Ireland.—GEOGRAPHY.—Ireland lies in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain, from which it is separated in the northeast by the North Channel, in the east by the Irish Sea, and in the southeast by St. George’s Channel. Situated between the fifty-first and fifty-sixth degrees of latitude, and between the fifth and eleventh parallels of longitude (Greenwich), its greatest length is 302 miles, its greatest breadth 174 miles, its area 32,535 square miles. It is divided into four provinces, these being subdivided into thirty-two counties. In the center the country is a level plain; towards the coast there are several detached mountain chains. Its rivers and bays are numerous, also its bogs; its climate is mild, though unduly moist. In minerals it is not wealthy like Great Britain, but its soil is generally more fertile, and is specially suitable for agriculture and pasturage.
EARLY HISTORY.—In ancient times it was known by the various names of Ierna, Juverna, Hibernia, Ogygia, and Inisfail or the Isle of Destiny. It was also called Banba and Erin, and lastly Scotia, or the country of the Scots. From the eleventh century, however, the name Scotia was exclusively applied to Caledonia, the latter country having been peopled in the sixth century by a Scottish colony from Ireland. Henceforth Ireland was often called Scotia Major and sometimes Ireland, until, after the eleventh century, the name Scotia was dropped and Ireland alone remained. Even yet it is sometimes called Erin—chiefly by orators and poets. Situated in the far west, out of the beaten paths of commercial activity, it was little known to the ancients. Festus Avienus wrote that it was two days’ sail from Britain. Pliny thought that it was part of Britain and not an island at all; Strabo that it was near Britain, and that its inhabitants were cannibals; and all that Caesar knew was that it was west of Britain, and about half its size. Agricola beheld its coastline from the opposite shores of Caledonia, and had thought of accepting the invitation of an Irish chief to come and conquer it, believing he could do so with a single legion. But he left Ireland unvisited and unconquered, and Tacitus could only record that in soil and climate it resembled Britain, and that its harbors were then well known to foreign merchants.
But if we have not any detailed description from his lively pen, the native chroniclers have furnished us with abundant materials, and, if all they say be true, we can understand the remark of Camden that Ireland was rightly called Ogygia, or the Ancient Island, because, in comparison, the antiquity of all other nations is in its infancy. Passing by the absurd story that it was peopled before the Deluge, we are told that, beginning with the time of Abraham, several successive waves of colonization rolled westward to its shores. First came Parthalon with 1000 followers; after which came the Nemedians, the Firbolgs, and the Tuatha-de-Dananns, and lastly the Milesians or Scots. In addition, there were the Fomorians, a people of uncertain origin, whose chief occupation was piracy and war, and whose attacks on the various settlers were incessant. These and the Milesians excepted, the different colonists came from Greece, and all were of the same race. The Milesians came from Scythia; and from that country to Egypt, from Egypt to Spain, from Spain to Ireland their adventures are recorded in detail. The name Scot which they bore was derived from Scota, daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt, the wife of one of their chiefs; from their chief Miledh they got the name Milesians, and from another chief Goidel they were sometimes called Gadelians, or Gaels. The wars and battles of these colonists are largely fabulous, and the Partholanians, Nemedians, and Fomorians belong rather to mythology than to history. So also do the Dananns, though sometimes they are taken as a real people, of superior knowledge and skill, the builders of those prehistoric sepulchral mounds by the Boyne, at Dowth, Knowth, and Newgrange. The Firbolgs however most probably existed, and were kindred perhaps to those warlike Belgae of Gaul whom Caesar encountered in battle. And the Milesians certainly belong to history, though the date of their arrival in Ireland is unknown. They were Celts, and probably came from Gaul to Britain, and from Britain to Ireland, rather than direct from Spain. Under the leadership of Heremon and Heber they soon became masters of the island. Some of the Firbolgs, it is said, crossed the sea to the Isles of Arran, where they built the fort of Dun Engus, which still stands and which tradition still associates with their name. Heber and Heremon soon quarreled, and, Heber falling in battle, Heremon became sole ruler, the first in a long line of kings. This list of kings, however, is not reliable, and we are warned by Tighearnach, the most trustworthy of Irish chroniclers, that all events before the reign of Cimbaeth (300 B.C.) are uncertain. Even after the dawn of the Christian Era fact and fiction are interwoven and events are often shrouded in the shadows and mists. Such, for instance, are the exploits of Cuchullain and Finn Macumhael. Nor have many of these early kings been remarkable, if we except Conn of the Hundred Battles, who lived in the first century after Christ; Cormac, who lived a century later; Tuathal, who established the Feis of Tara; Niall, who invaded Britain; and Dathi, who in the fifth century lost his life at the foot of the Alps.
