A Popular History of Ireland


Hope is dear to the heart of man, and of all her votaries none have been more constant than the Irish. Half a century of the Stuarts had not extinguished their blind partiality for the descendants of the old Scoto-Irish kings. The restoration of that royal house was, therefore, an event which penetrated to the remotest wilds of Connaught, lighting up with cheering expectation the most desolate hovels of the proscribed. To the Puritans settled in Ireland, most of whom, from the mean condition of menial servants, common soldiers and subaltern officers, had become rich proprietors, the same tidings brought apprehension and alarm. But their leaders, the Protestant gentry of an earlier date, wealthy, astute and energetic, uniting all their influence for the common protection, turned this event, which seemed at one time to threaten their ruin, to their advantage and greater security. The chief of these greater leaders was the accomplished Lord Broghill, whom we are to know during this reign under his more famous title of Earl of Orrery.

The position of the Irish as compared with the English Puritans, was essentially different in the eyes of Ormond, Clarendon, and the other counsellors of the king. Though the former represented dissent as against the church, they also represented the English as against the Irish interest, in Ireland. As dissenters they were disliked and ridiculed, but as colonists they could not be disturbed. When national antipathy was placed in one scale and religious animosity in the other, the intensely national feeling of England for the Cromwellians, as Englishmen settled in a hostile country, prevailed over every other consideration. In this, as in all other conjunctures, it has been the singular infelicity of the one island to be subjected to a policy directly opposite to that pursued in the other. While in England it was considered wise and just to break down the Puritans as a party—through the court, the pulpit, and the press; to drive the violent into exile, and to win the lukewarm to conformity; in Ireland it was decided to confirm them in their possessions, to leave the government of the kingdom in their hands, and to strengthen their position by the Acts of Settlement and Explanation. These acts were hailed as “the Magna Charta of Irish Protestantism,” but so far as the vast majority of the people were concerned, they were as cruelly unjust as the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, or the edicts which banished the Moors and Jews from the Spanish peninsula.

The struggle for possession of the soil inaugurated by the confiscations of Elizabeth and James was continued against great odds by the Catholic Irish throughout this reign. Though the royal declaration of Breda, which preceded the restoration, had not mentioned them expressly, they still claimed under it not only the “liberty to tender consciences,” but that “just satisfaction” to those unfairly deprived of their estates, promised in that declaration. Accordingly, several of the old gentry returned from Connaught, or places abroad, took possession of their old homes, or made their way at once to Dublin or London, to urge their claims to their former estates. To their dismay, they found in Dublin, Coote and Broghill established as Lords Justices, and the new Parliament—the first that sat for twenty years—composed of an overwhelming majority of Undertakers, adventurers, and Puritan representatives of boroughs, from which all the Catholic electors had been long excluded. The Protestant interest, or “ascendancy party,” as it now began to be commonly called, counted in the Commons 198 members to 64 Catholics; in the House of Lords, 72 Protestant to 21 Catholic peers. The former elected Sir Audley Mervyn their Speaker, and the able but curiously intricate and quaint discourses of the ancient colleague of Kelly and Darcy in the assertion of Irish legislative independence, shows how different was the spirit of Irish Protestantism in 1661 as compared with 1641. The Lords chose Bramhall, the long-exiled Bishop of Derry, now Archbishop of Armagh, as their Speaker, and attempted to compel their members “to take the sacrament” according to the Anglican ritual. The majority of both Houses, to secure the good-will of Ormond, voted him the sum of 30,000 pounds, and then proceeded to consider “the Bill of Settlement,” in relation to landed property. The Catholic bar, which had been apparently restored to its freedom, presented a striking array of talent, from which their co-religionists selected those by whom they desired to be heard at the bar of the House. The venerable Darcy and the accomplished Belling were no longer their oracles of the law; but they had the services of Sir Nicholas Plunkett, an old confederate, of Sir Richard Nagle, author of the famous “Coventry Letter,” of Nugent, afterwards Lord Riverston, and other able men. In the House of Lords they had an intrepid ally in the Earl of Kildare, and in England an agent equally intrepid, in Colonel Richard Talbot, afterwards Earl of Tyrconnell. The diplomatic and parliamentary struggle between the two interests, the disinherited and the new proprietory, was too protracted, and the details are too involved for elucidation in every part; but the result tells its own story. In 1675—in the fifteenth year of the restoration—the new settlers possessed above 4,500,000 acres, to about 2,250,000 still retained by the old owners. These relative proportions were exactly the reverse of those existing before the Cromwellian settlement; a single generation had seen this great revolution accomplished in landed property.

The Irish Parliament having sent over to England the heads of their bill, according to the constitutional rule established by Poyning’s Act, the Irish Catholics sent over Sir Nicholas Plunkett to obtain modifications of its provisions. But Plunkett was met in England with such an outcry from the mob and the press as to the alleged atrocities of the Confederate war, and his own former negotiations on the continent, that he was unable to effect anything; while Colonel Talbot, for his too warm expostulations with Ormond, was sent to the Tower. An order of Council, forbidding Plunkett the presence, and declaring that “no petition or further address be made from the Roman Catholics of Ireland, as to the Bill of Settlement,” closed the controversy, and the Act soon after received the royal assent.

Under this act, a court was established at Dublin, to try the claims of “nocent” and “innocent.” Notwithstanding every influence which could be brought to bear on them, the judges, who were Englishmen, declared in their first session, one hundred and sixty-eight innocent to nineteen nocent. Proceeding in this spirit “to the great loss and dissatisfaction of the Protestants,” the latter, greatly alarmed, procured the interference of Ormond, now Lord Lieutenant (1662), in effecting a modification of the commission, appointing the court, by which its duration was limited to an early day. The consequence was, that while less than 800 claims were decided on when the fatal day arrived, over 3,000 were left unheard, at least a third of whom were admitted even by their enemies to be innocent. About 500 others had been restored by name in the Act of Settlement itself; but, by the Act of Explanation (1665), “no Papist who had not been adjudged innocent” under the former act could be so adjudged thereafter, “or entitled to claim any lands or settlements.” Thus, even the inheritance of hope, and the reversion of expectation, were extinguished for ever for the sons and daughters of the ancient gentry of the kingdom.

The religious liberties of this people, so crippled in property and political power, were equally at the mercy of the mob and of the monarch. To combat the war of calumny waged against them by the Puritan press and pulpit, the leading Catholics resolved to join in an official and authentic declaration of their true principles, as to the spiritual power of the Pope, their allegiance to the prince, and their relations to their fellow subjects of other denominations. With this intention a meeting was held at the house of the Marquis of Clanrickarde, in Dublin, at which Lords Clancarty, Carlingford, Fingal, Castlehaven, and Inchiquin, and the leading commoners of their faith, were present. At this meeting, Father Peter Walsh, a Franciscan, and an old courtier of Ormond’s, as “Procurator of all the Clergy of Ireland,” secular and regular, produced credentials signed by the surviving bishops or their vicars—including the Primate O’Reilly, the Bishops of Meath, Ardagh, Kilmore, and Ferns. Richard Belling, the secretary to the first Confederate Council, and Envoy to Rome, submitted the celebrated document known as “The Remonstrance,” deeply imbued with the spirit of the Gallican church of that day. It was signed by about seventy Catholic peers and commoners, by the Bishop of Kilmore, by Procurator Walsh, and by the townsmen of Wexford—almost the only urban community of Catholics remaining in the country. But the propositions it contained as to the total independency of the temporal on the spiritual power, and the ecclesiastical patronage of princes, were condemned at the Sorbonne, at Louvain, and at Rome. The regular orders, by their several superiors, utterly rejected it; the exiled bishops withdrew their proxies from Father Walsh, and disclaimed his conduct; the Internuncio at Brussels, charged with the affairs of the British Isles, denounced it as contrary to the canons; and the elated Procurator found himself involved in a controversy from which he never afterwards escaped, and with which his memory is still angrily associated.

The conduct of Ormond in relation to this whole business of the Remonstrance, was the least creditable part of his administration. Writhing under the eloquent pamphlets of the exiled Bishop of Ferns, keenly remembering his own personal wrongs against the former generation of bishops, of whom but three or four were yet living, he resolved “to work that division among the Romish clergy,” which he had long meditated. With this view, he connived at a meeting of the surviving prelates and the superiors of regular orders, at Dublin, in 1666. To this synod safe conduct was permitted to the Primate O’Reilly, banished to Belgium nine years before; to Peter Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin, John Burke, Archbishop of Tuam, Patrick Plunkett, Bishop of Ardagh, the vicars-general of other prelates, and the superiors of the regulars. This venerable body deliberated anxiously for an entire week, Father Walsh acting as ambassador between them and the Viceroy; at length, in spite of all politic considerations, they unanimously rejected the servile doctrine of the “Remonstrance,” substituting instead a declaration of their own dictation. Ormond now cast off all affectation of liberality; Primate O’Reilly was sent back to his banishment, the other prelates and clergy were driven back to their hiding-places, or into exile abroad, and the wise, experienced, high-spirited duke, did not hesitate to avail himself of “the Popish plot” mania, which soon after broke out, to avenge himself upon an order of men whom he could neither break nor bend to his purposes! Of 1,100 secular priests, and 750 regulars, still left, only sixty-nine had signed the Clanrickarde House Remonstrance.

An incident of this same year—1666—illustrates more forcibly than description could do, the malignant feeling which had been excited in England against everything Irish. The importation of Irish cattle had long been considered an English grievance, it was now declared by law “a nuisance.” The occasion taken to pass this statute was as ungracious as the act itself was despicable. In consequence of “the great fire,” which still glows for us in the immortal verse of Dryden, the Irish had sent over to the distressed, a contribution of 15,000 bullocks. This was considered by the generous recipients a mere pretence to preserve the trade in cattle between the two kingdoms, and accordingly both Houses, after some sharp resistance in the Lords’, gravely enacted that the importation of Irish beef into England was “a nuisance,” to be abated. From this period most probably dates the famous English sarcasm against Irish bulls.

The act prohibiting the export of cattle from Ireland, and the equally exclusive and unjust Navigation Act— originally devised by Cromwell—so paralyzed every Irish industry, that the Puritan party became almost as dissatisfied as the Catholics. They maintained a close correspondence with their brethren in England, and began to speculate on the possibilities of another revolution. Ormond, to satisfy their demands, distributed 20,000 stand of arms among them, and reviewed the Leinster Militia, on the Curragh, in 1667. The next year he was recalled, and Lords Robarts, Berkely, and Essex, successively appointed to the government. The first, a Puritan, and almost a regicide, held office but a few months; the second, a cavalier and a friend of toleration, for two years; while Essex, one of those fair-minded but yielding characters, known in the next reign as “Trimmers,” petitioned for his own recall and Ormond’s restoration, in 1676. The only events which marked these last nine years—from Ormond’s removal till his reappointment— were the surprise of Carrickfergus by a party of unpaid soldiers, and their desperate defence of that ancient stronghold; the embassies to and from the Irish Catholics and the court, of Colonel Richard Talbot; and the establishment of extensive woollen manufactories at Thomastown, Callan, and Kilkenny, under the patronage of Ormond.


For the third time, the aged Ormond, now arrived at the period usually allotted to the life of man, returned to Ireland, with the rank of Viceroy. During the ensuing seven years, he clung to power with all the tenacity of his youth, and all the policy of his prime; they were seven years of extraordinary sectarian panic and excitement—the years of the Cabal, the Popish plot, and the Exclusion Bill, in England—and of fanatical conspiracies and explosions almost as dangerous in Ireland.

The Popish plot mania held possession of the English people much longer than any other moral epidemic of equal virulence. In the month of October, 1678, its alleged existence in Ireland was communicated to Ormond; in July, 1681, its most illustrious victim, Archbishop Plunkett, perished on the scaffold at Tyburn. Within these two points of time what a chronicle of madness, folly, perjury, and cruelty, might be written?

Ormond, too old in statecraft to believe in the existence of these incredible plots, was also too well aware of the dangerous element of fanaticism represented by Titus Oates, and his imitators, to subject himself to suspicion. On the first intelligence of the plot, he instantly issued his proclamation for the arrest of Archbishop Talbot, of Dublin, who had been permitted to return from exile under the rule of Lord Berkely, and had since resided with his brother, Colonel Talbot, at Cartown, near Maynooth. This prelate was of Ormond’s own age, and of a family as ancient; while his learning, courage, and morality, made him an ornament to his order. He was seized in his sick bed at Cartown, carried to Dublin in a chair, and confined a close prisoner in the castle, where he died two years later. He was the last distinguished captive destined to end his days in that celebrated state prison, which has since been generally dedicated to the peaceful purposes of reflected royalty.

Colonel Talbot was at the same time arrested, but allowed to retire beyond seas; Lord Mountgarrett, an octogenarian, and in his dotage, was seized, but nothing could be made out against him; a Colonel Peppard was also denounced from England, but no such person was found to exist. So far the first year of the plot had passed over, and proved nothing against the Catholic Irish. But the example of successful villainy in England, of Oates idolized, pensioned, and all-powerful, extended to the sister kingdom, and brought an illustrious victim to the scaffold. This was Oliver Plunkett, a scion of the noble family of Fingal, who had been Archbishop of Armagh, since the death of Dr. O’Reilly, in exile, in 1669. Such had been the prudence and circumspection of Dr. Plunkett, during his perilous administration, that the agents of Lord Shaftesbury, sent over to concoct evidence for the occasion, were afraid to bring him to trial in the vicinage of his arrest, or in his own country. Accordingly, they caused him to be removed from Dublin to London, contrary to the laws and customs of both Kingdoms, which had first been violated towards state prisoners in the case of Lord Maguire, forty years before.

