ULSTER LAND WAR
(THE HEARTS OF STEEL).
FRANCIS JOSEPH BIGGER, M.R.I.A.
Editor of the “Ulster journal”of Archaeology; Author of
“The Northern Leaders in ’98,” etc.
May these three sounds of increase
ever be heard in Ulster :
The lowing of a cow in milk,
The din of a smithy,
The swish of a plough.
SEALY, BRYERS & WALKER,
MIDDLE ABBEY STREET.
“But the worst of this is that it tends to unite protestant with papist, and whenever that happens good-bye to the English interest in Ireland for ever.”
Protestant Primate of Ireland.
OUTLINE OF THE CONFISCATION AND PLANTATION OF ULSTER.
Now that Ireland is beginning to have her own history given to her by her own writers, in her own way, I deem the time opportune for giving this work to our folk. If it has any interest for other peoples in other lands, affecting them in their views and opinions of Ireland’s history and circumstances, my pleasure will be added to. Still, I would rather one of Ulster breed should know the history of his own province than that a hundred from afar should know it. I would that he should feel the blood coursing through his own veins to be of the same blood that pulsed in the hearts of those who fought so valiantly for the right to live on the land he now tills without fear or restraint the same blood that was shed in exile at Bunker’s Hill and Yorktown, opposing the same force of iniquity that had been striven against in Ballynure or Templepatrick or Carnmoney. A wider field and a broader enterprise gave strong arms and stout hearts full scope for a fight for freedom, and thus a new republic in the west was brought to life and an obstinate tyranny driven forth.
In these days of land transfer, when an old order, fraught with injustice and every means of oppression, is fast passing away, it is well to pause for a while and view some of the events of the past, some of the things which came to pass generations ago in Ulster, where the land laws were especially peculiar. As a whole, Ulster had been confiscated, and we all know what that means. Those who cry out most nowadays against such means of acquiring other people’s property, especially when they are of the undertaker class, hold the property they enjoy themselves by such means and no other the lands they hold were confiscated quite unjustly and unwarrantably in nearly every case. Take, for instance, an undertaker like Chichester, of whom we will have much to say; he never held one acre by any just, fair, or honourable proceeding. The acquisition of land by him was steeped in iniquity and fraud. No successor of his but bears the taint. The Ulster lands were confiscated, the old chieftains, princely houses like the O’Neills and O’Donnells, were driven into exile or hounded to the scaffold and the grave, their people slaughtered by the thousand, the remnant driven to the bogs and the mountains, their steadings reeking to heaven like funeral pyres, their cattle driven to settlers’ bawns. If the great trade and prosperity of a people utterly destroyed and put down a fruitfulness described by Bacon at the time, “it is not easy, no, not upon the Continent, to find such confluence of commodities,” or, in the words of Davies, “so pleasant and fruitful a country that if I should make a full description thereof, it would rather be taken for a poetical fiction than for a true and serious narrative.” The whole province was left desolate and a wilderness, but “shired,” and meet for a so-called “new civility.”
We know the boast of Chichester in his own handwriting: “I spayre neither house, corn, nor creature . . . sparinge none of what quality, age, or sex soever, beside many burned to death, we kill man, woman, child, horse, beast, and what- soever we find.” He slew all four-footed animals in the Irish farm steadings, he burned the stacks of grain in Ulster, and in the early summer mowed down the growing crops of the Irish. Swept, as with a fiery broom from hell, the land was meet for a “civil plantation” according to Chichester. Goldwin Smith puts it, the English eagles flew to the Spanish main, the vultures settled upon Ireland. The very children of the old chieftains, living as best they could, driven by cruel force to the woods and bogs, were declared traitors, thieves, rebels, outlaws, tories, and rapparees. In 1604 Chichester wrote of these same youths without the law –“He found several companies of outlaws and rebels had got together in this country; one party of six score I have broken and killed and’hanged about the third man, and so God be thanked they are in reasonable quiet, albeit poor and in great necessity, which makes them outlaws, being driven to steal for want of other substance.” Their lands had been stolen and their homes plundered, and they were “driven to steal.” That was one of the differences between them and Chichester–they were driven to steal, whilst he revelled and “thanked God” in thievery and plunder.
