story goes that the filid had increased in number to such an extent that they included one-third of the freemen. There was thus quite an army of impudent swaggering idlers roaming about the country and quartering themselves on the chiefs and nobles during the winter and spring, story-telling, and lampooning those who dared to hesitate to comply with their demands.
Some idea of the style of living of the learned professions in early Ireland may be gathered from the income enjoyed in later times by the literati of Tír Conaill (Co. Donegal). It has been computed that no less than £2000 was set aside yearly in this small state for the maintenance of the class. No wonder, then, that Aed determined to banish them from Ireland. At the convention of Drumcet the number of filid was greatly reduced, lands were assigned for their maintenance, the ollams were required to open schools and to support the inferior bards as teachers. This reform may have helped to foster the cultivation of the native literature, and it is possible that we owe to it the preservation of the Ulster epic. But the Irish were unfortunately incapable of rising above the saga, consisting of a mixture of prose and verse. Their greatest achievement in literature dates back to the dawn of history, and we find no more trace of development in the world of letters than in the political sphere. The Irishman, in his own language at any rate, seems incapable of a sustained literary effort, a consequence of which is that he invents the most intricate measures. Sense is thus too frequently sacrificed to sound. The influence of the professional literary class kept the clan spirit alive with their elaborate genealogies, and in their poems they only pandered to the vanity and vices of their patrons. That no new ideas came in may be gathered from the fact that the bulk of Irish literature so far published dates from before 800, though the MSS. which contain it are much later. Bearing in mind how largely the Finn cycle is modelled on the older Ulster epic, works of originality composed between 1000 and 1600 are with one or two exceptions conspicuously absent.
At the convention of Drumcet the status of the Dalriadic settlement in Argyll was also regulated. The ardrí desired to make the colony an Irish state tributary to the high-king; but on the special pleading of St Columba it was allowed to remain independent. Aed lost his life in endeavouring to exact the boroma tribute from Brandub, king of Leinster, who defeated him at Dunbolg in 598. After several short reigns the throne was occupied by Aed’s son Domnall (627-641). His predecessor, Suibne Menn, had been slain by the king of Dalaraide, Congal Claen. The latter was driven out of the country by Domnall, whereupon Congal collected an army of foreign adventurers made up of Saxons, Dalriadic Scots, Britons and Picts to regain his lands and to avenge himself on the high-king. In a sanguinary encounter at Mag Raith (Moira in Co. Down), which forms the subject of a celebrated romance, Congal was slain and the power of the settlement in Kintyre weakened for a considerable period. A curious feature of Hy Neill rule about this time was joint kingship. From 563 to 656 there were no less than five such pairs. In 681 St Moling of Ferns prevailed upon the ardrí Finnachta (674-690) to renounce for ever the boroma, tribute, which had always been a source of friction between the supreme king and the ruler of Leinster. This was, however, unfortunately not the last of the boroma. Fergal (711-722), in trying to enforce it again, was slain in a famous battle at Allen in Kildare. As a sequel Fergal’s son, Aed Allan (734-743), defeated the men of Leinster with great slaughter at Ballyshannon (Co. Kildare) in 737. If there was so little cohesion among the various provinces it is small wonder that Ireland fell such an easy prey to the Vikings in the next century. In 697 an assembly was held at Tara in which a law known as Cáin Adamnáin was passed, at the instance of Adamnán, prohibiting women from taking part in battle; a decision that shows how far Ireland with its tribal system lagged behind Teutonic and Latin countries in civilization. A similar enactment exempting the clergy, known as Cáin Patraic, was agreed to in 803. The story goes that the ardrí Aed Oirdnigthe (797-819) made a hostile incursion into Leinster and forced the primate of Armagh and all his clergy to attend him. When representations were made to the king as to the impropriety of his conduct, he referred the matter to his adviser, Fothud, who was also a cleric. Fothud pronounced that the clergy should be exempted, and three verses purporting to be his decision are still extant.
Invasion of the Northmen.—The first incursion of the Northmen took place in A.D. 795, when they plundered and burnt the church of Rechru, now Lambay, an island north of Dublin Bay. When this event occurred, the power of the over-king was a mere shadow. The provincial kingdoms had split up into more or less independent principalities, almost constantly at war with each other. The oscillation of the centre of power between Meath and Tír Eogain, according as the ardrí belonged to the southern or northern Hy Neill, produced corresponding perturbations in the balance of parties among the minor kings. The army consisted of a number of tribes, each commanded by its own chief, and acting as so many independent units without cohesion. The tribesmen owed fealty only to their chiefs, who in turn owed a kind of conditional allegiance to the over-king, depending a good deal upon the ability of the latter to enforce it. A chief might through pique or other causes withdraw his tribe even on the eve of a battle without such defection being deemed dishonourable. What the tribe was to the nation or the province, the fine or sept was to the tribe itself. The head of a sept had a voice not only in the question of war or peace, for that was determined by the whole tribe, but in all subsequent operations. However brave the individual soldiers of such an army might be, the army itself was unreliable against a well-organized and disciplined enemy. Again, such tribal forces were only levies gathered together for a few weeks at most, unprovided with military stores or the means of transport, and consequently generally unprepared to attack fortifications of any kind, and liable to melt away as quickly as they were gathered together. Admirably adapted for a sudden attack, such an army was wholly unfit to carry on a regular campaign or take advantage of a victory. These defects of the Irish military system were abundantly shown throughout the Viking period and also in Anglo-Norman times.
The first invaders were probably Norwegians from Hördaland in search of plunder and captives. Their attacks were not confined to the sea-coasts; they were able to ascend the rivers in their ships, and already in 801 they are found on the upper Shannon. At the outset the invaders arrived in small bodies, but as these met with considerable resistance large fleets commanded by powerful Vikings followed. With such forces it was possible to put fleets of boats on the inland lakes. Rude earthen or stockaded forts, serving as magazines and places of retreat, were erected; or in some cases use was made of strongholds already existing, such as Dun Almain in Kildare, Dunlavin in Wicklow and Fermoy in Cork. Some of these military posts in course of time became trading stations or grew into towns. During the first half of the 9th century attacks were incessant in most parts of the island. In 801 we find Norwegians on the upper Shannon; in 820 the whole of Ireland was harried; and five years later we hear of Vikings in Co. Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow, Queen’s Co., Kilkenny and Tipperary. However, the invaders do not appear to have acted in concert until 830. About this time a powerful leader, named Turgeis (Turgesius), accompanied by two nobles, Saxolb and Domrair (Thorir), arrived with a “royal fleet.” Sailing up the Shannon they built strongholds on Lough Ree and devastated Connaught and Meath. Eventually Turgeis established himself in Armagh, whilst his wife Ota settled at Clonmacnoise and profaned the monastery church with pagan rites. Indeed, the numerous ecclesiastical establishments appear to have been quite as much the object of the invaders’ fury as the civil authorities. The monastery of Armagh was rebuilt ten times, and as often destroyed. It was sacked three times in one month. Turgeis himself is reported to have usurped the abbacy of Armagh. To escape from the continuous attacks on the monasteries, Irish monks and scholars fled in large numbers to the continent carrying with them their precious books. Among them were many of the greatest lights in the world of letters of the time, such as Sedulius Scottus and Johannes Scottus Erigena. The figure of Turgeis has given rise to considerable discussion, as there is no mention of him in Scandinavian sources. It seems probable that his Norwegian name was Thorgils and he was possibly related to Godfred, father of Olaf the White, who figures prominently in Irish history a little later. Turgeis apparently united the Viking forces, as he is styled the first king of the Norsemen in Ireland. A permanent sovereignty over the whole of Ireland, such as Turgeis seems to have aimed at, was then as in later times impossible because of the state of society. During his lifetime various cities were founded—the first on Irish soil. Dublin came into existence in 840, and Waterford and Limerick appear in history about the same time. Although the Norsemen were constantly engaged in conflict with the Irish, these cities soon became important commercial centres trading with England, France and Norway. Turgeis was captured and drowned by the ardrí Maelsechlainn in 844, and two years later Domrair was slain. However cruel and rapacious the Vikings may have been, the work of disorder and ruin was not all theirs. The condition of the country afforded full scope for the jealousy, hatred, cupidity and vanity which characterize the tribal state of political society. For instance, Fedilmid, king of Munster and archbishop of Cashel, took the opportunity of the misfortunes of the country to revive the claims of the Munster dynasty to be kings of Ireland. To enforce this claim he ravaged and plundered a large part of the country, took hostages from Niall Caille the over-king (833-845), drove out the comarba of St Patrick, or archbishop of Armagh, and for a whole year occupied his place as bishop. On his return he plundered the termon lands of Clonmacnoise “up to the church door,” an exploit which was repeated the following year. There is no mention of his having helped to drive out the foreigners.
For some years after the death of Turgeis the Norsemen appear to have lacked a leader and to have been hard pressed. It was during this period that Dublin was chosen as the point of concentration for their forces. In 848 a Danish fleet from the south of England arrived in Dublin Bay. The Danes are called in Irish Dubgaill, or black foreigners, as distinguished from the Findgaill or white foreigners, i.e. Norwegians. The origin of these terms, as also of the Irish name for Norway (Lochlann), is obscure. At first the Danes and Norwegians appear to have made common cause, but two years later the new city of Dublin was stormed by the Danes. In 851 the Dublin Vikings succeeded in vanquishing the Danes after a three days’ battle at Snaim Aignech (Carlingford Lough), whereupon the defeated party under their leader Horm took service with Cerball, king of Ossory. Even in the first half of the 9th century there must have been a great deal of intermarriage between the invaders and the native population, due in part at any rate to the number of captive women who were carried off. A mixed race grew up, recruited by many Irish of pure blood, whom a love of adventure and a lawless spirit led away. This heterogeneous population was called Gallgoidel or foreign Irish (whence the modern name Galloway), and like their northern kinsmen they betook themselves to the sea and practised piracy. The Christian element in this mixed society soon lapsed to a large extent, if not entirely, into paganism. The Scandinavian settlements were almost wholly confined to the seaport towns, and except Dublin included none of the surrounding territory. Owing to its position and the character of the country about it, especially the coast-land to the north of the Liffey which formed a kind of border-land between the territories of the kings of Meath and Leinster, a considerable tract passed into the possession of so powerful a city as Dublin.
The social and political condition of Ireland, and the pastoral occupation of the inhabitants, were unfavourable to the development of foreign commerce, and the absence of coined money among them shows that it did not exist on an extensive scale. The foreign articles of luxury (dress, ornaments, wine, &c.) required by them were brought to the great oenachs or fairs held periodically in various parts of the country. A flourishing commerce, however, soon grew up in the Scandinavian towns; mints were established, and many foreign traders—Flemings, Italians and others—settled there. It was through these Scandinavian trading communities that Ireland came into contact with the rest of Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. If evidence were needed it is only necessary to point to the names of three of the Irish provinces, Ulster, Leinster, Munster, which are formed from the native names (Ulaid, Laigin, Muma-n) with the addition of Norse staðr; and the very name by which the island is now generally known is Scandinavian in form (Ira-land, the land of the Irish). The settlers in the Scandinavian towns early came to be looked upon by the native Irish as so many septs of a tribe added to the system of petty states forming the Irish political system. They soon mixed in the domestic quarrels of neighbouring tribes, at first selling their protection, but afterwards as vassals, sometimes as allies, like the septs and tribes of the Goidel among themselves. The latter in turn acted in similar capacities with the Irish-Norwegian chiefs, Irish tribes often forming part of the Scandinavian armies in Britain. This intercourse led to frequent intermarriage between the chiefs and nobility of the two peoples. As an instance, the case of Cerball, king of Ossory (d. 887), may be cited. Eyvindr, surnamed Austmaðr, “the east-man,” son of Björn, agreed to defend Cerball’s territory on condition of receiving his daughter Raforta in marriage. Among the children of this marriage were Helgi Magri, one of the early settlers in Iceland, and Thurida, wife of Thorstein the Red. Three other daughters of Cerball married Scandinavians: Gormflaith (Kormlöð) married Grimolf, who settled in Iceland, Fridgerda married Thorir Hyrna, and Ethne (Edna) married Hlöðver, father of Earl Sigurd Digri who fell at Clontarf. Cerball’s son Domnall (Dufnialr) was the founder of an Icelandic family, whilst the names Raudi and Baugr occur in the same family. Hence the occurrence of such essentially Irish names as Konall, Kjaran, Njall, Kormakr, Brigit, Kaðlin, &c., among Icelanders and Norwegians cannot be a matter for surprise; nor that a number of Norse words were introduced into Irish, notably terms connected with trade and the sea.
The obscure contest between the Norwegians and Danes for supremacy in Dublin appears to have made the former feel the need of a powerful leader. At any rate, in 851-852 the king of Lochlann (Norway) sent his son Amlaib (Olaf the White) to assume sovereignty over the Norsemen in Ireland and to receive tribute and vassals. From this time it is possible to speak of a Scandinavian kingdom of Dublin, a kingdom which lasted almost without interruption until the Norman Conquest. The king of Dublin exercised overlordship over the other Viking communities in the island, and thus became the most dangerous opponent of the ardrí, with whom he was constantly at variance. Amlaib was accompanied by Ivar, who is stated in one source to have been his brother. Some writers wish to identify this prince with the famous Ivar Beinlaus, son of Ragnar Lodbrok. Amlaib was opposed to the ardrí Maelsechlainn I. (846-863) who had overcome Turgeis. This brave ruler gained a number of victories over the Norsemen, but in true Irish fashion they were never followed up. Although his successor Aed Finnliath (863-879) gave his daughter in marriage to Amlaib, no better relations were established. The king of Dublin was certainly the most commanding figure in Ireland in his day, and during his lifetime the Viking power was greatly extended. In 870 he captured the strongholds of Dumbarton and Dunseverick (Co. Antrim). He disappears from the scene in 873. One source represents him as dying in Ireland, but the circumstances are quite obscure. Ivar only survived Olaf two or three years, and it is stated that he died a Christian. During the ensuing period Dublin was the scene of constant family feuds, which weakened its power to such an extent that in 901 Dublin and Waterford were captured by the Irish and were obliged to acknowledge the supremacy of the high-king. The Irish Annals state that there were no fresh invasions of the Northmen for about forty years dating from 877. During this period Ireland enjoyed comparative rest notwithstanding the intertribal feuds in which the Norse settlers shared, including the campaigns of Cormac, son of Cuilennan, the scholarly king-bishop of Cashel.
Towards the end of this interval of repose a certain Sigtrygg, who was probably a great-grandson of the Ivar mentioned above, addressed himself to the task of winning back the kingdom of his ancestor. Waterford was retaken in 914 by Ivar, grandson of Ragnall and Earl Ottir, and Sigtrygg won a signal victory over the king of Leinster at Cenn Fuait (Co. Kilkenny?) two years later. Dublin was captured, and the high-king Niall Glúndub (910-919) prepared to oppose the invaders. A battle of prime importance was gained by Sigtrygg over the ardrí, who fell fighting gallantly at Kilmashogue near Dublin in 919. Between 920 and 970 the Scandinavian power in Ireland reached its zenith. The country was desolated and plundered by natives and foreigners alike. The lower Shannon was more thoroughly occupied by the Norsemen, with which fact the rise of Limerick is associated. Carlow, Kilkenny and the territory round Lough Neagh were settled, and after the capture of Lough Erne in 932 much of Longford was colonized. The most prominent figures at this time were Muirchertach “of the leather cloaks,” son of Niall Glúndub, Cellachan of Cashel and Amlaib (Olaf) Cuarán. The first-named waged constant warfare against the foreigners and was the most formidable opponent the Scandinavians had yet met. In his famous circuit of Ireland (941) he took all the provincial kings, as well as the king of Dublin, as hostages, and after keeping them for five months at Ailech he handed them over to the feeble titular ardrí, showing that his loyalty was greater than his ambition. Unlike Muirchertach, Cellachan of Cashel, the hero of a late romance, was not particular whether he fought for or against the Norsemen. In 920 Sigtrygg (d. 927) was driven out of Dublin by his brother Godfred (d. 934) and retired to York, where he became king of Northumbria. His sons Olaf and Godfred were expelled by Æthelstan. The former, better known as Amlaib (Olaf) Cuarán, married the daughter of Constantine, king of Scotland, and fought at Brunanburh (938). Born about 920, he perhaps became king of York in 941. Expelled in 944-945 he went to Dublin and drove out his cousin Blákáre, son of Godfred. At the same time he held sway over the kingdom of Man and the Isles. We find this romantic character constantly engaged on expeditions in England, Ireland and Scotland. In 956 Congalach, the high-king, was defeated and slain by the Norse of Dublin. In 973 his son Domnall, in alliance with Amlaib, defeated the high-king Domnall O’Neill at Cell Mona (Kilmoon in Co. Meath). This Domnall O’Neill, son of Muirchertach, son of Niall Glúndub, was the first to adopt the name O’Neill (Ir. ua, ó = “grandson”). The tanists or heirs of the northern and southern Hy Neill having died, the throne fell to Maelsechlainn II., of the Cland Colmáin, the last of the Hy Neill who was undisputed king of Ireland. Maelsechlainn, who succeeded in 980, had already distinguished himself as king of Meath in war with the Norsemen. In the first year of his reign as high-king he defeated them in a bloody battle at Tara, in which Amlaib’s son, Ragnall, fell. This victory, won over the combined forces of the Scandinavians of Dublin, Man and the Isles, compelled Amlaib to deliver up all his captives and hostages,—among whom were Domnall Claen, king of Leinster, and several notables—to forgo the tribute which he had imposed upon the southern Hy Neill and to pay a large contribution of cattle and money. Amlaib’s spirit was so broken by this defeat that he retired to the monastery of Hí, where he died the same year.
The Dalcais Dynasty.—We have already seen that the dominant race in Munster traced descent from Ailill Aulom. The Cashel dynasty claimed to descend from his eldest son Eogan, whilst the Dalcassians of Clare derived their origin from a younger son Cormac Cas. Ailill Aulom is said to have ordained that the succession to the throne should alternate between the two lines, as in the case of the Hy Neill. This, however, is perhaps a fiction of later poets who wished to give lustre to the ancestry of Brian Boruma, as very few of the Dalcais princes appear in the list of the kings of Cashel. The Dalcassians play no prominent part in history until, in the middle of the 10th century, they were ruled by Kennedy (Cennétig), son of Lorcan, king of Thomond (d. 954), by whom their power was greatly extended. He left two sons, Mathgamain (Mahon) and Brian, called Brian Boruma, probably from a village near Killaloe. About the year 920 a Viking named Tomrair, son of Elgi, had seized the lower Shannon and established himself in Limerick, from which point constant incursions were made into all parts of Munster. After a period of guerrilla warfare in the woods of Thomond, Mathgamain concluded a truce with the foreigners, in which Brian refused to join. Thereupon Mathgamain crossed the Shannon and gained possession of the kingdom of Cashel, as Dunchad, the representative of the older line, had just died. Receiving the support of several of the native tribes, he felt himself in a position to attack the settlements of the foreigners in Munster. This aroused the ruler of Limerick, Ivar, who determined to carry the war into Thomond. He was supported by Maelmuad, king of Desmond, and Donoban, king of Hy Fidgeinte, and Hy Cairpri. Their army was met by Mathgamain at Sulchoit near Tipperary, where the Norsemen were defeated with great slaughter (968). This decisive victory gave the Dalcais Limerick, which they sacked and burnt, and Mathgamain then took hostages of all the chiefs of Munster. Ivar escaped to Britain, but returned after a year and entrenched himself at Inis Cathaig (Scattery Island in the lower Shannon). A conspiracy was formed between Ivar and his son Dubcenn and the two Munster chieftains Donoban and Maelmuad. Donoban was married to the daughter of a Scandinavian king of Waterford, and his own daughter was married to Ivar of Waterford. In 976 Inis Cathaig was attacked and plundered by the Dalcais and the garrison, including Ivar and Dubcenn, slain. Shortly before this Mathgamain had been murdered by Donoban, and Brian thus became king of Thomond, whilst Maelmuad succeeded to Cashel. In 977 Brian made a sudden and rapid inroad into Donoban’s territory, captured his fortress and slew the prince himself with a vast number of his followers. Maelmuad, the other conspirator, met with a like fate at Belach Lechta in Barnaderg (near Ballyorgan). After this battle Brian was acknowledged king of all Munster (978). After reducing the Dési, who were in alliance with the Northmen of Waterford and Limerick, in 984 he subdued Ossory and took hostages from the kings of East and West Leinster. In this manner he became virtually king of Leth Moga.
This rapid rise of the Dalcassian leader was bound to bring him into conflict with the ardrí. Already in 982 Maelsechlainn had invaded Thomond and uprooted the venerable tree under which the Dalcais rulers were inaugurated. After the battle of Tara he had placed his half-brother Gluniarind, son of Amlaib Cuarán, in Dublin. This prince was murdered in 989 and was succeeded by Sigtrygg Silkiskeggi, son of Amlaib and Gormflaith, sister of Maelmorda, king of Leinster. In the same year Maelsechlainn took Dublin and imposed an annual tribute on the city. During these years there were frequent trials of strength between the ardrí and the king of Munster. In 992 Brian invaded Meath, and four years later Maelsechlainn defeated Brian in Munster. In 998 Brian ascended the Shannon with a large force, intending to attack Connaught, and Maelsechlainn, who received no support from the northern Hy Neill, came to terms with him. All hostages held by the over-king from the Northmen and Irish of Leth Moga were to be given up to Brian, which was a virtual surrender of all his rights over the southern half of Ireland; while Brian on his part recognized Maelsechlainn as sole king of Leth Cuinn. In 1000 Leinster revolted against Brian and entered into an alliance with the king of Dublin. Brian advanced towards the city, halting at a place called Glen Mama near Dunlavin (Co. Wicklow). He was attacked by the allied forces, who were repulsed with great slaughter. Maelmorda, king of Leinster, was taken prisoner, and Sigtrygg fled for protection to Ailech. The victor gave proof at once that he was not only a clever general but also a skilful diplomatist. Maelmorda was restored to his kingdom, Sigtrygg received Brian’s daughter in marriage, whilst Brian took to himself the Dublin king’s mother, the notorious Gormflaith, who had already been divorced by Maelsechlainn. After thus establishing peace and consolidating his power, Brian returned to his residence Cenn Corad and matured his plan of obtaining the high-kingship for himself. When everything was ready he entered Mag Breg with an army consisting of his own troops, those of Ossory, his South Connaught vassals and the Norsemen of Munster. The king of Dublin also sent a small force to his assistance. Maelsechlainn, taken by surprise and feeling himself unequal to the contest, endeavoured to gain time. An armistice was concluded, during which he was to decide whether he would give Brian hostages (i.e. abdicate) or not. He applied to the northern Hy Neill to come to his assistance, and even offered to abdicate in favour of the chief of the Cinél Eogain, but the latter refused unless Maelsechlainn undertook to cede to them half the territory of his own tribe, the Cland Colmáin. The attempt to unite the whole of the Eremonian against the Eberian race and preserve a dynasty that had ruled Ireland for 600 years, having failed, Maelsechlainn submitted to Brian, and without any formal act of cession the latter became ardrí. During a reign of twelve years (1002-1014) he is said to have effected much improvement in the country by the erection and repair of churches and schools, and the construction of bridges, causeways, roads and fortresses. We are also told that he administered rigid and impartial justice and dispensed royal hospitality. As he was liberal to the bards, they did not forget his merits.