Dr. Plunkett, after ten months’ confinement without trial in Ireland, was removed, 1680, and arraigned at London, on the 8th of June, 1681, without having had permission to communicate with his friends or to send for witnesses. The prosecution was conducted by Maynard and Jeffries, in violation of every form of law, and every consideration of justice. A “crown agent,” whose name is given as Gorman, was introduced by “a stranger” in court, and volunteered testimony in his favour. The Earl of Essex interceded with the King on his behalf, but Charles answered, almost in the words of Pilate—”I cannot pardon him, because I dare not. His blood be upon your conscience; you could have saved him if you pleased.” The Jury, after a quarter of an hour’s deliberation, brought in their verdict of guilty, and the brutal Chief-Justice condemned him to be hung, emboweled, and quartered on the 1st day of July, 1681. The venerable martyr, for such he may well be called, bowed his head to the bench, and exclaimed: Deo gratias! Eight years from the very day of his execution, on the banks of that river beside which he had been seized and dragged from his retreat, the last of the Stuart kings was stricken from his throne, and his dynasty stricken from history! Does not the blood of the innocent cry to Heaven for vengeance?

The charges against Dr. Plunkett were, that he maintained treasonable correspondence with France and Rome, and the Irish on the continent; that he had organised an insurrection in Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, and Armagh; that he made preparations for the landing of a French force at Carlingford; and that he had held several meetings to raise men for these purposes. Utterly absurd and false as these charges were, they still indicate the troubled apprehensions which filled the dreams of the ascendency party. The fear of French invasion, of new insurrections, of the resumption of estates, haunted them by night and day. Every sign was to them significant of danger, and every rumour of conspiracy was taken for fact. The report of a strange fleet off the Southern coast, which turned out to be English, threw them all into panic; and the Corpus Christi crosses which the peasantry affixed to their doors, were nothing but signs for the Papist destroyer to pass by, and to spare his fellows in the general massacre of Protestants.

Under the pressure of these panics, real or pretended, proclamation after proclamation issued from the Castle. By one of these instruments, Ormond prohibited Catholics from entering the Castle of Dublin, or any other fortress; from holding fairs or markets within the walls of corporate towns, and from carrying arms to such resorts. By another, he declared all relatives of known Tories—a Gaelic term for a driver of prey—to be arrested, and banished the kingdom, within fourteen days, unless such Tories were killed, or surrendered, within that time. Where this device failed to reach the destined victims—as in the celebrated case of Count Redmond O’Hanlon—it is to be feared that he did not hesitate to whet the dagger of the assassin, which was still sometimes employed, even in the British Islands, to remove a dangerous antagonist. Count O’Hanlon, a gentleman of ancient lineage, as accomplished as Orrery, or Ossory, was indeed an outlaw to the code then in force; but the stain of his cowardly assassination must for ever blot and rot the princely escutcheon of James, Duke of Ormond.

The violence of religious and social persecution began to subside during the last two or three years of Charles II. Monmouth’s banishment, Shaftesbury’s imprisonment, the execution of Russell and Sidney on the scaffold, marked the return of the English public mind to political pursuits and objects. Early in 1685, the king was taken mortally ill. In his last moments he received the rites of the Catholic church, from the hands of Father Huddleston, who was said to have saved his life at the battle of Worcester, and who was now even more anxious to save his soul.

This event took place on the 16th of February. King James was immediately proclaimed successor to his brother. One of his first acts was to recall Ormond from Ireland and to appoint in his place the Earl of Clarendon, son of the historian and statesman of the Restoration. Ormond obeyed, not without regret; he survived his fall about three years. He was interred in Westminster in 1688, three months before the landing of William, and the second banishment of the Stuarts.


Before plunging into the troubled torrent of the revolution of 1688, let us cast a glance back on the century, and consider the state of learning and religion during those three generations.

If we divide the Irish literature of this century by subjects, we shall find extant a respectable body, both in quantity and quality, of theology, history, law, politics, and poetry. If we divide it by the languages in which that literature was written, we may consider it as Latin, Gaelic, and English.

I. Latin continued throughout Europe, even till this late day, the language of the learned, but especially of theologians, jurists, and historians. In Latin, the great tomes of O’Sullivan, Usher, Colgan, Wadding, and White, were written—volumes which remain as so many monuments of the learning and industry of that age. The chief objects of these illustrious writers were, to restore the ancient ecclesiastical history of Ireland, to rescue the memory of her saints and doctors from oblivion, and to introduce the native annals of the kingdom to the attention of Europe. Though Usher differed in religion, and in his theory of the early connection of the Irish with the Roman Church, from all the rest, yet he stands pre-eminent among them for labour and research. The Waterford Franciscan, Wadding, can only be named with him for inexhaustible patience, various learning, and untiring zeal. Both were honoured of princes and parliaments. The Confederates would have made Wadding a cardinal; King James made Usher an archbishop; one instructed the Westminster Assembly; the other was sent by the King of Spain to maintain the thesis of the Immaculate Conception at Rome, and subsequently was entrusted by the Pope to report upon the propositions of Jansenius. O’Sullivan, Conde de Berehaven, in Spain, and Peter White, have left us each two or three Latin volumes on the history of the country, highly prized by all subsequent writers. But the most indispensable of the legacies left us in this tongue, are Colgan’s “Acta Sanctorum”—from January to March—and Dr. John Lynch’s “Cambrensis Eversus.” Many other works and authors might be mentioned, but these are the great Latinists to whom we are indebted for the most important services rendered to our national history.

II. In the Gaelic literature of the country we count Geoffrey Keating, Duald McFirbis, and “the Four Masters” of Donegal. Few writers have been more rashly judged than Keating. A poet, as well as a historian, he gave a prominence in the early chapters of his history to bardic tales, which English critics have seized upon to damage his reputation for truthfulness and good sense. But these tales he gives as tales—as curious and illustrative—rather than as credible and unquestionable. The purity of his style is greatly extolled by Gaelic critics; and the interest of his narrative, even in a translation, is undoubted. McFirbis, an annalist and genealogist by inheritance, is known to us not only for his profound native lore, and tragic death, but also for the assistance he rendered Sir James Ware, Dr. Lynch, and Roderick O’Flaherty. The master-piece, however, of our Gaelic literature of this age, is the work now called “The Annals of the Four Masters.” In the reign of James I., a few Franciscan friars, living partly in Donegal Abbey and partly in St. Anthony’s College, at Louvain, undertook to collect and collate all the manuscript remains of Irish antiquity they could gather or borrow, or be allowed to copy. Father Hugh Ward was the head of this group, and by him the lay brother Michael O’Clery, one of the greatest benefactors his country ever saw, was sent from Belgium to Ireland. From 1620 to 1630, O’Clery travelled through the kingdom, buying or transcribing everything he could find relating to the lives of the Irish saints, which he sent to Louvain, where Ward and Colgan undertook to edit and illustrate them. Father Ward died in the early part of the undertaking, but Father Colgan spent twenty years in prosecuting the original design, so far as concerned our ecclesiastical biography.

After collecting these materials, Father O’Clery waited, as he tells us, on “the noble Fergall O’Gara,” one of the two knights elected to represent the county of Sligo in the Parliament of 1634, and perceiving the anxiety of O’Gara, “from the cloud which at present hangs over our ancient Milesian race,” he proposed to collect the civil and military annals of Erin into one large digest. O’Gara, struck with this proposal, freely supplied the means, and O’Clery and his coadjutors set to work in the Franciscan Convent of Donegal, which still stood, not more than half in ruins.

On the 22nd of January, 1632, they commenced this digest, and on the 10th of August, 1636, it was finished—having occupied them four years, seven months and nineteen days. The MS., dedicated to O’Gara, is authenticated by the superiors of the convent; from that original two editions have recently been printed in both languages.

These annals extend to the year 1616, the time of the compilers. Originally they bore the title of “Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland,” but Colgan having quoted them as “The Annals of the Four Masters,” that name remains ever since. The “Four Masters” were Brother Michael O’Clery, Conary and Peregrine O’Clery, his brothers, both laymen and natives of Donegal, and Florence Conroy of Roscommon, another hereditary antiquary.

The first edition of the New Testament, in the Gaelic tongue, so far as we are aware, appeared at Dublin, in 1603, in quarto. The translation was the work of a native scholar, O’Cionga (Anglicized King). It was made at the expense and under the supervision of Dr. William O’Donnell, one of the first fellows of Trinity, and published at the cost of the people of Connaught. Dr. O’Donnell, an amiable man, and an enemy of persecution, became subsequently Archbishop of Tuam, in which dignity he died, in 1628. A translation of the Book of Common Prayer, by O’Donnell, appeared early in the century, and towards its close (1685), a translation of the Old Testament, made for Bishop Bedell by the Gaelic scholars of Meath and Cavan, was published at the expense of the famous Robert Boyle. Bedell had also caused to be published Gaelic translations of certain homilies of Saint Leo and Saint John Chrysostom, on the importance of studying the holy Scriptures. The only other Gaelic publications of this period were issued from the Irish colleges at Louvain and Rome. Thence issued the devotional tracts of Conroy, of Gernon, and O’Molloy, and the Irish grammars of O’Clery and Stapleton. The devotional tracts, with their fanciful titles, of “Lamps,” and “Mirrors,” were smuggled across from Ostend and Dunkirk with other articles of contraband, and did much to keep alive the flame of faith and hope in the hearts of the Gaelic-speaking population.

The bardic order also, though shorn of much of their ancient splendour, and under the Puritan regime persecuted as vagrants, still flourished as an estate of the realm. The national tendency to poetic writing was not confined to the hereditary verse-makers, but was illustrated by such men as the martyred Plunkett, and the Bishops of Meath and Kerry—Dr. Thomas Dease, and Dr. John O’Connell. But the great body of Gaelic verse of the first half of this century is known under the name of “The Contentions of the Bards,” the subject being the relative dignity, power, and prowess of the North and South. The gauntlet in this poetic warfare, was thrown down by McDaire, the Bard of Donogh O’Brien, fourth Earl of Thomond, and taken up on the part of Ulster by Lewy O’Clery. Reply led to rejoinder, and one epistle to another, until all the chief bards of the four provinces had taken sides. Half a dozen writers, pro and con, were particularly distinguished; McDaire himself, Turlogh O’Brien, and Art Oge O’Keefe on behalf of the Southerners; O’Clery, O’Donnell, the two McEgans, and Robert McArthur on the side of the North.

An immense mass of devotional Gaelic poetry may be traced to this period. The religious wars, the calamities of the church and of the people, inspired many a priest and layman to seize the harp of David, and pour forth his hopes and griefs in sacred song. The lament of Mac Ward over the Ulster princes buried at Rome, the odes of Dermod Conroy and Flan McNamee, in honour of our Blessed Lady, are of this class. Thus it happened that the bardic order, which in ancient times was the formidable enemy of Christianity, became, through adversity and affliction, its greatest supporter.

III. Our Hiberno-English literature is almost entirely the creation of this century. Except some few remarkable state papers, we have no English writings of any reputation of an earlier period. Now, however, when the language of the empire, formed and enriched by the great minds of Elizabeth’s era, began to extend its influence at home and abroad, a school of Hiberno-English writers appeared, both numerous and distinguished. This school was as yet composed mainly of two classes—the dramatic poets, and the pamphleteers. Of the latter were Bishop French, Sir Richard Nagle, Sir Richard Belling, Lord Orrery, Father Peter Walsh, and William Molyneux; of the former, Ludowick Barry, Sir John Denham, the Earl of Roscommon, and Richard Flecknoe,—the Mac Flecknoe of Dryden. It is true there appeared as yet no supreme name like Swift’s; but as indicating the gradual extension of the English language into Ireland, the popular pamphlets and pieces written for the stage, are illustrations of our mental life not to be overlooked.

Of the ancient schools of the island, after the final suppression of the college at Galway in 1652, not one remained. A diocesan college at Kilkenny, and the Dublin University, were alone open to the youth of the country. But the University remained exclusively in possession of the Protestant interest, nor did it give to the world during the century, except Usher, Ware and Orrery, any graduate of national, not to say, European reputation. In the bye-ways of the South and West, in the Irish colleges on the continent of Europe—at Paris, Louvain, Lisle, Salamanca, Lisbon, or Rome—the children of the proscribed majority could alone acquire a degree in learning, human or divine. It was as impossible two centuries ago, to speak of Trinity College with respect, as it is in our time, remembering all it has since done, to speak of it without veneration.

Though the Established Church had now completed its century and a half of existence, it was as far from the hearts of the Irish as ever. Though the amiable Bedell and the learned O’Donnell had caused the sacred Scriptures to be translated into the Gaelic tongue, few converts had been made from the Catholic ranks, while the spirit of animosity was inflamed by a sense of the cruel and undeserved disabilities inflicted in the name of religion. The manifold sects introduced under Cromwell gave a keener edge to Catholic contempt for the doctrines of the reformation; and although the restoration of the monarchy threw the extreme sectaries into the shade, it added nothing to the influence of the church, except the fatal gift of political patronage. For the first time, the high dignity of Archbishop of Armagh began to be regarded as the inheritance of the leader of the House of Lords; then Brahmall and Boyle laid the foundation of that primatial power which Boulter and Stone upheld under another dynasty, but which vanished before the first dawn of Parliamentary independence.