* In Ulster the term “landlord” should not be used; at best they were undertakers who undertook but never fulfilled their bargains, and strove wrongfully to be considered “landlords.”
Those who rail most at the present time against “cattle drives” are the representatives of those who were most active not only in the same occupation but in “human drives” of a few centuries previous; “drives” with no element of mercy in them, for those driven.
Every planter lied about the old Ulster stock, denied them every quality of industry, honesty, religion, or even decency. To Chichester they were all rogues, base followers, barbarous and warlike people; to others of his class they were “insolent malefactors,””ragged rebels,” “savages living in a wild and brutish condition,” “un-naturall, vile, and corrupt traitours.” Yet, in 1609, Sir Thomas Phillips wrote–“The Irishmen have been so addicted to tillage that a Bristowe banbarrell of barley was sold but for eighteen pence in the market of Coleraine.” Davies considered the men of Fermanagh “the worst swordsmen of the north,” because they “were rather inclined to be scholars or husbandmen than to be kerne or men of action.”
After the cruel war upon the Ulstermen in 1602, the people died of very hunger, their growing crops being systematically destroyed by the English, and the cattle driven off their lands; yet, in a few years again, these Irish of Ulster had enough and to spare, so fruitful was their land and so industrious were they. Chichester wrote, in 1609 “In Ulster there grows little other corn but barley and oats, which is at reasonable rates as yet, for which he has not restrained them at any time, BECAUSE the commodity of transportation from thence is only for Great Britain and not elsewhere.” This was the province that the covetous planters described as “a waste and howling wilderness.” George Hill puts it thus–“The hillsides were literally covered with cattle where creaghting (cattle raising) went on in its most attractive form; the valleys were clothed in the rich garniture of ripening barley and oats, whilst the woods swarmed with swine –20,000 of these animals being yearly fattened in the forests of Glenconkeyne alone.” Fynes Moryson informs us that the exports in grain and raw hides were considerable, and we know that yarns were freely shipped abroad, such was the excess in Ulster. The poverty of Ireland never attracted the English plunderer, but her wealth in land, trade, and other advantages certainly did.
All this “pleasant and fruitful country” and “confluence of commodities” had to be confiscated and given to strangers in order that the plantation might be effected. Never was confiscation or conquest carried out on more bitterly cruel and inhuman lines; never was such iniquity perpetrated, nor a more hypocritical gloss with a scripture fringe thrown over acts which, neither then nor now, nor at any time from anno Domini, would bear a charitable or humane construction. Greed was the inspiring force, greed and covetousness coupled with chicanery and fraud, and sealed with violence, outrage, and murder. Deeds were then done that should inevitably bear their own fruit, and they have done so. As George Hill puts it, “the dragon’s teeth, so plentifully and as if so deliberately sown in this Ulster plantation, have indeed sprung up at times with more than usually abundant growth, yielding their ghastly harvests of blood and death on almost every plain and by almost every river side and in almost every glen of our northern province.”
Very few of the Ulster chieftains were permitted to remain in their country, and those few were treated to the most meagre grants of land. Most of them were forced abroad, or were slaughtered ruthlessly, hanged ignominiously, or foully murdered.
O’Hanlon, chieftain of Armagh, was driven into exile; his bride sir Cahir O’Doherty’s sister, was stripped of her very clothing in the woods by the English soldiery, and died in child-birth. The MacMahon was hanged, without any cause, on his own lawn.
“Thus did Chichester remove all these Irish landowners through one pretext or other, making their lands available for plantation.”