The Irish were then pagans, but not barbarians. Their roads were indeed ill-constructed, their wooden dwellings rude, the dress of their lower orders scanty, their implements of agriculture and war primitive, and so were their land vehicles, and the boats in which they traversed the sea. On the other hand, some of their swords and shields showed some skill in metal-working, and their war-like and commercial voyages to Britain and Gaul argue some proficiency in shipbuilding and navigation. They certainly loved music; and, besides their inscribed Ogham writing, they had a knowledge of letters. There was a high-king of Ireland (ardri), and subject to him were the provincial kings and chiefs of tribes. Each of these received tribute from his immediate inferior, and even in a sept the political and legal administration was complete. There was the druid who explained religion, the brehon who dispensed justice, the brughaid or public hospitaller, the bard who sang the praises of his chief or urged his kinsmen to battle; and each was an official and had his appointed allotment of land. Kings, though taken from one family, were elective, the tanist or heir-apparent being frequently not the nearest relation of him who reigned, This peculiarity, together with gavelkind by which the lands were periodically redistributed, impeded industry and settled government. Nor was there any legislative assembly, and the Brehon law under which Ireland lived was judge-made law. Sometimes the ardri’s tribute remained unpaid and his authority nominal; but if he was a strong man he exacted obedience and tribute. The Boru tribute levied on the King of Leinster was excessive and unjust, and led to many evils. The pagan Irish believed in Druidism (q.v.), resembling somewhat the Druidism Caesar saw in Gaul; hut the pagan creed of the Irish was indefinite and their gods do not stand out clear. They held the immortality and the transmigration of souls, worshipped the sun and moon, and, with an inferior worship, mountains, rivers, and wells. And they sacrificed to idols, one of which, Crom Cruach, they are said to have propitiated with human sacrifices. They also believed in fairies, holding that the Tuatha-de-Dananns, when defeated by the Milesians, retired into the bosom of the mountains, where they held their fairy revels. One of the women fairies (the banshee) watched the fortunes of great families, and when some great misfortune was impending, the doomed family was warned at night by her mournful wail.
EARLY CHRISTIAN PERIOD.—Intercourse with Britain and the Continent through commerce and war sufficiently accounts for the introduction of Christianity before the fifth century. There must have been then a considerable number of Christians in Ireland; for in 430 Palladius (q.v.), a bishop and native of Britain, was sent by Pope Celestine “to the Scots believing in Christ”. Palladius, however, did little, and almost immediately returned to Britain, and in 432 the same pope sent Saint Patrick (q.v.). He is the Apostle of Ireland, but this does not imply that he found Ireland altogether pagan and left it altogether Christian. It is however quite true that when St. Patrick did come paganism was the predominant belief, and that at his death it had been supplanted as such by Christianity. The extraordinary work which St. Patrick did, as well as his own attractive personal character, has furnished him with many biographers; and even in recent years his life and works have engaged erudite and able pens. But in spite of all that has been written many things in his life are still doubtful and obscure. It is still doubtful when and where he was born, how he spent his life between his first leaving Ireland and his return, and in what year he died. It has been maintained that he never existed; that he and Palladius were the same man; that there were two St. Patricks; again, some, like Jocelin, have multiplied his miracles beyond belief. These contradictions and exaggerations have encouraged the scoffer to sneer; and Gibbon was sure that in the sixty-six lives of St. Patrick there must have been sixty-six thousand lies. In reality there seems no solid reason for rejecting the traditional account, viz., that St. Patrick was born at Dumbarton in Scotland about 372; that he was captured and brought to Ireland by the Irish king, Nial; that he was sold as a slave to an Ulster chief Milcho, whom he served for six years; that he then escaped and went back to his own people; that in repeated visions he, a pious Christian, heard the plaintive cry of the pagan Irish inviting him to come amongst them; that, believing he was called by God to do so, he went first to the monastery of St. Martin of Tours, then to that of St. Germanus of Auxerre, after which he went to Lerins and to Rome; and then, being consecrated bishop, he was sent by Pope Celestine to Ireland, where he arrived in 432.
From Wicklow, where he landed, his course is traced to Antrim; back by Downpatrick, near which he converted Dichu and got from him a grant of land for his first church at Saul; thence by Dundalk, where Benignus was converted; and to Slane, where in sight of Tara itself he lighted the paschal fire. The enraged druids pointed out to the ardri the heinousness of the offense, for during the great pagan festival then being celebrated it was death to light any fire except at Tara. But St. Patrick came to Tara itself, baptized the chief poet, and even the ardri; then marched north and destroyed at Leitrim the idol, Crom Cruach, after which he entered Connaught, and remained there for seven years. Passing from Connaught to Ulster, he went through Donegal, Tyrone, and Antrim, consecrated Macarten Bishop of Monaghan, and Fiacc Bishop of Sletty; after which he entered Munster. Finally he returned to Ulster, and died at Saul in 493. His early captivity in Ireland interfered seriously with his education, and in his Confession and in his Epistle to Caroticus, both of which have survived the wreck of ages, we can discover no graces of style. But we see his great familiarity with the Scripture. And the man himself stands revealed; his piety, his spirit of prayer, his confidence in God, his zeal, his invincible courage. But while putting his entire trust in God, and giving Him all the glory, he rejected no human aid. Entering into a pagan territory he first preached to the chief men, knowing that when they were converted the people would follow. Wonderful indeed was his labor, and wonderful its results. He preached in almost every district in Ireland, confounded in argument the druids and won the people from their side; he built, it is said, 365 churches and consecrated an equal number of bishops, established schools and convents, and held synods; and when he died the whole machinery of a powerful Church was in operation, fully equal to the task of confirming in the faith those already converted and of bringing those yet in darkness into the Christian fold.
One of the apostle’s first anxieties was to provide a native ministry. For this purpose he selected the leading men—chiefs, brehons, bards—men likely to attract the respect of the people, and these, after little training and often with little education, he had ordained. Thus equipped the priest went among the people, with his catechism, missal, and ritual, the bishop having in addition his crosier and bell. In a short time, however, these primitive conditions ceased. About 450 a college was established at Armagh under Benignus; other schools arose at Kildare, Noendrum, and Louth; and by the end of the fifth century these colleges sent forth a sufficient supply of trained priests. Supported by a grant of land from the chief of the clan or sept and by voluntary offerings, bishop and priests lived together, preached to the people, administered the sacraments, settled their disputes, sat in their banquet halls. To many ardent natures this state of things was abhorrent. Fleeing from men, they sought for solitude and silence, by the banks of a river, in the recesses of a wood, and, with the scantiest allowance of food, the water for their drink, a few wattles covered with sods for their houses, they spent their time in mortification and prayer. Literally they were monks, for they were alone with God. But their retreats were soon invaded by others anxious to share their penances and their vigils, and to learn wisdom at their feet. Each newcomer built his little hut, a church was erected, a grant of land obtained, their master became abbot, and perhaps bishop; and thus arose monastic establishments the fame of which soon spread throughout Europe. Noted examples in the sixth century were Clonard, founded by St. Finian, Clonfert by St. Brendan, Bangor by St. Comgall, Clonmacnoise by St. Kieran, Arran by St. Enda; and, in the seventh century, Lis-more by St. Carthage and Glendalough by St. Kevin.