Towards the end of Brian’s reign a conspiracy was entered into between Maelmorda, king of Leinster, and his nephew Sigtrygg of Dublin. The ultimate cause of this movement was an insult offered by Murchad, Brian’s son, to the king of Leinster, who was egged on by his sister Gormflaith. Sigtrygg secured promises of assistance from Sigurd, earl of Orkney, and Brodir of Man. In the spring of 1014 Maelmorda and Sigtrygg had collected a considerable army in Dublin, consisting of contingents from all the Scandinavian settlements in the west in addition to Maelmorda’s own Leinster forces, the whole being commanded by Sigurd, earl of Orkney. This powerful prince, whose mother was a daughter of Cerball of Ossory (d. 887), appears to have aimed at the supreme command of all the Scandinavian settlements of the west, and in the course of a few years conquered the kingdom of the Isles, Sutherland, Ross, Moray and Argyll. To meet such formidable opponents, Brian, now an old man unable to lead in person, mustered all the forces of Munster and Connaught, and was joined by Maelsechlainn in command of the forces of Meath. The northern Hy Neill and the Ulaid took no part in the struggle. Brian advanced into the plain of Fingall, north of Dublin, where a council of war was held. The longest account of the battle that followed occurs in a source very partial to Brian and the deeds of Munstermen, in which Maelsechlainn is accused of treachery, and of holding his troops in reserve. The battle, generally known as the battle of Clontarf, though the chief fighting took place close to Dublin, about the small river Tolka, was fought on Good Friday 1014. After a stout and protracted resistance the Norse forces were routed. Maelsechlainn with his Meathmen came down on the fugitives as they tried to cross the bridge leading to Dublin or to reach their ships. On both sides the slaughter was terrible, and most of the leaders lost their lives. Brian himself perished along with his son Murchad and Maelmorda. This great struggle finally disposed of the possibility of Scandinavian supremacy in Ireland, but in spite of this it can only be regarded as a national misfortune. The power of the kingdom of Dublin had been already broken by the defeat of Amlaib Cuarán at Tara in 980, and the main result of the battle of Clontarf was to weaken the central power and to throw the whole island into a state of anarchy. Although beaten on the field of battle the Norsemen still retained possession of their fortified cities, and gradually they assumed the position of native tribes. The Dalcassian forces had been so much weakened by the great struggle that Maelsechlainn was again recognized as king of Ireland. However, the effects of Brian’s revolution were permanent; the prescriptive rights of the Hy Neill were disputed, and from the battle of Clontarf until the coming of the Normans the history of Ireland consisted of a struggle for ascendancy between the O’Brians of Munster, the O’Neills of Ulster and the O’Connors of Connaught.
From the Battle of Clontarf to the Anglo-Norman Invasion.—The death of Maelsechlainn in 1022 afforded an opportunity for an able and ambitious man to subdue Ireland, establish a strong central government, break up the tribal system and further the gradual fusion of factions into a homogeneous nation. Such a man did not arise; those who afterwards claimed to be ardrí lacked the qualities of founders of strong dynasties, and are termed by the annalists “kings with opposition.” Brian was survived by two sons, Tadg and Donnchad, the elder of whom was slain in 1023. Donnchad (d. 1064) was certainly the most distinguished figure in Ireland in his day. He subdued more than half of Ireland, and almost reached the position once held by his father. His strongest opponent was his son-in-law Diarmait Mael-na-mBó, king of Leinster, who was also the foster-father of his brother Tadg’s son, Tordelbach (Turlough) O’Brian. On the death of Diarmait in 1072 Tordelbach (d. 1086) reigned supreme in Leth Moga; Meath and Connaught also submitted to him, but he failed to secure the allegiance of the northern Hy Neill. He was succeeded by his son Muirchertach (d. 1119), who spent most of his life contending against his formidable opponent Domnall O’Lochlainn, king of Tír Eogain (d. 1121). The struggle for the sovereignty between these two rivals continued, with intervals of truce negotiated by the clergy, without any decisive advantage on either side. In 1102 Magnus Barefoot made his third and last expedition to the west with the express design of conquering Ireland. Muirchertach opposed him with a large force, and a conference was arranged at which a son of Magnus was betrothed to Biadmuin, daughter of the Irish prince. He was also mixed up in English affairs, and as a rule maintained cordial relations with Henry I. After the death of Domnall O’Lochlainn there was an interregnum of about fifteen years with no ardrí, until Tordelbach (Turlough) O’Connor, king of Connaught, resolved to reduce the other provinces. Munster and Meath were repeatedly ravaged, and in 1151 he crushed Tordelbach (Turlough) O’Brian, king of Thomond, at Moanmor. O’Connor’s most stubborn opponent was Muirchertach O’Lochlainn, with whom he wrestled for supremacy until the day of his death (1156). Tordelbach, who enjoyed a great reputation even after his death, was remembered as having thrown bridges over the Shannon, and as a patron of the arts. However, war was so constant in Ireland at this time that under the year 1145 the Four Masters describe the island as a “trembling sod.” Tordelbach was succeeded by his son Ruadri (Roderick, q.v.), who after some resistance had to acknowledge Muirchertach O’Lochlainn’s supremacy. The latter, however, was slain in 1166 in consequence of having wantonly blinded the king of Dal Araide. Ruadri O’Connor, now without a serious rival, was inaugurated with great pomp at Dublin.
Diarmait MacMurchada (Dermod MacMurrough), great-grandson of Diarmait Mael-na-mBó, as king of Leinster was by descent and position much mixed up with foreigners, and generally in a state of latent if not open hostility to the high-kings of the Hy Neill and Dalcais dynasties. He was a tyrant and a bad character. In 1152 Tigernan O’Rourke, prince of Breifne, had been dispossessed of his territory by Tordelbach O’Connor, aided by Diarmait, and the latter is accused also of carrying off Derbforgaill, wife of O’Rourke. On learning that O’Rourke was leading an army against him with the support of Ruadri, he burnt his castle of Ferns and went to Henry II. to seek assistance. The momentous consequences of this step belong to the next section, and it now remains for us to state the condition of the church and society in the century preceding the Anglo-Norman invasion.
Although the Irish Church conformed to Roman usage in the matter of Easter celebration and tonsure in the 7th century, the bond between Ireland and Rome was only slight until several centuries later. Whatever co-ordination may have existed in the church of the 8th century was doubtless destroyed during the troubled period of the Viking invasions. It is probable that St Patrick established Armagh as a metropolitan see, but the history of the primacy, which during a long period can only have been a shadow, is involved in obscurity. Its supremacy was undoubtedly recognized by Brian Boruma in 1004, when he laid 20 oz. of gold upon the high altar. In the 11th century a competitor arose in the see of Dublin. The Norse rulers were bound to come under the influence of Christianity at an early date. For instance, Amlaib Cuarán was formally converted in England in 942 and was baptized by Wulfhelm of Canterbury. The antithesis between the king of Dublin and the ardrí seems to have had the effect of linking the Dublin Christian community rather with Canterbury than Armagh. King Sigtrygg founded the bishopric of Dublin in 1035, and the early bishops of Dublin, Waterford and Limerick were all consecrated by the English primate. As Lanfranc and Anselm were both anxious to extend their jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland, the submission of Dublin opened the way for Norman and Roman influences. At the beginning of the 12th century Gilbert, bishop of Limerick and papal legate, succeeded in winning over Celsus, bishop of Armagh (d. 1129), to the reform movement. Celsus belonged to a family which had held the see for 200 years; he was grandson of a previous primate and is said to have been himself a married man. Yet he became, in the skilful hands of Gilbert and Maelmaedóc O’Morgair, the instrument of overthrowing the hereditary succession to the primatial see. In 1118 the important synod of Rathbressil was held, at which Ireland was divided into dioceses, this being the first formal attempt at getting rid of that anarchical state of church government which had hitherto prevailed. The work begun under Celsus was completed by his successor Maelmaedóc (Malachy). At a national synod held about 1134 Maelmaedóc, in his capacity as bishop of Armagh, was solemnly elected to the primacy; and armed with full power of church and state he was able to overcome all opposition. Under his successor Gelasius, Cardinal Paparo was despatched as supreme papal legate. At the synod of Kells (1152) there was established that diocesan system which has ever since continued without material alteration. Armagh was constituted the seat of the primacy, and Cashel, Tuam and Dublin were raised to the rank of archbishoprics. It was also ordained that tithes should be levied for the support of the clergy.
Social Conditions.—In the middle ages there were considerable forests in Ireland encompassing broad expanses of upland pastures and marshy meadows. It is traditionally stated that fences first came into general use in the 7th century. There were no cities or large towns before the arrival of the Norsemen; no stone bridges spanned the rivers; stepping stones or hurdle bridges at the fords or shallows offered the only mode of crossing the broadest streams, and connecting the unpaved roads or bridle paths which crossed the country over hill and dale from the principal dúns. The forests abounded in game, the red deer and wild boar were common, whilst wolves ravaged the flocks. Scattered over the country were numerous small hamlets, composed mainly of wicker cabins, among which were some which might be called houses; other hamlets were composed of huts of the rudest kind. Here and there were large villages that had grown up about groups of houses surrounded by an earthen mound or rampart; similar groups enclosed in this manner were also to be found without any annexed hamlet. Sometimes there were two or three circumvallations or even more, and where water was plentiful the ditch between was flooded. The simple rampart enclosed a space called lis which contained the agricultural buildings and the groups of houses of the owners. The enclosed houses belonged to the free men (aire, pl. airig). The size of the houses and of the enclosing mound and ditch marked the wealth and rank of the aire. If his wealth consisted of chattels only, he was a bó-aire (cow-aire). When he possessed ancestral land he was a flaith or lord, and was entitled to let his lands for grazing, to have a hamlet in which lived labourers and to keep slaves. The larger fort with several ramparts was a dún, where the rí (chieftain) lived and kept his hostages if he had subreguli. The houses of all classes were of wood, chiefly wattles and wicker-work plastered with clay. In shape they were most frequently cylindrical, having conical roofs thatched with rushes or straw. The oratories were of the same form and material, but the larger churches and kingly banqueting halls were rectangular and made of sawn boards. Bede, speaking of a church built by Finan at Lindisfarne, says, “nevertheless, after the manner of the Scots, he made it not of stone but of hewn oak and covered it with reeds.” When St Maelmaedóc in the first half of the 12th century thought of building a stone oratory at Bangor it was deemed a novelty by the people, who exclaimed, “we are Scotti not Galli.” Long before this, however, stone churches had been built in other parts of Ireland, and many round towers. In some of the stone-forts of the south-west (Ir. cathir) the houses within the rampart were made of stone in the form of a beehive, and similar cloghans, as they are called, are found in the western isles of Scotland.
Here and there in the neighbourhood of the hamlets were patches of corn grown upon allotments which were gavelled, or redistributed, every two or three years. Around the dúns and raths, where the corn land was the fixed property of the lord, the cultivation was better. Oats was the chief corn crop, but wheat, barley and rye were also grown. Much attention was paid to bee-keeping and market-gardening, which had probably been introduced by the church. The only industrial plants were flax and the dye-plants, chief among which were woad and rud, roid (a kind of bed-straw?). Portions of the pasture lands were reserved as meadows; the tilled land was manured. There are native names for the plough, so it may be assumed that some form of that implement, worked by oxen, yoked together with a simple straight yoke, was in use in early times. Wheeled carts were also known; the wheels were often probably only solid disks, though spoked wheels were used for chariots. Droves of swine under the charge of swineherds wandered through the forests; some belonged to the rí, others to lords (flaith) and others again to village communities. The house-fed pig was then as now an important object of domestic economy, and its flesh was much prized. Indeed, fresh pork was one of the inducements held out to visitors to the Irish Elysium. Horned cattle constituted the chief wealth of the country, and were the standard for estimating the worth of anything, for the Irish had no coined money and carried on all commerce by barter. The unit of value was called a sét, a word denoting a jewel or precious object of any kind. The normal sét was an average milch-cow. Gold, silver, bronze, tin, clothes and all other kinds of property were estimated in séts. Three séts were equal to a cumal (female slave). Sheep were kept everywhere for their flesh and their wool, and goats were numerous. Horses were extensively employed for riding, working in the fields and carrying loads. Irish horsemen rode without saddle or stirrups. So important a place did bee-culture hold in the rural economy of the ancient Irish that a lengthy section is devoted to the subject in the Brehon Laws. The honey was used both in cooking and for making mead, as well as for eating.
The ancient Irish were in the main a pastoral people. When they had sown their corn, they drove their herds and flocks to the mountains, where such existed, and spent the summer there, returning in autumn to reap their corn and take up their abode in their more sheltered winter residences. This custom of “booleying” (Ir. buaile, “shieling”) is not originally Irish, according to some writers, but was borrowed from the Scandinavians. Where the tribe had land on the sea-coast they also appear to have migrated thither in summer. The chase in the summer occupied the freemen, not only as a source of enjoyment but also as a matter of necessity, for wolves were very numerous. For this purpose they bred dogs of great swiftness, strength and sagacity, which were much admired by the Romans.
The residences within enclosing ramparts did not consist of one house with several apartments, but every room was a separate house. Thus the buildings forming the residence of a well-to-do farmer of the bó-aire class as described in the Laws, consisted of a living-house in which he slept and took his meals, a cooking-house, a kiln for drying corn, a barn, a byre for calves, a sheep-fold and a pigsty. In the better classes the women had a separate house known as grianán (sun-chamber). The round houses were constructed in the following manner. The wall was formed of long stout poles placed in a circle close to one another, with their ends fixed firmly in the ground. The spaces between were closed in with rods (usually hazel) firmly interwoven. The poles were peeled and polished smooth. The whole surface of the wicker-work was plastered on the outside and made brilliantly white with lime, or occasionally striped in various colours, leaving the white poles exposed to view. There was no chimney; the fire was made in the centre of the house and the smoke escaped through a hole in the roof, or through the door as in Hebridean houses of the present day. Near the fire, fixed in a kind of holder, was a candle of tallow or raw beeswax. Around the wall in the houses of the wealthy were arranged the bedsteads, or rather compartments, with testers and fronts, sometimes made of carved yew. At the foot of each compartment, and projecting into the main room, there was a low fixed seat, often stuffed with some soft material, for use during the day. Besides these there were on the floor of the main apartment a number of detached movable couches or seats, all low, with one or more low tables of some sort. In the halls of the kings the position of each person’s bed and seat, and the portion of meat which he was entitled to receive from the distributor, were regulated according to a rigid rule of precedence. Each person who had a seat in the king’s house had his shield suspended over him. Every king had hostages for the fealty of his vassals; they sat unarmed in the hall, and those who had become forfeited by a breach of treaty or allegiance were placed along the wall in fetters. There were places in the king’s hall for the judge, the poet, the harper, the various craftsmen, the juggler and the fool. The king had his bodyguard of four men always around him; these were commonly men whom he had saved from execution or redeemed from slavery. Among the miscellaneous body of attendants about the house of a king or noble were many Saxon slaves, in whom there was a regular trade until it was abolished by the action of the church in 1171. The slaves slept on the ground in the kitchen or in cabins outside the fort.
The children of the upper classes in Ireland, both boys and girls, were not reared at home but were sent elsewhere to be fostered. It was usual for a chief to send his child to one of his own sub-chiefs, but the parents often chose a chief of their own rank. For instance, the ollam fili, or chief poet, who ranked in some respects with a tribe-king, sent his sons to be fostered by the king of his own territory. Fosterage might be undertaken out of affection or for payment. In the latter case the fee varied according to rank, and there are numerous laws extant fixing the cost and regulating the food and dress of the child according to his position. Sometimes a chief acted as foster-father to a large number of children. The cost of the fosterage of boys seems to have been borne by the mother’s property, that of the daughters by the father’s. The ties created by fosterage were nearly as close and as binding on children as those of blood.
There is ample evidence that great laxity prevailed with regard to the marriage tie even after the introduction of Christianity, as marrying within the forbidden degrees and repudiation continued to be very frequent in spite of the efforts of the church. Marriage by purchase was universal, and the wealth of the contracting parties constituted the primary element of a legitimate union. The bride and bridegroom should be provided with a joint fortune proportionate to their rank. When they were of equal rank, and the family of each contributed an equal share to the marriage portion, the marriage was legal in the full sense and the wife was a wife of equal rank. The church endeavoured to make the wife of a first marriage the only true wife; but concubinage was known as an Irish institution until long after the Anglo-Norman invasion, and it is recognized in the Laws. If a concubine had sons her position did not differ materially in some respects from that of a chief wife. As the tie of the sept was blood, all the acknowledged children of a man, whether legitimate or illegitimate, belonged equally to his sept. Even adulterine bastardy was no bar to a man becoming chief of his tribe, as in the case of Hugh O’Neill, earl of Tyrone. (See O’Neill.)
The food of the Irish was very simple, consisting in the main of oaten cakes, cheese, curds, milk, butter, and the flesh of domestic animals both fresh and salted. The better classes were acquainted with wheaten bread also. The food of the inhabitants of the Land of Promise consisted of fresh pork, new milk and ale. Fish, especially salmon, and game should of course be added to the list. The chief drinks were ale and mead.
The dress of the upper classes was similar to that of a Scottish Highlander before it degenerated into the present conventional garb of a highland regiment. Next the skin came a shirt (léine) of fine texture often richly embroidered. Over this was a tightly fitting tunic (inar, lend) reaching below the hips with a girdle at the waist. In the case of women the inar fell to the feet. Over the left shoulder and fastened with a brooch hung the loose cloak (brat), to which the Scottish plaid corresponds. The kilt seems to have been commonly worn, especially by soldiers, whose legs were usually bare, but we also hear of tight-fitting trousers extending below the ankles. The feet were either entirely naked or encased in shoes of raw hide fastened with thongs. Sandals and shoes of bronze are mentioned in Irish literature, and quite a number are to be seen in museums. A loose flowing garment, intermediate between the brat and lend, usually of linen dyed saffron, was commonly worn in outdoor life, and was still used in the Hebrides about 1700. A modified form of this over-tunic with loose sleeves and made of frieze formed probably the general covering of the peasantry. Among the upper classes the garments were very costly and variously coloured. It would seem that the number of colours in the dress indicated the rank of the wearer. The hair was generally worn long by men as well as women, and ringlets were greatly admired. Women braided their hair into tresses, which they confined with a pin. The beard was also worn long. Like all ancient and semi-barbarous people, the Irish were fond of ornaments. Indeed the profusion of articles of gold which have been found is remarkable; in the Dublin Museum may be seen bracelets, armlets, finger-rings, torques, crescents, gorgets, necklets, fibulae and diadems, all of solid gold and most exquisite workmanship.
The principal weapons of the Irish soldiers were a lance, a sword and a shield; though prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion they had adopted the battle-axe from the Scandinavians. The shields were of two kinds. One was the sciath, oval or oblong in shape, made of wicker-work covered with hide, and often large enough to cover the whole body. This was doubtless the form introduced by the Brythonic invaders. But round shields, smaller in size, were also commonly employed. These were made of bronze backed with wood, or of yew covered with hide. This latter type scarcely goes back to the round shield of the Bronze age. Armour and helmets were not generally employed at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion.
In the Brehon Laws the land belongs in theory to the tribe, but this did not by any means correspond to the state of affairs. We find that the power of the petty king has made a very considerable advance, and that all the elements of feudalism are present, save that there was no central authority strong enough to organize the whole of Irish society on a feudal basis. The tuath or territory of a rí (represented roughly by a modern barony) was divided among the septs. The lands of a sept consisted of the estates in severally of the lords (flathi), and of the ferand duthaig, or common lands of the sept. The dwellers on each of these kinds of land differed materially from each other. On the former lived a motley population of slaves, horse-boys, and mercenaries composed of broken men of other clans, many of whom were fugitives from justice, possessing no rights either in the sept or tribe and entirely dependent on the bounty of the lord, and consequently living about his fortified residence. The poorer servile classes or cottiers, wood-cutters, swine-herds, &c., who had a right of domicile (acquired after three generations), lived here and there in small hamlets on the mountains and poorer lands of the estate. The good lands were let to a class of tenants called fuidirs, of whom there were several kinds, some grazing the land with their own cattle, others receiving both land and cattle from the lord. Fuidirs had no rights in the sept; some were true serfs, others tenants-at-will; they lived in scattered homesteads like the farmers of the present time. The lord was responsible before the law for the acts of all the servile classes on his estates, both new-comers and senchleithe, i.e. descendants of fuidirs, slaves, &c., whose families had lived on the estate during the time of three lords. He paid their blood-fines and received compensation for their slaughter, maiming or plunder. The fuidirs were the chief source of a lord’s wealth, and he was consequently always anxious to increase them.
The freemen were divided into freemen pure and simple, freemen possessing a quantity of stock, and nobles (flathi) having vassals. Wealth consisted in cattle. Those possessed of large herds of kine lent out stock under various conditions. In the case of a chief such an offer could not be refused. In return, a certain customary tribute was paid. Such a transaction might be of two kinds. By the one the freemen took saer-stock and retained his status. But if he accepted daer-stock he at once descended to the rank of a vassal. In this way it was possible for the chief to extend his power enormously. Rent was commonly paid in kind. As a consequence of this, in place of receiving the farm produce at his own home the chief or noble reserved to himself the right of quartering himself and a certain number of followers in the house of his vassal, a practice which must have been ruinous to the small farmers. Freemen who possessed twenty-one cows and upwards were called airig (sing, aire), or, as we should say, had the franchise, and might fulfil the functions of bail, witness, &c. As the chief sought to extend his power in the tuath, he also endeavoured to aggrandize his position at the expense of other tuatha by compelling them to pay tribute to him. Such an aggregate of tuatha acknowledging one rí was termed a mórthuath. The ruler of a mórthuath paid tribute to the provincial king, who in his turn acknowledged at any rate in theory the overlordship of the ardrí.
The privileges and tributes of the provincial kings are preserved in a remarkable 10th century document, the Book of Rights. The rules of succession were extraordinarily complicated. Theoretically the members of a sept claimed common descent from the same ancestor, and the land belonged to the freemen. The chief and nobles, however, from various causes had come to occupy much of the territory as private property: the remainder consisted of tribe-land and commons-land. The portions of the tribe-land were not occupied for a fixed term, as the land of the sept was liable to gavelkind or redistribution from time to time. In some cases, however, land which belonged originally to a flaith was owned by a family; and after a number of generations such property presented a great similarity to the gavelled land. A remarkable development of family ownership was the geilfine system, under which four groups of persons, all nearly related to each other, held four adjacent tracts of land as a sort of common property, subject to regulations now very difficult to understand. The king’s mensal land, as also that of the tanist or successor to the royal office appointed during the king’s lifetime, was not divided up but passed on in its entirety to the next individual elected to the position. When the family of an aire remained in possession of his estate in a corporate capacity, they formed a “joint and undivided family,” the head of which was an aire, and thus kept up the rank of the family. Three or four poor members of a sept might combine their property and agree to form a “joint family,” one of whom as the head would be an aire. In consequence of this organization the homesteads of airig commonly included several families, those of his brothers, sons, &c. (see Brehon Laws).