In the quarter of a century which elapsed from the restoration to the revolution, the condition of the Catholic clergy and laity was such as we have already described. In 1662, an historian of the Jesuit missionaries in Ireland described the sufferings of ecclesiastics as deplorable; they were forced to fly to the herds of cattle in remote places, to seek a refuge in barns and stables, or to sleep at night in the porticoes of temples, lest they should endanger the safety of the laity. In that same year, Orrery advised Ormond to purge the walled towns of Papists, who were still “three to one Protestant;” in 1672, Sir William Petty computed them at “eight to one” of the entire population.

“So captive Israel multiplied in chains.”

The martyrdom of the Archbishop of Dublin, in 1680, and of the Archbishop of Armagh in 1681, were, however, the last of a series of executions for conscience’ sake, from the relation of which the historian might well have been excused, if it was not necessary to remind our emancipated posterity at what a price they have been purchased.


From the accession of King James till his final flight from Ireland, in July, 1690, there elapsed an interval of five years and five months; a period fraught with consequences of the highest interest to this history. The new King was, on his accession, in his fifty-second year; he had served, as Duke of York, with credit both by land and sea, was an avowed Catholic, and married to a Catholic princess, the beautiful and unfortunate Mary of Modena.

Within a month from the proclamation of the King, Ormond quitted the government for the last time, leaving Primate Boyle, and Lord Granard, as Justices. In January, 1686, Lord Clarendon, son of the historian, assumed the government, in which he continued, till the 16th of March, 1687. The day following the national anniversary, Colonel Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell, a Catholic, and the former agent for the Catholics, was installed as Lord Deputy. Other events, connecting these with each other, had filled with astonishment and apprehension the ascendancy party.

James proceeded openly with what he hoped to make a counter-reformation of England, and to accomplish which he relied on France on the one hand, and Ireland on the other. In both cases he alarmed the fears and wounded the pride of England; but when he proceeded from one illegality to another, when he began to exercise a dispensing power above the laws—to instruct the judges, to menace the parliament, and imprison the bishops—the nobility, the commons, and the army gradually combined against him, and at last invited over the Prince of Orange, as the most capable vindicator of their outraged constitution.

The headlong King had a representative equally rash, in Tyrconnell. He was a man old enough to remember well the uprising of 1641, had lived in intimacy with James as Duke of York, was personally brave, well skilled in intrigue, but vain, loud-spoken, confident, and incapable of a high command in military affairs. The colonelcy of an Irish regiment, the earldom of Tyrconnell, and a seat in the secret council or cabinet of the King, were honours conferred on him during the year of James’s accession. When Clarendon was named Lord-Lieutenant at the beginning of 1686, Tyrconnell was sent over with him as Lieutenant-General of the army. At his instigation, a proclamation was issued, that “all classes” of his Majesty’s subjects might be allowed to serve in the army; and another, that all arms hitherto given out should be deposited, for greater security, at one of the King’s stores provided for the purpose in each town or county. Thus that exclusively Protestant militia, which for twenty years had executed the Act of Settlement and the Act of Uniformity in every quarter of the kingdom, found themselves suddenly disarmed, and a new Catholic army rising on their ruins. The numbers disbanded are nowhere stated; they probably amounted to 10,000 or 15,000 men and very naturally they became warm partisans of the Williamite revolution. The recriminations which arose between the new and the old militia were not confined to the nicknames, Whig and Tory, or to the bandying of sarcasms on each others’ origin; swords were not unfrequently drawn, and muskets discharged, even in the streets of Dublin, under the very walls of the Castle.

Through Tyrconnell’s influence, a similar revolution had been wrought in the exclusive character of the courts of justice, and the corporations of towns, to that which remodelled the militia. Rice, Daly, and Nugent, were elevated to the bench during Lord Clarendon’s time; the Corporation of Dublin having refused to surrender their exclusive charter, were summarily rejected by a quo warranto, issued in the exchequer; other towns were similarly treated, or induced to make surrender, and a new series of charters at once granted by James, entitling Catholics to the freedom of the boroughs, and the highest municipal offices. And now, for the first time in that generation, Catholic mayors and sheriffs, escorted by Catholic troops as guards of honour, were seen marching in open day to their own places of worship, to the dismay and astonishment of the ascendancy party. Not that all Protestants were excluded either from town councils, the militia, or the bench, but those only were elected or appointed who concurred in the new arrangements, and were, therefore, pretty certain to forfeit the confidence of their co-religionists in proportion as they deserved that of the Deputy. Topham and Coghill, Masters in Chancery, were deprived of their offices, and the Protestant Chancellor was arbitrarily removed to make way for Baron Rice, a Catholic. The exclusive character of Trinity College was next assailed, and though James did not venture to revoke the charter of Elizabeth, establishing communion with the Church of England as the test of fellowship, the internal administration was in several particulars interfered with, its plate was seized in the King’s name under plea of being public property, and the annual parliamentary grant of 388 pounds was discontinued. These arbitrary acts filled the more judicious Catholics with apprehension, but gained the loud applause of the unreasoning multitude. Dr. Macguire, the successor of the martyred Plunkett, who felt in Ulster the rising tide of resistance, was among the signers of a memorial to the King, dutifully remonstrating against the violent proceedings of his Deputy. From Rome also, disapprobation was more than once expressed, but all without avail; neither James nor Talbot could be brought to reason. The Protestants of the eastern and southern towns and counties who could contrive to quit their homes, did so; hundreds fled to Holland to return in the ranks of the Prince of Orange; thousands fled to England, bringing with them their tale of oppression, embellished with all the bitter exaggeration of exiles; ten thousand removed from Leinster into Ulster, soon to recross the Boyne, under very different auspices. Very soon a close correspondence was established between the fugitives in Holland, England, and Ulster, and a powerful lever was thus placed in the hands of the Prince of Orange, to work the downfall of his uncle and father-in-law. But the best allies of William were, after all, the folly and fatuity of James. The importation of Irish troops, by entire battalions, gave the last and sorest wound to the national pride of England, and still further exasperated the hatred and contempt which his majesty’s English regiments had begun to feel for their royal master.

Tyrconnell, during the eventful summer months when the revolution was ripening both in Holland and England, had taken, unknown even to James, a step of the gravest importance. To him the first intelligence of the preparations of William were carried by a ship from Amsterdam, and by him they were communicated to the infatuated King, who had laughed at them as too absurd for serious consideration. But the Irish ruler, fully believing his informants, and never deficient in audacity, had at once entered into a secret treaty with Louis XIV. to put Ireland under the protection of France, in the event of the Prince of Orange succeeding to the British throne. No proposition could more entirely suit the exigencies of Louis, of whom William was by far the ablest and most relentless enemy. The correspondence which has come to light in recent times, shows the importance which he attached to Tyrconnell’s proposition—an importance still further enhanced by the direct but unsuccessful overture made to the earl by William himself, on landing in England, and before embarking in the actual invasion of Ireland.

William Henry, Prince of Orange, now about to enter on the scene, was in 1688 in the thirty-seventh year of his age. Fearless of danger, patient, silent, impervious to his enemies, rather a soldier than a statesman, indifferent in religion, and personally adverse to persecution for conscience’ sake, his great and almost his only public passion was the humiliation of France through the instrumentality of a European coalition. As an anti-Gallican, as the representative of the most illustrious Protestant family in Europe, as allied by blood and marriage to their kings, he was a very fit and proper chief for the English revolutionists; but for the two former of these reasons he was just as naturally antipathetic to the Catholic and Celtic majority of the Irish. His designs had been long gradually maturing, when James’s incredible imprudence hastened his movements. Twenty-four ships of war were assembled at Helvoetsluys; 7,000 sailors were put on board; all the veterans of the Netherlands were encamped at Nimeguen, where 6,000 recruits were added to their numbers. On the 5th of November, the anniversary of the gunpowder plot, “the Deliverer,” as he was fondly called in England, landed at Torbay; on the 25th of December, James, deserted by his nobles, his army, and even his own unnatural children, arrived, a fugitive and a suppliant, at the court of France.

A few Irish incidents of this critical moment deserve mention. The mania against everything Irish took in England forms the most ludicrous and absurd. Wharton’s doggerel refrain of Lillibullero, was heard in every circle outside the court; all London, lighted with torches, and marshalled under arms, awaited during the memorable “Irish night” the advent of the terrible and detested regiments brought over by Tyrconnell; some companies of these troops quartered in the country were fallen upon by ten times their numbers, and cut to pieces. Others, fighting and inquiring their way, forced a passage to Chester or Bristol, and obtained a passage home. They passed at sea, or encountered on the landing-places, multitudes of the Protestant Irish, men, women and children, flying in exactly the opposite direction. Tyrconnell was known to meditate the repeal of the Act of Settlement; the general rumour of a Protestant massacre fixed for the 9th of December, originated no one knew how, was spread about no one knew by whom. In vain the Lord Deputy tried to stay the panic—his assurance of protection, and the still better evidence of their own experience, which proved the Irish Catholics incapable of such a project, could not allay their terrors. They rushed into England by every port, and inflamed still more the hostility which already prevailed against King James.

In Ulster, David Cairnes of Knockmany, the Rev. John Kelso of Enniskillen, a Presbyterian, and Rev. George Walker of Donaghmore, an Anglican minister, were active instruments of the Prince of Orange. On the 7th of December the gates of Derry were shut by “the youthhood” against the Earl of Antrim and his Highlanders. Enniskillen was seized by a similar impulse of the popular will, and an association was quickly formed throughout Ulster in imitation of the English association which had invited over William, under the auspices of Lord Blaney, Sir Arthur Rawdon, Sir Clotworthy Skeffington, and others, “for the maintenance of the Protestant religion and the dependency of Ireland upon England.” By these associates, Sligo, Coleraine, and the fort of Culmore, at the mouth of the Foyle, were seized for King William; while the Town Council of Derry, in order to gain time, despatched one ambassador with one set of instructions to Tyrconnell, and another, with a very different set, to “the Committee for Irish Affairs,” which sat at Whitehall, under the presidency of the Earl of Shrewsbury.


A few days after his arrival in France, James despatched a messenger to Tyrconnell, with instructions expressing great anxiety as to the state of affairs in Ireland. “I am sure,” wrote the fugitive monarch, “you will hold out to the utmost of your power, and I hope this king will so press the Hollanders, that the Prince of Orange will not have men to spare to attack you.” All the aid he could obtain from Louis at the moment was 7,000 or 8,000 muskets, which were sent accordingly.

Events succeeded each other during the first half of the year 1689 with revolutionary rapidity. The conventions of England and Scotland, though far from being unanimous, declared by immense majorities, that James had abdicated, and that William and Mary should be offered the crowns of both kingdoms. In February, they were proclaimed as king and queen of “England, France, and Ireland,” and in May, the Scottish commissioners brought them the tender of the crown of Scotland. The double heritage of the Stuart kings was thus, after nearly a century of possession, transferred by election to a kindred prince, to the exclusion of the direct descendants of the great champion of “the right divine,” who first united under his sceptre the three kingdoms.

James, at the Court of France, was duly informed of all that passed at London and Edinburgh. He knew that he had powerful partizans in both conventions. The first fever of popular excitement once allayed, he marked with exultation the symptoms of reaction. There was much in the circumstances attending his flight to awaken popular sympathy, and to cast a veil over his errors. The pathetic picture drawn of parental suffering by the great dramatist in the character of King Lear, seemed realized to the life in the person of King James. Message followed message from the three kingdoms, urging him to return and place himself at the head of his faithful subjects in a war against the usurper. The French king approved of these recommendations, for in fighting James’s battle he was fighting his own, and a squadron was prepared at Brest to carry the fugitive back to his dominions. Accompanied by his natural sons, the Duke of Berwick and the Grand Prior Fitzjames, by Lieutenant-Generals de Rosen and de Maumont, Majors-General de Pusignan and de Lery (or Geraldine), about a hundred officers of all ranks, and 1,200 veterans, James sailed from Brest, with a fleet of 33 vessels, and landed at Kinsale on the 12th day of March (old style). His reception by the Southern population was enthusiastic in the extreme. From Kinsale to Cork, from Cork to Dublin, his progress was accompanied by Gaelic songs and dances, by Latin orations, loyal addresses, and all the decorations with which a popular favourite can be welcomed. Nothing was remembered by that easily pacified people but his great misfortunes and his steady fidelity to his and their religion. Fifteen chaplains, nearly all Irish, accompanied him, and added to the delight of the populace; while many a long-absent soldier, now came back in the following of the king, to bless the sight of some aged parent or faithful lover. The royal entry into Dublin was the crowning pageant of this delusive restoration. With the tact and taste for such demonstrations hereditary in the citizens, the trades and arts were marshalled before him. Two venerable harpers played on their national instruments near the gate by which he entered; a number of religious in their robes, with a huge cross at their head, chanted as they went; forty young girls, dressed in white, danced the ancient Rinka, scattering flowers as they danced. The Earl of Tyrconnell, lately raised to a dukedom, the judges, the mayor and corporation, completed the procession, which marched over newly sanded streets, beneath arches of evergreens and windows hung with “tapestry and cloth of Arras.” Arrived at the castle the sword of state was presented to him by the deputy, and the keys of the city by the recorder. At the inner entrance, the primate, Dr. Dominick Macguire, waited in his robes to conduct him to the chapel, lately erected by Tyrconnell, where Te Deum was solemnly sung. But of all the incidents of that striking ceremonial, nothing more powerfully impressed the popular imagination than the green flag floating from the main tower of the castle, bearing the significant inscription—”Now or Never—Now and Forever.”