As Davies puts it in a letter to Salisbury, in 1608, when Chichester was journeying north for a survey of the Ulster lands, “there scarce passed one day wherein they heard not of the killing or taking of some of the rebels (Irish).”
Chichester refused to give the outlawed Irish any quarter, or even allow them to sail beyond the seas. The only quarter he gave was to anyone who should bring in the heads of his associates and kinsmen, a policy that could only have commended itself to a diabolic mind.
Sheriffs, like one Willies, in Fermanagh, “who with their great troops of base rascals behaved themselves so disorderly as made the whole country rise in an uproar,” preyed the country, and disported themselves by making a football of the head of a young Maguire chieftain whom they had murdered. Sir Toby Caulfield gained many favours by kidnapping the young children of the chieftains. Francis Annesley acted as a sort of gaoler to the Irish princes. Sir William Parsons received a baronetcy and a pardon for fraud. Chichester himself had robbed the queen’s messenger, and fled the country to escape justice.
Sir Charles Cornwallis, England’s ambassador to Spain in 1608, pursued the poor exiled Irish even there with every venomous slander. “The Irish fugitives” (the earls O’Neill and O’Donnell and their followers), he wrote, “from what he hears, having late received such cold comfort here and elsewhere, and have so much tasted God’s hand in chastisement of their treason and wickedness, that they despair of the success they hoped, and will take to their beads, and think no more of return into Ireland.” The poor exiles may have “taken to their beads” for consolation in their affliction and despair; but Sir Charles took to something more dangerous, according to Hill. A few years later he was tried before the Star Chamber for fraud and embezzlement in regard to public moneys. Beads had no charms for him; he spent his spare time counting his ill-gotten gains. Not so his sister Anna, a rigid catholic, who brought round her husband, the seventh earl of Argyle, from presbyterianism to popery, and they both were “taken to their beads,” and as a double judgment renounced allegiance to their brother’s patron, king James, to enter the service of the king of Spain.
After Chichester and his needy planters had made the garden of Ulster into “a waste and howling wilderness” to read their own phrases aright the scheme of plantation was carried out by the making of crown grants to English and Scottish servitors. The equitable Gaelic law was that the land belonged to the whole people, who occupied and tilled it, and not to the chieftain. He was the nominal head and trustee for the whole clan. This was all set aside as “barbarous,” and crown grants were made to the under- takers, and the iniquities of a false system created, a system utterly foreign to Irish ways and fraught with injustice to the people at every step, which now, after three hundred years of strife, turmoil, and bitterness, has at last, through popular pressure, been finally and for all time removed.
Very few of the direct descendants of these undertakers have survived to attend the funeral of the system they set going; but their representatives have fought hard for their “rights,” and have blustered furiously at the very mention of “confiscation,” although they represented those who lived, moved, and had their being in that injustice. Many of them have been “ennobled”; they have formed rings and exclusive sets, and, fenced in by encircling walls, have remained aliens and enemies to the country of their plantation. There is not at present in Ulster one solitary representative of any planter’s family who should not hang his head with very shame at the thought of the way his possessions were acquired after 1600. Far more worthy the O’Neill grave slab on the Montorio, or the unrecorded tomb in some desecrated churchyard under the shadow of a crumbling ruin or broken cross, than the lying alabaster of a Chichester in Carrickfergus, or the Italian inanities that record a Caulfield or a Bagenal or an Acheson. Song and story and tradition will tell of an O’Neill, an O’Cahan, an O’Donnell, or an O’Dogherty, when only Dublin records and local scorn speak of a Chichester, an Upton, or a Hill, and their “quarterings,” human or heraldic.