The ancient Irish never got beyond very primitive notions of justice. Retaliation for murder and other injuries was a common method of redress, although the church had endeavoured to introduce various reforms. Hence we find in the Brehon Laws a highly complicated system of compensatory payment; but there was no authority except public opinion to enforce the payment of the fines determined by the brehon in cases submitted to him.
There were many kinds of popular assemblies in ancient Ireland. The sept had its special meeting summoned by its chief for purposes such as the assessment of blood-fines due from the sept, and the distribution of those due to it. At larger gatherings the question of peace and war would be deliberated. But the most important of all such assemblies was the fair (oenach), which was summoned by a king, those summoned by the kings of provinces having the character of national assemblies. The most famous places of meeting were Tara, Telltown and Carman. The oenach had many objects. The laws were publicly promulgated or rehearsed; there were councils to deal with disputes and matters of local interest; popular sports such as horse-racing, running and wrestling were held; poems and tales were recited, and prizes were awarded to the best performers of every dán or art; while at the same time foreign traders came with their wares, which they exchanged for native produce, chiefly skins, wool and frieze. At some of these assemblies match-making played a prominent part. Tradition connects the better known of these fairs with pagan rites performed round the tombs of the heroes of the race; thus the assembly of Telltown was stated to have been instituted by Lugaid Lámfada. Crimes committed at an oenach could not be commuted by payment of fines. Women and men assembled for deliberation in separate airechta or gatherings, and no man durst enter the women’s airecht under pain of death.
The noble professions almost invariably ran in families, so that members of the same household devoted themselves for generations to one particular science or art, such as poetry, history, medicine, law. The heads of the various professions in the tuath received the title of ollam. It was the rule for them to have paying apprentices living with them. The literary ollam or fili was a person of great distinction. He was provided with mensal land for the support of himself and his scholars, and he was further entitled to free quarters for himself and his retinue. The harper, the metal-worker (cerd), and the smith were also provided with mensal land, in return for which they gave to the chief their skill and the product of their labour as customary tribute (béstigi).
Authorities.—The Annals of the Four Masters, ed. J. O’Donovan (7 vols., Dublin, 1856); Annals of Ulster (4 vols., London, 1887-1892); Keating’s Forus Feasa ar Éirinn (3 vols., ed. D. Comyn and P. Dinneen, London, 1902-1908); E. Windisch, Táin Bó Cúalnge (Leipzig, 1905), with a valuable introduction; P. W. Joyce, A Social History of Ancient Ireland (2 vols., London, 1903), also A Short History of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1608 (London, 1895); A. G. Richey, A Short History of the Irish People (Dublin, 1887); W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland (3 vols., Edinburgh, 1876-1880); J. Rhys, “Studies in Early Irish History,” in Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. i.; John MacNeill, papers in New Ireland Review (March 1906-February 1907); Leabhar na gCeart, ed. O’Donovan (Dublin, 1847); E. O’Curry, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, ed. W. K. Sullivan (3 vols., London, 1873); G. T. Stokes, Ireland and the Celtic Church, revised by H. J. Lawlor (London6, 1907); J. Healy, Ireland’s Ancient Schools and Scholars (Dublin3, 1897); H. Zimmer, article “Keltische Kirche” in Hauck’s Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche (trans. A. Meyer, London, 1902), cf. H. Williams, “H. Zimmer on the History of the Celtic Church,” Zeitschr. f. celt. Phil. iv. 527-574; H. Zimmer, “Die Bedeutung des irischen Elements in der mittelalterlichen Kultur,” Preussische Jahrbücher, vol. lix., trans. J. L. Edmands, The Irish Element in Medieval Culture (New York, 1891); J. H. Todd, St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland (Dublin, 1864); J. B. Bury, Life of St Patrick (London, 1905); W. Reeves, Adamnan’s Life of Columba (Dublin, 1857; also ed. with introd. by J. T. Fowler, Oxford, 1894); M. Roger, L’Enseignement des lettres classiques d’Ausone à Alcuin (Paris, 1905); J. H. Todd, The War of the Gædhil with the Gall (London, 1867); L. J. Vogt, Dublin som Norsk By (Christiania, 1897); J. Steenstrup, Normannerne, vols. ii., iii. (Copenhagen, 1878-1882); W. G. Collingwood, Scandinavian Britain (London, 1908).
(E. C. Q.)
History from the Anglo-Norman Invasion.
According to the Metalogus of John of Salisbury, who in 1155 went on a mission from King Henry II. to Pope Adrian IV., the only Englishman who has ever occupied the papal chair, the pope in response to the envoy’s “Bull” of Adrian IV. prayers granted to the king of the English the hereditary lordship of Ireland, sending a letter, with a ring as the symbol of investiture. Giraldus Cambrensis, in his Expugnatio Hibernica, gives what purports to be the text of this letter, known as “the Bull Laudabiliter,” and adds further a Privilegium of Pope Alexander III. confirming Adrian’s grant. The Privilegium is undoubtedly spurious, a fact which lends weight to the arguments of those who from the 19th century onwards have attacked the genuineness of the “Bull.” This latter, indeed, appears to have been concocted by Gerald, an ardent champion of the English cause in Ireland, from genuine letters of Pope Alexander III., still preserved in the Black Book of the Exchequer, which do no more than commend King Henry for reducing the Irish to order and extirpating tantae abominationis spurcitiam, and exhort the Irish bishops and chiefs to be faithful to the king to whom they had sworn allegiance.
Henry was, indeed, at the outset in a position to dispense with the moral aid of a papal concession, of which even if it existed he certainly made no use. In 1156 Dermod MacMurrough (Diarmait MacMurchada), deposed for his tyranny from the kingdom of Leinster, repaired to Henry in Aquitaine (see Early History above). The king was busy with the French, but gladly seized the opportunity, and gave Dermod a letter authorizing him to raise forces in England. Thus armed, and provided with gold extorted from his former subjects in Leinster, Dermod went to Bristol and sought the acquaintance of Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke, a Norman noble of great ability but broken fortunes. Earl Richard, whom later usage has named Strongbow, agreed to reconquer Dermod’s kingdom for him. The stipulated consideration was the hand of Eva his only child, and according to feudal law his sole heiress, to whose issue lands and kingdoms would naturally pass. But Irish customs admitted no estates of inheritance, and Eva had no more right to the reversion of Leinster than she had to that of Japan. It is likely that Strongbow had no conception of this, and that his first collision with the tribal system was an unpleasant surprise. Passing through Wales, Dermod agreed with Robert Fitzstephen and Maurice Fitzgerald to invade Ireland in the ensuing spring.
About the 1st of May 1169 Fitzstephen landed on the Wexford shore with a small force, and next day Maurice de Prendergast brought another band nearly to the same spot. Dermod joined them, and the Danes of Wexford soon The invasion of Strongbow. submitted. According to agreement Dermod granted the territory of Wexford, which had never belonged to him, to Robert and Maurice and their heirs for ever; and here begins the conflict between feudal and tribal law which was destined to deluge Ireland in blood. Maurice Fitzgerald soon followed with a fresh detachment. About a year after the first landing Raymond Le Gros was sent over by Earl Richard with his advanced guard, and Strongbow himself landed near Waterford on the 23rd of August 1170 with 200 knights and about 1000 other troops.
The natives did not understand that this invasion was quite different from those of the Danes. They made alliances with the strangers to aid them in their intestine wars, and the annalist writing in later years (Annals of Lough Cé) describes with pathetic brevity the change wrought in Ireland:—“Earl Strongbow came into Erin with Dermod MacMurrough to avenge his expulsion by Roderick, son of Turlough O’Connor; and Dermod gave him his own daughter and a part of his patrimony, and Saxon foreigners have been in Erin since then.”
Most of the Norman leaders were near relations, many being descended from Nesta, daughter of Rhys Ap Tudor, prince of South Wales, the most beautiful woman of her time, and mistress of Henry I. Her children by that king were called Fitzhenry. She afterwards married Gerald de Windsor, by whom she had three sons—Maurice, ancestor of all the Geraldines; William, from whom sprang the families of Fitzmaurice, Carew, Grace and Gerard; and David, who became bishop of St David’s. Nesta’s daughter, Angareth, married to William de Barri, bore the chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis, and was ancestress of the Irish Barries. Raymond le Gros, Hervey de Montmorency, and the Cogans were also descendants of Nesta, who, by her second husband, Stephen the Castellan, was mother of Robert Fitzstephen.
While waiting for Strongbow’s arrival, Raymond and Hervey were attacked by the Danes of Waterford, whom they overthrew. Strongbow himself took Waterford and Dublin, and the Danish inhabitants of both readily combined with their French-speaking kinsfolk, and became firm supporters of the Anglo-Normans against the native Irish.
Alarmed at the principality forming near him, Henry invaded Ireland in person, landing near Waterford on the 18th of October 1172. Giraldus says he had 500 knights and many other soldiers; Regan, the metrical chronicler, says he had 4000 men, of whom 400 were knights; the Annals of Lough Cé that he had 240 ships. The Irish writers tell little about these great events, except that the king of the Saxons took the hostages of Munster at Waterford, and of Leinster, Ulster, Thomond and Meath at Dublin. They did not take in the grave significance of doing homage to a Norman king, and becoming his “man.”
Henry’s farthest point westward was Cashel, where he received the homage of Donald O’Brien, king of Thomond, but he does not appear to have been present at the famous synod. Christian O’Conarchy, bishop of Lismore and papal Henry II. in Ireland. legate, presided, and the archbishops of Dublin, Cashel and Tuam attended with their suffragans, as did many abbots and other dignitaries. The primate of Armagh, the saintly Gelasius, was absent, and presumably his suffragans also, but Giraldus says he afterwards came to the king at Dublin, and favoured him in all things. Henry’s sovereignty was acknowledged, and constitutions made which drew Ireland closer to Rome. In spite of the “enormities and filthinesses,” which Giraldus says defiled the Irish Church, nothing worse could be found to condemn than marriages within the prohibited degrees and trifling irregularities about baptism. Most of the details rest on the authority of Giraldus only, but the main facts are clear. The synod is not mentioned by the Irish annalists, nor by Regan, but it is by Hoveden and Ralph de Diceto. The latter says it was held at Lismore, an error arising from the president having been bishop of Lismore. Tradition says the members met in Cormac’s chapel.
Henry at first tried to be suzerain without displacing the natives, and received the homage of Roderick O’Connor, the high king. But the adventurers were uncontrollable, and he had to let them conquer what they could, exercising a precarious authority over the Normans only through a viceroy. The early governors seemingly had orders to deal as fairly as possible with the natives, and this involved them in quarrels with the “conquerors,” whose object was to carve out principalities for themselves, and who only nominally respected the sovereign’s wishes. The mail-clad knights were not uniformly successful against the natives, but they generally managed to occupy the open plains and fertile valleys. Geographical configuration preserved centres of resistance—the O’Neills in Tyrone and Armagh, the O’Donnells in Donegal, and the Macarthies in Cork being the largest tribes that remained practically unbroken. On the coast from Bray to Dundalk, and by the navigable rivers of the east and south coasts, the Norman put his iron foot firmly down.
Prince John landed at Waterford in 1185, and the neighbouring chiefs hastened to pay their respects to the king’s son. Prince and followers alike soon earned hatred, the former showing the incurable vices of his character, and pulling the beards of the chieftains. After eight disgraceful months he left the government to John de Courci, but retained the title “Dominus Hiberniae.” It was even intended to crown him; and Urban III. sent a licence and a crown of peacock’s feathers, which was never placed on his head. Had Richard I. had children Ireland might have become a separate kingdom.
Henry II. had granted Meath, about 800,000 acres, to Hugh de Lacy (d. 1186), reserving scarcely any prerogative to the crown, and making his vassal almost independent. De Lacy sublet the land among kinsmen and retainers, and to his grants the families of Nugent, Tyrell, Nangle, Tuyt, Fleming and others owe their importance in Irish history. It is not surprising that the Irish bordering on Meath should have thought De Lacy the real king of Ireland.
During his brother Richard I.’s reign, John’s viceroy was William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, who married Strongbow’s daughter, and thus succeeded to his claims in Leinster. John’s reputation was no better in Ireland than in King John. England. He thwarted or encouraged the Anglo-Normans as best suited him, but on the whole they increased their possessions. In 1210 John, now king, visited Ireland again, and being joined by Cathal Crovderg O’Connor, king of Connaught, marched from Waterford by Dublin to Carrickfergus without encountering any serious resistance from Hugh de Lacy (second son of the Hugh de Lacy mentioned above), who had been made earl of Ulster in 1205. John did not venture farther west than Trim, but most of the Anglo-Norman lords swore fealty to him, and he divided the partially obedient districts into twelve counties—Dublin (with Wicklow), Meath (with Westmeath), Louth, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Kerry and Tipperary. John’s resignation of his kingdom to the pope in 1213 included Ireland, and thus for the second time was the papal claim to Ireland formally recorded.
During Henry III.’s long reign the Anglo-Norman power increased, but underwent great modifications. Richard Marshal, grandson of Strongbow, and to a great extent heir of his power, was foully murdered by his own feudatories—men Henry III. (1216-1272). of his own race; and the colony never quite recovered this blow. On the other hand, the De Burghs, partly by alliance with the Irish, partly by sheer hard fighting, made good their claims to the lordship of Connaught, and the western O’Connors henceforth play a very subordinate part in Irish history. Tallage was first imposed on the colony in the first year of this reign, but yielded little, and tithes were not much better paid.
On the 14th of January 1217 the king wrote from Oxford to his justiciary, Geoffrey de Marisco, directing that no Irishman should be elected or preferred in any cathedral in Ireland, “since by that means our land might be disturbed, Objections to Irish clergy. which is to be deprecated.” This order was annulled in 1224 by Honorius III., who declared it “destitute of all colour of right and honesty.” The pope’s efforts failed, for in the 14th century several Cistercian abbeys excluded Irishmen, and as late as 1436 the monks of Abingdon complained bitterly that an Irish abbot had been imposed on them by lay violence. Parliament was not more liberal, for the statute of Kilkenny, passed in 1366, ordained that “no Irishman be admitted into any cathedral or collegiate church, nor to any benefice among the English of the land,” and also “that no religious house situated among the English shall henceforth receive an Irishman to their profession.” This was confirmed by the English parliament in 1416, and an Irish act of Richard III. enabled the archbishop of Dublin to collate Irish clerks for Separation of the two races. two years, an exception proving the rule. Many Irish monasteries admitted no Englishmen, and at least one attempt was made, in 1250, to apply the same rule to cathedrals. The races remained nearly separate, the Irish simply staying outside the feudal system. If an Englishman slew an Irishman (except one of the five regal and privileged bloods) he was not to be tried for murder, for Irish law admitted composition (eric) for murder. In Magna Charta there is a proviso that foreign merchants shall be treated as English merchants are treated in the country whence the travellers came. Yet some enlightened men strove to fuse the two nations together, and the native Irish, or that section which bordered on the settlements and suffered great oppression, offered 8000 marks to Edward I. for the privilege of living under English law. The justiciary supported their petition, but the prelates and nobles refused to consent.
There is a vague tradition that Edward I. visited Ireland about 1256, when his father ordained that the prince’s seal should have regal authority in that country. A vast number of documents remain to prove that he did Edward I. (1272-1307). not neglect Irish business. Yet this great king cannot be credited with any specially enlightened views as to Ireland. Hearing with anger of enormities committed in his name, he summoned the viceroy, Robert de Ufford (d. 1298), to explain, who coolly said that he thought it expedient to wink at one knave cutting off another, “whereat the king smiled and bade him return into Ireland.” The colonists were strong enough to send large forces to the king in his Scottish wars, but as there was no corresponding immigration this really weakened the English, whose best hopes lay in agriculture and the arts of peace, while the Celtic race waxed proportionally numerous. Outwardly all seemed fair. The De Burghs were supreme in Connaught, and English families occupied eastern Ulster. The fertile southern and central lands were dominated by strong castles. But Tyrone and Tyrconnel, and the mountains everywhere, sheltered the Celtic race, which, having reached its lowest point under Edward I., began to recover under his son.
In 1315, the year after Bannockburn, Edward Bruce landed near Larne with 6000 men, including some of the best knights in Scotland. Supported by O’Neill and other chiefs, and for a time assisted by his famous brother, Bruce Edward II. (1307-1327). gained many victories. There was no general effort of the natives in their favour; perhaps the Irish thought one Norman no better than another, and their total incapacity for national organization forbade the idea of a native sovereign. The family quarrels of the O’Connors at this time, and their alliances with the Burkes, or De Burghs, and the Berminghams, may be traced in great detail in the annalists—the general result being fatal to the royal tribe of Connaught, which is said to have lost 10,000 warriors in the battle of Templetogher. In other places the English were less successful, the Butlers being beaten by the O’Carrolls in 1318, and Richard de Clare falling about the same time in the decisive battle of Dysert O’Dea. The O’Briens re-established their sway in Thomond and the illustrious name of Clare disappears from Irish history. Edward Bruce fell in battle near Dundalk, and most of his army recrossed the channel, leaving behind a reputation for cruelty and rapacity. The colonists were victorious, but their organization was undermined, and the authority of the crown, which had never been able to keep the peace, grew rapidly weaker. Within twenty years after the great victory of Dundalk, the quarrels of the barons allowed the Irish to recover much of the land they had lost.
John de Bermingham, earl of Louth, the conqueror of Bruce, was murdered in 1329 by the Gernons, Cusacks, Everards and other English of that county, who disliked his firm government. They were never brought to justice. Edward III. (1327-1377). Talbot of Malahide and two hundred of Bermingham’s relations and adherents were massacred at the same time. In 1333, William de Burgh, the young earl of Ulster, was murdered by the Mandevilles and others; in this case signal vengeance was taken, but the feudal dominion never recovered the blow, and on the north-east coast the English laws and language were soon confined to Drogheda and Dundalk. The earl left one daughter, Elizabeth, who was of course a royal ward. She married Lionel, duke of Clarence, and from her springs the royal line of England from Edward IV., as well as James V. of Scotland and his descendants.
The two chief men among the De Burghs were loth to hold their lands of a little absentee girl. Having no grounds for opposing the royal title to the wardship of the heiress, they abjured English law and became Irish chieftains. As such they were obeyed, for the king’s arm was short in Ireland. The one appropriated Mayo as the Lower (Oughter) M‘William, and the earldom of Mayo perpetuates the memory of the event. The other as the Upper (Eighter) M‘William took Galway, and from him the earls of Clanricarde afterwards sprung.
Edward III. being busy with foreign wars had little time to spare for Ireland, and the native chiefs everywhere seized their opportunity. Perhaps the most remarkable of these aggressive chiefs was Lysaght O’More, who reconquered Leix. Clyn the Franciscan annalist, whose Latinity is so far above the medieval level as almost to recall Tacitus, sums up Lysaght’s career epigrammatically: “He was a slave, he became a master; he was a subject, he became a prince (de servo dominus, de subjecto princeps effectus).” The two great earldoms whose contests form a large part of the history of the south of Ireland were created by Edward III. James Butler, eldest son of Edmund, earl of Carrick, became earl of Ormonde and palatine of Tipperary in 1328. Next year Maurice Fitzgerald was made earl of Desmond, and from his three brethren descended the historic houses of the White Knight, the knight of Glin, and the knight of Kerry. The earldom of Kildare dates from 1316. In this reign too was passed the statute of Kilkenny (q.v.), a confession by the crown that obedient subjects were the minority. The enactments against Irish dress and customs, and against marriage and fostering proved a dead letter.
In two expeditions to Ireland Richard II. at first overcame all opposition, but neither had any permanent effect. Art MacMurrough, the great hero of the Leinster Celts, practically had the best of the contest. The king in Richard II. (1377-1399). his despatches divided the population into Irish enemies, Irish rebels and English subjects. As he found them so he left them, lingering in Dublin long enough to lose his own crown. But for MacMurrough and his allies the house of Lancaster might never have reigned. No English king again visited Ireland until James II., declared by his English subjects to have abdicated, and by the more outspoken Scots to have forfeited the crown, appealed to the loyalty or piety of the Catholic Irish.
Henry IV. had a bad title, and his necessities were conducive to the growth of the English constitution, but fatal to the Anglo-Irish. His son Thomas, duke of Clarence, was viceroy in 1401, but did very little. “Your son,” wrote the Henry IV. (1399-1413). Irish council to Henry, “is so destitute of money that he has not a penny in the world, nor can borrow a single penny, because all his jewels and his plate that he can spare, and those which he must of necessity keep, are pledged to lie in pawn.” The nobles waged private war unrestrained, and the game of playing off one chieftain against another was carried on with varying success. The provisions of the statute of Kilkenny against trading with the Irish failed, for markets cannot exist without buyers.
The brilliant reign of Henry V. was a time of extreme misery to the colony in Ireland. Half the English-speaking people fled to England, where they were not welcome. The Henry V. (1413-1422). disastrous reign of the third Lancastrian completed the discomfiture of the original colony in Ireland. Quarrels between the Ormonde and Talbot parties paralysed the government, and a “Pale” of 30 m. by 20 was all that remained. Even the walled towns, Kilkenny, Ross, Wexford, Kinsale, Youghal, Clonmel, Kilmallock, Thomastown, Fethard and Cashel, were almost starved Henry VI. (1422-1461). out; Waterford itself was half ruined and half deserted. Only one parliament was held for thirty years, but taxation was not remitted on that account. No viceroy even pretended to reside continuously. The north and west were still worse off than the south. Some thoughtful men saw clearly the danger of leaving Ireland to be seized by the first chance comer, and the Libel of English Policy, written about 1436, contains a long and interesting passage declaring England’s interests in protecting Ireland as “a boterasse and a poste” of her own power. Sir John Talbot, immortalized by Shakespeare, was several times viceroy; he was almost uniformly successful in the field, but feeble in council. He held a parliament at Trim which made one law against men of English race wearing moustaches, lest they should be mistaken for Irishmen, and another obliging the sons of agricultural labourers to follow their father’s vocation under pain of fine and imprisonment. The earls of Shrewsbury are still earls of Waterford, and retain the right to carry the white staff as hereditary stewards, but the palatinate jurisdiction over Wexford was taken away by Henry VIII. The Ulster annalists give a very different estimate of the great Talbot from that of Shakespeare: “A son of curses for his venom and a devil for his evils; and the learned say of him that there came not from the time of Herod, by whom Christ was crucified, any one so wicked in evil deeds” (O’Donovan’s Four Masters).
