Following the massacres and confiscations of property by Cromwell in 1653,
the landed gentry of Ireland had rapidly converted from that of the Irish
and Old English (Anglo-Irish) to that of the Protestant New English. Lands
in the provinces of Leinster, Munster and Ulster were given to veterans of
the Parliamentary Army and adventurers under Cromwell and Ireton. For those
who would accept transplantation, Irish lands were reserved in the province
of Connacht, excluding coastal lands and most of County Sligo and Leitrim.
Following the collapse of the Cromwellian regime in December 1659, Charles
II was proclaimed King after restoration of the Monarchy in England. His
policies in Ireland resulted in further land settlement during the 1660's.
By 1685 James II ascended the throne. James was a Roman Catholic and during
his reign, a more pro-Catholic policy was enacted in Ireland. As a result
of Protestant nervousness, the English removed James from the throne in 1688.
The Irish prepared to rebel and invited the ousted King James to lead them. James
borrowed troops from France and landed in Ireland in 1689, the year that
William (III) and Mary ascend to the throne in England. The Catholic Irish,
comprising the vast majority of the population, had supported the Jacobite
(King James) cause. In June, 1690 William III of England landed at Carrickfergus to
face the Jacobite forces under James II and the Irish.
The English defeated James on the banks of the Boyne on July 11, 1690, and he
fled to France to his benefactor, Louis XIV of France. James's forces
suffered further defeat the following year at the Battle of Aughrim. The
war ended with the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. The terms of the Treaty were
satisfactory to the Irish, but were subsequently dishonoured and Limerick
became known as the city of the violated treaty. The Treaty of Limerick
was not ungenerous to the defeated Catholics, but they were soon to suffer
from penal laws designed to reinforce Protestant ascendancy throughout
Irish life. The Battle of the Boyne marked the beginning of Protestant
control over Catholics in Ireland. Its anniversary is celebrated by
Protestants in Northern Ireland. The Treaty of Limerick marked the
"flight of the Wild Geese" where many of the old Irish and Old English
military and gentry seek their fortune in other European countries.
In 1695 the beginning of penal legislation is enacted against the Irish
Catholics and Dissenters in Ireland. Between 1695 and 1728 a series of
acts is passed which forbade Irish Catholics from practicing their faith
and the vast majority of wealthy Catholics were stripped of their wealth,
their positions, their estates and their homes, leaving them virtually
paupers. The penal acts prevent Catholics from bearing arms and owning
horses worth more than £5. They restricted their rights to education, stop
them from buying land, and on death, Catholic property must be divided
among all sons. Catholics are banned from serving in the army, holding
public office, entering the legal profession, becoming MPs or voting.
In 1720 an Act declared the right of the British Parliament to pass laws
As a little known event to add to the troubles in Ireland in the middle of
the eighteenth century, a famine occured in 1739-40 which was said to have
caused nearly 400,000 deaths to occur in Ireland.
Later in the century revolutionary fervor, ignited by rebellions in France
and the newly formed United States of America, spurred new rebellions in
the 1790s aimed at undermining the Protestant conquest of Ireland.