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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

English Colonization of Ireland and the Fight Against it

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The restoration of royal power has little changed the unhappy position of the Catholic Irish. Although Charles II stopped religious persecution, the Protestants retained the lands taken from the Catholics. Only a few Irish people, who had saved enough money for a lengthy legal process, returned their estates by this route. Therefore, the Catholic reaction, which began with the accession to the throne of Jacob II, caused great joy among the Irish.

Having lost the English crown, Jacob II tried in 1689 to regain it with the help of the French, for which he landed in Ireland. He was met there with enthusiasm, excluding Londonderry and Enniskillen, all important points were transferred to him, but King William III of Orange soon appeared, defeated him at Bøynne (1690) and conquered the whole of Ireland.

Although Catholics were allowed free confession of their faith, as under Charles II, however, they began to be evicted by the thousands abroad. By the decision of the English Parliament, a million acres of land was confiscated again and distributed to the Protestants. As a result of English colonization, the indigenous Irish almost completely lost their land ownership; a new ruling stratum was formed, consisting of Protestants from England and Scotland.

In the cities, Protestants made up the so-called societies, or lodges, of Orangemen, who with all the zeal of fanatics persecuted and oppressed the Catholic population. In order to suppress any movement of the Catholic and national elements, there were, moreover, cruel laws, according to which the highest representatives of the church were to move out, and the lowest were forbidden to leave their counties; not a single Catholic had the right to hold any office, acquire land property, freely bequeath his property, etc. Although these laws were not always strictly applied, they supported hatred and bitterness.

Instead of the desired own legislation, the Poining law was re-approved in 1719, and in 1727 Catholics were denied the right to participate in parliamentary elections.

This constant oppression forced the oppressed people to fight for their rights. A number of revolutionary alliances arose, which have since played a large role in the history of Ireland. That is how the union of the so-called Defenders was formed; in 1760 the Whiteboys appeared to punish and kill cruel landlords, priests, agents, and officials; almost at the same time as them, in 1763, Hearts of oak acted, and rebelled against the compulsory forced labor on the device roads.

When the war for the liberation of the North American colonies began, all the people rose and forced the government, constrained by heavy external wars, to make some concessions. Since France threatened to attack the Irish coast, and there were almost no troops in the country, the Irish made up in 1778, as if to protect it, a volunteer corps in which two years later there were already 50,000 people. In order to prevent a general uprising, the English Parliament was forced to repeal the law of Poining in 1782 and to allow the legislative independence of Ireland. At the same time, if not completely repealed, laws against Catholics were considerably relaxed. Especially hard for the latter was the tithe, which they had to pay Protestant priests, while contributing money to the needs of their own church. The heartlessness with which many priests collected this duty caused, in 1786, the formation of a secret community, whose members called themselves the Rightboys; they took from the people an oath pledge not to pay tithing at all, or to pay it only to a certain extent and punished those who did not keep their promises.

The French Revolution made an extraordinary impression in Ireland; its echo was in Dublin, in November 1791, the union of “United Irishmen” in which many Protestants participated, and who secretly prepared for the revolution that was supposed to turn Ireland into an independent republic. The Catholics, taking advantage of the cramped position of the government, demanded full equality with the Protestants at a large meeting in Dublin in 1792. The British Parliament, wanting to tame the storm, abolished all measures aimed at restraining Irish trade and industry, and almost all other repressive measures. In 1793, the punishments imposed on Catholics for not attending the Protestant church on Sundays were abolished; they were also given the right to participate in parliamentary elections, but were denied the right to be elected as members of parliament and to occupy even lower administrative positions.

When further demands were met with rejection and the alliance even more boldly came forward with its revolutionary intentions, the government decided to suppress the movement by force. The action of the Habeas corpus, introduced in Ireland since 1782, was suspended, the cities occupied by troops, and the United Irish alliance was disarmed.

But, in the hope of helping France, the conspirators did not lose heart. Finally, in December 1796, a French fleet with an army of 25,000 troops, led by General Ghosh, appeared off the coast of Ireland ; but due to unfavorable accidents he had to sail without doing anything. The British government declared the whole island in a state of martial law. The Union of the United Irish again began in 1797 to its secret activities. It was headed by a directory of five people whose names were known only to the secretaries of the four provincial committees. The union already numbered up to 500,000 conspirators when in January 1798 the government received detailed information about it from one of the members who had changed it.

Despite this discovery and the arrest of many leaders, an uprising broke out in May 1798 in various places. The presence of significant military forces prevented the further development of the rebellion: the main rebel forces suffered at Weingar Hill on June 21 the most complete defeat. Military teams scattered throughout the island, everywhere suppressing the rebellion. Barely ended the massacre, as in August 1798 a French squadron appeared with a landing force of 1060 people near Killala, off the northern shores of County Mayo; but British troops prevented the French from connecting with the Irish, and after several unsuccessful clashes, the French had to surrender. Later attempts to land them, which lasted until November 1798, also ended in failure.


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