A fortnight was devoted by James in Dublin to daily and nightly councils and receptions. The chief advisers who formed his court were the Count d’Avaux, Ambassador of France, the Earl of Melfort, principal Secretary of State, the Duke of Tyrconnell, Lieutenant-General Lord Mountcashel, Chief Justice Nugent, and the superior officers of the army, French and Irish. One of the first things resolved upon at Dublin was the appointment of the gallant Viscount Dundee as Lieutenant-General in Scotland—and the despatch to his assistance of an Irish auxiliary force, which served under that renowned chief with as much honour as their predecessors had served under Montrose. Communications were also opened through the Bishop of Chester with the west of England Jacobites, always numerous in Cheshire, Shropshire, and other counties nearest to Ireland. Certain changes were then made in the Privy Council; Chief Justice Keating’s attendance was dispensed with as one opposed to the new policy, but his judicial functions were left untouched. Dr. Cartwright, Bishop of Chester, and the French Ambassador were sworn in, and writs were issued convoking the Irish Parliament for the 7th day of May following.

Intermitting, for the present, the military events which marked the early months of the year, we will follow the acts and deliberations of King James’s Parliament of 1689. The Houses met, according to summons, at the appointed time, in the building known as “the Inns of Court,” within a stone’s throw of the castle. There were present 228 Commoners, and 46 members of the Upper House. In the Lords several Protestant noblemen and prelates took their seats, and some Catholic peers of ancient date, whose attainders had been reversed, were seen for the first time in that generation in the front rank of their order. In the Lower House the University and a few other constituencies were represented by Protestants, but the overwhelming majority were Catholics, either of Norman or Milesian origin. The King made a judicious opening speech, declaring his intention to uphold the rights of property, and to establish liberty of conscience alike for Protestant and Catholic. He referred to the distressed state of trade and manufactures, and recommended to the attention of the Houses, those who had been unjustly deprived of their estates under the “Act of Settlement.”

Three measures passed by this Parliament entitle its members to be enrolled among the chief assertors of civil and religious liberty. One was the “Act for establishing Liberty of Conscience,” followed by the supplemental act that all persons should pay tithes only to the clergy of their own communion. An act abolishing writs of error and appeal into England, established the judicial independence of Ireland; but a still more necessary measure repealing Poyning’s Law, was defeated through the personal hostility of the King. An act repealing the Act of Settlement was also passed, under protest from the Protestant Lords, and received the royal sanction. A bill to establish Inns of Court, for the education of Irish law students, was, however, rejected by the King, and lost; an “Act of Attainder,” against persons in arms against the Sovereign, whose estates lay in Ireland, was adopted. Whatever may be the bias of historians, it cannot be denied that this Parliament showed a spirit worthy of the representatives of a free people. “Though Papists,” says Mr. Grattan, our highest parliamentary authority, “they were not slaves; they wrung a constitution from King James before they accompanied him to the field.”

The King, unfortunately, had not abandoned the arbitrary principles of his family, even in his worst adversity. His interference with the discussions on Poyning’s Law, and the Inns of Court bill, had shocked some of his most devoted adherents. But he proceeded from obstructive to active despotism. He doubled, by his mere proclamation, the enormous subsidy of 20,000 pounds monthly voted him by the Houses. He established, by the same authority, a bank, and decreed in his own name a bank restriction act. He debased the coinage, and established a fixed scale of prices to be observed by all merchants and traders. In one respect—but in one only—he grossly violated his own professed purpose of establishing liberty of conscience, by endeavouring to force fellows and scholars on the University of Dublin contrary to its statutes. He even went so far as to appoint a provost and librarian without consent of the senate. However we may condemn the exclusiveness of the College, this was not the way to correct it; bigotry on the one hand, will not justify despotism on the other.

More justifiable was the interference of the King for the restoration of rural schools and churches, and the decent maintenance of the clergy and bishops. His appointments to the bench were also, with one or two exceptions, men of the very highest character. “The administration of justice during this brief period,” says Dr. Cooke Taylor, “deserves the highest praise. With the exception of Nugent and Fritton, the Irish judges would have been an honour to any bench.”


When Tyrconnell met the King at Cork, he gave his Majesty a plain account of the posture of military affairs. In Ulster, Lieutenant-General Richard Hamilton, at the head of 2,500 regular troops, was holding the rebels in check, from Charlemont to Coleraine; in Munster, Lieutenant-General Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel, had taken Bandon and Castlemartyr; throughout the four provinces, the Catholics, to the number of fifty regiments (probably 30,000 men), had volunteered their services; but for all these volunteers he had only 20,000 old arms of all kinds, not over 1,000 of which were found really valuable. There were besides these, regiments of horse, Tyrconnell’s, Russell’s, and Galmony’s, and one of dragoons, eight small pieces of artillery, but neither stores in the magazines, nor cash in the chest. While at Cork, Tyrconnell, in return for his great exertions, was created a Duke, and General-in-Chief, with De Rosen as second in command.

A week before James reached Dublin, Hamilton had beaten the rebels at Dromore, and driven them in on Coleraine, from before which he wrote urgently for reinforcements. On receipt of this communication, the Council exhibited, for the first time, those radical differences of opinion, amounting almost to factious opposition, which crippled all King James’s movements at this period. One party strenuously urged that the King himself should march northward with such troops as could be spared; that his personal appearance before Derry, would immediately occasion the surrender of that city, and that he might in a few weeks, finish in person the campaign of Ulster. Another, at whose head was Tyrconnell, endeavoured to dissuade his Majesty from this course, but he at length decided in favour of the plan of Melfort and his friends. Accordingly, he marched out of Dublin, amid torrents of April rain, on the eighth of that month, intending to form a junction with Hamilton, at Strabane, and thence to advance to Derry. The march was a weary one through a country stripped bare of every sign of life, and desolate beyond description. A week was spent between Dublin and Omagh; at Omagh news of an English fleet on the Foyle caused the King to retrace his steps hastily to Charlemont. At Charlemont, however, intelligence of fresh successes gained by Hamilton and De Rosen, at Cladyford and Strabane, came to restore his confidence; he instantly set forward, despite the tempestuous weather, and the almost impassable roads, and on the eighteenth reached the Irish camp at Johnstown, within four or five miles of Derry.

It was now four months since “the youthhood” of Derry had shut the Watergate against Lord Antrim’s regiment, and established within their walls a strange sort of government, including eighteen clergymen and the town democracy. The military command remained with Lieutenant-Colonel Lundy, of Mountjoy’s regiment, but the actual government of the town was vested, first, in “Governor” Baker, and afterwards in the Reverend George Walker, rector of Donaghmore, best known to us as Governor Walker. The Town Council had despatched Mr. Cairnes, and subsequently Captain Hamilton, founder of the Abercorn peerage, to England for succour, and had openly proclaimed William and Mary as King and Queen. Defensive works were added, where necessary, and on the very day of the affair of Cladyford, 480 barrels of gunpowder were landed from English ships and conveyed within the walls.

As the Royalist forces concentrated towards Derry, the chiefs of the Protestant Association fell back before them, each bringing to its garrison the contribution of his own followers. From the valley of the Bann, over the rugged summits of Carntogher, from the glens of Donegal, and the western sea coast round to Mayo, troops of the fugitives hurried to the strong town of the London traders, as to a city of refuge. Enniskillen alone, resolute in its insular situation, and in a courage akin to that which actuated the defenders of Derry, stood as an outpost of the main object of attack, and delayed the junction of the Royalists under Mountcashel with those under Hamilton and De Rosen. Coleraine was abandoned. Captain Murray, the commander of Culmore, forced his way at the head of 1,500 men into Derry, contrary to the wishes of the vacillating and suspected Lundy, and, from the moment of his arrival, infused his own determined spirit into all ranks of the inhabitants.

Those who had advised King James to present himself in person before the Protestant stronghold, had not acted altogether, upon presumption. It is certain that there were Jacobites, even in Derry. Lundy, the governor, either despairing of its defence, or undecided in his allegiance between James and William, had opened a correspondence with Hamilton and De Rosen. But the true answer of the brave townsmen, when the King advanced too near their walls, was a cannon shot which killed one of his staff, and the cry of “No Surrender” thundered from the walls. James, awakened from his self-complacent dream by this unexpected reception, returned to Dublin, to open his Parliament, leaving General Hamilton to continue the siege. Colonel Lundy, distrusted, overruled, and menaced, escaped over the walls by night, disguised as a common labourer, and the party of Murray, Baker, Walker, and Cairnes, reigned supreme.

The story of the siege of Derry—of the heroic constancy of its defenders—of the atrocities of De Rosen and Galmoy—the clemency of Maumont—the forbearance of Hamilton—the struggles for supremacy among its magnates—the turbulence of the townsfolk—the joyful raising of the siege—all these have worthily employed some of the most eloquent pens in our language. The relief came by the breaking of the boom across the harbour’s mouth on the last day of July; the bombardment had commenced on the 21st of April; the gates had been shut on the 7th of December. The actual siege had lasted above three months, and the blockade about three weeks. The destruction of life on both sides has never been definitely stated. The besieged admit a loss of 4,000 men; the besiegers of 6,000. The want of siege guns in the Jacobite camp is admitted by both parties, but, nevertheless, the defence of the place well deserves to be celebrated, as it has been by an imperial historian, “as the most memorable in British annals.”

Scarcely inferior in interest and importance to the siege of Derry, was the spirited defence of Enniskillen. That fine old town, once the seat of the noble family of Maguire, is naturally dyked and moated round about, by the waters of Lough Erne. In December, ’88, it had closed its gates, and barricaded its causeways to keep out a Jacobite garrison. In March, on Lord Galmoy’s approach, all the outlying garrisons, in Fermanagh and Cavan, had destroyed their posts, and gathered into Enniskillen. The cruel and faithless Galmoy, instead of inspiring terror into the united garrison, only increased their determination to die in the breach. So strong in position and numbers did they find themselves, with the absolute command of the lower Lough Erne to bring in their supplies, that in April they sent off a detachment to the relief of Derry, and in the months of May and June, made several successful forays to Ballincarrig, Omagh, and Belturbet. In July, provided with a fresh supply of ammunition from the fleet intended for the relief of Derry, they beat up the Duke of Berwick’s quarters at Trellick, but were repulsed with some loss. The Duke being soon after recalled to join De Rosen, the siege of Enniskillen was committed to Lord Mountcashel, under whom, as commander of the cavalry, served Count Anthony Hamilton, author of the witty but licentious “Memoirs of Grammont,” and other distinguished officers. Mountcashel’s whole force consisted of three regiments of foot, two of dragoons, and some horse; but he expected to be joined by Colonel Sarsfield from Sligo, and Berwick from Derry. The besieged had drawn four regiments of foot from Cavan alone, and were probably twice that number in all; and they had, in Colonels Wolseley and Berry, able and energetic officers. The Enniskilleners did not await the attack within their fortress. At Lisnaskea, under Berry, they repulsed the advanced guard of the Jacobites under Anthony Hamilton; and the same day—the day of the relief of Derry—their whole force were brought into action with Mountcashel’s at Newtown-Butler. To the cry of “No Popery,” Wolseley led them into an action, the most considerable yet fought. The raw southern levies on the Royalist side, were routed by the hardy Enniskilleners long familiar with the use of arms, and well acquainted with every inch of the ground; 2,000 of them were left on the field; 400 prisoners were taken, among them dangerously, but not mortally wounded, was the Lieutenant-General himself.

The month of August was a month of general rejoicing for the Williamites of Ulster, De Rosen and Berwick had retreated from Deny; Sarsfield, on his way to join Mountcashel, fell back to Sligo on hearing of his defeat at Newtown-Butler; Culmore, Coleraine, and Ballyshannon, were retaken and well supplied; fugitives returned triumphantly to their homes, in Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Armagh. A panic created by false reports spread among his troops at Sligo, compelled Sarsfield to fall still further back to Athlone. Six months after his arrival, with the exception of the forts of Charlemont and Carrickfergus, King James no longer possessed a garrison in that province, which had been bestowed by his grandfather upon the ancestors of those who now unanimously rejected and resisted him.

The fall of the gallant Dundee in the battle of Killicrankie, five days before the relief of Derry, freed King William from immediate anxiety on the side of Scotland, and enabled him to concentrate his whole disposable force on Ireland. On the 13th of August, an army of eighteen regiments of foot, and four or five of horse, under the Marshal Duke de Schomberg, with Count Solmes as second in command, sailed into Belfast Lough, and took possession of the town. On the 20th, the Marshal opened a fierce cannonade on Carrickfergus, defended by Colonels McCarthy More and Cormac O’Neil, while the fleet bombarded it from sea. After eight days’ incessant cannonade, the garrison surrendered on honourable terms, and Schomberg faced southward towards Dublin. Brave, and long experienced, the aged Duke moved according to the cautious maxims of the military school in which he had been educated. Had he advanced rapidly on the capital, James must have fallen back, as De Rosen advised, on the line of the Shannon; but O’Regan, at Charlemont, and Berwick, at Newry, seemed to him obstacles so serious, that nearly a month was wasted in advancing from Belfast to Dundalk, where he entrenched himself in September, and went into whiter quarters. Here a terrible dysentery broke out among his troops, said to have been introduced by some soldiers from Derry, and so destructive were its ravages, that there were hardly left healthy men enough to bury the dead. Several of the French Catholics under his command, also, deserted to James, who, from his head-quarters at Drogheda, offered every inducement to the deserters. Others discovered in the attempt were tried and hanged, and others, still suspected of similar designs, were marched down to Carlingford, and shipped for England. In November, James returned from Drogheda to Dublin, much elated that Duke Schomberg, whose fatal camp at Dundalk he had in vain attempted to raise, had shrunk from meeting him in the field.