In 1449 Richard, duke of York, right heir by blood to the throne of Edward III., was forced to yield the regency of France to his rival Somerset, and to accept the Irish viceroyalty. He landed at Howth with his wife Cicely Richard of York in Ireland. Neville, and Margaret of Anjou hoped thus to get rid of one who was too great for a subject. The Irish government was given to him for ten years on unusually liberal terms. He ingratiated himself with both races, taking care to avoid identification with any particular family. At the baptism of his son George—“false, fleeting, perjured Clarence”—who was born in Dublin Castle, Desmond and Ormonde stood sponsors together. In legislation Richard fared no better than others. The rebellion of Jack Cade, claiming to be a Mortimer and cousin to the duke of York, took place at this time. This adventurer, at once ludicrous and formidable, was a native of Ireland, and was thought to be put forward by Richard to test the popularity of the Yorkist cause. Returning suddenly to England in 1450, Richard left the government to James, earl of Ormonde and Wiltshire, who later married Eleanor, daughter of Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset, and was deeply engaged on the Lancastrian side. This earl began the deadly feud with the house of Kildare, which lasted for generations. After Blore Heath Richard was attainted by the Lancastrian parliament, and returned to Dublin, where the colonial parliament acknowledged him and assumed virtual independence. A separate coinage was established, and the authority of the English parliament was repudiated. William Overy, a bold squire of Ormonde’s, offered to arrest Richard as an attainted traitor, but was seized, tried before the man whom he had come to take, and hanged, drawn and quartered. The duke only maintained his separate kingdom about a year. His party triumphed in England, but he himself fell at Wakefield.
Among the few prisoners taken on the bloody field of Towton was Ormonde, whose head long adorned London Bridge. He and his brothers were attainted in England and by the Yorkist parliament in Ireland, but the importance Edward IV. (1461-1483). of the family was hardly diminished by this. For the first six years of Edward’s reign the two Geraldine earls engrossed official power. The influence of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, whom Desmond had offended, then made itself felt. Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, became deputy. He was an accomplished Oxonian, who made a speech at Rome in such good Latin as to draw tears from the eyes of that great patron of letters Pope Pius II. (Aeneas Sylvius). But his Latinity did not soften his manners, and he was thought cruel even in that age. Desmond was beheaded, ostensibly for using Irish exactions, really, as the partisans of his family hold, to please Elizabeth. The remarkable lawlessness of this reign was increased by the practice of coining. Several mints had been established since Richard of York’s time; the standards varied and imitation was easy.
During Richard III.’s short reign the earl of Kildare, head
of the Irish Yorkists, was the strongest man in Ireland. He
espoused the cause of Lambert Simnel (1487), whom
the Irish in general seem always to have thought a
Henry VII. (1485-1509). true Plantagenet. The Italian primate, Octavian de Palatio, knew better, and incurred the wrath of Kildare by refusing to officiate at the impostor’s coronation. The local magnates and several distinguished visitors attended, and Lambert was shown to the people borne aloft on “great D’Arcy of Platten’s” shoulders. His enterprise ended in the battle of Stoke, near Newark, where the flower of the Anglo-Irish soldiery fell. “The Irish,” says Bacon, “did not fail in courage or fierceness, but, being almost naked men, only armed with darts and skeins, it was rather an execution than a fight upon them.” Conspicuous among Henry VII.’s adherents in Ireland were the citizens of Waterford, who, with the men of Clonmel, Callan, Fethard and the Butler connexion generally, were prepared to take the field in his favour. Waterford was equally conspicuous some years later in resisting Perkin Warbeck, who besieged it unsuccessfully, and was chased by the citizens, who fitted out a fleet at their own charge. The king conferred honour and rewards on the loyal city, to which he gave the proud title of urbs intacta. Other events of this reign were the parliament of Drogheda, held by Sir Edward Poynings, which gave the control of Irish legislation to the English council (“Poynings’s Act”—the great bone of contention in the later days of Flood and Grattan), and the battle of Knockdoe, in which the earl of Kildare used the viceregal authority to avenge a private quarrel.
Occupied in pleasure or foreign enterprise, Henry VIII. at first paid little attention to Ireland. The royal power was practically confined to what in the previous century had become known as the “Pale,” that is Dublin, Henry VIII. (1509-1547). Louth, Kildare and a part of Meath, and within this narrow limit the earls of Kildare were really more powerful than the crown. Waterford, Drogheda, Dundalk, Cork, Limerick and Galway were not Irish, but rather free cities than an integral part of the kingdom; and many inland towns were in the same position. The house of Ormonde had created a sort of small Pale about Kilkenny, and part of Wexford had been colonized by men of English race. The Desmonds were Irish in all but pride of blood. The Barretts, Condons, Courcies, Savages, Arundels, Carews and others had disappeared or were merged in the Celtic mass. Anglo-Norman nobles became chiefs of pseudo-tribes, which acknowledged only the Brehon law, and paid dues and services in kind. These pseudo-tribes were often called “nations,” and a vast number of exactions were practised by the chiefs. “Coyne and livery”—the right of free-quarters for man and beast—arose among the Anglo-Normans, and became more oppressive than any native custom. When Henry took to business, he laid the foundation of reconquest. The house of Kildare, which had actually besieged Dublin (1534), was overthrown, and the Pale saved from a standing danger (see Fitzgerald). But the Pale scarcely extended 20 m. from Dublin, a march of uncertain width intervening between it and the Irish districts. Elsewhere, says an elaborate report, all the English folk were of “Irish language and Irish condition,” except in the cities and walled towns. Down and Louth paid black rent to O’Neill, Meath and Kildare to O’Connor, Wexford to the Kavanaghs, Kilkenny and Tipperary to O’Carroll, Limerick to the O’Briens, and Cork to the MacCarthies. MacMurrough Kavanagh, in Irish eyes the representative of King Dermod, received an annual pension from the exchequer. Henry set steadily to work to reassert the royal title. He assumed the style of king of Ireland, so as to get rid of the notion that he held the island of the pope. The Irish chiefs acknowledged his authority and his ecclesiastical supremacy, abjuring at the same time that of the Holy See. The lands of the earl of Shrewsbury and other absentees, who had performed no duties, were resumed; and both Celtic and feudal nobles were encouraged to come to court. Here begins the long line of official deputies, often men of moderate birth and fortune. Butler and Geraldine, O’Neill and O’Donnell, continued to spill each other’s blood, but the feudal and tribal systems were alike doomed. In the names of these Tudor deputies and other officers we see the origin of many great Irish families—Skeffington, Brabazon, St Leger, Fitzwilliam, Wingfield, Bellingham, Carew, Bingham, Loftus and others. Nor were the Celts overlooked. O’Neill and O’Brien went to London to be invested as earls of Tyrone and Thomond respectively. O’Donnell, whose descendants became earls of Tyrconnel, went to court and was well received. The pseudo-chief MacWilliam became earl of Clanricarde, and others reached lower steps in the peerage, or were knighted by the king’s own hand. All were encouraged to look to the crown for redress of grievances, and thus the old order slowly gave place to the new.
The moment when Protestantism and Ultramontanism are about to begin their still unfinished struggle is a fit time to notice the chief points in medieval Irish church history. Less than two years before Strongbow’s arrival Pope The Irish Church. Eugenius had established an ecclesiastical constitution in Ireland depending on Rome, but the annexation was very imperfectly carried out, and the hope of fully asserting the Petrine claims was a main cause of Adrian’s gift to Henry II. Hitherto the Scandinavian section of the church in Ireland had been most decidedly inclined to receive the hierarchical and diocesan as distinguished from the monastic and quasi-tribal system. The bishops or abbots of Dublin derived their succession from Canterbury from 1038 to 1162, and the bishops of Waterford and Limerick also sought consecration there. But both Celt and Northman acknowledged the polity of Eugenius, and it was chiefly in the matters of tithe, Peter’s pence, canonical degrees and the observance of festivals that Rome had still victories to gain. Between churchmen of Irish and English race there was bitter rivalry; but the theory that the ancient Celtic church remained independent, and as it were Protestant, while the English colony submitted to the Vatican, is a mere controversial figment. The crown was weak and papal aggression made rapid progress. It was in the Irish church, about the middle of the 13th century, that the system of giving jurisdiction to the bishops “in temporalibus” was adopted by Innocent IV. The vigour of Edward I. obtained a renunciation in particular cases, but the practice continued unabated. The system of provisions was soon introduced at the expense of free election, and was acknowledged by the statute of Kilkenny. In the more remote districts it must have been almost a matter of necessity. Many Irish parishes grew out of primitive monasteries, but other early settlements remained monastic, and were compelled by the popes to adopt the rule of authorized orders, generally that of the Augustinian canons. That order became much the most numerous in Ireland, having not less than three hundred houses. Of other sedentary orders the Cistercians were the most important, and the mendicants were very numerous. Both Celtic chiefs and Norman nobles founded convents after Henry II. ’s time, but the latter being wealthier were most distinguished in this way. Religious houses were useful as abodes of peace in a turbulent country, and the lands attached were better cultivated than those of lay proprietors. Attempts to found a university at Dublin (1311) or Drogheda (1465) failed for want of funds. The work of education was partially done by the great abbeys, boys of good family being brought up by the Cistercians of Dublin and Jerpoint, and by the Augustinians of Dublin, Kells and Connel, and girls by the canonesses of Gracedieu. A strong effort was made to save these six houses, but Henry VIII. would not hear of it, and there was no Irish Wolsey partially to supply the king’s omissions.
Ample evidence exists that the Irish church was full of abuses before the movement under Henry VIII. We have detailed accounts of three sees—Clonmacnoise, Enaghdune and Ardagh. Ross, also in a wild district, was in rather better case. But even in Dublin strange things happened; thus the archiepiscopal crozier was in pawn for eighty years from 1449. The morals of the clergy were no better than in other countries, and we have evidence of many scandalous irregularities. But perhaps the most severe condemnation is that of the report to Henry VIII. in 1515. “There is,” says the document, “no archbishop, ne bishop, abbot, ne prior, parson, ne vicar, ne any other person of the church, high or low, great or small, English or Irish, that useth to preach the word of God, saving the poor friars beggars ... the church of this land use not to learn any other science, but the law of canon, for covetise of lucre transitory.” Where his hand reached Henry had little difficulty in suppressing the monasteries or taking their lands, which Irish chiefs swallowed as greedily as men of English blood. But the friars, though pretty generally turned out of doors, were themselves beyond Henry’s power, and continued to preach everywhere among the people. Their devotion and energy may be freely admitted; but the mendicant orders, especially the Carmelites, were not uniformly distinguished for morality. Monasticism was momentarily suppressed under Oliver Cromwell, but the Restoration brought the monks back to their old haunts. The Jesuits, placed by Paul III. under the protection of Conn O’Neill, “prince of the Irish of Ulster,” came to Ireland towards the end of Henry’s reign, and helped to keep alive the Roman tradition. Anglicanism was regarded as a symbol of conquest and intrusion. The Four Masters thus describes the Reformation: “A heresy and new error arising in England, through pride, vain glory, avarice, and lust, and through many strange sciences, so that the men of England went into opposition to the pope and to Rome.” The destruction of relics and images and the establishment of a schismatic hierarchy is thus recorded: “Though great was the persecution of the Roman emperors against the church, scarcely had there ever come so great a persecution from Rome as this.”
The able opportunist Sir Anthony St Leger, who was accused by one party of opposing the Reformation and by the other of lampooning the Sacrament, continued to rule during the early days of Edward VI. To him succeeded Edward VI. (1547-1553). Sir Edward Bellingham, a Puritan soldier whose hand was heavy on all who disobeyed the king. He bridled Connaught by a castle at Athlone, and Munster by a garrison at Leighlin Bridge. The O’Mores and O’Connors were brought low, and forts erected where Maryborough and Philipstown now stand. Both chiefs and nobles were forced to respect the king’s representative, but Bellingham was not wont to flatter those in power, and his administration found little favour in England. Sir Francis Bryan, Henry VIII.’s favourite, succeeded him, and on his death St Leger was again appointed. Neither St Leger nor his successor Sir James Croft could do anything with Ulster, where the papal primate Wauchop, a Scot by birth, stirred up rebellion among the natives and among the Hebridean invaders. But little was done under Edward VI. to advance the power of the crown, and that little was done by Bellingham.
The English government long hesitated about the official establishment of Protestantism, and the royal order to that effect was withheld until 1551. Copies of the new liturgy were sent over, and St Leger had the communion The Reformation. service translated into Latin, for the use of priests and others who could read, but not in English. The popular feeling was strong against innovation, as Edward Staples, bishop of Meath, found to his cost. The opinions of Staples, like those of Cranmer, advanced gradually until at last he went to Dublin and preached boldly against the mass. He saw men shrink from him on all sides. “My lord,” said a beneficed priest, whom he had himself promoted, and who wept as he spoke, “before ye went last to Dublin ye were the best beloved man in your diocese that ever came in it, now ye are the worst beloved. . . . Ye have preached against the sacrament of the altar and the saints, and will make us worse than Jews. . . . The country folk would eat you. . . . Ye have more curses than ye have hairs of your head, and I advise you for Christ’s sake not to preach at Navan.” Staples answered that preaching was his duty, and that he would not fail; but he feared for his life. On the same prelate fell the task of conducting a public controversy with the archbishop of Armagh, George Dowdall, which of course ended in the conversion of neither. Dowdall fled; his see was treated as vacant, and Cranmer cast about him for a Protestant to fill St Patrick’s chair. His first nominee, Dr Richard Turner, resolutely declined the honour, declaring that he would be unintelligible to the people; and Cranmer could only answer that English was spoken in Ireland, though he did indeed doubt whether it was spoken in the diocese of Armagh. John Bale, a man of great learning and ability, became bishop of Ossory. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity, but he was coarse and intemperate—Froude roundly calls him a foul-mouthed ruffian—without the wisdom of the serpent or the harmlessness of the dove. His choice rhetoric stigmatized the dean of St Patrick’s as ass-headed, a blockhead who cared only for his kitchen and his belly.
The Reformation having made no real progress, Mary found it easy to recover the old ways. Dowdall was restored; Staples and others were deprived. Bale fled for bare life, and his see was treated as vacant. Yet the queen Mary (1553-1558). found it impossible to restore the monastic lands, though she showed some disposition to scrutinize the titles of grantees. She was Tudor enough to declare her intention of maintaining the old prerogatives of the crown against the Holy See, and assumed the royal title without papal sanction. Paul IV. was fain to curb his fiery temper, and to confer graciously what he could not withhold. English Protestants fled to Ireland to escape the Marian persecution; but had the reign continued a little longer, Dublin would probably have been no safe place of refuge.
Mary scarcely varied the civil policy of her brother’s ministers. Gerald of Kildare, who had been restored to his estates by Edward VI., was created earl of Kildare. The plan of settling Leix and Offaly by dividing the country between colonists and natives holding by English tenure failed, owing to the unconquerable love of the people for their own customs. But resistance gradually grew fainter, and we hear little of the O’Connors after this. The O’Mores, reduced almost to brigandage, gave trouble till the end of Elizabeth’s reign, and a member of the clan was chief contriver of the rebellion of 1641. Maryborough and Philipstown, King’s county and Queen’s county, commemorate Mary’s marriage.
Anne Boleyn’s daughter succeeded quietly, and Sir Henry Sidney was sworn lord-justice with the full Catholic ritual. When Thomas Radclyffe, earl of Sussex, superseded him as lord-lieutenant, the litany was chanted in Elizabeth (1558-1603). English, both cathedrals having been painted, and scripture texts substituted for “pictures and popish fancies.” At the beginning of 1560 a parliament was held which restored the ecclesiastical legislation of Henry and Edward. In two important points the Irish Church was made more dependent on the state than in England: congés d’élire were abolished and heretics made amenable to royal commissioners or to parliament without reference to any synod or convocation. According to a contemporary list, this parliament consisted of 3 archbishops, 17 bishops, 23 temporal peers, and members returned by 10 counties and 28 cities and boroughs. Some of the Irish bishops took the oath of supremacy, some were deprived. In other cases Elizabeth connived at what she could not prevent, and hardly pretended to enforce uniformity except in the Pale and in the large towns.
Ulster demanded the immediate attention of Elizabeth. Her father had conferred the earldom of Tyrone on Conn Bacach O’Neill, with remainder to his supposed son Matthew, created baron of Dungannon, the offspring of a Rebellion of Shane O’Neill. smith’s wife at Dundalk, who in her husband’s lifetime brought the child to Conn as his own. When the chief’s legitimate son Shane grew up he declined to be bound by this arrangement, which the king may have made in partial ignorance of the facts. “Being a gentleman,” he said, “my father never refusid no child that any woman namyd to be his.” When Tyrone died, Matthew’s son, Brian O’Neill, baron of Dungannon, claimed his earldom under the patent. Shane being chosen O’Neill by his tribe claimed to be chief by election, and earl as Conn’s lawful son. Thus the English government was committed to the cause of one who was at best an adulterine bastard, while Shane appeared as champion of hereditary right (See O’Neill). Shane maintained a contest which had begun under Mary until 1567, with great ability and a total absence of morality, in which Sussex had no advantage over him. The lord-lieutenant twice tried to have Shane murdered; once he proposed to break his safe-conduct; and he held out hopes of his sister’s hand as a snare. Shane was induced to visit London, where the government detained him for some time. On his return to Ireland, Sussex was outmatched both in war and diplomacy; the loyal chiefs were crushed one by one; and the English suffered checks of which the moral effect was ruinous. Shane diplomatically acknowledged Elizabeth as his sovereign, and sometimes played the part of a loyal subject, wreaking his private vengeance under colour of expelling the Scots from Ulster. At last, in 1566, the queen placed the sword of state in Sidney’s strong grasp. Shane was driven helplessly from point to point, and perished miserably at the hands of the MacDonnells, whom he had so often oppressed and insulted.
Peace was soon broken by disturbances in the south. The earl of Desmond having shown rebellious tendencies was detained for six years in London. Treated leniently, but grievously pressed for money, he tried to escape, and, First Desmond Rebellion, 1574. the attempt being judged treasonable, he was persuaded to surrender his estates—to receive them back or not at the queen’s discretion. Seizing the opportunity, English adventurers proposed to plant a military colony in the western half of Munster, holding the coast from the Shannon to Cork harbour. Some who held obsolete title-deeds were encouraged to go to work at once by the example of Sir Peter Carew, who had established his claims in Carlow. Carew’s title had been in abeyance for a century and a half, yet most of the Kavanaghs attorned to him. Falling foul of Ormonde’s brothers, seizing their property and using great cruelty and violence, Sir Peter drove the Butlers, the only one among the great families really loyal, into rebellion. Ormonde, who was in London, could alone restore peace; all his disputes with Desmond were at once settled in his favour, and he was even allowed to resume the exaction of coyne and livery, the abolition of which had been the darling wish of statesmen. The Butlers returned to their allegiance, but continued to oppose Carew, and great atrocities were committed on both sides. Sir Peter had great but undefined claims in Munster also, and the people there took warning. His imitators in Cork were swept away. Sidney first, and after him Humphrey Gilbert, could only circumscribe the rebellion. The presidency of Munster, an office the creation of which had long been contemplated, was then conferred on Sir John Perrot, who drove James “Fitzmaurice” Fitzgerald into the mountains, reduced castles everywhere, and destroyed a Scottish contingent which had come from Ulster to help the rebels. Fitzmaurice came in and knelt in the mud at the president’s feet, confessing his sins; but he remained the real victor. The colonizing scheme was dropped, and the first presidency of Munster left the Desmonds and their allies in possession. Similar plans were tried unsuccessfully in Ulster, first by a son of Sir Thomas Smith, afterwards by Walter Devereux, earl of Essex, a knight-errant rather than a statesman, who was guilty of many bloody deeds. He treacherously captured Sir Brian O’Neill and massacred his followers. The Scots in Rathlin were slaughtered wholesale. Essex struggled on for more than three years, seeing his friends gradually drop away, and dying ruined and unsuccessful.
Towards the end of 1575 Sidney was again persuaded to become viceroy. The Irish recognized his great qualities, and he went everywhere without interruption. Henceforth presidencies became permanent institutions. Sir William Drury in Munster hanged four hundred persons in one year, Sir Nicholas Malby in reducing the Connaught Burkes spared neither young nor old, and burned all corn and houses. The Desmonds determined on a great effort. A holy war was declared. Fitzmaurice landed in Kerry with a few followers, and accompanied by the famous Nicholas Sanders, who was armed with a legate’s commission and a banner blessed by the pope. Fitzmaurice fell soon after in a skirmish near Castleconnell, but Sanders and Desmond’s brothers still kept the field. When it was too late to act with effect, Desmond himself, a vain man, neither frankly loyal nor a bold rebel, took the field. He surprised Youghal, then an English town, by night, sacked it, and murdered the people. Roused at last, Elizabeth sent over Ormonde as general of Munster, and after long delay gave him the means of conducting a campaign. It was as much a war of Butlers against Geraldines as of loyal subjects against rebels, and Ormonde did his work only too well. Lord Baltinglass raised a hopeless subsidiary revolt in Wicklow (1580), which was signalized by a crushing defeat of the lord deputy, Lord Grey de Wilton (Arthegal) in Glenmalure. A force of Italians and Spaniards landing at Smerwick in Kerry, Grey hurried thither, and the foreigners, who had no commission, surrendered at discretion, and were put to the sword. Neither Grey nor the Spanish ambassador seems to have seen anything extraordinary in thus disposing of inconvenient prisoners. Spenser and Raleigh were present. Sanders perished obscurely in 1581, and in 1583 Desmond himself was hunted down and killed in the Kerry mountains. More than 500,000 Irish acres were forfeited to the crown. The horrors of this war it is impossible to exaggerate. The Four Masters says that the lowing of a cow or the voice of a ploughman could scarcely be heard from Cashel to the farthest point of Kerry; Ormonde, who, with all his severity, was honourably distinguished by good faith, claimed to have killed 5000 men in a few months. Spenser, an eye-witness, says famine slew far more than the sword. The survivors were unable to walk, but crawled out of the woods and glens. “They looked like anatomies of death; they did eat the dead carrion and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves; . . . to a plot of watercresses or shamrocks they flocked as to a feast.”
In 1584 Sir John Perrot, the ablest man available after Sidney’s retirement, became lord-deputy. Sir John Norris, famed in the Netherland wars, was president of Munster, and so impressed the Irish that they averred him to be in league with the devil. Perrot held a parliament in 1585 in which the number of members was considerably increased. He made a strenuous effort to found a university in Dublin, and proposed to endow it with the revenues of St Patrick’s, reasonably arguing that one cathedral was enough for any city. Here he was opposed by Adam Loftus, archbishop of Dublin and chancellor, who had expressed his anxiety for a college, but had no idea of endowing it at his own expense. The colonization of the Munster forfeitures was undertaken at this time. It failed chiefly from the grants to individuals who neglected to plant English farmers, and were often absentees themselves. Raleigh obtained 42,000 acres. The quit rents reserved to the crown were less than one penny per acre. Racked with the stone, hated by the official clique, thwarted on all sides, Perrot was goaded into using words capable of a treasonable interpretation. Archbishop Loftus pursued him to the end. He died in the Tower of London under sentence for treason, and we may charitably hope that Elizabeth would have pardoned him. In his will, written after sentence, he emphatically repudiates any treasonable intention—“I deny my Lord God if ever I proposed the same.”