In the grants to these planters, who were so appropriately styled undertakers, the government made arrangements for a new tenantry. Without them there was no safety, so needs must. Inducements had to be held out to sturdy tillers of the soil, and obligations taken, to be so soon broken. The undertaker was bound to build a bawn, or enclosed space, for the protection of all tenants, their cattle and goods. The tenants were to build their own houses, sufficient timber being given them free for such purpose. The undertaker was to provide a convenient store of arms to furnish a competent number of able men for their defence, to be viewed and mustered every half year, thus providing for their own and the tenants’ security. This would be equivalent to keeping up the police and military at the present time, and was entirely the undertaker’s duty.
The undertaker, moreover, was pledged to plant a competent number of tenants on the lands, who were specially stipulated not to be TENANTS AT WILL. They were at the least to get leases for twenty-one years, or three lives, and the wording of the conditions go that the undertaker “shall make certain estates for years, for life, in tail or in fee simple”; and there was an express provision against any other exaction upon the tenants. The undertakers were to reside on their lands, and were obliged to let to settlers a large portion of their grants. Tenants were to have the advantage of convenient markets, and at least one FREE SCHOOL in every county, thus relieving the tenants from market dues and education rates.
Hill puts it tersely thus–“The benefits which the undertakers secured for themselves they were obliged to share with the tenants by letting their lands on the most liberal terms. . . . The division and allotment of the lands, therefore, were not made merely that the undertakers, who had been generally needy men, should become wealthy at the expense of the tenants; nor were the latter brought here to live simply as feudal serfs, reclaiming the soil in which they had NO permanent right or interest. On the contrary, all the conditions and articles’ imply a mutual interest between the undertakers and the settlers on the estates.”
Lands were balloted for at the request of the deputy Chichester; lots were cast to whom certain lands should fall. This was not the first instance in Ireland where such a mode was adopted of disposing of other people’s lands and property, although in recent years a wild alarm was raised at the faintest and most unfounded rumour of such a thing.
Of course the fear–a usual thing in such cases–that right might yet prevail, haunted these planters. Rumours of the return of the Ulster earls were continuous; murmurs from the downtrodden remnant of the old race were magnified into trumpet calls; wild Tory dashes spread unspeakable terror; and so the plantation scheme did not nourish. For long it flickered, and even at its best never attained the full proportions mapped out for it by its syndicate of authors, royal, legal, clerical, military, and criminal.
The planters suffered much from “tories and rapparees.” Who were these “marauders”? They were the sons and descendants of the chieftains and clansmen whose lands had been so ruthlessly confiscated. All they had was taken from them, and then the law convicted them for having “no visible means of support,” as an Act of Parliament put it. “To the end, therefore, that the country of Ireland may be planted and settled with security unto such as shall plant and inhabit the same.” There was no “security” for the mere Irish. More than forty thousand of the old Irish, who had fought for their rights in the ten years’ war, were forced to abandon wife and child and house and land and fly to Spain, France, and Flanders. Protection was offered to these despairing soldiers “if they should come in and deliver up one or more field officers of their party.” Thus was treachery taught and daily inculcated. At one time “head money” was a heavy item in the royal treasurer’s accounts. No atrocity in Congo or Bulgaria ever surpassed the treatment of the Irish chieftains when English interests were to be advanced. No credit was ever given by state scribes for any noble fire burning in the breasts hidden under the poorest rags in Ireland. Of these were the tories, who fell like wolves on the usurpers of their homes and country. Of course this retribution of the tories was always called “outrage” and “murder,” and they were deemed robbers, and as such duly hanged. Big thieves led little thieves to the gallows, and there, with devout phrases, called them to repentance before despatching them, like the protestant bishop of Killala, who cut the head off a tory without any trial.