The armies now destined to combat for two kings on Irish soil were strongly marked by those distinctions of race and religion which add bitterness to struggles for power, while they present striking contrasts to the eye of the painter of military life and manners. King James’s troops were chiefly Celtic and Catholic. There were four regiments commanded by O’Neils, two by O’Briens, two by O’Kellys, one each by McCarthy More, Maguire, O’More, O’Donnell, McMahon, and Magennis, principally recruited among their own clansmen. There were also the regiments of Sarsfield, Nugent, De Courcy, Fitzgerald, Grace, and Burke, chiefly Celts, in the rank and file. On the other hand, Schomberg led into the field the famous blue Dutch and white Dutch regiments; the Huguenot regiments of Schomberg, La Millinier, Du Cambon, and La Callimotte; the English regiments of Lords Devonshire, Delamere, Lovelace, Sir John Lanier, Colonels Langston, Villiers, and others; the Anglo-Irish regiments of Lords Meath, Roscommon, Kingston, and Drogheda; with the Ulstermen, under Brigadier Wolseley, Colonels Gustavus Hamilton, Mitchelburne, Loyd, White, St. Johns, and Tiffany. Some important changes had taken place on both sides during the winter months. D’Avaux and De Rosen had been recalled at James’s request; Mountcashel, at the head of the first Franco-Irish brigade, had been exchanged for 6,000 French, under De Lauzan, who arrived the following March in the double character of general and ambassador. The report that William was to command in person in the next campaign, was, of itself, an indication pregnant with other changes to the minds of his adherents.

Their abundant supplies of military stores from England, wafted from every port upon the channel, where James had not a keel afloat, enabled the Williamite army to take the initiative in the campaign of 1690. At Cavan, Brigadier Wolseley repulsed the Duke of Berwick, with the loss of 200 men and some valuable officers. But the chief incident preceding William’s arrival was the siege of Charlemont. This siege, which commenced apparently in the previous autumn, had continued during several months, till the garrison were literally starved out, in May. The famished survivors were kindly treated, by order of Schomberg, and their gallant and eccentric chief, O’Regan, was knighted by the King, for his persistent resistance. A month from the day on which Charlemont fell, (June 14th), William landed at Carrickfergus, accompanied by Prince George of Denmark, the Duke of Wurtemburg, the Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, the second and last Duke of Ormond, Major-General Mackay, the Earls of Oxford, Portland, Scarborough, and Manchester, General Douglas, and other distinguished British and foreign officers. At Belfast, his first head-quarters, he ascertained the forces at his disposal to be upwards of 40,000 men, composed of “a strange medley of all nations”—Scandinavians, Swiss, Dutch, Prussians, Huguenot-French, English, Scotch, “Scotch-Irish,” and Anglo-Irish. Perhaps the most extraordinary element in that strange medley was the Danish contingent of horse and foot. Irish tradition and Irish prophecy still teemed with tales of terror and predictions of evil at the hands of the Danes, while these hardy mercenaries observed, with grim satisfaction, that the memory of their fierce ancestors had not become extinct after the lapse of twenty generations. At the Boyne, and at Limerick, they could not conceal their exultation as they encamped on some of the very earthworks raised by men of their race seven centuries before, and it must be admitted they vindicated their descent, both by their courage and their cruelty.

On the 16th of June, James, informed of William’s arrival, marched northward at the head of 20,000 men, French and Irish, to meet him. On the 22nd, James was at Dundalk and William at Newry; as the latter advanced, the Jacobites retired, and finally chose their ground at the Boyne, resolved to hazard a battle, for the preservation of Dublin, and the safety of the province of Leinster.

On the last day of June, the hostile forces confronted each other at the Boyne. The gentle, legendary river, wreathed in all the glory of its abundant foliage, was startled with the cannonade from the northern bank, which continued through the long summer’s evening, and woke the early echoes of the morrow. William, strong in his veteran ranks, welcomed the battle; James, strong in his defensive position, and the goodness of his cause, awaited it with confidence. On the northern bank near to the ford of Oldbridge, William, with his chief officers, breakfasting on the turf, nearly lost his life from a sudden discharge of cannon; but he was quickly in the saddle, at all points reviewing his army. James, on the hill of Donore, looked down on his devoted defenders, through whose ranks rode Tyrconnell, lame and ill, the youthful Berwick, the adventurous Lauzan, and the beloved Sarsfield—everywhere received with cordial acclamations. The battle commenced at the ford of Oldbridge, between Sir Neil O’Neil, and the younger Schomberg; O’Neil fell mortally wounded, and the ford was forced. By this ford, William ordered his centre to advance under the elder Schomberg, as the hour of noon approached, while he himself moved with the left across the river, nearer to Drogheda. Lauzan, with Sarsfield’s horse, dreading to be outflanked, had galloped to guard the bridge of Slane, five miles higher up the stream, where alone a flank movement was possible. The battle was now transferred from the gunners to the swordsmen and pikemen—from the banks to the fords and borders of the river, William, on the extreme left, swam his horse across, in imminent danger; Schomberg and Callimotte fell in the centre, mortally wounded. News was brought to William, that Dr. Walker—recently appointed to the See of Derry—had also fallen, “What brought him there?” was the natural comment of the soldier-prince. After seven hours’ fighting the Irish fell back on Duleek, in good order. The assailants admitted five hundred killed, and as many wounded; the defenders were said to have lost from one thousand to fifteen hundred men—less than at Newtown-Butler. The carnage, compared with some great battles of that age, was inconsiderable, but the political consequences were momentous. The next day, the garrison of Drogheda, one thousand three hundred strong, surrendered; in another week, William was in Dublin, and James, terrified by the reports which had reached him, was en route for France. It is hardly an exaggeration to say, that the fate of Europe was decided by the result of the battle of the Boyne. At Paris, at the Hague, at Vienna, at Rome, at Madrid, nothing was talked of but the great victory of the Prince of Orange over Louis and James. It is one of the strangest complications of history that the vanquished Irish Catholics seem to have been never once thought of by Spain, Austria, or the Pope. In the greater issues of the European coalition against France, their interests, and their very existence, were for the moment forgotten.

The defeat at the Boyne, and the surrender of Dublin, uncovered the entire province of Leinster, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Duncannon, Clonmel, and other places of less importance, surrendered within six weeks. The line of the Shannon was fallen back upon by the Irish, and the points of attack and defence were now shifted to Athlone and Limerick. What Enniskillen and Derry had been, in the previous year, to the Williamite party in the north, cities of refuge, and strongholds of hope, these two towns upon the Shannon had now become, by the fortune of war, to King James’s adherents.

On the 17th of July, General Douglas appeared before Athlone, and summoned it to surrender. The veteran commandant, Colonel Richard Grace, a Confederate of 1641, having destroyed the bridge, and the suburbs on the Leinster side of the Shannon, replied by discharging his pistol over the head of the drummer who delivered the message. Douglas attempted to cross the river at Lanesborough, but found the ford strongly guarded by one of Grace’s outposts; after a week’s ineffectual bombardment, he withdrew from before Athlone, and proceeded to Limerick, ravaging and slaying as he went.

Limerick had at first been abandoned by the French under Lauzan, as utterly indefensible. That gay intriguer desired nothing so much as to follow the King to Prance, while Tyrconnell, broken down with physical suffering and mental anxiety, feebly concurred in his opinion. They accordingly departed for Galway, leaving the city to its fate, and, happily for the national reputation, to bolder counsels than their own. De Boisseleau did not underrate the character of the Irish levies, who had retreated before twice their numbers at the Boyne; he declared himself willing to remain, and, sustained by Sarsfield, he was chosen as commandant. More than ten thousand foot had gathered “as if by instinct” to that city, and on the Clare side Sarsfield still kept together his cavalry, at whose head he rode to Galway and brought back. Tyrconnell. On the 9th of August, William, confident of an easy victory, appeared before the town, but more than twelve months were to elapse before all his power could reduce those mouldering walls, which the fugitive French ambassador had declared “might be taken with roasted apples.”

An exploit, planned and executed by Sarsfield the day succeeding William’s arrival, saved the city for another year, and raised that officer to the highest pitch of popularity. Along the Clare side of the Shannon, under cover of the night, he galloped as fast as horse could carry him, at the head of his dragoons, and crossed the river at Killaloe. One Manus O’Brien, a Protestant of Clare, who had encountered the flying horsemen, and learned enough to suspect their design, hastened to William’s camp with the news, but he was at first laughed at for his pains. William, however, never despising any precaution in war, despatched Sir John Lanier with 500 horse to protect his siege-train, then seven miles in the rear, on the road between Limerick and Cashel. Sarsfield, however, was too quick for Sir John. The day after he had crossed at Killaloe he kept his men perdu in the hilly country, and the next night swooped down upon the convoy in charge of the siege-train, who were quietly sleeping round the ruined church of Ballanedy. The sentinels were sabred at their posts, the guards, half-dressed, fled in terror or were speedily killed. The gun-carriages were quickly yoked, and drawn together to a convenient place, where, planted in pits with ammunition, they were, with two exceptions, successfully blown to atoms. Lanier arrived within view of the terrific scene in time to feel its stunning effects. The ground for miles round shook as from an earthquake; the glare and roar of the explosion were felt in William’s camp, and through the beleaguered city. On the morrow, all was known. Sarsfield was safely back in his old encampment, without the loss of a single man; Limerick was in an uproar of delight, while William’s army, to the lowest rank, felt the depression of so unexpected a blow. A week later, however, the provident prince had a new siege-train of thirty-six guns and four mortars brought up from Waterford, pouring red-hot shot on the devoted city. Another week—on the 27th of August—a gap having been made in the walls near Saint John’s gate, a storming party of the English guards, the Anglo-Irish, Prussians, and Danes, was launched into the breach. After an action of uncommon fierceness and determination on both sides, the besiegers retired with the loss of 30 officers, and 800 men killed, and 1,200 wounded. The besieged admitted 400 killed—their wounded were not counted. Four days later, William abandoned the siege, retreated to Waterford, and embarked for England, with Prince George of Denmark, the Dukes of Wurtemburg and Ormond, and others of his principal adherents. Tyrconnell, labouring with the illness of which he soon after died, took advantage of the honourable pause thus obtained, to proceed on his interrupted voyage to Prance, accompanied by the ambassador. Before leaving, however, the young Duke of Berwick was named in his stead as Commander-in-Chief; Fitton, Nagle, and Plowden, as Lords Justices; sixteen “senators” were to form a sort of Cabinet, and Sarsfield to be second in military command. His enemies declared that Tyrconnell retired from the contest because his early spirit and courage had failed him; he himself asserted that his object was to procure sufficient succours from King Louis, to give a decisive issue to the war. His subsequent negotiations at Paris proved that though his bodily health might be wretched, his ingenuity and readiness of resource had not deserted him. He justified himself both with James and Louis, outwitted Lauzan, propitiated Louvois, disarmed the prejudices of the English Jacobites, and, in short, placed the military relations of France and Ireland on a footing they had never hitherto sustained. The expedition of the following spring, under command of Marshal Saint Ruth, was mainly procured by his able diplomacy, and though he returned to Ireland to survive but a few weeks the disastrous day of Aughrim, it is impossible from the Irish point of view, not to recall with admiration, mixed indeed with alloy, but still with largely prevailing admiration, the extraordinary energy, buoyancy and talents of Richard, Duke of Tyrconnell.

THE WINTER OF 1690-91,

The Jacobite party in England were not slow to exaggerate the extent of William’s losses before Athlone and Limerick. The national susceptibility was consoled by the ready reflection, that if the beaten troops were partly English, the commanders were mainly foreigners. A native hero was needed, and was found in the person of Marlborough, a captain, whose name was destined to eclipse every other English reputation of that age. At his suggestion an expedition was fitted out against Cork, Kinsale, and other ports of the south of Ireland, and the command, though not without some secret unwillingness on William’s part, committed to him. On the 23rd of September, at the head of 8,000 fresh troops, amply supplied with all necessary munitions, Marlborough assaulted Cork. After five days’ bombardment, in which the Duke of Grafton, and other officers and men were slain, the Governor, McEligot, capitulated on conditions, which, in spite of all Marlborough’s exertions, were flagrantly violated. The old town of Kinsale was at once abandoned as untenable the same day, and the new fort, at the entrance to the harbour, was surrendered after a fortnight’s cannonade. Covered with glory from a five weeks’ campaign, Marlborough returned to England to receive the acclamations of the people and the most gracious compliments of the prince.

Berwick and Sarsfield on the one side and Ginkle and Lanier on the other, kept up the winter campaign till an advanced period, on both banks of the Shannon. About the middle of September, the former made a dash over the bridge of Banagher, against Birr, or Parsonstown, the family borough of the famous Undertaker. The English, in great force, under Lanier, Kirke, and Douglas, hastened to its relief, and the Irish fell back to Banagher. To destroy “that convenient pass” became now the object of one party, to protect it, of the other. After some skirmishing and manoeuvring on both sides, the disputed bridge was left in Irish possession, and the English fell back to the borough and castle of Sir Lawrence Parsons. During the siege of the new fort at Kinsale, Berwick and Sarsfield advanced as far as Kilmallock to its relief, but finding themselves so inferior in numbers to Marlborough, they were unwillingly compelled to leave its brave defenders to their fate,

Although the Duke of Berwick was the nominal Commander-in-Chief, his youth, and the distractions incident to youth, left the more mature and popular Sarsfield the possession of real power, both civil and military. Every fortunate accident had combined to elevate that gallant cavalry officer into the position of national leadership.