There were still bardic schools, as there was still paganism, but in the seventh century paganism had all but disappeared, and the bardic were overshadowed by the monastic schools. Frequented by the best of the Irish, and by students from abroad, these latter diffused knowledge over western Europe, and Ireland received and merited the title of Island of Saints and Scholars. The holy men who labored with St. Patrick and immediately succeeded him were mostly bishops and founders of churches; those of the sixth century were of the monastic order; those of the seventh century were mostly anchorites who loved solitude, silence, continued prayer, and the most rigid austerities. Nor were the women behindhand in this contest for holiness. St. Brigid is a name still dear to Ireland, and she, as well as St. Ita, St. Fanchea and others, founded many convents tenanted by pious women, whose sanctity and sacrifices it would be indeed difficult to surpass. Nor was the Irish Church, as has been sometimes asserted, out of communion with the See of Rome. The Roman and Irish tonsures differed, it is true, and the methods of computing Easter, and it may be that Pelagianism found some few adherents, though Arianism did not, nor the errors as to the natures and wills of Christ. In the number of its sacraments, in its veneration for the Blessed Virgin, in its belief in the Mass and in Purgatory, in its obedience to the See of Rome, the creed of the early Irish Church was the Catholic creed of today (see Celtic Rite). Abroad as well as at home Irish Christian zeal was displayed. In 563 St. Columba, a native of Donegal, accompanied by a few companions, crossed the sea to Caledonia and founded a monastery on the desolate island of Iona. Fresh arrivals came from Ireland; the monastery with Columba as its abbot was soon a flourishing institution, from which the Dalriadian Scots in the south and the Picts beyond the Grampians were evangelized; and when Columba died in 597, Christianity had been preached and received in every district in Caledonia, and in every island along its western coast. In the next century Iona had so prospered that its abbot, St. Adamnan, wrote in excellent Latin the “Life of St. Columba”, the best biography of which the Middle Ages can boast. From Iona had gone south the Irish Aidan and his Irish companions to compete with and even exceed in zeal the Roman missionaries under St. Augustine, and to evangelize Northumbria, Mercia, and Essex; and if Irish zeal had already been displayed in Iona, equal zeal was now displayed on the desolate isle of Lindisfarne. Nor was this all. In 590 St. Columbanus, a student of Bangor, accompanied by twelve companions, arrived in France and established the monastery of Luxeuil, the parent of many monasteries, then labored at Bregenz, and finally founded the monastery of Bobbio, which as a center of knowledge and piety was long the light of northern Italy. And meantime his friend and fellow-student St. Gall labored with conspicuous success in Switzerland, St. Fridolin along the Rhine, St. Fiacre near Meaux, St. Kilian at Würzburg, St. Livinus in Brabant, St. Fursey on the Marne, St. Cataldus in southern Italy. And when Charlemagne reigned (771-814), Irishmen were at his court, “men incomparably skilled in human learning”.
In the civil history of the period only a few facts stand out prominently. About 560, in consequence of a quarrel with the ardri Diarmuid about the right of sanctuary, St. Columba and Rhodanus (Reudan) of Lorrha publicly cursed Tara, an unpatriotic act which dealt a fatal blow at the prospect of a strong central government by blighting with maledictions its acknowledged seat. Nearly thirty years later the National Convention of Drumceat restrained the insolence and curtailed the privileges of the bards. In 684 Ireland was invaded by the King of Northumbria, though no permanent conquest followed. And in 697 the last Feis of Tara was held, at which, through the influence of Adamnan, women were interdicted from taking part in actual battle. At the same time the ardri Finactha, at the instance of St. Moling, renounced for himself and his successors the Boru tribute. As the eighth century neared its close, religion and learning still flourished; but unexpected dangers approached and a new enemy came, before whose assaults monk and monastery and saint and scholar disappeared.
These invaders were the Danes from the coasts of Scandinavia. Pagans and pirates, they loved plunder and war, and both on land and sea were formidable foes. Like the fabled Fomorians of earlier times they had a genius for devastation. Descending from their ships along the coasts of western Europe, they murdered the inhabitants or made them captives and slaves. In Ireland as elsewhere they attacked the monasteries and churches, desecrated the altars, carried away the gold and silver vessels, and smoking ruins and murdered monks attested the fury of their assaults. Armagh and Bangor, Kildare and Clonmacnoise, Iona and Lindisfarne thus fell before their fury. Favored by disunion among the Irish chiefs, they crept inland, effected permanent settlements at Waterford and Limerick and established a powerful kingdom at Dublin; and, had their able chief Turgesius lived much longer, they might perhaps have subdued the whole island. For a century after his death in 845 victory and defeat alternated in their wars; but they clung tenaciously to their seaport possessions, and kept the neighboring Irish in cruel bondage. They were, however, signally defeated by the Ardri Malachy in 980, and Dublin was compelled to pay him tribute. But, able as Malachy was, an abler man soon supplanted him in the supreme position. Step by step Brian Born had risen from being chief of Thomond to be undisputed ruler of Munster. Its chiefs were his tributaries and his allies; the Danes he had repeatedly chastised, and in 1002 he compelled Malachy to abdicate in his favor.