National hatred was embittered and intensified by such continuous treatment; a whole country given up as a prey to hungry, insolent, and insolvent adventurers from England, mocking the wrongs of a vanquished people. Bands of the poor Irish formed together under their old clan chieftains, gathering recruits from the mountains and the bogs, with now and then a returned swordsman from Spain. “Are we alone,” said they, “of all the nations of the world not thought fit to live in our country? Are we alone, like the profanest outlaws, to be driven from our native soil?” And so they made themselves felt. Many a wild swoop they made on a planter’s bawn, and woe betide the usurper then. A price was set on their heads; an ordinary tory brought 40s., a leader varied from £5 to £30. The auditor-general’s records are filled with such rewards. A tory who murdered two of his comrades got his own pardon. Thus was national demoralisation encouraged, and in years to come cast up as a natural trait of the Irish people. Many of the farmers sympathised with the outlaws, giving them secret information to aid their assaults and assist their escapes; and no rewards or penalties could induce them to betrayal. The Cromwellian settlers lived in continual fear and terror; they were never secure of a night’s safety. Bye-and-bye a tory got pardon if he brought in the head of one other, a law which only expired in 1776. Archbishop King complained that the tones and the “popish clergy” were the two greatest grievances in Ireland. Such was his Christian charity as he lived on the tithes wrung from popish lands. He complained of the pride of these outlaws in not becoming labourers to the planters. The tories flourished during the commonwealth, and after the restora- tion, receiving an increase from the Williamite confiscations. They continued on down to the end of the eighteenth century, with rewards upon their heads and treachery freely held out to their members. They slaughtered and maimed and spoiled the enemy during all those years with an unsparing hand. Redmond O’Hanlon for a generation lived on the levies he made in Armagh and Tireon. His was a typical case. The O’Hanlons were hereditary chieftains of Orior. Unwisely, indeed, had they been induced to fight for Elizabeth. In the deputy’s march against Hugh O’Neill the royal standard was borne by O’Hanlon. For such services James I. made the family a grant of a small portion of their own lands, which Cromwell afterwards relieved them of, transplanting the family to Connacht. At the restoration Hugh O’Hanlon petitioned for restitution in vain as an “innocent papist,” and so his brother Redmond took to the hills.
As this old chieftain stock died off, their places were taken by others whose position was not so valid nor courage so daring. And so, in time, the tories died away, but not before they had left their mark amongst the planters on their lands. Many of them entered the armies of every European nation at enmity with England; at Fontenoy and Ramilles they proved their courage. They manned French privateers, which robbed and insulted the coasts and fleets of their enemies; and, more than all, at the last they flocked to that Hybrasil of the west, there to gather up their long- drawn agony in one final dash of vengeance when the great republic came to birth.
When the later land war broke out in Ulster, the tories were still a power, and a community of feeling sprang up between the new dispossessed and the old dispossessed. They had in common persecution and confiscation, and so they fraternised on many occasions, advising and counselling each other in acts of vengeance and reprisal.
And now the submerged are coming rapidly to the surface, as is ever the case; about one half of the people of Ulster at the present day are the “rebels” and “traitors” and “scurvy race,” the “mere Irish” that Chichester moved earth and hell to drive from their ancient patrimony. Irish ideas and Irish customs, aye, and the Irish language, all so banned and abhorred, are at the present hour more honoured, more sought after, and more valued than any grant of James or any “Burke’s peerage” or any such badge of “respectability,” criminality, and oppression.
Time works wonders, and so it has done in Ulster. Of the five provinces of Ireland, Ulster was the leader. In it one of the last stands was made against Anglicisation in all its forms. When almost all the others had gone under, it remained. The gates of the North were stormed time and again in vain. In Ulster, the rush in 1641 for the restoration of plundered lands, with all its horrors, was stoutest made and most valiantly striven for. In Ulster in 1690 a royal humbug was swept aside. In 1760 Ulster fought for and strenuously maintained the rights of the tenants of the soil, and so established something like equity for them, to grow in the coming years to some fuller degree of justice, and this over one hundred years before the people of the other provinces had fought successfully against landlord iniquity.