In 1584 Hugh O’Neill, if O’Neill he was (being second son of Matthew, mentioned above), became chief of part of Tyrone; in 1587 he obtained the coveted earldom, and in 1593 was the admitted head of the whole tribe. A Last Desmond Rebellion. quarrel with the government was inevitable, and, Hugh Roe O’Donnell having joined him, Ulster was united against the crown. In 1598 James Fitzthomas Fitzgerald assumed the title of Desmond, to which he had some claims by blood, and which he pretended to hold as Tyrone’s gift. Tyrone had received a crown of peacock’s feathers from the pope, who was regarded by many as king of Ireland. The title of Sugan or straw-rope earl has been generally given to the Desmond pretender. Both ends of the island were soon in a blaze, and the Four Masters says that in seventeen days there was not one son of a Saxon left alive in the Desmond territories. Edmund Spenser lost his all, escaping only to die of misery in a London garret. Tyrone more than held his own in the north, completely defeated Sir Henry Bagnal in the battle of the Yellow Ford (1598), invaded Munster, and ravaged the lands of Lord Barrymore, who had remained true to his allegiance. Tyrone’s ally, Hugh Roe O’Donnell, overthrew the president of Connaught, Sir Conyers Clifford. “The Irish of Connaught,” says the Four Masters, “were not pleased at Clifford’s death; . . . he had never told them a falsehood.” Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, came over in 1599 with a great army, but did nothing of moment, was outgeneralled and outwitted by Tyrone, and threw up his command to enter on the mad and criminal career which led to the scaffold. In 1600 Sir George Carew became president of Munster, and, as always happened when the crown was well served, the rebellion was quickly put down. Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy (afterwards earl of Devonshire), who succeeded Essex, joined Carew, and a Spanish force which landed at Kinsale surrendered. The destruction of their crops starved the people into submission, and the contest was only less terrible than the first Desmond war because it was much shorter. In Ulster Mountjoy was assisted by Sir Henry Docwra, who founded the second settlement at Derry, the first under Edward Randolph having been abandoned. Hugh O’Donnell sought help in Spain, where he died. Tyrone submitted at last, craving pardon on his knees, renouncing his Celtic chiefry, and abjuring all foreign powers; but still retaining his earldom, and power almost too great for a subject. Scarcely was the compact signed when he heard of the great queen’s death. He burst into tears, not of grief, but of vexation at not having held out for better terms.
In reviewing the Irish government of Elizabeth we shall
find much to blame, a want of truth in her dealings and of
steadiness in her policy. Violent efforts of coercion
were succeeded by fits of clemency, of parsimony
Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland.
Religious policy. or of apathy. Yet it is fair to remember that she was surrounded by enemies, that her best energies were expended in the death-struggle with Spain, and that she was rarely able to give undivided attention to the Irish problem. After all she conquered Ireland, which her predecessors had failed to do, though many of them were as crooked in action and less upright in intention. Considering the times, Elizabeth cannot be called a persecutor. “Do not,” she said to the elder Essex, “seek too hastily to bring people that have been trained in another religion from that in which they have been brought up.” Elizabeth saw that the Irish could only be reached through their own language. But for that harvest the labourers were necessarily few. The fate of Bishop Daly of Kildare, who preached in Irish, and who thrice had his house burned over his head, was not likely to encourage missionaries. In all wild parts divine service was neglected, and wandering friars or subtle Jesuits, supported by every patriotic or religious feeling of the people, kept Ireland faithful to Rome. Against her many shortcomings we must set the queen’s foundation of the university of Dublin, which has been the most successful English institution in Ireland, and which has continually borne the fairest fruit.
Great things were expected of James I. He was Mary Stuart’s son, and there was a curious antiquarian notion afloat that, because the Irish were the original “Scoti,” a Scottish king would sympathize with Ireland. Corporate James I. (1603-1625). towns set up the mass, and Mountjoy, who could argue as well as fight, had to teach them a sharp lesson. Finding Ireland conquered and in no condition to rise again, James established circuits and a complete system of shires. Sir John Davies was sent over as solicitor-general. His famous book (Discoverie of the State of Ireland) in which he glorifies his own and the king’s exploits gives far too much credit to the latter and far too little to his great predecessor.
Two legal decisions swept away the customs of tanistry and of Irish gavelkind, and the English land system was violently substituted. The earl of Tyrone was harassed by sheriffs and other officers, and the government, learning that he was engaged in an insurrectionary design, prepared to seize him. The information was probably false, but Tyrone was growing old and perhaps despaired of making good his defence. By leaving Ireland he played into his enemies’ hands. Rory O’Donnell, created earl of Tyrconnel, accompanied him. Cuconnaught Maguire had already gone. The “flight of the earls,” as it is called, completed the ruin of the Celtic cause. Reasons or pretexts for declaring forfeitures against O’Cahan were easily found. O’Dogherty, chief of Inishowen, and foreman of the grand jury which found a bill for treason against the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, was insulted by Sir George Paulet, the governor of Derry. O’Dogherty rose, Derry was sacked, and Paulet murdered. O’Dogherty having been killed and O’Hanlon and others being implicated, the whole of northern Ulster was at Plantation of Ulster. the disposal of the government. Tyrone, Donegal, Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh and Derry were parcelled out among English and Scottish colonists, portions being reserved to the natives. The site of Derry was granted to the citizens of London, who fortified and armed it, and Londonderry became the chief bulwark of the colonists in two great wars. Whatever may have been its morality, in a political point of view the plantation of Ulster was successful. The northern province, which so severely taxed the energies of Elizabeth, has since been the most prosperous and loyal part of Ireland. But the conquered people remained side by side with the settlers; and Sir George Carew, who reported on the plantation in 1611, clearly foresaw that they would rebel again. Those natives who retained land were often oppressed by their stronger neighbours, and sometimes actually swindled out of their property. It is probable that in the neglect of the grantees to give proper leases to their tenants arose the Ulster tenant-right custom which attracted so much notice in more modern times.
The parliamentary history of the English colony in Ireland corresponds pretty closely to that of the mother country. First there are informal meetings of eminent persons; then, in 1295, there is a parliament of which some The Irish Parliament. acts remain, and to which only knights of the shire were summoned to represent the commons. Burgesses were added as early as 1310. The famous parliament of Kilkenny in 1366 was largely attended, but the details of its composition are not known. That there was substantial identity in the character of original and copy may be inferred from the fact that the well-known tract called Modus tenendi parliamentum was exemplified under the Great Seal of Ireland in 6 Hen. V. The most ancient Irish parliament remaining on record was held in 1374, twenty members in all being summoned to the House of Commons, from the counties of Dublin, Louth, Kildare and Carlow, the liberties and crosses of Meath, the city of Dublin, and the towns of Drogheda and Dundalk. The liberties were those districts in which the great vassals of the crown exercised palatinate jurisdiction, and the crosses were the church lands, where alone the royal writ usually ran. Writs for another parliament in the same year were addressed in addition to the counties of Waterford, Cork and Limerick; the liberties and crosses of Ulster, Wexford, Tipperary and Kerry; the cities of Waterford, Cork and Limerick; and the towns of Youghal, Kinsale, Ross, Wexford and Kilkenny. The counties of Clare and Longford, and the towns of Galway and Athenry, were afterwards added, and the number of popular representatives does not appear to have much exceeded sixty during the later middle ages. In the House of Lords the temporal peers were largely outnumbered by the bishops and mitred abbots. In the parliament which conferred the royal title on Henry VIII. it was finally decided that the proctors of the clergy had no voice or votes. Elizabeth’s first parliament, held in 1559, was attended by 76 members of the Lower House, which increased to 122 in 1585. In 1613 James I. by a wholesale creation of new boroughs, generally of the last insignificance, increased the House of Commons to 232, and thus secured an Anglican majority to carry out his policy. He told those who remonstrated to mind their own business. “What is it to you if I had created 40 noblemen and 400 boroughs? The more the merrier, the fewer the better cheer.” In 1639 the House of Commons had 274 members, a number which was further increased to 300 at the Revolution, and so it remained until the Union.
Steeped in absolutist ideas, James was not likely to tolerate religious dissent. He thought he could “mak what liked him law and gospel.” A proclamation for banishing Romish priests issued in 1605, and was followed Religious policy of James I. by an active and general persecution, which was so far from succeeding that they continued to flock in from abroad, the lord-deputy Arthur Chichester admitting that every house and hamlet was to them a sanctuary. The most severe English statutes against the Roman Catholic laity had never been re-enacted in Ireland, and, in the absence of law, illegal means were taken to enforce uniformity. Privy seals addressed to men of wealth and position commanded their attendance at church before the deputy or the provincial president, on pain of unlimited fine and imprisonment by the Irish Star Chamber. The Roman Catholic gentry and lawyers, headed by Sir Patrick Barnewall, succeeded in proving the flagrant illegality of these mandates, and the government had to yield. On the whole Protestantism made little progress, though the number of Protestant settlers increased. As late as 1622, when Sir Henry Cary, Viscount Falkland, was installed as deputy, the illustrious James Ussher, then bishop of Meath, preached from the text “he beareth not the sword in vain,” and descanted on the over-indulgence shown to recusants. The primate, Christopher Hampton, in a letter which is a model of Christian eloquence, mildly rebuked his eminent suffragan.
The necessities of Charles I. induced his ministers to propose
that a great part of Connaught should be declared forfeited,
owing to mere technical flaws in title, and planted like
Ulster. Such was the general outcry that the scheme
Charles I. (1625-1649).
Administration of Strafford. had to be given up; and, on receiving a large grant from the Irish parliament, the king promised certain graces, of which the chief were security for titles, free trade, and the substitution of an oath of allegiance for that of supremacy. Having got the money, Charles as usual broke his word; and in 1635 the lord-deputy Strafford began a general system of extortion. The Connaught and Munster landowners were shamelessly forced to pay large fines for the confirmation of even recent titles. The money obtained by oppressing the Irish nation was employed to create an army for the oppression of the Scottish and English nations. The Roman Catholics were neither awed nor conciliated. Twelve bishops, headed by the primate Ussher, solemnly protested that “to tolerate popery is a grievous sin.” The Ulster Presbyterians were rigorously treated. Of the prelates employed by Strafford in this persecution the ablest was John Bramhall (1594-1663) of Derry, who not only oppressed the ministers but insulted them by coarse language. The “black oath,” which bound those who took it never to oppose Charles in anything, was enforced on all ministers, and those who refused it were driven from their manses and often stripped of their goods.
Strafford was recalled to expiate his career on the scaffold; the army was disbanded; and the helm of the state remained in the hands of a land-jobber and of a superannuated soldier. Disbanded troops are the ready weapons Rebellion of 1641. of conspiracy, and the opportunity was not lost. The Roman Catholic insurgents of 1641 just failed to seize Dublin, but quickly became masters of nearly the whole country. That there was no definite design of massacring the Protestants is likely, but it was intended to drive them out of the country. Great numbers were killed, often in cold blood and with circumstances of great barbarity. The English under Sir Charles Coote and others retaliated. In 1642 a Scottish army under General Robert Monro landed in Ulster, and formed a rallying point for the colonists. Londonderry, Enniskillen, Coleraine, Carrickfergus and some other places defied Sir Phelim O’Neill’s tumultuary host. Trained in foreign wars, Owen Roe O’Neill gradually formed a powerful army among the Ulster Irish, and showed many of the qualities of a skilful general. But like other O’Neills, he did little out of Ulster, and his great victory over Monro at Benburb on the Blackwater (June 5, 1646) had no lasting results. The English of the Pale were forced into rebellion, but could never get on with the native Irish, who hated them only less than the new colonists. Ormonde throughout maintained the position of a loyal subject, and, as the king’s representative, played a great but hopeless part. The Celts cared nothing for the king except as a weapon against the Protestants; the old Anglo-Irish Catholics cared much, but the nearer Charles approached them the more completely he alienated the Protestants. In 1645 Rinuccini reached Ireland as papal legate. He could never co-operate with the Roman Catholic confederacy at Kilkenny, which was under old English influence, and by throwing in his lot with the Celts only widened the gulf between the two sections. The state of parties at this period in Ireland has been graphically described by Carlyle. “There are,” he says, “Catholics of the Pale, demanding freedom of religion, under my lord this and my lord that. There are Old-Irish Catholics, under pope’s nuncios, under Abba O’Teague of the excommunications, and Owen Roe O’Neill, demanding not religious freedom only, but what we now call ‘repeal of the union,’ and unable to agree with Catholics of the English Pale. Then there are Ormonde Royalists, of the Episcopalian and mixed creeds, strong for king without covenant; Ulster and other Presbyterians strong for king and covenant; lastly, Michael Jones and the Commonwealth of England, who want neither king nor covenant.”
In all their negotiations with Ormonde and Glamorgan, Henrietta Maria and the earl of Bristol, the pope and Rinuccini stood out for an arrangement which would have destroyed the royal supremacy and established Romanism in Ireland, leaving to the Anglicans bare toleration, and to the Presbyterians not even that. Charles behaved with his usual weakness. Ormonde was forced to surrender Dublin to the Parliamentarians (July 1647), and the inextricable knot awaited Cromwell’s sword.
Cromwell’s campaign (1640-1650) showed how easily a good general with an efficient army might conquer Ireland. Resistance in the field was soon at an end; the starving-out policy of Carew and Mountjoy was employed Cromwell. against the guerrillas, and the soldiers were furnished with scythes to cut down the green corn. Bibles were also regularly served out to them. Oliver’s severe conduct at Drogheda and elsewhere is not morally defensible, but such methods were common in the wars of the period, and much may be urged in his favour. Strict discipline was maintained, soldiers being hanged for stealing chickens; faith was always kept; and short, sharp action was more merciful in the long run than a milder but less effective policy. Cromwell’s civil policy, to use Macaulay’s words, was “able, straightforward, and cruel.” He thinned the disaffected population by allowing foreign enlistment, and 40,000 are said to have been thus got rid of. Already Irish Catholics of good family had learned to offer their swords to foreign princes. In Spain, France and the Empire they often rose to the distinction which they were denied at home. About 9000 persons were sent to the West Indies, practically into slavery. Thus, and by the long war, the population was reduced to some 850,000, of whom 150,000 were English and Scots. Then came the transplantation beyond the Shannon. The Irish Catholic gentry were removed bodily with their servants and such tenants as consented to follow them, and with what remained of their cattle. They suffered dreadful hardships. To exclude foreign influences, a belt of 1 m. was reserved to soldiers on the coast from Sligo to the Shannon, but the idea was not fully carried out. The derelict property in the other provinces was divided between adventurers who had advanced money and soldiers who had fought in Ireland. Many of the latter sold their claims to officers or speculators, who were thus enabled to form estates. The majority of Irish labourers stayed to work under the settlers, and the country gradually became peaceful and prosperous. Some fighting Catholics haunted woods and hills under the name of tories, afterwards given in derision to a great party, and were hunted down with as little compunction as the wolves to which they were compared. Measures of great severity were taken against Roman Catholic priests; but it is said that Cromwell had great numbers in his pay, and that they kept him well informed. All classes of Protestants were tolerated, and Jeremy Taylor preached unmolested. Commercial equality being given to Ireland, the woollen trade at once revived, and a shipping interest sprang up. A legislative union was also effected, and Irish members attended at Westminster.
Charles II. was bound in honour to do something for such Irish Catholics as were innocent of the massacres of 1641, and the claims were not scrutinized too severely. It was found impossible to displace the Cromwellians, but Charles II. (1660-1685). they were shorn of about one-third of their lands. When the Caroline settlement was complete it was found that the great rebellion had resulted in reducing the Catholic share of the fertile parts of Ireland from two-thirds to one-third. Ormonde, whose wife had been allowed by Cromwell’s clemency to make him some remittances from the wreck of his estate, was largely and deservedly rewarded. A revenue of £30,000 was settled on the king, in consideration of which Ireland was in 1663 excluded from the benefit of the Navigation Act, and her nascent shipping interest ruined. In 1666 the importation of Irish cattle and horses into England was forbidden, the value of the former at once falling five-fold, of the latter twenty-fold. Dead meat, butter and cheese were also excluded, yet peace brought a certain prosperity. The woollen manufacture grew and flourished, and Macaulay is probably warranted in saying that under Charles II. Ireland was a pleasanter place of residence than it has been before or since. But it was pleasant only for those who conformed to the state religion. Roman Catholicism was tolerated, or rather connived at; but its professors were subject to frequent alarms, and to great severities during the ascendancy of Titus Oates. Bramhall became primate, and his hand was heavy against the Ulster Presbyterians. Jeremy Taylor began a persecution which stopped the influx of Scots into Ireland. Deprived of the means of teaching, the Independents and other sectaries soon disappeared. In a military colony women were scarce, and the “Ironsides” had married natives. Roman Catholicism held its own. The Quakers became numerous during this reign, and their peaceful industry was most useful. They venerate as their founder William Edmundson (1627-1712), a Westmorland man who had borne arms for the Parliament, and who settled in Antrim in 1652.
The duke of Ormonde was lord-lieutenant at the death of Charles II. At seventy-five his brain was as clear as ever, and James saw that he was no fit tool for his purpose. “See, gentlemen,” said the old chief, lifting his glass James II. (1685-1689). at a military dinner-party, “they say at court I am old and doting. But my hand is steady, nor doth my heart fail. . . . To the king’s health.” Calculating on his loyal subservience, James appointed his brother-in-law, Lord Clarendon, to succeed Ormonde. Monmouth’s enterprise made no stir, but gave an excuse for disarming the Protestant militia. The tories at once emerged from their hiding-places, and Clarendon found Ireland in a ferment. It was now the turn of the Protestants to feel persecution. Richard Talbot, one of the few survivors of Drogheda, governed the king’s Irish policy, while the lord-lieutenant was kept in the dark. Finally Talbot, created earl of Tyrconnel, himself received the sword of state. Protestants were weeded out of the army, Protestant officers in particular being superseded by idle Catholics of gentle blood, where they could be found, and in any case by Catholics. Bigotry rather than religion was Tyrconnel’s ruling passion, and he filled up offices with Catholics independently of character. Sir Alexander Fitton, a man convicted of forgery, became chancellor, and but three Protestant judges were left on the bench. The outlawries growing out of the affairs of 1641 were reversed as quickly as possible. Protestant corporations were dissolved by “quo warrantos”; but James was still Englishman enough to refuse an Irish parliament, which might repeal Poyning’s Act and the Act of Settlement.
At the close of 1688 James was a fugitive in France. By this time Londonderry and Enniskillen had closed their gates, and the final struggle had begun. In March 1689 James reached Ireland with some French troops, and summoned a parliament which repealed the Act of Settlement. The estates of absentees were vested in the crown, and, as only two months law was given, this was nearly equivalent to confiscating the property of all Protestants. Between 2000 and 3000 Protestants were attainted by name, and moreover the act was not published. The appalling list may be read in the State of the Protestants by William King, archbishop of Dublin, one of many divines converted by the logic of events to believe in the lawfulness of resistance. Interesting details may be gleaned from Edmundson’s Diary. The dispossessed Protestants escaped by sea or flocked into Ulster, where a gallant stand was made. The glories of Londonderry and Enniskillen will live as long as the English language. The Irish cause produced one great achievement—the defence of Limerick, and one great leader—Patrick Sarsfield. The Roman Catholic Celts aided by France were entirely beaten, the Protestant colonists aided by England were entirely victorious William III. at the battle of the Boyne, on the 1st of July 1690; and at the battle of Aughrim on the 12th of July 1691. Even the siege of Limerick showed the irreconcilable divisions which had nullified the efforts of 1641. Hugh Baldearg O’Donnell, last of Irish chiefs, sold his services to William for £500 a year. But it was their king that condemned the Irish to hopeless failure. He called them cowards, whereas the cowardice was really his own, and he deserted them in their utmost need. They repaid him with the opprobrious nickname of “Sheemas-a-Cacagh,” or dirty James.
Irish rhetoric commonly styles Limerick “the city of the violated treaty.” The articles of capitulation (Oct. 3, 1691) may be read in Thomas Leland’s History of Ireland (1773) or in F. P. Plowden’s History of Ireland (1809); from the first their interpretation was disputed. Hopes of religious liberty were held out, but were not fulfilled. Lords Justices Porter and Coningsby promised to do their utmost to obtain a parliamentary ratification, but the Irish parliament would not be persuaded. There was a paragraph in the original draft which would have protected the property of the great majority of Roman Catholics, but this was left out in the articles actually signed. William thought the omission accidental, but this is hardly possible. At all events he ratified the treaty in the sense most favourable to the Catholics, while the Irish parliament adhered to the letter of the document. Perhaps no breach of faith was intended, but the sorrowful fact remains that the modern settlement of Ireland has the appearance of resting on a broken promise. More than 1,000,000 Irish acres were forfeited, and, though some part returned to Catholic owners, the Catholic interest in the land was further diminished. William III. was the most liberally minded man in his dominions; but the necessities of his position, such is the awful penalty of greatness, forced him into intolerance against his will, and he promised to discourage the Irish woollen trade. His manner of disposing of the Irish forfeitures was inexcusable. The lands were resumed by the English parliament, less perhaps from a sense of justice than from a desire to humiliate the deliverer of England, and were resold to the highest bidder. Nevertheless it became the fashion to reward nameless English services at the expense of Ireland. Pensions and sinecures which would not bear the light in England were charged on the Irish establishment, and even bishoprics were given away on the same principle. The tremendous uproar raised by Swift about Wood’s halfpence was heightened by the fact that Wood shared his profits with the duchess of Kendal, the mistress of George I.
From the first the victorious colonists determined to make another 1641 impossible, and the English government failed to moderate their severity. In 1708 Swift declared that the Papists were politically as inconsiderable as the women and children. In despair of effecting anything at home, the young and strong enlisted in foreign armies, and the almost incredible number of 450,000 are said to have emigrated for this purpose between 1691 and 1745. This and the hatred felt towards James II. prevented any rising in 1715 or 1745. The panic-stricken severity of minorities is proverbial, but it is not to be forgotten that the Irish Protestants had been turned out of house and home twice within fifty years. The restrictions on Irish commerce provoked Locke’s friend William Molyneux (1656-1698) to write his famous plea for legislative independence (1698). Much of the learning contained in it now seems obsolete, but the question is less an antiquarian one than he supposed. Later events have shown that a mother country must have supreme authority, or must relax the tie with self-governing colonies merely into a close alliance. In the case of Ireland the latter plan has always been impossible. In 1703 the Irish parliament begged for a legislative union, but as that would have involved at least partial free trade the English monopolists prevented it. By Poynings’s law (see above) England had control of all Irish legislation, and was therefore an accomplice in the penal Penal laws. laws. These provided that no Papist might teach a school or any child but his own, or send children abroad, the burden of proof lying on the accused, and the decision being left to magistrates without a jury. Mixed marriages were forbidden between persons of property, and the children might be forcibly brought up Protestants. A Catholic could not be a guardian, and all wards in chancery were brought up Protestants. The Protestant eldest son of a Catholic landed proprietor might make his father tenant for life and secure his own inheritance. Among Catholic children land went in compulsory gavelkind. Catholics could not take longer leases than thiry-one years at two-thirds of a rack rent; they were even required to conform within six months of an inheritance accruing, on pain of being ousted by the next Protestant heir. Priests from abroad were banished, and their return declared treason. All priests were required to register and to remain in their own parishes, and informers were to be rewarded at the expense of the Catholic inhabitants. No Catholic was allowed arms, two justices being empowered to search; and if he had a good horse any Protestant might claim it on tendering £5.