It was a bitter humiliation for Malachy thus to lay down the scepter which for 600 years had been in the hands of his family. It gave Ireland, however, the greatest of her high-kings and unbroken peace for some years. War came when the elements of discontent coalesced. Brian had irritated Leinster by reviving the Born tribute; he had crushed the Danes; and these, with the Danes of the Isle of Man and those of Sweden and the Scottish Isles, joined together, and on Good Friday, 1014, the united strength of Danes and Leinstermen faced Brian’s army at Clontarf. The victory gained by the latter was great; but it was dearly bought by the loss of Brian as well as his son and grandson. The century and a half which followed was a weary waste of turbulence and war. Brian’s usurpation encouraged others to ignore the claims of descent. O’Loughlin and O’Neill in the North, O’Brien in the South, and O’Connor beyond the Shannon fought for the national throne with equal energy and persistence; and as one set of disputants disappeared, others replaced them, equally determined to prevail. The lesser chiefs were similarly engaged. This ceaseless strife completed the work begun by the Danes. Under native and Christian chiefs churches were destroyed, church lands appropriated by laymen, monastic schools deserted, lay abbots ruled at Armagh and elsewhere. Bishops were consecrated without sees and conferred orders for money, there was chaos in church government and corruption everywhere. In a series of synods beginning with Rathbreasail (1118) and including Kells, at which the pope’s legate presided, many salutary enactments were passed, and for the first time diocesan episcopacy was established. Meanwhile, St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, had done very remarkable work in his own diocese and elsewhere. His early death in 1148 was a heavy blow to the cause of church reform. Nor could so many evils be cured in a single life, or by the labors of a single man; and in spite of his efforts and the efforts of others the decrees of synods were often flouted, and the new diocesan boundaries ignored.
THE ANGLO-NORMANS.—In Henry II of England an unexpected reformer appeared. The murderer of Thomas a Becket seemed ill-fitted for the role, but he undertook it, and in the first year of his reign (1154) he procured a Bull from the English-born Pope Adrian IV authorizing him to proceed to Ireland “to check the torrent of wickedness, to reform evil manners, to sow the seeds of virtue.” The many troubles of his extensive kingdom thwarted his plans for years. But in 1168 Macmurrogh, King of Leinster, driven from his kingdom sought Henry’s aid, and then Adrian’s Bull was remembered. A first contingent of Anglo-Normans came to Ireland in 1169 under Fitzgerald, a stronger force under Strongbow (de Clare, Earl of Pembroke) in 1170, and in 1171 Henry himself landed at Waterford and proceeded to Dublin, where he spent the winter, and received the submission of all the Irish chiefs, except those of Tyrconnell and Tyrowen. These submissions, however, aggravated rather than lessened existing ills. The Irish chiefs submitted to Henry as to a powerful ardri, still preserving their privileges and rights under Brehon law. Henry, on his side, regarded them as vassals holding the lands of their tribes by military service and in accordance with feudal law. Thus a conflict between the clan system and feudalism arose. Exercising his supposed rights, Henry divided the country into so many great fiefs, giving Meath to de Lacy, Leinster to Strongbow, while de Courcy was encouraged to conquer Ulster, and de Cogan Connaught. At a later date the de Burgos settled in Galway, the Fitzgeralds in Kildare and Desmond, the Butlers in Ossory. Discord enfeebled the capacity of the Irish chiefs for resistance; nor were kernel and gallow glasses equal to mail-clad knights, nor the battle-axe to the Norman lance, and in a short time large tracts had passed from native to foreign hands.
The new Anglo-Irish lords soon outgrew the position of English subjects, and to the natives became tyrannical and overbearing. Ignoring the many evidences of culture in Ireland, her Romanesque architecture, her high crosses, her illuminated manuscripts, her shrines and crosiers, the scholars that had shed luster on her schools, the saints that had hallowed her valleys, the missionaries that had spread her fame throughout Europe—ignoring all these, they despised the Irish as rude and barbarous, despised their language, their laws, their dress, their arms; and, while not recognizing the Brehon law, they refused Irish-men the status of English subjects or the protection of English law. At last, despairing of union among their own chiefs, or of justice from Irish viceroy or English king, the oppressed Irish invited Edward Bruce from Scotland. In 1315 he landed in Ireland and was crowned king. Successful at first, his allies beyond the Shannon were almost annihilated in the battle of Athenry (1316); and two years later he was himself defeated and slain at Faughart. His ruin had been effected by a combination of the Anglo-Irish lords, and this still further inflated their pride. Titles rewarded them. Birmingham became Lord of Athenry and Earl of Louth, Fitzgerald Earl of Kildare, his kinsman Earl of Desmond, de Burgo Earl of Ulster, Butler Earl of Ormond. But these titles only increased their insolence and disloyalty. Favored by the weakness of the viceroy’s government the native chiefs recovered most of the ground they had lost.