He was the son of a member of the Irish Commons, proscribed for his patriotism and religion in 1641, by Anna O’Moore, daughter of the organizer of the Catholic Confederation. He was a Catholic in religion, spoke Gaelic as easily as English, was brave, impulsive; handsome, and generous to a fault, like the men he led. In Tyrconnell’s absence every sincere lover of the country came to him with intelligence, and looked to him for direction. Early in November he learned through his patriotic spies the intention of the Williamites to force the passage of the Shannon in the depth of winter. On the last day of December, accordingly, they marched in great force under Kirke and Lanier to Jonesboro’, and under Douglas to Jamestown. At both points they found the indefatigable Sarsfield fully prepared for them, and after a fortnight’s intense suffering from exposure to the weather, were glad to get back again to their snug quarters at Parsonstown.

Early in February Tyrconnell landed at Limerick with a French fleet, escorted by three vessels of war, and laden with provisions, but bringing few arms and no reinforcements. He had brought over, however, 14,000 golden louis, which were found of the utmost service in re-clothing the army, besides 10,000 more which he had deposited at Brest to purchase oatmeal for subsequent shipment. He also brought promises of military assistance on a scale far beyond anything France had yet afforded. It is almost needless to say he was received at Galway and Limerick with an enthusiasm which silenced, if it did not confute, his political enemies, both in Ireland and France.

During his absence intrigues and factions had been rifer than ever in the Jacobite ranks. Sarsfield had discovered that the English movement on the Shannon in December was partly hastened by foolish or treacherous correspondence among his own associates. Lord Riverston and his brother were removed from the Senate, or Council of Sixteen—four from each province—and Judge Daly, ancestor of the Dunsandle family, was placed under arrest at Galway. The youthful Berwick sometimes complained that he was tutored and overruled by Sarsfield; but though the impetuous soldier may occasionally have forgotten the lessons learned in courts, his activity seems to have been the greatest, his information the best, his advice the most disinterested, and his fortitude the highest of any member of the council. By the time of Tyrconnell’s return he had grown to a height of popularity and power, which could not well brook a superior either in the cabinet or the camp.

On the arrival of the Lord Lieutenant, who was also Commander-in-Chief, the ambition of Sarsfield was gratified by the rank of Earl of Lucan, a title drawn from that pleasant hamlet, in the valley of the Liffey, where he had learned to lisp the catechism of a patriot at the knee of Anna O’Moore. But his real power was much diminished. Tyrconnell, Berwick, Sir Richard Nagle, who had succeeded the Earl of Melfort as chief secretary for King James, all ranked before him at the board, and when Saint Ruth arrived to take command-in-chief, he might fairly have complained that he was deprived of the chief reward to which he had looked forward.

The weary winter and the drenching spring months wore away, and the Williamite troops, sorely afflicted by disease, hugged their tents and huts. Some relief was sent by sea to the Jacobite garrison of Sligo, commanded by the stout old Sir Teague O’Regan, the former defender of Charlemont. Athlone, too, received some succours, and the line of the Shannon was still unbroken from Slieve-an-iron to the sea. But still the promised French assistance was delayed. Men were beginning to doubt both King Louis and King James, when, at length at the beginning of May, the French ships were signalled from the cliffs of Kerry. On the 8th, the Sieur de Saint Ruth, with Generals D’Usson and De Tesse, landed at Limerick, and assisted at a solemn Te Deum in St. Mary’s Cathedral. They brought considerable supplies of clothes, provisions, and ammunitions, but neither veterans to swell the ranks, nor money to replenish the chest. Saint Ruth entered eagerly upon the discharge of his duties as generalissimo, while Sarsfield continued the nominal second in command.


Saint Ruth, with absolute powers, found himself placed at the head of from 20,000 to 25,000 men, in the field or in garrison, regular or irregular, but all, with hardly an exception, Irish. His and Tyrconnell’s recent supplies had sufficed to renew the clothing and equipment of the greater part of the number, but the whole contents of the army chest, the golden hinge on which war moves, was estimated in the beginning of May to afford to each soldier only “a penny a day for three weeks.” He had under him some of the best officers that France could spare, or Ireland produce, and he had with him the hearts of nine-tenths of the natives of the country.

A singular illustration of the popular feeling occurred the previous August. The Milesian Irish had cherished the belief ever since the disastrous day of Kinsale, that an O’Donnell from Spain, having on his shoulder a red mark (ball derg), would return to free them from the English yoke, in a great battle near Limerick. Accordingly, when a representative of the Spanish O’Donnells actually appeared at Limerick, bearing as we know many of his family have done, even to our day, the unmistakable red mark of the ancient Tyrconnell line, immense numbers of the country people who had held aloof from the Jacobite cause, obeyed the voice of prophecy, and flocked round the Celtic deliverer. From 7,000 to 8,000 recruits were soon at his disposal, and it was not without bitter indignation that the chief, so enthusiastically received, saw regiment after regiment drafted from among his followers, and transferred to other commanders. Bred up a Spanish subject—the third in descent from an Irish prince—it is not to be wondered at that he regarded the Irish cause as all in all, and the interests of King James as entirely secondary. He could hardly consider himself as bound in allegiance to that king; he was in no way indebted to him or his family, and if we learn that when the war grew desperate, but before it was ended, he had entered into a separate treaty for himself and his adherents, with William’s generals, we must remember, before we condemn him, that we are speaking of an Hiberno-Spaniard, to whom the house of Stuart was no more sacred than the house of Orange.

The Williamite army rendezvoused at Mullingar towards the end of May, under Generals De Ginkle, Talmash and Mackay. On the 7th of June, they moved in the direction of Athlone, 18,000 strong, “the ranks one blaze of scarlet, and the artillery such as had never before been seen in Ireland.” The capture of Ballymore Castle, in West-Meath, detained them ten days; on the 19th, joined by the Duke of Wurtemburg, the Prince of Hesse and the Count of Nassau, with 7,000 foreign mercenaries, the whole sat down before the English town of Athlone, which Saint Ruth, contrary to his Irish advisers, resolved to defend. In twenty-four hours those exposed outworks abandoned by the veteran Grace the previous year, fell, and the bombardment of the Irish town on the opposite or Connaught bank, commenced. For ten days—from the 20th to the 30th of June—that fearful cannonade continued. Storey, the Williamite chaplain, to whom we are indebted for many valuable particulars of this war, states that the besiegers fired above 12,000 cannon shot, 600 shells and many tons of stone, into the place. Fifty tons of powder were burned in the bombardment. The castle, an imposing but lofty and antique structure, windowed as much for a residence as a fortress, tumbled into ruins; the bridge was broken down and impassable; the town a heap of rubbish, where two men could no longer walk abreast. But the Shannon had diminished in volume as the summer advanced, and three Danes employed for that purpose found a ford above the bridge, and at six o’clock on the evening of the last day of June, 2,000 picked men, headed by Gustavus Hamilton’s grenadiers, dashed into the ford at the stroke of a bell. At the same instant all the English batteries on the Leinster side opened on the Irish town, wrapping the river in smoke, and distracting the attention of the besiegers. Saint Ruth was, at this critical moment, at his camp two miles off, and D’Usson, the commandant, was also absent from his post. In half an hour the Williamites were masters of the heap of rubbish which had once been Athlone, with a loss of less than fifty men killed and wounded. For this bold and successful movement De Ginkle was created Earl of Athlone, and his chief officers were justly ennobled. Saint Ruth, over-confident, in a strange country, withdrew to Ballinasloe, behind the river Suck, and prepared to risk everything on the hazard of a pitched battle.

De Ginkle moved slowly from Athlone in pursuit of his enemy. On the morning of the 11th of July, as the early haze lifted itself in wreaths from the landscape, he found himself within range of the Irish, drawn up, north and south, on the upland of Kilcommodan hill, with a morass on either flank, through which ran two narrow causeways—on the right, “the pass of Urrachree,” on the left, the causeway leading to the little village of Aughrim. Saint Ruth’s force must have numbered from 15,000 to 20,000 men, with nine field-pieces; De Ginkle commanded from 25,000 to 30,000, with four batteries—two of which mounted six guns each. During the entire day, attack after attack, in the direction of Urrachree or of Aughrim was repulsed, and the assailants were about to retire in despair. As the sun sank low, a last desperate attempt was made with equal ill success. “Now, my children,” cried the elated Saint Ruth, “the day is ours! Now I shall drive them back to the walls of Dublin!” At that moment he fell by a cannon shot to the earth, and stayed the advancing tide of victory. The enemy marked the check, halted, rallied and returned. Sarsfield, who had not been entrusted with his leader’s plan of action, was unable to remedy the mischief which ensued. Victory arrested was converted into defeat. The sun went down on Aughrim, and the last great Irish battle between the Reformed and Roman religions. Four thousand of the Catholics were killed and wounded, and three thousand of the Protestants littered the field. Above five hundred prisoners, with thirty-two pairs of colours, eleven standards, and a large quantity of small arms, fell into the hands of the victors. One portion of the fugitive survivors fled to Galway, the larger part, including all the cavalry, to Limerick.

This double blow at Athlone and Aughrim shook to pieces the remaining Catholic power in Connaught. Galway surrendered ten days after the battle; Balldearg O’Donnell, after a vain attempt to throw himself into it in time, made terms with De Ginkle, and carried his two regiments into Flanders to fight on the side Spain and Rome had chosen to take in the European coalition. Sligo, the last western garrison, succumbed, and the brave Sir Teague O’Regan marched his 600 men, survivors, southward to Limerick.

Thus once more all eyes and all hearts in the British Islands were turned towards the well-known city of the lower Shannon. There, on the 14th of August, Tyrconnell expired, stricken down by apoplexy. On the 25th, De Ginkle, reinforced by all the troops he could gather in with safety, had invested the place on three sides. Sixty guns, none of less than 12 pounds calibre, opened their deadly fire against it. An English fleet ascended the river, hurling its missiles right and left. On the 9th of September the garrison made an unsuccessful sally, with heavy loss; on the 10th, a breach, forty yards wide, was made in the wall overhanging the river; on the night of the 15th, through the treachery or negligence of Brigadier Clifford, on guard at the Clare side of the river, a pontoon bridge was laid, and a strong English division crossed over in utter silence. The Irish horse, which had hitherto kept open communications with the country on that side, fell back to Six Mile Bridge. On the 24th, a truce of three days was agreed upon, and on the 3rd of October the memorable “Treaty of Limerick” was signed by the Williamite and Jacobite commissioners.

The civil articles of Limerick will be mentioned farther on; the military articles, twenty-nine in number, provided that all persons willing to expatriate themselves, as well officers and soldiers as rapparees and volunteers, should have free liberty to do so, to any place beyond seas, except England and Scotland; that they might depart in whole bodies, companies, or parties; that if plundered by the way, William’s government should make good their loss; that fifty ships of 200 tons each should be provided for their transportation, besides two men-of-war for the principal officers; that the garrison of Limerick might march out with all their arms, guns and baggage, “colours flying, drums beating, and matches lighting!” It was also agreed, that those who so wished might enter the service of William, retaining their rank and pay; but though De Ginkle was most eager to secure for his master some of those stalwart battalions, only 1,000 out of the 13,000 that marched out of Limerick filed to the left at King’s Island, Two thousand others accepted passes and protections; 4,500 sailed with Sarsfield from Cork, 4,700 with D’Usson and De Tesse, embarked in the Shannon on board a French fleet which arrived a week too late to prevent the capitulation; in English ships, 3,000 embarked with General Wauchop; all which, added to Mountcashel’s brigade, over 5,000 strong, gave an Irish army of from 20,000 to 25,000 men to the service of King Louis.

As the ships from Ireland reached Brest and the ports of Brittany, James himself came down from Saint Germain to receive them. They were at once granted the rights of French citizenship without undergoing the forms of naturalization. Many of them rose to eminent positions in war and in diplomacy, became founders of distinguished families, or dying childless, left their hard-won gold to endow free bourses at Douay and Louvain, for poor Irish scholars destined for the service of the church, for which they had fought the good fight, in another sense, on the Shannon and the Boyne. The migration of ecclesiastics was almost as extensive as that of the military. They were shipped by dozens and by scores, from Dublin, Cork, and Galway. In seven years from the treaty, there remained but 400 secular and 800 regular clergy in the country. Nearly double that number, deported by threats or violence, were scattered over Europe, pensioners on the princes and bishops of their faith, or the institutions of their order. In Rome, 72,000 francs annually were allotted for the maintenance of the fugitive Irish clergy, and during the first three months of 1699, three remittances from the Holy Father, amounting to 90,000 livres, were placed in the hands of the Nuncio at Paris, for the temporary relief of the fugitives in France and Flanders. It may also be added here, that till the end of the eighteenth century, an annual charge of 1,000 Roman crowns was borne by the Papal treasury for the encouragement of Catholic Poor-schools in Ireland.

The revolutionary war, thus closed, had cost King William, or rather the people of England, at least 10,000,000 of pounds sterling, and with the other wars of that reign, laid the foundation of the English national debt. As to the loss of life, the Williamite chaplain, Storey, places it “at 100,000, young and old, besides treble the number that are ruined and undone.” The chief consolation of the vanquished in that struggle was, that they had wrung even from their adversaries the reputation of being “one of the most warlike of nations”—that they “buried the synagogue with honour.”