These laws were of course systematically evaded. The property of Roman Catholics was often preserved through Protestant trustees, and it is understood that faith was generally kept. Yet the attrition if slow was sure, and by the end of the century the proportion of land belonging to Roman Catholics was probably not more than one-tenth of the whole. We can see now that if the remaining Roman Catholic landlords had been encouraged they would have done much to reconcile the masses to the settlement. Individuals are seldom as bad as corporations, and the very men who made the laws against priests practically shielded them. The penal laws put a premium on hypocrisy, and many conformed only to preserve their property or to enable them to take office. Proselytizing schools, though supported by public grants, entirely failed.
The restraints placed by English commercial jealousy on Irish trade destroyed manufacturing industry in the south and west (see the section Economics above). Driven by the Caroline legislation against cattle into breeding Commercial restraints. sheep, Irish graziers produced the best wool in Europe. Forbidden to export it, or to work it up profitably at home, they took to smuggling, for which the indented coast gave great facilities. The enormous profits of the contraband trade with France enabled Ireland to purchase English goods to an extent greater than her whole lawful traffic. The moral effect was disastrous. The religious penal code it was thought meritorious to evade; the commercial penal code was ostentatiously defied; and both tended to make Ireland the least law-abiding country in Europe. The account of the smugglers is the most interesting and perhaps the most valuable part of J. A. Froude’s work in Ireland, and should be compared with the Irish and Scottish chapters of Lecky’s History.
When William III. promised to depress the Irish woollen trade, he promised to do all he could for Irish linen. England did not fulfil the second promise; still the Ulster weavers were not crushed, and their industry flourished. Ulster prosperous. Some Huguenot refugees, headed by Louis Crommelin (1652-1727), were established by William III. at Lisburn, and founded the manufacturing prosperity of Ulster. Other Huguenots attempted other industries, but commercial restraints brought them to nought. The peculiar character of the flax business has prevented it from crossing the mountains which bound the northern province. Wool was the natural staple of the south.
The Scottish Presbyterians who defended Londonderry were treated little better than the Irish Catholics who besieged it—the sacramental test of 1704 being the work of the English council rather than of the Irish parliament. Dissenters. In 1715 the Irish House of Commons resolved that any one who should prosecute a Presbyterian for accepting a commission in the army without taking the test was an enemy to the king and to the Protestant interest. Acts of indemnity were regularly passed throughout the reign of George II., and until 1780, when the Test Act was repealed. A bare toleration had been granted in 1720. Various abuses, especially forced labour on roads which were often private jobs, caused the Oakboy Insurrection in 1764. Eight years later the Steelboys rose against the exactions of absentee landlords, who often turned out Protestant yeomen to get a higher rent from Roman Catholic cottiers. The dispossessed men carried to America an undying hatred of England which had much to say to the American revolution, and that again reacted on Ireland. Lawless Protestant associations, called Peep o’ Day Boys, terrorized the north and were the progenitors of the Orangemen (1789). Out of the rival “defenders” Ribbonism in part sprung, and the United Irishmen drew from both sources (1791).
The Ulster peasants were never as badly off as those of the south and west. Writers the most unlike each other—Swift and Hugh Boulter, George Berkeley and George Stone, Arthur Young and Dr Thomas Campbell—all Poverty of the peasantry. tell the same tale. Towards the end of the 17th century Raleigh’s fatal gift had already become the food of the people. When Sir Stephen Rice (1637-1715), chief baron of the Irish exchequer, went to London in 1688 to urge the Catholic claims on James II., the hostile populace escorted him in mock state with potatoes stuck on poles. Had manufactures been given fair play in Ireland, population might have preserved some relation to capital. As it was, land became almost the only property, and the necessity of producing wool for smuggling kept the country in grass. The poor squatted where they could, receiving starvation wages, and paying exorbitant rents for their cabins, partly with their own labour. Unable to rise, the wretched people multiplied on their potato plots with perfect recklessness. During the famine which began in the winter of 1739 one-fifth of the population is supposed to have perished; yet it is hardly noticed in literature, and seems not to have touched the conscience of that English public which in 1755 subscribed £100,000 for the sufferers by the Lisbon earthquake. As might be expected where men were allowed to smuggle and forbidden to work, redress was sought in illegal combinations and secret societies. The dreaded name of Whiteboy was first heard in 1761; and agrarian crime has never since been long absent. Since the Union we have had the Threshers, the Terry Alts, the Molly Maguires, the Rockites, and many others. Poverty has been the real cause of all these disturbances, which were often aggravated by the existence of factions profoundly indicative of barbarism. Communism, cupidity, scoundrelism of all kinds have contributed to every disturbance. The tendency shown to screen the worst criminals is sometimes the result of sympathy, but more often of fear. The cruelties which have generally accompanied Whiteboyism is common to servile insurrections all over the world. No wonder if Irish landlords were formerly tyrannical, for they were in the position of slave-owners. The steady application of modern principles, by extending legal protection to all, has altered the slavish character of the oppressed Irish. The cruelty has not quite died out, but it is much rarer than formerly; and, generally speaking, the worst agrarianism has of late years been seen in the districts which retain most of the old features.
The medieval colony in Ireland was profoundly modified
by the pressure of the surrounding tribes. While partially
adopting their laws and customs, the descendants of the conquerors
often spoke the language of the natives, and in so doing
nearly lost their own. The Book of Howth and many documents
composed in the Pale during the 16th century show this clearly.
Those who settled in Ireland after 1641 were in a very different
mood. They hated, feared and despised the Irish, and took
pride in preserving their pure English speech. Molyneux and
Petty, who founded the Royal Society of Dublin in 1683, were
equally Englishmen, though the former was born in Ireland.
Swift and Berkeley did not consider themselves Irishmen at all.
Burke and Goldsmith, coming later, though they might not
call themselves Englishmen, were not less free from provincialism.
It would be hard to name
other four men who, within the same
period, used Shakespeare’s language with equal grace and force.
They were all educated at Trinity College, Dublin. The Sheridans
were men of Irish race, but with the religion they adopted the
literary tone of the dominant caste, which was small and exclusive,
with the virtues and the vices of an aristocracy.
Systematic infringement of English copyright was discreditable
in itself, but sure evidence of an appetite for reading. “The
bookseller’s property,” says Gibbon of his first volume, “was
twice invaded by the pirates of Dublin.” The oratory of the
day was of a high order, and incursions into the wide field of
pamphlet literature often repay the student. Handel was
appreciated in Dublin at a time when it was still the fashion
to decry him in London. The public buildings of the Irish capital
have great architectural merit, and private houses still preserve
much evidence of a refined taste. Angelica Kauffmann worked
long in Ireland; James Barry and Sir Martin Archer Shee
were of Irish birth; and on the whole, considering the
small number of educated inhabitants, it must be admitted
that the Ireland of Flood and Grattan was intellectually
The volunteers (see Flood, Henry) extorted partial free trade (1779), but manufacturing traditions had perished, and common experience shows how hard these are to recover. The demand for union was succeeded by a craving Struggle for independence. for independence. Poynings’s law was repealed, and in 1782, in Grattan’s opinion, Ireland was at last a nation. The ensuing period of eighteen years is the best known in Irish history. The quarrel and reconciliation of Flood and Grattan (q.v.), the kindly patriotism of Lord Charlemont, the eloquence, the devotion, the corruption, are household words. (Details will be found in the biographical articles on these and other men of the period.) In the parliament of 1784, out of 300 members 82 formed the regular opposition, of whom 30 were the nominees of Whig potentates and 52 were really elected. The majority contained 29 members considered independent, 44 who expected to be bought, 44 placemen, 12 sitting for regular government boroughs, and 12 who were supposed to support the government on public grounds. The remaining seats were proprietary, and were let to government for valuable consideration. The House of Lords, composed largely of borough mongers and controlled by political bishops, was even less independent. Only Protestant freeholders had votes, which encouraged leases for lives, about the worst kind of tenure, and the object of each proprietor was to control as many votes as possible. The necessity of finding Protestants checked subdivision for a time, but in 1793 the Roman Catholics received the franchise, and it became usual to make leases in common, so that each lessee should have a freehold interest of 40s. The landlord indeed had little choice, for his importance depended on the poll-book. Salaries, sinecures, even commissions in the army were reserved for those who contributed to the return of some local magnate.
But no political cause swelled the population as much as the potato. Introduced by Raleigh in 1610, the cultivation of this important tuber developed with extraordinary rapidity. The Elizabethan wars were most injurious Dependence on the potato. to industry, for men will not sow unless they hope to reap, and the very essence of military policy had been to deprive a recalcitrant people of the means of living. The Mantuan peasant was grieved at the notion of his harvest being gathered by barbarian soldiers, and the Irishman could not be better pleased to see his destroyed. There was no security for any one, and every one was tempted to live from hand to mouth. The decade of anarchy which followed 1641 stimulated this tendency fearfully. The labour of one man could plant potatoes enough to feed forty, and they could neither be destroyed nor carried away easily. When Petty wrote, early in Charles II.’s reign, this demoralizing esculent was already the national food. Potatoes cannot be kept very long, but there was no attempt to keep them at all; they were left in the ground, and dug as required. A frost which penetrated deep caused the famine of 1739. Even with the modern system of storing in pits the potato does not last through the summer, and the “meal months”—June, July and August—always brought great hardship. The danger increased as the growing population pressed ever harder upon the available land. Between 1831 and 1842 there were six seasons of dearth, approaching in some places to famine.
The population increased from 2,845,932 in 1785 to 5,356,594 in 1803. They married and were given in marriage. Wise men foresaw the deluge, but people who were already half-starved every summer did not think their case could well be worse. In 1845 the population had swelled to 8,295,061, the greater part of whom depended on the potato only. There was no margin, and when the “precarious exotic” failed an awful famine was the result.
Great public and private efforts were made to meet the case, and relief works were undertaken, on which, in March 1847, 734,000 persons, representing a family aggregate of not less than 3,000,000, were employed. It was found that labour and exposure were not good for half-starved men. The jobbing was frightful, and is probably inseparable from wholesale operations of this kind. The policy of the government was accordingly changed, and the task of feeding a whole people was undertaken. More than 3,000,000 rations, generally cooked, were at one time distributed, but no exertions could altogether avert death in a country where the usual machinery for carrying, distributing and preparing food was almost entirely wanting. From 200,000 to 300,000 perished of starvation or of fever caused by insufficient food. An exodus followed which, necessary as it was, caused dreadful hardship, and among the Roman Catholic Irish in America Fenianism took its rise. One good result of the famine was thoroughly to awaken Englishmen to their duty towards Ireland. Since then, purse-strings have been even too readily untied at the call of Irish distress.
Great brutalities disgraced the rebellion of 1798, but the people had suffered much and had French examples before them. The real originator of the movement was Theobald Wolfe Tone (q.v.), whose proffered services Rebellion of 1798. were rejected by Pitt, and who founded the United Irishmen. His Parisian adventures detailed by himself are most interesting, and his tomb is still the object of an annual pilgrimage. Tone was a Protestant, but he had imbibed socialist ideas, and hated the priests whose influence counteracted his own. In Wexford, where the insurrection went farthest, the ablest leaders were priests, but they acted against the policy of their church.
The inevitable union followed (1st January 1801). From this period the history of Ireland naturally becomes intermingled with English politics (see English History), and much of the detail will also be found in the biographical Union of Great Britain and Ireland. articles on prominent Irishmen and other politicians. Pitt had some time before (1785) offered a commercial partnership, which had been rejected on the ground that it involved the ultimate right of England to tax Ireland. He was not less liberally inclined in religious matters, but George III. stood in the way, and like William III. the minister would not risk his imperial designs. Carried in great measure by means as corrupt as those by which the constitution of ’82 had been worked, the union earned no gratitude. But it was a political necessity, and Grattan never gave his countrymen worse advice than when he urged them to “keep knocking at the union.” The advice has, however, been taken. Robert Catholic Emancipation. Emmet’s insurrection (1803) was the first emphatic protest. Then came the struggle for emancipation. It was proposed to couple the boon with a veto on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops. It was the ghost of the old question of investitures. The remnant of the Roman Catholic aristocracy would have granted it; even Pius VII. was not invincibly opposed to it; but Daniel O’Connell took the lead against it. Under his guidance the Catholic association became a formidable body. At last the priests gained control of the elections; the victor of Waterloo was obliged to confess that the king’s government could no longer be carried on, and Catholic emancipation had to be granted in 1829. The tithe war followed, and this most oppressive of all taxes was unfortunately commuted (1838) only in deference to clamour and violence. The repeal agitation was Repeal agitation. unsuccessful, but let us not be extreme to mark the faults of O’Connell’s later years. He doubtless believed in repeal at first; probably he ceased to believe in it, but he was already deeply committed, and had abandoned a lucrative profession for politics. With some help from Father Mathew he kept the monster meetings in order, and his constant denunciations of lawless violence distinguish him from his imitators. His trial took place in 1844. There is a sympathetic sketch of O’Connell’s career in Lecky’s Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland (1871); Sir Thomas Wyse’s Historical Sketch of the late Catholic Association (1829) gives the best account of the religious struggle, and much may be learned from W. J. Fitzpatrick’s Life of Bishop Doyle (1880).
The national system of education introduced in 1833 was the real recantation of intolerant opinions, but the economic state of Ireland was fearful. The famine, emigration and the new poor law nearly got rid of starvation, but the people never became frankly loyal, feeling that they owed more to their own importunity and to their own misfortunes than to the wisdom of their rulers. The literary efforts of young Ireland eventuated in another rebellion (1848); a revolutionary wave could not roll over Europe without touching the unlucky island. After the failure of that outbreak there was peace until the close of the American civil war released a number of adventurers trained to the use of arms and filled with hatred to England.
Already in 1858 the discovery of the Phoenix conspiracy had shown that the policy of John Mitchel (1815-1875) and his associates was not forgotten. John O’Mahony, one of the men of ’48, organized a formidable secret society in America, which his historical studies led him to call the Fenian brotherhood (see Fenians).
The Fenian movement disclosed much discontent, and was attended by criminal outrages in England. The disestablishment of the Irish Church, the privileged position of which had long been condemned by public opinion, was then decreed (1869) and the land question was next taken in hand (1870). These reforms did not, however, put an end to Irish agitation. The Home Rule party which demanded the restoration of a separate Irish parliament, showed increased activity, and the general election of 1874 gave it a strong representation at Westminster, where one section of the party developed into the “obstructionists” (see the articles on Isaac Butt and C. S. Parnell).
Isaac Butt, who died in May 1879, led a parliamentary party of fifty-four, but the Conservatives were strong enough to outvote them and the Liberals together. His procedure was essentially lawyer-like, for he respected the House of Commons and dreaded revolutionary violence. His death left the field clear for younger and bolder men. William Shaw succeeded him as chairman of the Irish party in Parliament; but after the election of 1880, Parnell, who had the Land League at his back, ousted him by 23 votes to 18.
The Land Law of 1860, known as Deasy’s Act, had been based on the principle that every tenancy rested on contract either expressed or implied. The act of 1870, admitting the divergence between theory and practice, The Land League. protected the tenants’ improvements and provided compensation for disturbance within certain limits, but not where the ejectment was for non-payment of rent. In good times this worked well enough, but foreign competition began to tell, and 1879 was the worst of several bad seasons. A succession of wet summers told against all farmers, and in mountainous districts it was difficult to dry the turf on which the people depended for fuel. A famine was feared, and in the west there was much real distress. The Land League, of which Michael Davitt (q.v.) was the founder, originated in Mayo in August, and at a meeting in Dublin in October the organization was extended to all Ireland, with Parnell as president. The country was thickly covered with branches before the end of the year, and in December Parnell went to America to collect money. He was absent just three months, visiting over sixty cities and towns; and 200,000 dollars were subscribed. Parnell had to conciliate the Clan-na-Gael and the Fenians generally, both in Ireland and America, while abstaining from action which would make his parliamentary position untenable. He did not deny that he would like an armed rebellion, but acknowledged that it was an impossibility. Speaking at Cincinnati on the 23rd of February 1880, he declared that the first thing necessary was to undermine English power by destroying the Irish landlords. Ireland might thus become independent. “And let us not forget,” he added, “that that is the ultimate goal at which all we Irishmen aim. None of us, whether we be in America or in Ireland, or wherever we may be, will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which keeps Ireland bound to England.” At Galway in October of the same year he said that he “would not have taken off his coat” to help the tenant farmers had he not known that that was the way to legislative independence. Fenianism and agrarianism, essentially different as they are, might be worked to the same end.
To meet the partial failure of the potatoes in Connaught and Donegal, very large sums were subscribed and administered by two committees, one under the duchess of Marlborough and the other under the lord mayor of Dublin. When Lord Beaconsfield appealed to the country in March 1880, he reminded the country in a letter to the viceroy, the duke of Marlborough, that there was a party in Ireland “attempting to sever the constitutional tie which unites it to Great Britain in that bond which has favoured the power and prosperity of both,” and that such an agitation might in the end be “scarcely less disastrous than pestilence and famine.” But the general election did not turn mainly upon Ireland, and the result gave Gladstone a majority of 50 over Conservatives and Home Rulers combined. Earl Cowper became lord-lieutenant, with W. E. Forster (q.v.) as chief secretary, and Parnell remained chairman of his own party in parliament. The Compensation for Disturbance Bill, even where the ejectment was for non-payment of rent, passed the House of Commons, but the Lords threw it out, and this has often been represented as the great cause of future trouble. Probably it made little real difference, for the extreme party in Ireland were resolved to stop at nothing. It is not easy to defend the principle that a landlord who has already lost his rent should also have to pay the defaulter before getting a new tenant or deriving a profit from the farm by working it Boycotting. himself. Speaking at Ennis on the 19th of September, Parnell told the people to punish a man for taking a farm from which another had been evicted “by isolating him from his kind as if he was a leper of old.” The advice was at once taken and its scope largely extended. For refusing to receive rents at figures fixed by the tenants, Captain Boycott (1832-1897), Lord Erne’s agent in Mayo, was severely “boycotted,” the name of the first victim being given to the new system. His servants were forced to leave him, his crops were left unsaved, even the post and telegraph were interfered with. The Ulster Orangemen resolved to get in the crops, and to go in armed force sufficient for the purpose. The government allowed 50 of them to go under the protection of about 900 soldiers. The cost seemed great, but the work was done and the law vindicated. In Cork William Bence-Jones (1812-1882) was attacked. The men in the service of the steam-packet companies refused to put his cattle on board, and they were eventually smuggled across the Channel in small lots. Several associations were formed which had more or less success against the League, and at last a direct attack was made. Parnell with four other members of parliament and the chief officers of the Land League were indicted for conspiracy in the Queen’s Bench. No means of intimidating the jurors was neglected, and in the then state of public feeling a verdict was hardly to be expected. On the 25th of January 1881 the jury disagreed, and Parnell became stronger than ever.
Then followed a reign of terror which lasted for years. No one was safe, and private spite worked freely in the name of freedom. The system originated by Parnell’s Ennis speech became an all-devouring tyranny. In the House of Commons, on the 24th of May 1882, Gladstone said that boycotting required a sanction like every other creed, and that the sanction which alone made it effective “is the murder which is not to be denounced.” The following description by a resident in Munster was published in The Times of the 5th of November 1885: “Boycotting means that a peaceable subject of the queen is denied food and drink, and that he is ruined in his business; that his cattle are unsaleable at fairs; that the smith will not shoe his horse, nor the carpenter mend his cart; that old friends pass him by on the other side, making the sign of the cross; that his children are hooted at the village school; that he sits apart like an outcast in his usual place of public worship: all for doing nothing but what the law says he has a perfect right to do. I know of a man who is afraid to visit his own son. A trader who is even suspected of dealing with such a victim of tyranny may be ruined by the mere imputation; his customers shun him from fear, and he is obliged to get a character from some notorious leaguer. Membership of the National League is, in many cases, as necessary a protection as ever was a certificate of civism under Robespierre. The real Jacobins are few, but the masses groan and submit.” Medicine was refused by a shopkeeper even for the sick child of a boycotted person. A clergyman was threatened for visiting a parishioner who was under the ban of the League. Sometimes no one could be found to dig a grave. The League interfered in every relation of life, and the mere fact of not belonging to it was often severely punished. “The people,” says the report of the Cowper Commission, “are more afraid of boycotting, which depends for its success on the probability of outrage, than they are of the judgments of the courts of justice. This unwritten law in some districts is supreme.”
The session of parliament of 1881 was chiefly occupied with Ireland. “With fatal and painful precision,” Gladstone told the House of Commons on the 28th of January, “the steps of crime dogged the steps of the Land Coercion. League,” and the first thing was to restore the supremacy of the law. In 1871 there had been an agrarian war in Westmeath, and an act had been passed authorizing the arrest of suspected persons and their detention without trial. The ringleaders disappeared and the county became quiet again. It was now proposed to do the same thing for the whole of Ireland, the power of detention to continue until the 30th of September 1882. Parnell cared nothing for the dignity of the House of Commons. His leading idea was that no concession could be got from England by fair means, and he made himself as disagreeable as possible. Parliamentary forms were used with great success to obstruct parliamentary action. The “Coercion Bill” was introduced on the 24th of January 1881. There was a sitting of 22 hours and another of 41 hours, and on the 2nd of February the debate was closured by the Speaker on his own responsibility and the bill read a first time. The Speaker’s action was approved by the House generally, but acrimonious debates were raised by Irish members. Parnell and 35 of his colleagues were suspended, and the bill became law on the 2nd of March, but not before great and permanent changes were made in parliamentary procedure. An Arms Bill, which excited the same sort of opposition, was also passed into law.