Meanwhile the de Burgos in Connaught changed their name to Burke, and became Irish chiefs; many others followed their example; even the ennobled Butlers and Fitzgeralds used the Irish language, dress, and customs, and were as turbulent as the worst of the native chiefs. To recall these colonists to their allegiance the Statute of Kilkenny made it penal to use Irish customs, language, or law, forbade intermarriage with the mere Irish, or the conferring of benefices on the native-born. But the barriers of race could not be maintained, and the intermarrying of Irish with Anglo-Irish went on. The long war with France, followed by the Wars of the Roses, diverted the attention of England from Irish affairs; and the viceroy, feebly supported from England, was too weak to chastise these powerful lords or put penal laws in force. The hostility of native chiefs was bought off by the payment of “black rents”. The loyal colonists confined to a small district near Dublin, called “the Pale”, shivered behind its encircling rampart; and when the sixteenth century dawned, English power in Ireland had almost disappeared. Those within the Pale were impoverished by grasping officials and by the payment of “black rents”. Outside the Pale the country was held by sixty chiefs of Irish descent and thirty of English descent, each making peace or war as he pleased. Lawlessness and irreligion were everywhere. The clergy of Irish quarreled with those of English descent; the religious houses were corrupt, their priors and abbots great landholders with seats in Parliament, and more attached to secular than to religious concerns; the great monastic schools had disappeared, the greatest of them all, Clonmacnoise, being in ruins; preaching was neglected except by the mendicant orders, and these were utterly unable to cope with the disorders which prevailed.
THE TUDOR PERIOD.—Occupied with English and Continental affairs, Henry VIII, in the beginning of his reign, bestowed but little attention on Ireland, and not until he was a quarter of a century on the throne were Irish affairs taken seriously in hand. The king was then in middle age, no longer the defender of the Faith against Luther, but, like Luther, a rebel against Rome; no longer generous or attractive in character, but rather a cruel, capricious tyrant, whom it was dangerous to provoke and fatal to disobey. In England his hands were reddened with the best blood of the land; and in Ireland the fate of the Fitzgeralds, following the rebellion of Silken Thomas, struck Irish and Anglo-Irish alike with such terror that all hastened to make peace. O’Neill, renouncing the inheritance of his ancestors, became Earl of Tyrone; Burke became Earl of Clanrickard, O’Brien Earl of Thomond, Fitzpatrick Lord of Ossory; the Earl of Desmond and the other Anglo-Irish nobles were pardoned all their offenses, and at a Parliament in Dublin (1541) Anglo-Irish and Irish attended. And Henry, who like his predecessors had been hitherto but Lord of Ireland (Dominus Hibernics), was now unanimously given the higher title of king. This Parliament also passed the Act of Supremacy by which Henry was invested with spiritual jurisdiction, and, in substitution for the pope, proclaimed head of the Church. As the proctors of the clergy refused to agree to this measure, the irate monarch deprived them of the right of voting, and in revenge confiscated church lands and suppressed monasteries, in some cases shed the blood of their inmates, in the remaining cases sent them forth homeless and poor. These severities, however, did not win the people from their faith. The apostate friar Browne, whom Henry made Archbishop of Dublin, the apostate Staples, Bishop of Meath, and Henry himself, stained with so many adulteries and murders, had but poor credentials as preachers of reform; whatever time-serving chiefs might do, the clergy and people were unwilling to make Henry pope, or to subscribe to the varying tenets of his creed. His successor, an ardent Protestant, tried hard to make Ireland Protestant, but the sickly plant which he sowed was uprooted by the Catholic Mary, and at Elizabeth‘s accession all Ireland was Catholic.
Like her father Henry, the young queen was a cruel and capricious tyrant, and in her war with Shane O’Neill, the ablest of the Irish chiefs, she did not scruple to employ assassins. She was neither a sincere Protestant nor a willing persecutor of the Catholics; and though she reenacted the Act of Supremacy and passed the Act of Uniformity, making Protestantism the state creed, she refused to have these acts rigorously enforced. But when the pope and the Spanish king declared against her, and the Irish Catholics were found in alliance with both, she yielded to her ministers and concluded, with them, that a Catholic was necessarily a disloyal subject. Henceforth toleration gave way to persecution. The tortures inflicted on O’Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, and O’Hely, Bishop of Mayo, the Spaniards murdered in cold blood at Smerwick, the desolation of Munster during Desmond’s rebellion, showed how cruel her rule could be. Far more formidable than the rebellion of Desmond, or even than that of Shane O’Neill, was the rebellion of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone. No such able Irish chief had appeared since Brian Born. Cool, cautious, vigilant, he laid his plans with care and knew how to wait patiently for results. Never impulsive, never boastful, wise in council and wary in speech, from his long residence in London in his youth he learned dissimulation, and was as crafty as the craftiest English minister. Repeatedly he foiled the queen’s diplomatists in council as he did her generals in the field, and at the Yellow Ford (1598) gained the greatest victory ever won in Ireland over English arms. What he might have done had he been loyally supported it is hard to say. For nearly ten years he continued the war; he continued it after his Spanish allies had brought upon him the disaster of Kinsale; after his chief assistant, O’Donnell, had been struck down by an assassin’s hand; after Carew had subdued Munster, and Mountjoy had turned Ulster into a desert; after the Irish chiefs had gone over to the enemy. And when he submitted it was only on condition of being guaranteed his titles and lands; and by that time Elizabeth, who hated him so much and so longed for his destruction, had breathed her last.