From the date of the treaty of Limerick, William was acknowledged by all but the extreme Jacobites, at least de facto—King of Ireland. The prevailing party in Ulster had long recognized him, and the only expression of the national will then possible accepted his title, in the treaty signed at Limerick on the 3rd of October, 1691. For three years Ireland had resisted his power, for twelve years longer she was to bear the yoke of his government.

Though the history of William’s twelve years’ reign in Ireland is a history of proscription, the King himself is answerable only as a consenting party to such proscription. He was neither by temper nor policy a persecutor; his allies were Spain, Austria and Rome; he had thousands of Catholics in his own army, and he gave his confidence as freely to brave and capable men of one creed as of another. But the oligarchy, calling itself the “Protestant Ascendancy,” which had grown so powerful under Cromwell and Charles II., backed as they once again were by all the religious intolerance of England, proved too strong for William’s good intentions. He was, moreover, pre-occupied with the grand plans of the European coalition, in which Ireland, without an army, was no longer an element of calculation. He abandoned, therefore, not without an occasional grumbling protest, the vanquished Catholics to the mercy of that oligarchy, whose history, during the eighteenth century, forms so prominent a feature of the history of the kingdom.

The civil articles of Limerick, which Sarsfield vainly hoped might prove the Magna Charta of his co-religionists, were thirteen in number. Art. I. guaranteed to members of that denomination, remaining in the kingdom, “such privileges in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the law of Ireland, or as they enjoyed in the reign of King Charles II.;” this article further provided, that “their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a Parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security in that particular as may preserve them from any disturbance on account of their said religion.” Art. II. guaranteed pardon and protection to all who had served King James, on taking the oath of allegiance prescribed in Art. IX., as follows:

“I, A. B., do solemnly promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to their majesties, King William and Queen Mary; so help me God.”

Arts. III., IV., V. and VI. extended the provisions of Arts. I. and II. to merchants and other classes of men. Art. VII. permits “every nobleman and gentleman compromised in the said articles” to carry side arms and keep “a gun in their houses.” Art. VIII. gives the right of removing goods and chattels without search. Art. IX. is as follows:

“The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as submit to their majesties’ government shall be the oath aforesaid, and no other.”

Art. X. guarantees that “no person or persons who shall at any time hereafter break these articles, or any of them, shall thereby make or cause any other person or persons to forfeit or lose the benefit of them.” Arts. XI. and XII. relate to the ratification of the articles “within eight months or sooner.” Art. XIII. refers to the debts of “Colonel John Brown, commissary of the Irish army, to several Protestants,” and arranges for their satisfaction.

These articles were signed before Limerick, at the well known “Treaty Stone,” on the Clare side of the Shannon, by Lord Scravenmore, Generals Mackay, Talmash, and De Ginkle, and the Lords Justices Porter and Coningsby, for King William, and by Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, Viscount Galmoy, Sir Toby Butler, and Colonels Purcell, Cusack, Dillon, and Brown, for the Irish. On the 24th of February following, royal letters patent confirmatory of the treaty were issued from Westminster, in the name of the King and Queen, whereby they declared, that “we do for us, our heirs, and successors, as far as in us lies, ratify and confirm the same and every clause, matter, and thing therein contained. And as to such parts thereof, for which an act of Parliament shall be found to be necessary, we shall recommend the same to be made good by Parliament, and shall give our royal assent to any bill or bills that shall be passed by our two Houses of Parliament to that purpose. And whereas it appears unto us, that it was agreed between the parties to the said articles, that after the words Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Mayo, or any of them, in the second of the said articles; which words having been casually omitted by the writer of the articles, the words following, viz.: ‘And all such as are under their protection in the said counties’ should be inserted, and be part of the said omission, was not discovered till after the said articles were signed, but was taken notice of before the second town was surrendered, and that our said justices and generals, or one of them, did promise that the said clause should be made good, it being within the intention of the capitulation, and inserted in the foul draft thereof: Our further will and pleasure is, and we do hereby ratify and confirm the said omitted words, viz., ‘And all such as are under their protection in the said counties,’ hereby for us, our heirs and successors, ordaining and declaring that all and every person and persons therein concerned shall and may have, receive, and enjoy the benefit thereof, in such and the same manner as if the said words had been inserted in their proper place in the said second article, any omission, defect, or mistake in the said second article in any wise notwithstanding. Provided always, and our will and pleasure is, that these our letters patent shall be enrolled in our Court of Chancery, in our said kingdom of Ireland, within the space of one year next ensuing.”

But the Ascendancy party were not to be restrained by the faith of treaties, or the obligations of the Sovereign. The Sunday following the return of the Lords Justices from Limerick, Dopping, Bishop of Meath, preached before them at Christ’s church, on the crime of keeping faith with Papists. The grand jury of Cork, urged on by Cox, the Recorder of Kinsale, one of the historians of those times, returned in their inquest that the restoration of the Earl of Clancarty’s estates “would be dangerous to the Protestant interest.” Though both William and George I., interested themselves warmly for that noble family, the hatred of the new oligarchy proved too strong for the clemency of kings, and the broad acres of the disinherited McCarthys, remained to enrich an alien and bigoted aristocracy.

In 1692, when the Irish Parliament met, a few Catholic peers, and a very few Catholic commoners took their seats. One of the first acts of the victorious majority was to frame an oath in direct contravention to the oath prescribed by the ninth civil article of the treaty, to be taken by members of both Houses. This oath solemnly and explicitly denied “that in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper there is any transubstantiation of the elements;” and as solemnly affirmed, “that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary, or any other saint, and the sacrifice of the mass, as they are now used in the church of Rome, are damnable and idolatrous.” As a matter of course, the Catholic peers and commoners retired from both Houses, rather than take any such oath, and thus the Irish Parliament assumed, in 1692, that exclusively Protestant character which it continued to maintain, till its extinction in 1800. The Lord Justice Sydney, acting in the spirit of his original instructions, made some show of resistance to the proscriptive spirit thus exhibited. But to teach him how they regarded his interference, a very small supply was voted, and the assertion of the absolute control of the Commons over all supplies—a sound doctrine when rightly interpreted—was vehemently asserted. Sydney had the satisfaction of proroguing and lecturing the House, but they had the satisfaction soon after of seeing him recalled through their influence in England, and a more congenial Viceroy in the person of Lord Capel sent over.

About the same time, that ancient engine of oppression, a Commission to inquire into estates forfeited, was established, and, in a short time, decreed that 1,060,792 acres were escheated to the crown. This was almost the last fragment of the patrimony of the Catholic inhabitants. When King William died, there did not remain in Catholic hands “one-sixth part” of what their grandfathers held, even after the passage of the Act of Settlement.

In 1695, Lord Capel opened the second Irish Parliament, summoned by King William, in a speech in which he assured his delighted auditors that the King was intent upon a firm settlement of Ireland upon a Protestant interest. Large supplies were at once voted to his majesty, and the House of Commons then proceeded to the appointment of a committee to consider what penal laws were already in force against the Catholics, not for the purpose of repealing them, but in order to add to their number. The principal penal laws then in existence were:

1. An act, subjecting all who upheld the jurisdiction of the See of Rome, to the penalties of a premunire; and ordering the oath of supremacy to be a qualification for office of every kind, for holy orders, and for a degree in the university.

2. An act for the uniformity of Common Prayer, imposing a fine of a shilling on all who should absent themselves from places of worship of the Established Church on Sundays.

3. An act, allowing the Chancellor to name a guardian to the child of a Catholic.

4. An act to prevent Catholics from becoming private tutors in families, without license from the ordinaries of their several parishes, and taking the oath of supremacy.

To these, the new Parliament added, 1. An act to deprive Catholics of the means of educating their children at home or abroad, and to render them incapable of being guardians of their own or any other person’s children; 2. An act to disarm the Catholics; and, 3. Another to banish all the Catholic priests and prelates. Having thus violated the treaty, they gravely brought in a bill “to confirm the Articles of Limerick.” “The very title of the bill,” says Dr. Cooke Taylor, “contains evidence of its injustice.” It is styled “A Bill for the Confirmation of Articles (not the articles) made at the Surrender of Limerick.” And the preamble shows that the little word the was not accidentally omitted. It runs thus:—”That the said articles, or so much of them as may consist with the safety and welfare of your majesty’s subjects in these kingdoms, may be confirmed,” &c. The parts that appeared to these legislators inconsistent with “the safety and welfare of his majesty’s subjects,” were the first article, which provided for the security of the Catholics from all disturbances on account of their religion; those parts of the second article which confirmed the Catholic gentry of Limerick, Clare, Cork, Kerry, and Mayo, in the possession of their estates, and allowed all Catholics to exercise their trades and professions without obstruction; the fourth article, which extended the benefit of the peace to certain Irish officers then abroad; the seventh article, which allowed the Catholic gentry to ride armed; the ninth article, which provides that the oath of allegiance shall be the only oath required from Catholics; and one or two others of minor importance. All of these are omitted in the bill for “The confirmation of Articles made at the Surrender of Limerick.”

The Commons passed the bill without much difficulty. The House of Lords, however, contained some few of the ancient nobility, and some prelates, who refused to acknowledge the dogma, “that no faith should be kept with Papists,” as an article of their creed. The bill was strenuously resisted, and when it was at length carried, a strong protest against it was signed by Lords Londonderry, Tyrone, and Duncannon, the Barons of Ossory, Limerick, Killaloe, Kerry, Howth, Kingston, and Strabane, and, to their eternal honour be it said, the Protestant bishops of Kildare, Elphin, Derry, Clonfert, and Killala!

The only other political incidents of this reign, important to Ireland, were the speech from the throne in answer to an address of the English Houses, in which William promised to discourage the woollen and encourage the linen manufacture in Ireland, and the publication of the famous argument for legislative independence, “The Case of Ireland Stated.” The author of this tract, the bright precursor of the glorious succession of men, who, often defeated or abandoned by their colleagues, finally triumphed in 1782, was William Molyneux, member for the University of Dublin. Molyneux’s book appeared in 1698, with a short, respectful, but manly dedication to King William. Speaking of his own motives in writing it, he says, “I am not at all concerned in wool or the wool trade. I am no ways interested in forfeitures or grants. I am not at all concerned whether the bishop or the society of Derry recover the lands they contest about.” Such were the domestic politics of Ireland at that day; but Molyneux raised other and nobler issues when he advanced these six propositions, which lie supported with incontestible ability.

“1. How Ireland became a kingdom annexed to the crown of England. And here we shall at large give a faithful narrative of the first expedition of the Britons into this country, and King Henry II.’s arrival here, such as our best historians give us.

“2. We shall inquire whether this expedition and the English settlement that afterwards followed thereon, can properly be called a conquest; or whether any victories obtained by the English in any succeeding ages in this kingdom, upon any rebellion, may be called a conquest thereof.

“3. Granting that it were a conquest, we shall inquire what title a conquest gives.

“4. We shall inquire what concessions have been from time to time made to Ireland, to take off what even the most rigorous asserters of a conqueror’s title do pretend to. And herein we shall show by what degrees the English form of government, and the English statute laws, came to be received among us; and this shall appear to be wholly by the consent of the people and the Parliament of Ireland.

“5. We shall inquire into the precedents and opinions of the learned in the laws relating to this matter, with observations thereon.

“6. We shall consider the reasons and arguments that may be further offered on one side and t’other; and we shall draw some general conclusions from the whole.”

The English Parliament took alarm at these bold doctrines, seldom heard across the channel since the days of Patrick Darcy and the Catholic Confederacy. They ordered the book to be burned by the hands of the common hangman, as of “dangerous tendency to the crown and people of England, by denying the power of the King and Parliament of England to bind the kingdom and people of Ireland, and the subordination and dependence that Ireland had, and ought to have, upon England, as being united and annexed to the imperial crown of England.” They voted an address to the King in the same tone, and received an answer from his majesty, assuring them that he would enforce the laws securing the dependence of Ireland on the imperial crown of Great Britain.

But William’s days were already numbered. On the 8th of March, 1702, when little more than fifty years of age, he died from the effects of a fall from his horse. His reign over Ireland is synonymous to the minds of that people of disaster, proscription and spoliation; of violated faith and broken compacts; but these wrongs were done in his name rather than by his orders; often without his knowledge, and sometimes against his will. Rigid as that will was, it was forced to bend to the anti-Popery storm which swept over the British Islands after the abdication of King James; but the vices and follies of his times ought no more be laid to the personal account of William than of James or Louis, against whom he fought.


The reign of Queen Anne occupies twelve years (1702 to 1714. The new sovereign, daughter of James by his first marriage, inherited the legacy of William’s wars, arising out of the European coalition. Her diplomatists, and her troops, under the leadership of Marlborough, continued throughout her reign to combat against France, in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands; the treaty of Utrecht being signed only the year before her majesty’s decease. In domestic politics, the main occurrences were the struggle of the Whigs and Tories, immortalized for us in the pages of Swift, Steele, Addison, and Bolingbroke; the limitation of the succession to the descendants of the Electress Sophia, in the line of Hanover; and the abortive Jacobite movement on the Queen’s death which drove Ormond and Atterbury into exile.