That a Land Act should be passed was a foregone conclusion as soon as the result of the general election was known. There were many drafts and plans which never saw the light, but it was at last resolved to adopt the policy Land Act, 1881. known as the “Three F’s”—free sale, fixity of tenure and fair rents. By the first tenants at will were empowered to sell their occupation interests, the landlord retaining a right of pre-emption. By the second the tenant was secured from eviction except for non-payment of rent. By the third the tenant was given the right to have a “fair rent” fixed by a newly formed Land Commission Court, the element of competition being entirely excluded. There were several exceptions and qualifying clauses, but most of them have been swept away by later acts. The act of 1881 can scarcely be said to have worked well or smoothly, but it is not easy to see how any sort of settlement could have been reached without accepting the principle of having the rent fixed by a third party. Drastic as the bill was, Parnell refused to be a party to it, and on the second reading, which was carried by 352 to 176, he walked out of the House with 35 of his followers. When the bill became law in August he could not prevent the tenants from using it, but he did what he could to discourage them in order to please his American paymasters, who repudiated all parliamentary remedies. In September a convention was held in Dublin, and Parnell reported its action to the American Land League: “Resolutions were adopted for national self-government, the unconditional liberation of the land for the people, tenants not to use the rent-fixing clauses of the Land Act, but follow old Land League lines, and rely on the old methods to reach justice. The executive of the League is empowered to select test cases, in order that tenants in surrounding districts may realize, by the results of cases decided, the hollowness of the act” (Barry O’Brien, Life of C. S. Parnell, i. 306). His organ United Ireland declared that the new courts must be cowed into giving satisfactory decisions. The League, however, could not prevent the farmers from using the fair-rent clauses. It was more successful in preventing free sale, maintaining the doctrine that, rent or no rent, no evictions were to be allowed. At the first sitting of the Land Commission in Dublin the crier, perhaps by accident, declared “the court of the Land League to be open.” Speaking at Leeds on the 7th of October, Gladstone said “the resources of civilization were not exhausted,” adding that Parnell “stood between the living and the dead, not like Aaron to stay the plague, but to spread the plague.” Two days later Parnell called the prime minister a “masquerading knight-errant,” ready to oppress the unarmed, but submissive to the Boers as soon as he found “that they were able to shoot straighter than his own soldiers.” Four days after this Parnell was arrested under the Coercion Act and lodged in Kilmainham Kilmainham “Treaty.” gaol. The Land League having retorted by ordering the tenants to pay no rent, it was declared illegal, and suppressed by proclamation. Parnell is said to have disapproved of the no-rent manifesto, as also Mr John Dillon, who was in Kilmainham with him, but both of them signed it (ib. i. 319). At Liverpool on the 27th of October Gladstone described Parnell and his party as “marching through rapine to the disintegration and dismemberment of the empire.” In 1881, 4439 agrarian outrages were reported; nothing attracted more attention in England than the cruel mutilations of cattle, which became very frequent. The Ladies’ Land League tried to carry on the work of the suppressed organization and there was even an attempt at a Children’s League. Sex had no effect in softening the prevalent style of oratory, but the government thought it better to take no notice. The imprisonment of suspects under the Coercion Act had not the expected result, and outrages were incessant, the agitation being supported by constant supplies of money from America. Gladstone resolved on a complete change of policy. It was decided to check evictions by an Arrears Bill, and the three imprisoned members of parliament—Messrs Parnell, Dillon and O’Kelly—were released on the 2nd of May 1882, against the wishes of the Irish government. This was known as the Kilmainham Treaty. Lord Cowper and Forster at once resigned, and were succeeded by Lord Spencer and Lord Frederick Cavendish, who entered Dublin on the 6th of May.
That same evening Lord Frederick and the permanent under-secretary Thomas Henry Burke were murdered in the Phoenix Park in broad daylight. The weapons were amputating knives imported for the purpose. The assassins drove Phoenix Park murders. rapidly away; no one, not even those who saw the deed from a distance, knew what had been done. A Dublin tradesman named Field, who had been a juror in a murder trial, was attacked by the same gang and stabbed in many places. He escaped with life, though with shattered health, and it was the identification of the man who drove his assailants’ car that afterwards led to the discovery of the whole conspiracy. The clue was obtained by a private examination of suspected persons under the powers given by the Crimes Act. To obtain convictions the evidence of an informer was wanted, and the person selected was James Carey, a member of the Dublin Corporation and a chief contriver of the murders. He swore that they had been ordered immediately after the appearance of an article in the Freeman’s Journal which declared that a “clean sweep” should be made of Dublin Castle officials. The evidence disclosed the fact that several abortive attempts had been previously made to murder Forster. Out of twenty persons, subsequently arraigned, five were hanged, and others sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Carey embarked for South Africa in the following July, and was murdered on board ship by Patrick O’Donnell, who was brought to England, convicted, and hanged on the 17th of December 1883.
Mr (afterwards Sir) G. O. Trevelyan had been appointed chief secretary in May 1882, and in July the Crimes Prevention Act was passed for three years on lines indicated by Lord Cowper. In the first six months of the year National League. 2597 agrarian outrages were reported, and in the last six months 836. They fell to 834 in 1883, and to 744 in 1884. The Arrears Bill also became law. Money enough was advanced out of the surplus property of the Irish Church to pay for tenants of holdings under £30 one year’s rent upon all arrears accruing before November 1880, giving them a clear receipt to that date on condition of their paying another year themselves; of the many reasons against the measure the most important was that it was a concession to agrarian violence. But the same could be and was said of the Land Act of 1881. That had been passed, and it was probably impossible to make it work at all smoothly without checking evictions by dealing with old arrears. The Irish National League was, however, founded in October to take up the work of the defunct Land League, and the country continued to be disturbed. The law was paralysed, for no jury could be trusted to convict even on the clearest evidence, and the National League branches assumed judicial functions. Men were openly tried all over the country for disobeying the revolutionary decrees, and private spite was often the cause of their being accused. “Tenants,” to quote the Cowper Commission again, “who have paid even the judicial rents have been summoned to appear before self-constituted tribunals, and if they failed to do so, or on appearing failed to satisfy those tribunals, have been fined or boycotted.” In February 1883 Mr Trevelyan gave an account of his stewardship at Hawick, and said that all law-abiding Irishmen, whether Conservative or Liberal, were on one side, while on the other were those who “planned and executed the Galway and Dublin murders, the boycotting and firing into houses, the mutilation of cattle and intimidation of every sort.” In this year the campaign of outrage in Ireland Dynamite. was reinforced by one of dynamite in Great Britain. The home secretary, Sir W. Harcourt, brought in an Explosives Bill on the 9th of April, which was passed through all its stages in one day and received the royal assent on the next. The dynamiters were for the most part Irish-Americans, who for obvious reasons generally spared Ireland, but one land-agent’s house in Kerry was shaken to its foundations in November 1884. At Belfast in the preceding June Lord Spencer, who afterwards became a Home Ruler, had announced that the secret conspirators would “not terrify the English nation.” On the 22nd of February 1883 Forster made his great attack on Parnell in the House of Commons, accusing him of moral complicity with Irish crime. A detailed answer was never attempted, and public attention was soon drawn to the trial of the “Invincibles” who contrived the Phoenix Park murders. On the 11th of December Parnell received a present of £37,000 from his followers in Ireland. The tribute, as it was called, was raised in spite of a papal prohibition. As a complement Labourers Act. to the Land Act and Arrears Act, boards of guardians were this year empowered to build labourers’ cottages with money borrowed on the security of the rates and repayable out of them. Half an acre of land went with the cottage, and by a later act this was unwisely extended to one acre. That the labourers had been badly housed was evident, and there was little chance of improvement by private capitalists, for cottage property is not remunerative. But the working of the Labourers Acts was very costly, cottages being often assigned to people who were not agricultural labourers at all. In many districts the building was quite overdone, and the rent obtainable being far less than enough to recoup the guardians, the system operated as out-door relief for the able-bodied and as a rate in aid of wages.
The Explosives Act, strong as it was, did not at once effect its object. In February 1884 there was a plot to blow up four London railway stations by means of clockwork infernal machines containing dynamite, brought from America. Three Irish-Americans were convicted, of whom one, John Daly, who was sentenced to penal servitude for life, lived to be mayor of Limerick in 1899. In January 1885 Parnell visited Thurles, where he gave a remarkable proof of his power by breaking down local opposition to his candidate for Tipperary. In April the prince and princess of Wales visited Ireland. At Dublin they were well received, and at Belfast enthusiastically, but there were hostile demonstrations at Mallow and Cork. In May it was intended to renew the Crimes Prevention Act, but before that was done the government was beaten on a financial question by 264 to 252, Parnell and 39 of his followers voting with the Conservatives. The Crimes Prevention Act expired on the 12th of July, and the want of it was at once felt. The number of agrarian outrages reported in the first six months of the year was 373; in the last six months they rose to 543, and the number of persons boycotted was almost trebled. Lord Salisbury came into office, with Lord Carnarvon as lord-lieutenant and Sir W. Hart Dyke as chief secretary. The lord-lieutenant had an interview with Parnell, of which very conflicting accounts were given, but the Irish leader issued a manifesto advising his friends to vote against the Liberals as oppressors and coercionists, who promised everything and did nothing. The constitutional Liberal party in Ireland was in fact annihilated by the extension of the franchise to agricultural labourers and very small farmers. The most important Irish measure of Ashbourne Act. the session was the Ashbourne Act, by which £5,000,000 was allotted on the security of the land for the creation of an occupying proprietary. Later the same sum was again granted, and there was still a good deal unexpended when the larger measure of 1891 became law. In December 1885, when the general election was over, an anonymous scheme of Home Rule appeared in some newspapers, and in spite of disclaimers it was at once believed that Gladstone had made up his mind to surrender. In October 1884, only fourteen months before, he had told political friends that he had a sneaking regard for Parnell, and that Home Rule might be a matter for serious consideration within ten years (Sir A. West’s Recollections, 1899, ii. 206). The shortening of the time was perhaps accounted for by the fact that the new House of Commons consisted of 331 Liberals, 249 Conservatives, 86 Home Rulers and Independents, Parnell thus holding the balance of parties. In Ireland there had been 66 elections contested, and out of 451,000 voters 93,000 were illiterates. Such were the constituencies to whom it was proposed to hand Ireland over. On the 26th of January 1886 the government were defeated by a combination of Liberal and Nationalists on an issue not directly connected with Ireland, and their resignation Home Rule Bill, 1886. immediately followed. Gladstone became prime minister, with Lord Aberdeen as lord-lieutenant and Mr John Morley as chief secretary. Lord Hartington and Mr Goschen were not included in this administration. In February Parnell again showed his power by forcing Captain O’Shea upon the unwilling electors of Galway. He introduced a Land Bill to relieve tenants from legal process if they paid half their rent, and foretold disorder in consequence of its rejection. In April the Government of Ireland Bill was brought in, Mr Chamberlain (q.v.), Mr Trevelyan and others leaving the ministry. The bill attempted to safeguard British interests, while leaving Ireland at the mercy of the native politicians. Irish members were excluded from the imperial parliament. The local legislature was to consist of two orders sitting and voting together, but with the power of separating on the demand of either order present. The 28 representative peers, with 75 other members having an income of £200, or a capital of £4000, elected for ten years by £25 occupiers, were to constitute the first order. The second was to have 204 members returned for five years by the usual parliamentary electorate. The status of the lord-lieutenant was unalterable by this legislature. Holders of judicial offices and permanent civil servants had the option of retiring with pensions, but the constabulary, whom the Home Rulers had openly threatened to punish when their time came, were to come after an interval under the power of the Irish Parliament. Parnell accepted the bill, but without enthusiasm.
The Government of Ireland Bill gave no protection to landowners, but as the crisis was mainly agrarian, it would have been hardly decent to make no show of considering them. A Land Purchase Bill was accordingly introduced on the 16th of April by the prime minister under “an obligation of honour and policy,” to use his own words. Fifty millions sterling in three years was proposed as payment for what had been officially undervalued at 113 millions. It was assumed that there would be a rush to sell, the choice apparently lying between that and confiscation, and priority was to be decided by lot. The Irish landlords, however, showed no disposition to sell their country, and the Purchase Bill was quickly dropped, though Gladstone had declared the two measures to be inseparable. He reminded the landlords that the “sands were running in the hour-glass,” but this threat had no effect. The Unionists of Ireland had been taken by surprise, and out of Ulster they had no organization capable of opposing the National League and the government combined. Individuals went to England and spoke wherever they could get a hearing, but it was uphill work. In Ulster the Orange lodges were always available, and the large Protestant population made itself felt. Terrible riots took place at Belfast in June, July and August. In October there was an inquiry by a royal commission with Mr Justice Day at its head, and on the report being published in the following January there were fresh riots. Foolish and criminal as these disturbances were, they served to remind the English people that Ireland would not cease to be troublesome under Home Rule. In parliament the Home Rule Bill soon got into rough water; John Bright declared against it. The “dissentient Liberals,” as Gladstone always called them, were not converted by the abandonment of the Purchase Bill, and on the 7th of June 93 of them voted against the second reading, which was lost by 30 votes. A general election followed in July, and 74 Liberal Unionists were returned, forming with the Conservatives a Unionist party, which outnumbered Gladstonians and Parnellites together by over a hundred. Gladstone resigned, and Lord Salisbury became prime minister, with Lord Londonderry as lord-lieutenant and Sir M. Hicks-Beach (afterwards Lord St Aldwyn) as chief secretary.
The political stroke having failed, agrarianism again occupied the ground. The “plan of campaign” was started, against Parnell’s wishes, towards the end of 1886. The gist of this movement was that tenants should offer what The “Plan of Campaign.” they were pleased to consider a fair rent, and if it was refused, should pay the money into the hands of a committee. In March 1887 Sir M. Hicks-Beach resigned on account of illness, and Mr Arthur Balfour (q.v.) became chief secretary. The attempt to govern Ireland under what was called “the ordinary law” was necessarily abandoned, and a perpetual Crimes Act was passed which enabled the lord-lieutenant to proclaim disturbed districts and dangerous associations, and substituted trial by magistrates for trial by jury in the case of certain acts of violence. In August the National League was suppressed by proclamation. The conservative instincts of the Vatican were alarmed by the lawless state of Ireland, and an eminent ecclesiastic, Monsignor Persico, arrived in the late summer on a special commission of inquiry. He made no secret of his belief that the establishment of an occupying proprietary was the only lasting cure, but the attitude of the clergy became gradually more moderate. The government passed a bill giving leaseholders the benefit of the act of 1881, and prescribing a temporary reduction upon judicial rents already fixed. This last provision was open to many great and obvious objections, but was more or less justified by the fall in prices which had taken place since 1881.
The steady administration of the Crimes Act by Mr Balfour gradually quieted the country. Parnell had now gained the bulk of the Liberal party, including Lord Spencer (in spite of all that he had said and done) and Sir G. Trevelyan (in spite of his Hawick speech). In the circumstances the best chance for Home Rule was not to stir the land question. Cecil Rhodes, hoping to help imperial federation, gave Parnell £10,000 for the cause. In September 1887 a riot arising out of the “plan of campaign” took place at Mitchelstown. The police fired, and two lives were lost, Mr Henry Labouchere and Mr (afterwards Sir John) Brunner, both members of parliament, being present at the time. The coroner’s jury brought in a verdict against the police, but that was a matter of course, and the government ignored it. A telegram sent by Gladstone a little later, ending with the words “remember Mitchelstown,” created a good deal of feeling, but it did the Home Rulers no good. In October Mr Chamberlain visited Ulster, where he was received with enthusiasm, and delivered several stirring Unionist speeches. In November Lord Hartington and Mr Goschen were in Dublin, and addressed a great loyalist meeting there.
In July 1888 an act was passed appointing a commission, consisting of Sir James Hannen, Mr Justice Day and Mr Justice A. L. Smith, to inquire into certain charges made by The Times against Parnell and his party. What Parnell Commission. caused most excitement was the publication by The Times on the 15th of May 1887 of a facsimile letter purporting to have been written by Parnell on the 15th of May 1882, nine days after the Phoenix Park murders. The writer of this letter suggested that his open condemnation of the murders had been a matter of expediency, and that Burke deserved his fate. Parnell at once declared that this was a forgery, but he did nothing more at the time. Other alleged incriminating letters followed. The case of O’Donnell v. Walter, tried before the Lord Chief Justice of England in July 1888, brought matters to a head, and the special commission followed. The proceedings were necessarily of enormous length, and the commissioners did not report until the 13th of February 1890, but the question of the letters was decided just twelve months earlier, Richard Pigott, who shot himself at Madrid, having confessed to the forgeries. A few days later, on the 8th of March 1889, Parnell was entertained at dinner by the Eighty Club, Lords Spencer and Rosebery being present; and he was well received on English platforms when he chose to appear. Yet the special commission shed a flood of light on the agrarian and Nationalist movement in Ireland. Eight members of parliament were pronounced by name to have conspired for the total political separation of the two islands. The whole party were proved to have disseminated newspapers tending to incite to sedition and the commission of crime, to have abstained from denouncing the system of intimidation, and to have compensated persons injured in committing crime. (See Parnell.)
The conduct of the agrarian war had in the meantime almost passed from Parnell’s hands. The “plan of campaign” was not his work, still less its latest and most remarkable exploit. To punish Mr Smith-Barry (afterwards New Tipperary. Lord Barrymore) for his exertions in favour of a brother landlord, his tenants in Tipperary were ordered to give up their holdings. A sum of £50,000 was collected to build “New Tipperary,” and the fine shops and flourishing concerns in the town were deserted to avoid paying small ground-rents. The same course was pursued with the farmers, some of whom had large capitals invested. Mr William O’Brien presided at the inaugural dinner on the 12th of April, and some English M.P.’s were present, but his chief supporter throughout was Father Humphreys. Parnell was invited, but neither came nor answered. No shopkeeper nor farmer had any quarrel with his landlord. “Heretofore,” a tenant wrote in The Times in the following December, “people were boycotted for taking farms; I am boycotted for not giving up mine, which I have held for twenty-five years. A neighbour of mine, an Englishman, is undergoing the same treatment, and we alone. We are the only Protestant tenants on the Cashel estate. The remainder of the tenants, about thirty, are clearing everything off their land, and say they will allow themselves to be evicted.” In the end the attack on Mr Smith-Barry completely failed, and he took back his misguided tenants. But the town of Tipperary has not recovered its old prosperity.
The principal Irish measure passed in 1891 was Mr Balfour’s Purchase Act, to extend and modify the operation of the Ashbourne acts. £30,000,000 were provided to convert tenants into proprietors, the instalments paid being Land purchase. again available, so that all the tenanted land in Ireland might ultimately be passed through if desired. The land itself in one shape or another formed the security, and guaranteed stock was issued which the holder might exchange for consols. The 40th clause of the Land Act of 1896 greatly stimulated the creation of occupying owners in the case of over-incumbered estates, but solvent landlords were not in a hurry to sell. The interests of the tenant were so carefully guarded that the prices obtainable were ruinous to the vendor unless he had other resources. The security of the treasury was also so jealously scrutinized that even the price which the tenant might be willing to pay was often disallowed. Thus the Land Commission really fixed the price of all property, and the last vestige of free contract was obliterated. Compulsory purchase became a popular cry, especially in Ulster. Owners, however, could not with any pretence of justice be forced to sell at ruinous prices, nor tenants be forced to give more than they thought fair. If the state, for purposes of its own, insisted upon expropriating all landlords, it was bound to find the difference, or to enter upon a course of undisguised confiscation. The Purchase Act was not the only one relied on by Mr Balfour. The Light Railways Act, passed by him in 1890, did much to open up some of the poorest parts of the west, and the temporary scarcity of that year was dealt with by relief works.
An action begun by Parnell against The Times was settled by the payment of a substantial sum. The Nationalist leader seemed to stand higher than ever, but the writ in the divorce proceedings, brought by Captain O’Shea against his wife, with Parnell’s downfall. the Irish leader as co-respondent, was hanging over him. To public astonishment, when the case came on for trial there was no defence, and on the 17th of November 1890 a decree nisi was granted. Parnell’s subsequent marriage with the respondent before a registrar did him no good with his Roman Catholic supporters. The Irish bishops remained silent, while in England the “Nonconformist conscience” revolted. Three days after the verdict a great meeting was held in the Leinster Hall, Dublin, attended by 25 members of the Irish parliamentary party. The result was an enthusiastic vote of confidence in Parnell, moved by Mr Justin M‘Carthy and seconded by Mr T. M. Healy. Five days later he was unanimously re-elected chairman by his party in parliament, but the meeting was scarcely over when Gladstone’s famous letter to Mr Morley became public. The writer in effect demanded Parnell’s resignation of the leadership as the condition upon which he could continue at the head of the Liberal party. He had to choose between the Nonconformist vote and the Irish leader, and he preferred the former. Next day the secession of the Irish members from their chief began. Long and acrimonious debates followed in committee-room 15, and on the 6th of December Parnell was left in the chair with only 26 supporters. The majority of 45 members—Anti-Parnellites, as they came to be called—went into another room, unanimously deposed him, and elected Mr Justin M‘Carthy in his place. Parnell then began a campaign as hopeless as that of Napoleon after Leipzig. He seized the office of United Ireland in person. The Fenian element was with him, as he admitted, but the clergy were against him, and the odds were too great, especially against a Protestant politician. His candidate in a by-election at Kilkenny was beaten by nearly two to one, and he himself was injured in the eyes by lime being thrown at him. Similar defeats followed at Sligo and Carlow. He went over to France to meet Messrs Dillon and O’Brien, who had not yet taken sides, but nothing was agreed to, and in the end both these former followers went against him. Every Saturday he went from London to Dublin and addressed some Sunday meeting in the country. The last was on the 27th of September. On the 6th of October 1891 he died at Brighton, from the effects of a chill following on overwork and excitement. His funeral at Glasnevin was attended by 200,000 people. At the general election of 1892, however, only 9 Parnellites—the section which under Mr John Redmond remained staunch to his memory—were returned to parliament.
The “Parnellite split,” as it was called, proved fatal to the cause of Home Rule, for the Nationalist party broke up into factions. No one of the sectional leaders commanded general confidence, and personal rivalries were of the bitterest kind. An important result of these quarrels was to stop the supply of American money, without which neither the Land League nor the Home Rule agitation could have been worked. The Unionist party had adopted a policy of local government for Ireland while opposing legislative independence, and a bill was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr Balfour in February 1892. The principle was affirmed by a great majority, but the measure could not then be proceeded with. At the general election in July the Gladstonians and Nationalists together obtained a majority of 40 over Conservatives and Liberal Unionists. Lord Salisbury resigned in August, and was succeeded by Gladstone, with Lord Houghton (afterwards earl of Crewe) as lord-lieutenant and Mr John Morley as chief secretary. The Crimes Act, which had already been relaxed, was altogether suspended, and the proclamation declaring the National League illegal was revoked. The lord-lieutenant, on taking up his quarters in Dublin, refused a loyal address because of its Unionist tone; and in October the government issued a commission, with Mr Justice Mathew as chairman, which had the restoration of the evicted tenants as its avowed object. Two of the commissioners very shortly resigned, and the whole inquiry became somewhat farcical. It was given in evidence that out of £234,431 collected under the plan of campaign only £125,000 had been given to evicted tenants. In February 1893, on the application of the sheriff of Kerry, an order from Dublin Castle, refusing protection, was pronounced illegal in the Queen’s Bench, and persons issuing it were declared liable to criminal prosecution. In the same month Gladstone Home Rule Bill 1893. introduced his second Home Rule Bill, which proposed to retain 80 Irish members in the imperial parliament instead of 103, but they were not to vote on any proceedings expressly confined to Great Britain. On the 8th of April 1886 he had told the House of Commons that it “passed the wit of man” to draw a practical distinction between imperial and non-imperial affairs. On the 20th of July 1888 he informed the same assembly that there was no difficulty in doing so. It had become evident, in the meantime, to numberless Englishmen that the exclusion of the Irish members would mean virtual separation. The plan now proposed met with no greater favour, for a good many English Home Rulers had been mainly actuated all along by the wish to get the Irish members out of their way. The financial provisions of the bill were objected to by the Nationalists as tending to keep Ireland in bondage.