UNDER THE STUARTS.—James I (1603-25) was the first of the Stuart line, and from the son of Mary Stuart the Irish Catholics expected much. They were doomed, however, to an early disappointment. The cities which rejoiced that “Jezabel was dead”, and that now they could practice their religion openly, were warned by Mountjoy that James was a good Protestant and as such would have no toleration of popery. Salisbury, who had poisoned the mind of the queen against the Catholics, was equally successful with her successor, with the result that persecution continued. Proclamations were issued ordering the clergy to quit the kingdom; those who remained were hunted down; O’Devany, Bishop of Down, and others were done to death. The Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity were rigorously enforced. The Act of Oblivion, under which participants in the late rebellion were pardoned, was often forgotten or ignored. English law, which for the first time was extended to all Ireland, was used by corrupt officials to oppress rather than to protect the people. The Earl of Tyrone and the Earl of Tyrconnell (Rory O’Donnell) were so spied upon and worried by false charges of disloyalty that they fled the country, believing that their lives were in danger; and to all their pleas for justice the king’s response was to-slander their characters and confiscate their lands. It is indeed true that Irish juries found the earls guilty of high treason, and an lrish Parliament, representing all Ireland, attainted them. But these results were obtained by carefully packing the juries, and by the creation of small boroughs which sent creatures of the king to represent them in Parliament. And the Catholic members acquiesced under threat of having enacted a fresh batch of penal laws. Thus, aided by corrupt juries and a complaisant Parliament, James I was enabled to plant the confiscated lands of Ulster with English Protestants and Scotch Presbyterians. Other plantations had fared badly. That of King’s and Queen’s County in Mary’s reign had decayed; and the plantation of Munster after the Desmond war had been swept away in the tide of O’Neill’s victories. The plantation of Ulster was more thorough and effective than either of these. Whole districts were given to the settlers, and these, supported by a Protestant Government, soon grew into a powerful and prosperous colony, while the despoiled Catholics, driven from the richer to the poorer lands, looked helplessly on, hating those colonists for whose sake they had been despoiled.
Under the new king, Charles I (1625-49), the policy of persecution and plantation was continued. Under pretense of advancing the public interest and increasing the king’s revenue, a crowd of hungry adventurers spread themselves over the land, inquiring into the title by which lands were held. With venal judges, venal juries, and sympathetic officials to aid them, good titles were declared bad, and lands seized, and the adventurers were made sharers in the spoil. The O’Byrnes were thus deprived of their lands in Wicklow, and similar confiscations and plantations took place in Wexford, King’s County, Leitrim, Westmeath, and Longford. Hoping to protect themselves against such robbery, the Catholics offered the king a subsidy of £120,000 in exchange for certain privileges called “graces”, which among other things would give them indefeasible titles to their estates. These “graces”, granted by the king, were to have the sanction of Parliament to make them good. The money was paid, but the “graces” were withheld, and the viceroy, Strafford, proceeded to Connaught to confiscate and plant the whole province. The projected plantation was ultimately abandoned; but the sense of injustice remained. All over the country were insecurity, anxiety, unrest, and disaffection; Irish and Anglo-Irish were equally menaced. Seeing the futility of appealing to a helpless Parliament, a despotic viceroy, or a perfidious king, the nation took up arms.
To describe the rebellion as the “massacre of 1641” is unjust. The details of cruel murders committed and horrible tortures inflicted by the rebels are mischievously untrue. On the other hand, it is true that the Protestants suffered grievous wrong, and that many of them lost their lives, exclusive of those who fell in war. The Catholics wanted the planters’ lands; when driven away in wintry weather, without money, or food, or sufficient clothes, many planters perished of hunger and cold. Others fell by the avenging hand of some infuriated Catholic whom they might have wronged in the days of their power. Many fell defending their property or the property and lives of their friends. The plan of the rebel leaders, of whom Roger Moore was chief, was to capture the garrison towns by a simultaneous attack. But they failed to capture Dublin Castle, containing large stores of arms, owing to the imprudence of Colonel MacMahon. He imparted the secret to a disreputable Irishman named O’Connolly, who at once informed the Castle authorities, with the result that the Castle defenses were strengthened, and MacMahon and others arrested and subsequently executed. In Ulster, however, the whole open country and many towns fell into the rebels’ hands, and Munster and Connaught soon joined the rebellion, as did the Catholics of the Pale, unable to obtain any toleration of their religion, or security of their property, or even of their lives. Before the new year was far advanced the Catholic Bishops declared the rebellion just, and the Catholics formed a confederation which, from its meeting place, was called the “Confederation of Kilkenny”. Composed of clergy and laity its members swore to be loyal to the king, to strive for the free exercise of their religion, and to defend the lives, liberties, and possessions of all who took the Confederate oath. Supreme executive authority was vested in a supreme council; there were provincial councils also, all these bodies deriving their powers from an elective body called the “General Assembly”.
The Supreme Council exercised all the powers of government, administered justice, raised taxes, formed armies, appointed generals. One of the best-known of these officers was General Preston, who commanded in Leinster, having come from abroad with a good supply of arms and ammunition, and with 500 trained officers. A more remarkable man still was General Owen Roe O’Neill, nephew of the great Earl of Tyrone, who took command in Ulster, and whose defense of Arras against the French caused him to be recognized as one of the first soldiers in Europe. He also, like Preston, brought officers, arms, and ammunition to Ireland. At a later stage came Rinuccini, the pope’s nuncio, bringing with him a supply of money. Meanwhile, civil war raged in England between king and Parliament; the Government at Dublin, ill supplied from across the Channel, was ill fitted to crush a powerful rebellion, and, in 1646, O’Neill won the great victory of Benburb. But the strength of which this victory was the outcome was counterbalanced by elements of weakness. The Catholics of Ulster and those of the Pale did not agree; neither did Generals O’Neill and Preston. The Supreme Council, with a feeble old man, Lord Mountgarret, at its head, and four provincial generals instead of a commander-in-chief, was ill-suited for the vigorous prosecution of a war. Moreover, the influence of the Marquis of Ormond was a fatal cause of discord. A personal friend of the king, and charged by him with the command of his army and with the conduct of negotiations, a Protestant with Catholic friends on the Supreme Council, his desire ought to have been to bring Catholic and Royalist together. But his hatred of the Catholics was such that he would grant them no terms, even when ordered to do so by His Majesty. The Catholics’ professions of loyalty he despised, and his great diplomatic abilities were used to sow dissensions in their councils and to thwart their plans. Yet the Supreme Council, dominated by an Ormondist faction, continued fruitless negotiations with him, agreed to a cessation when they themelves were strong and their opponents weak, and agreed to a peace with him in spite of the victory of Benburb, and in spite of the remonstrances of the nuncio and of General O’Neill. Nor did they cease these relations with him even after he had treacherously surrendered Dublin to the Parliament (1647), and left the country. On the contrary, they still put faith in him, entered into a fresh peace with him in 1648, and when he returned to Ireland as the Royalist viceroy they received him in state at Kilkenny. In disgust, General O’Neill came to a temporary agreement with the Parliamentary general, and Rinuccini, despairing of Ireland, returned to Rome.