Ulster at this latter time went through every phase of a cruel agrarian struggle to its bitterest dregs. No act of “wickedness” ever committed in any other portion of Ireland in the most intense stress of the Land League times in the eighties, or cattle drives of the present day, but had been done in “presbyterian Ulster” over one hundred years before. Let there be no shirking of this; and it is the main object of this book to prove what Ulster did to obtain some measure of amelioration to the tenants, whom heartless, worthless, and tyrannical undertakers had determined to reduce to the merest serfdom. No Turkish pasha ever farmed out his dues with less consideration for the payer than some of the Ulster undertakers plotted to farm out the tenants, in contempt of the grants under which they acquired the confiscated lands, nor none ever put the ill-gotten results to a viler or baser use.
The main object of the English crown in placing these undertakers in Ulster was that they might form a defence and a power to the authority which created them, and gather round them a sturdy army of support for the new system, in a people firmly rooted in the soil, with prospects of prosperity, peace, and security of tenure. Yet in a few generations we find these undertakers throwing over the whole political form by which they had been created, dubbing themselves “landlords,” a title which they never held nor should ever have been allowed to claim, even in name; just as a village lodge has its “sir knights” and “right worshipfuls” and “grand masters,” and deems the honours valid. From this their usurpation spread into a wide system of land-grabbing and rack-renting, and a complete annexation of all claims to the lands on which they were only undertakers, totally ignoring the pledged rights of those who had been planted with them on express terms of equity and fair dealing. Tenants who had built their own houses and barns, drained and fenced their own lands, planting their own trees and hedgerows, on the understanding that their rights were to be guarded, were they then to have every atom of their prosperity confiscated and taken from them? Surely, if there was ever a disloyal body in Ireland, in the true sense of that much-abused word, it is these Ulster undertakers their descendants and representatives. Disloyal to the grants that gave them any status in the land at all; disloyal to the people, who clustered around them for protection and mutual co-operation; and, above all, disloyal to the new land on which they had been foisted, and for which they might even then have striven, as other settlers before tnem had done, with the whole-hearted devotion of adopted sons.
Instead of this, as a class they pushed aside the public weal to work for their own class greed and personal power. At the worst time of the agrarian struggle around Belfast, when Donegall had confiscated the tenants’ rights wholesale, their lands and 1heir houses taken from them, he gave a few acres to the town–for what? To build a poorhouse upon, to help to house some of the starving people. A worthy example, followed so amply in the great famine time, when English ideas covered our island with those great gaunt structures called “workhouses,” which have never afforded any real work or relief to the poor, but only debased and degraded the people, as if that was the sole intention of their origin. They wanted justice, and they got a jail.
As to the tenants themselves who came in with these undertakers, what of them? In the first place, they are not to be blamed to any extent for the iniquities of the plantation. They were largely innocent of its offences. Nor is it to be supposed that they were “upright, God-fearing citizens,” as some have declared. In such an enterprise as Chichester’s very few “decent” people took any part whatever. Reid, a presbyterian historian, states that “the province was now occupied by settlers who were … far from being generally characterized by a desire for enjoying religious ordinances. On the contrary, a great number . . . were openly profane and immoral in their conduct, and were generally inattentive to the sacred institutions of the Gospel.”
The following description of these people is given by a contemporary presbyterian minister, Andrew Stuart, of Donaghadee, who well knew them : “From Scotland,” he says, “came many, and from England not a few, yet all of them generally the scum of both nations, who, from debt or breaking, and fleeing from justice, or seeking shelter, came hither, hoping to be without fear of man’s justice, in a land where there was nothing, or but little as yet of the fear of God. And in a few years there nocked such a multitude of people from Scotland that these northern counties of Down, Antrim, Derry, etc, were in a good measure planted. Yet most of the people were all void of Godliness, who seemed rather to flee from God in this enterprise. … It must be remembered that they cared little for any church. Iniquity abounded with contention, fighting, murder, adultery, etc., as among people who, as they, had nothing within them to overawe them. For their carriage (conduct) made them to be abhorred at home in their native land (Scotland), insomuch that ‘ going for Ireland ‘ was looked on as a miserable mark of a deplorable person. Yea, it was turned into a proverb; and one of the worst expressions of disdain that could be invented was to tell a man that “Ireland would be his hinder end.” This was, of course, solely in reference to the class of people from Scotland who went there.