In Ireland, this is the reign, par excellence, of the penal code. From the very beginning of the Queen’s reign, an insatiate spirit of proscription dictated the councils of the Irish oligarchy. On the arrival of the second and last Duke of Ormond, in 1703, as Lord-Lieutenant, the Commons waited on him in a body, with a bill “for discouraging the further growth of Popery,” to which the duke having signified his entire concurrence, it was accordingly introduced, and became law. The following are among the most remarkable clauses of this act: The third clause provides, that if the son of an estated Papist shall conform to the established religion, the father shall be incapacitated from selling or mortgaging his estate, or disposing of any portion of it by will. The fourth clause prohibits a Papist from being the guardian of his own child; and orders, that if at any time the child, though ever so young, pretends to be a Protestant, it shall be taken from its own father, and placed under the guardianship of the nearest Protestant relation. The sixth clause renders Papists incapable of purchasing any manors, tenements, hereditaments, or any rents or profits arising out of the same, or of holding any lease of lives, or other lease whatever, for any term exceeding thirty-one years. And with respect even to such limited leases, it further enacts, that if a Papist should hold a farm producing a profit greater than one-third of the amount of the rent, his right to such should immediately cease, and pass over entirely to the first Protestant who should discover the rate of profit. The seventh clause prohibits Papists from succeeding to the properties or estates of their Protestant relations. By the tenth clause, the estate of a Papist, not having a Protestant heir, is ordered to be gavelled, or divided in equal shares between all his children. The sixteenth and twenty-fourth clauses impose the oath of abjuration, and the sacramental test, as a qualification for office, and for voting at elections. The twenty-third clause deprives the Catholics of Limerick and Galway of the protection secured to them by the articles of the treaty of Limerick. The twenty-fifth clause vests in her majesty all advowsons possessed by Papists.

Certain Catholic barristers, living under protection, not yet excluded from the practice of their profession, petitioned to be heard at the bar of the House of Commons. Accordingly, Mr. Malone, the ancestor of three generations of scholars and orators, Sir Stephen Rice, one of the most spotless characters of the age, formerly chief-justice under King James, and Sir Theobald Butler, were heard against the bill. The argument of Butler, who stood at the very head of his profession, remains to us almost in its entirety, and commands our admiration by its solidity and dignity. Never was national cause more worthily pleaded; never was the folly of religious persecution more forcibly exhibited. Alluding to the monstrous fourth clause of the bill, the great advocate exclaimed:—

“It is natural for the father to love the child; but we all know that children are but too apt and subject, without any such liberty as this bill gives, to slight and neglect their duty to their parents; and surely such an act as this will not be an instrument of restraint, but rather encourage them more to it.

“It is but too common with the son, who has a prospect of an estate, when once he arrives at the age of one and twenty, to think the old father too long in the way between him and it; and how much more will he be subject to it, when, by this act, he shall have liberty, before he comes to that age, to compel and force my estate from me, without asking my leave, or being liable to account with me for it, or out of his share thereof, to a moiety of the debts, portions, or other encumbrances, with which the estate might have been charged before the passing of this act!

“Is not this against the laws of God and man? Against the rules of reason and justice, by which all men ought to be governed? Is not this the only way in the world to make children become undutiful? and to bring the grey head of the parent to the grave with grief and tears?

“It would be hard from any man; but from a son, a child, the fruit of my body, whom I have nursed in my bosom, and tendered more dearly than my own life, to become my plunderer, to rob me of my estate, to cut my throat, and to take away my bread, is much more grievous than from any other, and enough to make the most flinty hearts to bleed to think on it. And yet this will be the case if this bill pass into a law; which I hope this honourable assembly will not think of, when they shall more seriously consider, and have weighed these matters.

“For God’s sake, gentlemen, will you consider whether this is according to the golden rule, to do as you would be done unto? And if not, surely you will not, nay, you cannot, without being liable to be charged with the most manifest injustice imaginable, take from us our birthrights, and invest them in others, before our faces.”

When Butler and Malone had closed, Sir Stephen Rice was heard, not in his character of council, but as one of the petitioners affected by the act. But neither the affecting position of that great jurist, who, from the rank of chief baron had descended to the outer bar, nor the purity of his life, nor the strength of his argument, had any effect upon the oligarchy who heard him. He was answered by quibbles and cavils, unworthy of record, and was finally informed that any rights which Papists “pretended to be taken from them by the Bill, was in their own power to remedy, by conforming, which in prudence they ought to do; and that they had none to blame but themselves.” Next day the bill passed into law.

The remnant of the clergy were next attacked. On the 17th of March, 1705, the Irish Commons resolved, that “informing against Papists was an honourable service to the government,” and that all magistrates and others who failed to put the penal laws into execution, “were betrayers of the liberties of the kingdom.” But even these resolutions, rewards, and inducements were insufficient to satisfy the spirit of persecution.

A further act was passed, in 1709, imposing additional penalties. The first clause declares, that no Papist shall be capable of holding an annuity for life. The third provides, that the child of a Papist, on conforming, shall at once receive an annuity from his father; and that the Chancellor shall compel the father to discover, upon oath, the full value of his estate, real and personal, and thereupon make an order for the support of such conforming child or children, and for securing such a share of the property, after the father’s death, as the court shall think fit. The fourteenth and fifteenth clauses secure jointures to Popish wives who shall conform. The sixteenth prohibits a Papist from teaching, even as assistant to a Protestant master. The eighteenth gives a salary of 30 pounds per annum to Popish priests who shall conform. The twentieth provides rewards for the discovery of Popish prelates, priests, and teachers, according to the following whimsical scale:—For discovering an archbishop, bishop, vicar-general, or other person, exercising any foreign ecclesiastical jurisdiction, 50 pounds; for discovering each regular clergyman, and each secular clergyman, not registered, 20 pounds; and for discovering each Popish schoolmaster or usher, 10 pounds. The twenty-first clause empowers two justices to summon before them any Papist over eighteen years of age, and interrogate him when and where he last heard mass said, and the names of the persons present, and likewise touching the residence of any Popish priest or schoolmaster; and if he refuse to give testimony, subjects him to a fine of 20 pounds, or imprisonment for twelve months.

Several other penal laws were enacted by the same Parliament, of which we can only notice one; it excluded Catholics from the office of sheriff, and from grand juries, and enacts, that, in trials upon any statute for strengthening the Protestant interest, the plaintiff might challenge a juror for being a Papist, which challenge the judge was to allow.

By a royal proclamation of the same year, “all registered priests” were to take “the oath of abjuration before the 25th of March, 1710,” under penalty of premunire. Under this proclamation and the tariff of rewards just cited, there grew up a class of men, infamous and detestable, known by the nickname of “priest hunters.” One of the most successful of these traffickers in blood was a Portuguese Jew, named Garcia, settled at Dublin. He was very skilful at disguises. “He sometimes put on the mien of a priest, for he affected to be one, and thus worming himself into the good graces of some confiding Catholic got a clue to the whereabouts of the clergy.” In 1718, Garcia succeeded in arresting seven unregistered priests, for whose detection he had a sum equal to two or three thousand dollars of American money. To such an excess was this trade carried, that a reaction set in, and a Catholic bishop of Ossory, who lived at the time these acts were still in force, records that “the priest-catchers’ occupation became exceedingly odious both to Protestants and Catholics,” and that himself had seen “ruffians of this calling assailed with a shower of stones, flung by both Catholics and Protestants.” But this creditable reaction only became general under George II., twenty years after the passage of the act of Queen Anne.

We shall have to mention some monstrous additions made to the code during the first George’s reign, and some attempts to repair and perfect its diabolical machinery, even so late as George III.; but the great body of the penal law received its chief accessions from the oligarchical Irish Parliament, under Queen Anne. Hitherto, we have often had to point out, how with all its constitutional defects—with the law of Poynings, obliging heads of bills to be first sent to England—fettering its freedom of initiative;—how, notwithstanding all defects, the Irish Parliament had asserted, at many critical periods, its own and the people’s rights, with an energy worthy of admiration. But the collective bigots of this reign were wholly unworthy of the name of a parliament. They permitted the woollen trade to be sacrificed without a struggle,—they allowed the bold propositions of Molyneux, one of their own number, to be condemned and reprobated without a protest. The knotted lash of Jonathan Swift was never more worthily applied, than to “the Legion Club,” which he has consigned to such an unenviable immortality. Swift’s inspiration may have been mingled with bitter disappointment and personal revenge; but, whatever motives animated him, his fearless use of his great abilities must always make him the first political, as he was certainly the first literary character of Ireland at that day. In a country so bare and naked as he found it; with a bigotry so rampant and united before him; it needed no ordinary courage and capacity to evoke anything like public opinion or public spirit. Let us be just to that most unhappy man of genius; let us proclaim that Irish nationality, bleeding at every pore, and in danger of perishing by the wayside, found shelter on the breast of Swift, and took new heart from the example of that bold churchman, before whom the Parliament, the bench of Bishops, and the Viceroy, trembled.


The close of the second reign from the siege of Limerick imposes the duty of casting our eyes over the map of Europe, in quest of those gallant exiles whom we have seen, in tens of thousands, submitting to the hard necessity of expatriation.

Many of the Meath and Leinster Irish, under their native commanders, the Kavanaghs and Nugents, carried their swords into the service of William’s ally, the Emperor of Austria, and distinguished themselves in all the campaigns of Prince Eugene. Spain attracted to her standard the Irish of the north-west, the O’Donnells, the O’Reillys, and O’Garas, whose regiments, during more than one reign, continued to be known by flames of Ulster origin. In 1707, the great battle of Almanza, which decided the Spanish succession, was determined by O’Mahony’s foot and Fitzjames’s Irish horse. The next year Spain had five Irish regiments in her regular army, three of foot and two of dragoons, under the command of Lacy, Lawless, Wogan, O’Reilly, and O’Gara. But it was in France that the Irish served in the greatest number, and made the most impressive history for themselves and their descendants.

The recruiting agents of France had long been in the habit of crossing the narrow seas, and bringing back the stalwart sons of the western Island to serve their ambitious kings, in every corner of the continent. An Irish troop of horse served, in 1652, under Turenne, against the great Conde. In the campaigns of 1673, 1674 and 1675, under Turenne, two or three Irish regiments were in every engagement along the Rhine. At Altenheim, their commander, Count Hamilton, was created a major-general of France. In 1690, these old regiments, with the six new ones sent over by James, were formed into a brigade, and from 1690 to 1693, they went through the campaigns of Savoy and Italy, under Marshal Catinat, against Prince Eugene. Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel, who commanded them, died at Bareges of wounds received at Staffardo. At Marsiglia, they routed, in 1693, the allies, killing Duke Schomberg, son to the Huguenot general who fell at the Boyne.

The “New” or Sarsfield’s brigade was employed under Luxembourg, against King William, in Flanders, in 1692 and 1693. At Namur and Enghien, they were greatly distinguished, and William more than once sustained heavy loss at their hands. Sarsfield, their brigadier, for these services, was made mareschal-de-camp. At Landen, on the 29th of July, ’93, France again triumphed to the cry, “Remember Limerick!” Sarsfield, leading on the fierce pursuers, fell, mortally wounded. Pressing his hand upon the wound, he took it away dripping with blood, and only said, “Oh, that this was for Ireland!”

In the war of the Spanish succession, the remnants of both brigades, consolidated into one, served under their favourite leader, the Marshal Duke of Berwick, through nearly all his campaigns in Belgium, Spain and Germany. The third Lord Clare, afterwards Field-Marshal Count Thomond, was by the Duke’s side at Phillipsburg, in 1733, when he received his death-wound from the explosion of a mine. These exiled Clare O’Briens commanded for three generations their famous family regiment of dragoons. The first who followed King James abroad died of wounds received at the battle of Ramillies; the third, with better fortune, outlived for nearly thirty years the glorious day of Fontenoy. The Irish cavalry regiments in the service of France were Sheldon’s, Galmoy’s, Clare’s, and Killmallock’s; the infantry were known as the regiments of Dublin, Charlemont, Limerick, and Athlone. There were two other infantry regiments, known as Luttrel’s and Dorrington’s—and a regiment of Irish marines, of which the Grand Prior, Fitzjames, was colonel. During the latter years of Louis XIV., there could not have been less, at any one time, than from 20,000 to 30,000 Irish in his armies, and during the succeeding century, authentic documents exist to prove that 450,000 natives of Ireland died in the military service of France.

In the dreary reigns of William, Anne, and the two first Georges, the pride and courage of the disarmed and disinherited population abiding at home, drew new life and vigour from the exploits of their exiled brethren. The channel smuggler and the vagrant ballad-singer kept alive their fame for the lower class of the population, while the memoirs of Marlborough and Eugene, issuing from the Dublin press, communicated authentic accounts of their actions, to the more prejudiced, or better educated. The blows they struck at Landen, at Cremona, and at Almanza, were sensibly felt by every British statesman; when, in the bitterness of defeat, an English King cursed “the laws that deprived him of such subjects,” the doom of the penal code was pronounced.

The high character of the famous captains of these brigades was not confined to the field of battle. At Paris, Vienna, and Madrid, their wit and courtesy raised them to the favour of princes, over the jealousy of all their rivals. Important civil and diplomatic offices were entrusted to them—embassies of peace and war—the government of provinces, and the highest administrative offices of the state. While their kinsmen in Ireland were declared incapable of filling the humblest public employments, or of exercising the commonest franchise, they met British ambassadors abroad as equals, and checked or countermined the imperial policy of Great Britain. It was impossible that such a contrast of situations should not attract the attention of all thinking men! It was impossible that such reputations should shine before all Europe without reacting powerfully on the fallen fortunes of Ireland!

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!