The Civil War in England was then over. The Royalists had been vanquished, the king executed, the monarchy replaced by a commonwealth; and in August, 1649, Oliver Cromwell came to Ireland with 10,000 men. Ormond meanwhile had rallied his supporters, and, with the greater part of the Catholics of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, the Protestants of the Pale and of Munster, and great part of the Ulster Presbyterians, his strength was considerable. His obstinate bigotry would not allow him to make terms with the Ulster army, and he thus lost the support of General O’Neill at a critical time. Early in August he had been disastrously beaten by the Puritan general Jones, at Rathmines; in consequence he offered no opposition to Cromwell’s landing and made no attempt to relieve Drogheda. It was soon captured by Cromwell and its garrison put to the sword. A month later the same fate befell Wexford. Waterford repelled Cromwell’s attack, and Clonmel and Kilkenny offered him a stout resistance; but other towns were easily captured, or voluntarily surrendered; and when he left Ireland, in May, 1650, Munster and Leinster were in his hands. His successors, Ireton and Ludlow, within two years reduced the remaining provinces. Meanwhile Owen Roe O’Neill had died after making terms with Ormond, but before meeting with Cromwell. The Catholic Bishops, however, repudiated Ormond, who then left Ireland. Some negotiation subsequently between Lord Clanricarde and the Duke of Lorraine came to nothing, and the long war was ended in which more than half the inhabitants of the country had lost their lives.
In the beginning of the rebellion many Englishmen subscribed money to put it down, stipulating in return for a share of the lands to be forfeited, and thus hatred of the Catholics was mingled with hope of gain. The English Parliament accepted the money on the terms proposed, and the subscribers became known as “adventurers”, because they adventured their money on Irish land. When the rebellion was over, the problem was to provide the lands promised, and also to provide lands for the soldiers who were in arrears of pay. It was a difficult problem. There was an Act for Settling Ireland, and an Act for the Satisfaction of Adventurers in Lands and Arrears due to the soldiers and other public Debts; there was a High Court of Justice to determine who were guilty of rebellion; there were soldiers who had got special terms when laying down their arms; and there were those who had never had a share in the rebellion, but had merely lived in the rebel quarters during the war. The best of the lands east of the Shannon were for the adventurers and soldiers, the dispossessed being driven to Connaught. To determine where the planters were to be settled and where the transplanted, and what amount they were to get, there were commissions, and committees, and surveys, and court of claims. Nor was it till 1658 that the Cromwellian Settlement was complete, and even then many of the transplanted protested their innocence of any share in the rebellion, and many of the adventurers and soldiers complained that they had been defrauded of their due. In the amount of suffering it entailed and wrong inflicted the whole scheme far exceeded the plantation of Ulster. But it failed to make Ireland either English or Protestant, and in setting up a system of alien landlords and native tenants it proved the curse of Ireland and the fruitful parent of many ills.
To the Irish Cromwell’s death in 1658 was welcome news, all the more so because Charles II (1660-85) was restored. For their attachment to the cause of the latter they had suffered much; and now the Catholic landlord in his Connaught cabin and the Irish soldier abroad felt equally assured that the recovery of their lands and homes was at hand. They soon learned that Stuart gratitude meant little and that Stuart promises were written on sand. Had Charles been free to act, the Cromwellian Settlement would not have endured; for he loved the Catholics much more than he loved the Puritans. But the planters were a dangerous body to provoke, sustained as they were by the English Parliament and by the king’s chief adviser, Ormond, who indeed hated the Cromwellians, but hated the Catholics much more. Some attempt, however, was made to right the wrong that had been done, and by the Act of Settlement six hundred innocent Catholics were restored to their lands. Many more would have been restored had the court of claims been allowed to continue its sittings. The irate planters wanted to know what was to become of them if the despoiled papists thus got back their lands; utterings threats and even breaking out into rebellion they alarmed the king. Under Ormond’s advice the Act of Explanation was then passed (1665) and the court of claims set up by the Act of Settlement closed its doors, though three thousand eases remained untried. Thus the Cromwellians who had murdered the king’s father were, with few exceptions, left unmolested while the Catholics were abandoned to their fate. Before the rebellion two-thirds of the lands of the country were in the hands of the latter; after the Act of Explanation scarcely one-third was left them, a sweeping confiscation especially in the case of men who were denied even the justice of a trial. After this the toleration of the Catholics was but a small concession. Not, however, during the whole of Charles’s reign; for Ormond, now a duke, filled the office of viceroy for many years; he at least would maintain Protestant ascendancy, and exclude the Catholics from the bench and the corporations. In the English Council and in Parliament he bitterly attacked and defeated the proposed revision of the Act of Settlement. He does not appear to have had any sympathy with the lying tales of Oates and Bedloe, or with the storm of persecution which followed, and he disapproved of the judicial murder of Oliver Plunket. But his aversion from the Catholics continued, and was in no way chilled by advancing age. One of the last acts of Charles was to dismiss him from office as an enemy to toleration. The king himself soon after died in the Catholic Faith, and James II, an avowed Catholic, succeeded, the first Catholic sovereign since the death of Mary Tudor.