This account is also confirmed by Blair, who says “Although amongst those whom Divine Providence did send to Ireland there were several persons eminent for birth, education, and parts, yet the most part were such as either poverty, scandalous lives, or, at the best, adventurers seeking of better accommodation, had forced thither, so that the security and thriving of religion was little seen to by those adventurers, and the preachers were generally of the same complexion with the people.”
It was not to be expected that the undertakers, many of them criminals, and all needy, could induce people to accompany them to Ireland, who were comfortable, respected, or in good repute at home. Times were not so hard as that in 1610 in either England or Scotland. In later years other classes undoubtedly came; some few for religious reasons, but mostly because land was cheaper and better, and life easier and less restricted. They came because there was “better accommodation” than at home.
They came, and in spite of all the drawbacks, they prospered. Why so? First and foremost they entered into a land “pleasant and fruitful,” filled with a “confluence of commodities.” The rich stretches and fertile hollows of O’Donnell’s Raphoe, the woods and fishings of O’Dogherty Derry and O’Cahan’s Coleraine; the orchards of O’Neill’s Armagh; the grazings of O’Neill’s Tireon; the lakes and sloping gardens of Maguire’s Fermanagh and O’Reilly’s Cavan; the barley and corn fields and lint slopes of O’Neill’s Clannaboy, were no “waste and howling wilderness” until Chichester made them so.
The land and its commodities being of so excellent a character, any immediate industry, properly guarded and protected, must needs flourish and create wealth, and bring about a growing population. Schools endowed, religion subsidised, and, later on, a trade encouraged by heavy bounties, all tended to prosperity. A virile race, blended by intermarriage, tilling fertile sou, begets strength and in- dependence. Hard, strenuous work in a new land speedily brought to the top the best of a mixed people. Cut off from their former life, these workers threw themselves into making the best of their new country, which, indeed, speedily won their love and admiration. They even caught up largely the traditions of the old race from the remnants still haunting the bogs and mountains, adopting their place names, and valuing their lore, and in many instances affecting their manners and customs and habits of life and husbandry. This was an easy transition, for they were largely of a Gaelic stock, the Scotch among them almost entirely so. In the early centuries they had emigrated, like the children of Uisneach, from Erie to Alba; and now, after many generations, were only returning to the land their forefathers had left generations before. It was a pleasant “hark back,” this return of theirs to Ireland; and so they felt it, and soon their ways and thoughts became in many instances kindly Irish of the Irish.
The best of colonies have been founded by the “wild bloods” of an older people. The “goodie-goodies,” “stick- at-homes,” are not the people for a new land, and some say for an old one either. Be this as it may, the first settlers in Ulster were as described, and an excellent stock they made for the purpose in hand, despite the puritanic description given them by clerical writers. In time they throve and prospered, as their descendants have continued to do till the present day; and the worst of them have proved better than any “landed gentry” ever scheduled in Ulster. We make this assertion thoroughly knowing and understanding every phase of agrarian life in our province. Of races we have many, and religions innumerable, yet, underlying all, there should be only one desire, and that is to make our province first in leading the whole Irish nation into its own again in prosperity and pride, and in fearless freedom. We sorrow for past transgressions, we are desirous of present emulation in good works, and we participate in a glowing hope for the future, when all Irishmen shall forget the points in which they differ and strive for the ideal in which they agree, until in the full fruition of time only one aim and object shall animate our every thought and action the common good of our common country.
But for the merry hearts and true
That Antrim still retains;
Or be their banner green or blue,
For all that there remains,
God grant them quiet freedom too
And blythe homes soon again.