During the year 1892 a vast number of Unionist meetings were held throughout Ireland, the most remarkable being the great Ulster convention in Belfast, and that of the three other provinces in Dublin, on the 14th and 23rd of June. On the 22nd of April 1893, the day after the second reading of the bill, the Albert Hall in London was filled by enthusiastic Unionist delegates from all parts of Ireland. Next day the visitors were entertained by Lord Salisbury at Hatfield, the duke of Devonshire, Mr Balfour, Mr Goschen and Mr Chamberlain being present. Between the second reading and the third on 1st September the government majority fell from 43 to 34. A great part of the bill was closured by what was known as the device of the “gag” without discussion, although it occupied the House of Commons altogether eighty-two nights. It was thrown out by the Lords by 419 to 41, and the country undoubtedly acquiesced in their action. On the 3rd of March 1894 Gladstone resigned, and Lord Rosebery (q.v.) became prime minister. A bill to repeal the Crimes Act of 1887 was read a second time in the Commons by 60, but went no farther. A committee on the Irish Land Acts was closured at the end of July by the casting vote of the chairman, Mr Morley, and the minority refused to join in the report. The bill to restore the evicted tenants, which resulted from the Mathew Commission, was rejected in the Lords by 249 to 30. In March 1895 Mr Morley introduced a Land Bill, but the government majority continued to dwindle. Another Crimes Act Repeal Bill passed the second reading in May by only 222 to 208. In July, however, the government were defeated on the question of the supply of small-arms ammunition. A general election followed, which resulted in a Unionist majority of 150. The Liberal Unionists, whose extinction had once been so confidently foretold, had increased from 46 to 71, and the Parnellites, in spite of the most violent clerical opposition, from 9 to 12. Lord Cadogan became lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and Mr Gerald Balfour—who announced a policy of “killing Home Rule by kindness”—chief secretary.
In the session of 1896 a new Land Act was added to the statute-book. The general effect was to decide most disputed points in favour of the tenants, and to repeal the exceptions made by former acts in the landlord’s Land Act 1896. favour. Dairy farms, to mention only a few of the most important points which had been hitherto excluded, were admitted within the scope of the Land Acts, and purely pastoral holdings of between £50 and £100 were for the first time included. A presumption of law in the tenant’s favour was created as to improvements made since 1850. The 40th clause introduced the principle of compulsory sale to the tenants of estates in the hands of receivers. The tendency of this provision to lower the value of all property was partly, but only partly, neutralized by the firmness of the land judge. The landlords of Ireland, who had made so many sacrifices and worked so hard to return Lord Salisbury to power, felt that the measure was hardly what they had a right to expect from a Unionist administration. In their opinion it unsettled the agricultural mind, and encouraged judicial tenants to go to law at the expiration of the first fifteen years’ term instead of bargaining amicably with their landlords.
In the autumn of this year was published the report of the royal commission on the financial relations between England and Ireland. Mr Hugh C. E. Childers was the original chairman of this commission, which was appointed Financial relations. in 1894 with the object of determining the fiscal contribution of Ireland under Home Rule, and after his death in 1896 The O’Conor Don presided. The report—or rather the collection of minority reports—gave some countenance to those who held that Ireland was overtaxed, and there was a strong agitation on the subject, in which some Irish Unionists joined without perceiving the danger of treating the two islands as “separate entities.” No individual Irishman was taxed on a higher scale than any corresponding citizen of Great Britain. No tax, either on commodities or property, was higher in Ireland than in England. The alleged grievance was, however, exploited to the utmost extent by the Nationalist party. In 1897 a royal commission, with Sir Edward Fry as chairman, was appointed to inquire into the operation of the Land Acts. Voluminous evidence was taken in different parts of Ireland, and the commissioners reported in the following year. The methods and procedure of the Land Commission were much criticized, and many recommendations were made, but no legislation followed. This inquiry proved, what few in Ireland doubted, that the prices paid for occupancy interest or tenant right increased as the landlord’s rent was cut down.
The session of 1898 was largely occupied with the discussion of a bill to establish county and district councils on the lines of the English Act of 1888. The fiscal jurisdiction of grand juries, which had lasted for more than two Local Government Act 1898. centuries and a half, was entirely swept away. Local government for Ireland had always been part of the Unionist programme, and the vote on the abortive bill of 1892 had committed parliament to legislation. It may, nevertheless, be doubted whether enough attention was paid to the local peculiarities of Ireland, and whether English precedents were not too closely followed. In Ireland the poor-rate used to be divided between landlord and tenant, except on holdings valued at £4 and under, in which the landlord paid the whole. Councils elected by small farmers were evidently unfit to impose taxes so assessed. The poor-rate and the county cess, which latter was mostly paid by the tenants, were consolidated, and an agricultural grant of £730,000 was voted by parliament in order to relieve both parties. The consolidated rate was now paid by the occupier, who would profit by economy and lose by extravagance. The towns gained nothing by the agricultural grant, but union rating was established for the first time. The net result of the county council elections in the spring of 1899 was to displace, except in some northern counties, nearly all the men who had hitherto done the local business. Nationalist pledges were exacted, and long service as a grand juror was an almost certain bar to election. The Irish gentry, long excluded, as landlords and Unionists, from political life, now felt to a great extent that they had no field for activity in local affairs. The new councils very generally passed resolutions of sympathy with the Boers in the South African war. The one most often adopted, though sometimes rejected as too mild, was that of the Limerick corporation, hoping “that it may end in another Majuba Hill.” Efforts not wholly unsuccessful were made to hinder recruiting in Ireland, and every reverse or repulse of British arms was greeted with Nationalist applause.
The scheme for a Roman Catholic University—of which Mr Arthur Balfour, speaking for himself and not for the government, made himself a prominent champion—was much canvassed in 1899, but it came to nothing. It had not been forgotten that this question wrecked the Liberal party in 1874.
The chief Irish measure of 1899 was an Agricultural and Technical Instruction Act, which established a new department (see the section Economics above) with the chief secretary at its head and an elaborate system Board of Agriculture. of local committees. Considerable funds were made available, and Mr (afterwards Sir) Horace Plunkett, who as an independent Conservative member had been active in promoting associations for the improvement of Irish methods in this direction, became the first vice-president. The new county councils were generally induced to further attempts at technical instruction and to assist them out of the rates, but progress in this direction was necessarily slow in a country where organized industries have hitherto been so few. In agriculture, and especially in cattle-breeding, improvement was formerly due mainly to the landlords, who had now been deprived by law of much of their power. The gap has been partly filled by the new department, and a good deal has been done. Some experience has been gained not only through the voluntary associations promoted by Sir H. Plunkett, but also from the Congested Districts Board founded under the Land Purchase Act of 1891. This board has power within the districts affected by it to foster agriculture and fisheries, to enlarge holdings, and to buy and hold land. In March 1899 it had from first to last laid out a little more than half a million. The principal source of income was a charge of £41,250 a year upon the Irish Church surplus, but the establishment expenses were paid by parliament.
At the opening of the session in January 1900 there was a formal reconciliation of the Dillonite, Healyite, and Redmondite or Parnellite factions. It was evident from the speeches made on the occasion that there 1900. was not much cordiality between the various leaders, but the outward solidarity of the party was calculated to bring in renewed subscriptions both at home and from America. It was publicly agreed that England’s difficulty in South Africa was Ireland’s opportunity, and that all should abstain from supporting an amendment to the address which admitted that the war would have to be fought out. Mr John Redmond was chosen chairman, and the alliance of Nationalists and Gladstonian Liberals was dissolved. The United Irish League, founded in Mayo in 1898 by Mr William O’Brien, had recently become a sort of rival to the parliamentary party, its avowed object being to break up the great grass farms, and its methods resembling those of the old Land League.
The most striking event, however, in Ireland in the earlier part of 1900 was Queen Victoria’s visit. Touched by the gallantry of the Irish regiments in South Africa, and moved to some extent, no doubt, by the presence of the duke of Connaught in Dublin as commander-in-chief, the queen determined in April to make up for the loss of her usual spring holiday abroad by paying a visit to Ireland. The last time the queen had been in Dublin was in 1861 with the Prince Consort. Since then, besides the visit of the prince and princess of Wales in 1885, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George of Wales had visited Ireland in 1887, and the duke and duchess of York (afterwards prince and princess of Wales) in 1897; but the lack of any permanent royal residence and the long-continued absence of the sovereign in person had aroused repeated comment. Directly the announcement of the queen’s intention was made the greatest public interest was taken in the project. Shortly before St Patrick’s Day the queen issued an order which intensified this interest, that Irish soldiers might in future wear a sprig of shamrock in their headgear on this national festival. For some years past the “wearing of the green” had been regarded by the army authorities as improper, and friction had consequently occurred, but the queen’s order put an end in a graceful manner to what had formerly been a grievance. The result was that St Patrick’s Day was celebrated in London and throughout the empire as it never had been before, and when the queen went over to Dublin at the beginning of April she was received with the greatest enthusiasm.
The general election later in the year made no practical difference in the strength of parties, but Mr George Wyndham took Mr Gerald Balfour’s place as chief secretary, without a seat in the Cabinet. Both before and after the election the United Irish League steadily advanced, fresh branches continually springing up.
The visit of Mr Redmond and others to America in 1901 was not believed to have brought in much money, and the activity of the League was more or less restrained by want of funds. Boycotting, however, became Recent years. rife, especially in Sligo, and paid agents also promoted an agitation against grass farms in Tipperary, Clare and other southern counties. In Roscommon there was a strike against rent, especially on the property of Lord De Freyne. This was due to the action of the Congested Districts Board in buying the Dillon estate and reducing all the rents without consulting the effect upon others. It was argued that no one else’s tenants could be expected to pay more. Some prosecutions were undertaken, but the government was much criticized for not using the special provisions of the Crimes Act; and in April 1902 certain counties were “proclaimed” under it. In February 1902 Lord Rosebery definitely repudiated Home Rule, and steps to oppose his followers were at once taken among Irish voters in English constituencies.
Lord Cadogan resigned the viceroyalty in July 1902, and was succeeded by Lord Dudley. In November Sir Antony Macdonnell (b. 1844), a member of the Indian Council, became under-secretary to the lord-lieutenant. During a long and successful career in India (1865-1901) Sir Antony had never concealed his Nationalist proclivities, but his appointment, about the form of which there was nothing peculiar, was favoured by Lord Lansdowne and Lord George Hamilton, and ultimately sanctioned by Mr Balfour, who had been prime minister since Lord Salisbury’s resignation in July. About the same time a conference took place in Dublin between certain landlords and some members of the Nationalist party, of whom Mr W. O’Brien was the most conspicuous. Lord Dunraven presided, and it was agreed to recommend a great extension of the Land Purchase system with a view to give the vendor as good an income as before, while decreasing the tenants’ annual burden. This was attempted in Mr Wyndham’s Land Purchase Act of 1903, which gave the tenants a material reduction, a bonus of 12% on the purchase-money being granted to vendors from funds provided by parliament. A judicial decision made it doubtful whether this percentage became the private property of tenants for life on settled estates, but a further act passed in 1904 answered the question in the affirmative. After this the sale of estates proceeded rapidly. In March 1903 was published the report of the Royal Commission on Irish University Education appointed two years before with Lord Robertson as chairman, Trinity College, Dublin, being excluded from the inquiry. The report, which was not really unanimous, was of little value as a basis for legislation. It recommended an examining university with the Queen’s Colleges at Belfast, Cork and Galway, and with a new and well-endowed Roman Catholic college in Dublin.
In August was formed the Irish Reform Association out of the wreckage of the late Land Conference and under Lord Dunraven’s presidency, and it was seen that Sir A. Macdonnell took a great interest in the proceedings. The “Devolution” question. Besides transferring private bill legislation to Dublin on the Scottish plan, to which no one in Ireland objected, it was proposed to hand over the internal expenditure of Ireland to a financial council consisting half of nominated and half of elected members, and to give an Irish assembly the initiative in public Irish bills. This policy, which was called Devolution, found little support anywhere, and was ultimately repudiated both by Mr Wyndham and by Mr Balfour. But a difficult parliamentary crisis, caused by Irish Unionist suspicions on the subject, was only temporarily overcome by Mr Wyndham’s resignation in March 1905. Mr Walter Long succeeded him. One of the chief questions at issue was the position actually occupied by Sir Antony Macdonnell. The new chief secretary, while abstaining from displacing the under-secretary, whose encouragement of “devolution” had caused considerable commotion among Unionists, announced that he considered him as on the footing of an ordinary and subordinate civil servant, but Mr Wyndham had said that he was “invited by me rather as a colleague than as a mere under-secretary to register my will,” and Lord Lansdowne that he “could scarcely expect to be bound by the narrow rules of routine which are applicable to an ordinary member of the civil service.” While Mr Long remained in office no further complication arose, but in 1906 (Sir A. Macdonnell being retained in office by the Liberal government) his Nationalist leanings again became prominent, and the responsibility of the Unionist government in introducing him into the Irish administration became a matter of considerable heart-burning among the Unionist party.
Mr Balfour resigned in December 1905 and was succeeded by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Lord Aberdeen becoming lord-lieutenant for the second time, with Mr James Bryce as chief secretary. The general election at the beginning of 1906 was disastrous to the Unionist party, and the Liberal government secured an enormous majority. Mr Walter Long, unseated at Bristol, had made himself very popular among Irish Unionists, and a seat was found him in the constituency of South Dublin. Speaking in August 1906 he raised anew the Macdonnell question and demanded the production of all correspondence connected with the under-secretary’s appointment. Sir A. Macdonnell at once admitted through the newspapers that he had in his possession letters (rumoured to be “embarrassing” to the Unionist leaders) which he might publish at his own discretion; and the discussion as to how far his appointment by Mr Wyndham had prejudiced the Unionist cause was reopened in public with much bitterness, in view of the anticipation of further steps in the Home Rule direction by the Liberal ministry. In 1908 Sir Antony resigned and was created a peer as Baron Macdonnell. Soon after the change of government in 1906 a royal commission, with ex-Lord Justice Fry as chairman, was appointed to investigate the condition of Trinity College, Dublin, and another under Lord Dudley to inquire into the question of the congested districts.
Mr Bryce being appointed ambassador to Washington, Mr Birrell faced the session of 1907 as chief secretary. Before he left office Mr Bryce publicly sketched a scheme of his own for remodelling Irish University Education, but his scheme was quietly put on the shelf by his successor and received almost universal condemnation. Mr Birrell began by introducing a bill for the establishment of an Irish Council, which would have given the Home Rulers considerable leverage, but, to the surprise of the English Liberals, it was summarily rejected by a Nationalist convention in Dublin, and was forthwith abandoned. The extreme party of Sinn Fein (“ourselves alone”) were against it because of the power it gave to the government officials, and the Roman Catholic clergy because it involved local control of primary education, which would have imperilled their position as managers. An Evicted Tenants Bill was however passed at the end of the session, which gave the Estates Commissioners unprecedented powers to take land compulsorily. In the late summer and autumn, agitation in Ireland (led by Mr Ginnell, M.P.) took the form of driving cattle off large grass farms, as part of a campaign against what was known as “ranching.” This reckless and lawless practice extended to several counties, but was worst in Galway and Roscommon. The government was determined not to use the Crimes Act, and the result was that offenders nearly always went unpunished, benches of magistrates being often swamped by the chairmen of district councils who were ex officio justices under the act of 1898.
The general election of 1910 placed the Liberal and Unionist parties in a position of almost exact equality in the House of Commons, and it was at once evident that the Nationalists under Mr Redmond’s leadership would hold the balance of power and control the fortunes of Mr Asquith’s government. A small body of “independent Nationalists,” led by Mr William O’Brien and Mr T. M. Healy, voiced the general dislike in Ireland of the Budget of 1909, the rejection of which by the House of Lords had precipitated the dissolution of parliament. But although this band of free-lances was a menace to Mr Redmond’s authority and to the solidarity of the “pledge-bound” Irish parliamentary party, the two sections did not differ in their desire to get rid of the “veto” of the House of Lords, which they recognized as the standing obstacle to Home Rule, and which it was the avowed policy of the government to abolish.
Bibliography.—Ancient: The Annals of the Four Masters, ed. J. O’Donovan (1851), compiled in Donegal under Charles I., gives a continuous account of Celtic Ireland down to 1616. The independent Annals of Lough Cé (Rolls series) end with 1590. The Topographia and Expugnatio of Giraldus Cambrensis (Rolls series) are chiefly valuable for his account of the Anglo-Norman invaders and for descriptions of the country. Sir J. T. Gilbert’s Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865) gives a connected view of the feudal establishment to the accession of Henry VIII. The Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland in the Public Record Office extends from 1171 to 1307. Christopher Pembridge’s Annals from 1162 to 1370 were published by William Camden and reprinted in Sir J. T. Gilbert’s Chartularies of St Mary’s Abbey (Dublin, 1884). The Annals of Clyn, Dowling and Grace have been printed by the Irish Archaeological Society and the Celtic Society.
For the 16th century see volumes ii. and iii. of the Printed State Papers (1834), and the Calendars of State Papers, Ireland, including that of the Carew MSS. 1515 to 1603. See also Richard Stanihurst’s Chronicle, continued by John Hooker, which is included in Holinshed’s Chronicles; E. Spenser, View of the State of Ireland, edited by H. Morley (1890); Fynes Moryson, History of Ireland (1735); Thomas Stafford, Pacata Hibernia (1810); and R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors (1885-1890).
For the 17th century see the Calendars of Irish State Papers, 1603-1665 (Dublin, 1772); Strafford Letters, edited by W. Knowler (1739); Thomas Carte, Life of Ormonde (1735-1736), and Ormonde Papers (1739); Roger Boyle, earl of Orrery, State letters (1743); the Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland, 1641-1652 (1879-1880), and History of the Irish Confederation and the War in Ireland, 1641-1649 (1882-1891), both edited by Sir J. T. Gilbert; Edmund Ludlow’s Memoirs, edited by C. H. Firth (1894); the Memoirs of James Touchet, earl of Castlehaven (1815); and Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, edited by T. Carlyle (1904). See also J. P. Prendergast, The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland (1870); Denis Murphy, Cromwell in Ireland (1885): M. A. Hickson, Ireland in the 17th Century (1884); Sir John Temple, History of the Irish Rebellion (1812); P. Walsh, History of the Remonstrance (1674); George Story, Impartial History of the Wars of Ireland (1693); Thomas Witherow, Derry and Enniskillen (1873); Philip Dwyer, Siege of Derry (1893); Lord Macaulay, History of England; and S. R. Gardiner, History of England, 1603-1656. Further writings which may be consulted are: The Embassy in Ireland of Rinuccini, 1645-1649, translated from the Italian by A. Hutton (1873); Sir William Petty’s Down Survey, edited by T. A. Larcom (1851), and his Economic Writings, edited by C. H. Hull (1899); Charles O’Kelly’s Macariae Excidium, edited by J. C. O’Callaghan (1850); and A Jacobite Narrative of the War in Ireland, 1688-91, edited by Sir J. T. Gilbert (1892).
For the 18th century J. A. Froude’s English in Ireland and W. E. H. Lecky’s History of England cover the whole ground. See also the Letters 1724-1738 of Archbishop Hugh Boulter, edited by G. Faulkner (1770); the Works of Dean Swift; John Campbell’s Philosophical Survey of Ireland (1778); Arthur Young’s Tour in Ireland (1780); Henry Grattan’s Life of the Right Hon. Henry Grattan (1839-1846); the Correspondence of the Marquess Cornwallis, edited by C. Ross (1859); Wolfe Tone’s Autobiography, edited by R. B. O’Brien (1893); and R. R. Madden’s United Irishmen (1842-1846).
For the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century see the Annual Register; R. M. Martin, Ireland before and after the Union (1848); Sir T. Wyse, Historical Sketch of the late Catholic Association (1829); G. L. Smyth, Ireland, Historical and Statistical (1844-1849); Sir C. E. Trevelyan, The Irish Crisis (1880); N. W. Senior, Journals, Conversations and Essays relating to Ireland (1868); Sir G. C. Lewis, On Local Disturbances in Ireland and on the Irish Church Question (1836); John Morley, Life of W. E. Gladstone; Lord Fitzmaurice, Life of Lord Granville (1905); and R. Barry O’Brien, Life of Parnell (1898). Other authorities are Isaac Butt, Irish Federalism (1870); H. O. Arnold-Forster, The Truth about the Land League (1883); A. V. Dicey, England’s Case against Home Rule (1886); W. E. Gladstone, History of an Idea (1886), and a reply to this by J. E. Webb entitled The Queen’s Enemies in America (1886); and Mrs E. Lynn Linton, About Ireland (1890). See also the Report of the Parnell Special Commission (1890); the Report of the Bessborough Commission (1881), of the Richmond Commission (1881), of the Cowper Commission (1887), and of the Mathew Commission (1893), and the Report of the Congested Districts Board (1899).
For the church in Ireland see: Henry Cotton, Fasti ecclesiae hibernicae (1848-1878); W. M. Brady, The Episcopal Succession (Rome, 1876); R. Mant, History of the Church of Ireland (1840); J. T. Ball, The Reformed Church in Ireland, 1537-1886 (1886); and W. D. Killen, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland (1875). A. Theiner’s Vetera Monumenta (Rome, 1864) contains documents concerning the medieval church, and there are many others in Ussher’s Works, and for a later period in Cardinal Moran’s Spicilegium Ossoriense (1874-1884). The Works of Sir James Ware, edited by Walter Harris, are generally useful, and Alice S. Green’s The Making of Ireland and its Undoing (1908), although written from a partisan standpoint, may also be consulted.
- Formerly Belfast and Northern Counties.
- Formerly Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford.
- Estimated number of purchasers on resale.
- The importance of the commerce between Ireland and Gaul in early times, and in particular the trade in wine, has been insisted upon by H. Zimmer in papers in the Abh. d. Berl. Akad. d. Wissenschaften (1909).
- On the subject of Ptolemy’s description of Ireland see articles by G. H. Orpen in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (June 1894), and John MacNeill in the New Ireland Review (September 1906).
- Scholars are only beginning to realize how close was the connexion between Ireland and Wales from early times. Pedersen has recently pointed out the large number of Brythonic and Welsh loan words received into Irish from the time of the Roman occupation of Britain to the beginning of the literary period. Welsh writers now assume an Irish origin for much of the contents of the Mabinogion.
- It seems probable that the celebrated monastery of Whithorn in Galloway played some part in the reform movement, at any rate in the north of Ireland. Findian of Moville spent some years there.
- The O’Neills who played such an important part in later Irish history do not take their name from Niall Nóigiallach, though they are descended from him. They take their name from Niall Glúndub (d. 919).
- At this period it is extremely difficult to distinguish between Norwegians and Danes on account of the close connexion between the ruling families of both countries.
- This name survives in Fingall, the name of a district north of Dublin city. Dubgall is contained in the proper names MacDougall, MacDowell.
- In Anglo-Norman times the Scandinavians of Dublin and other cities are always called Ostmen, i.e. Eastmen; hence the name Ostmanstown, now Oxmanstown, a part of the city of Dublin.
- On the name see K. Meyer Erin, iv. pp. 71-73.
- Donaban, the son of this Ivar of Waterford, is the ancestor of the O’Donavans, Donoban that of the O’Donovans.
- The term rath was perhaps applied to the rampart, but both lis and rath are used to denote the whole structure.
- See D’Arbois de Jubainville, Revue celtique, xxv. 1 ff., 181 ff.
- The whole question is discussed by Mr J. H. Round in his article on “The Pope and the Conquest of Ireland” (Commune of London, 1899, pp. 171-200), where further references will be found.