Religious toleration had then made little progress throughout Europe, and England, aggressively Protestant, looked with special disfavor on Catholicism. In these circumstances James II should have moved with caution. He should have taken account of national prejudices and the temper of the times, and respected established institutions; while conscientiously practicing his own religion, he should have sought for no favor for it, at least until the nation was in a more tolerant and yielding mood. Instead of this, and in defiance of English bigotry and English law, he appointed Catholics to high civil and military offices, opened the corporations and the universities to them, had a papal nuncio at his court, and issued a Declaration of Indulgence suspending the penal laws. When the Protestant bishops refused to have this declaration read from their pulpits he prosecuted them. Their acquittal was the signal for revolt, and James, deserted by all classes, fled to France leaving the English throne to William of Orange, whom the Protestants invited from Holland. Meanwhile sweeping changes had been effected in Ireland by the viceroy, the Duke of Tyrconnell, a militant Catholic and a special favorite of King James. Protestant magistrates, sheriffs, and judges had been displaced to make room for Catholics; the army and corporations underwent similar changes; and the Act of Settlement was to be repealed. Timid Protestants trembling for their lives fled to England; others formed centers of resistance to the viceroy in Munster and Connaught, and, in Ulster, Derry and Enniskillen expelled the Catholics and closed their gates against the viceroy’s troops. This was rebellion, for James, though repudiated in England, was still King of Ireland. In March, 1689, he arrived at Kinsale from France to subdue these rebels. But the task was beyond his strength. Derry and Enniskillen defied all his attacks, and a Williamite force, issuing from the latter town, almost annihilated a Jacobite army at Newtown-Butler.
Disaffection became general among the Protestants when the Irish Parliament repealed the Act of Settlement and attainted eighteen hundred persons who had fled to England through fear; and when, in August, a Williamite force of twenty thousand landed at Carrickfergus, the Protestants everywhere welcomed it. This great force, however, effected nothing, and in June, 1690, William himself came and encountered James on the banks of the Boyne. The battle was fought on July 1, and resulted in the defeat of James. Hastening to Dublin he told the Duchess of Tyrconnell that the Irish soldiers had shame-fully run away, to which the lady is said to have replied: “But your Majesty won the race.” The retort was just. The Irish cavalry behaved with conspicuous gallantry, as did the greater part of the infantry. Some of the latter did run away, but not so fast as James himself, who fled taking the ablest of the Irish generals, Sarsfield, with him. That the Irish were no cowards was soon shown by their defense of Athlone and the still more glorious defense of Limerick. After being compelled to raise the siege of the latter city, King William left for England, committing the civil authority to lords justices and the military command to General Ginkel. In the following year Ginkel captured Athlone, owing to the carelessness of the Jacobite general, St-Ruth; and on July 12, 1691, the last great battle of the war was fought at Aughrim. The Irish were not inferior to their opponents in numbers, discipline, or valor, and though overmatched in heavy guns they had the advantage of position. Nor was St-Ruth inferior to Ginkel in military capacity. His dispositions were excellent, and after several hours’ desperate fighting Ginkel was driven back at every point. Just then St-Ruth was struck down by a cannon ball. Panic-stricken, the Irish fell back, allowing their opponents to advance and inflict on them a crushing defeat. The surrender of Galway and Sligo followed, and in a short time Ginkel and his whole army were before the walls of Limerick. When he had effectually surrounded it and made a breach in the walls, further resistance was seen to be hopeless, and Sarsfield and his friends made terms. By the end of the year the war was over, King William had triumphed, and Protestant ascendancy was secure.
THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.—By the Treaty of Limerick the Catholic soldiers of King James were pardoned, protected against forfeiture of their estates, and were free to go abroad if they chose. All Catholics might substitute an oath of allegiance for the oathof supremacy, and were to have suck privileges “as were consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of Charles II”. King William also promised to have the Irish Parliament grant a further relaxation of the penal laws in force. This treaty, however, was soon torn to shreds, and in spite of William’s appeals the Irish Parliament refused to ratify it, and embarked on fresh penal legislation. Under these new laws Catholics were excluded from Parliament, from the bench and bar, from the army andnavy, from all civil offices, from the corporations, and even from the corporate towns. They could not have Catholic schools at home or attend foreign schools, or inherit landed property, or hold land under lease, or act as executors or administrators, or have armsor ammunition, or a horse worth £5. Neither could they bury their dead in Catholic ruins, or make pilgrimages to holy wells, or observe Catholic holidays. They could not intermarry with the Protestants, the clergyman assisting at such marriages being liable to death. The wife of a Catholic landlord turning Protestant got separate maintenance; the son turning Protestant got the whole estate; and the Catholic landlord having only Catholic children was obliged at death to divide his estate among his children in equal shares. All the regular clergy, as well as bishops and vicars as general should quit the kingdom. The secular clergy might remain, but must be registered, nor could they have on their churches either steeple or bell. This was the Penal Code, elaborated through nearly half a century with patience, and care, and ingenuity, perhaps the most infamous code ever elaborated by civilized man.
Such legislation does not generate conviction, and, in spite of all, the Catholics clung to their Faith. Deprived of schools at home, the young clerical student sought the halls of Continental colleges, and being ordained returned to Ireland, disguised perhaps as a sailor and carried in a smuggler’s craft. And in secrecy and obscurity he preached, taught, lived, and died, leaving another generation equally persecuted to carry on the good fight. Poverty was his portion, and frequently the prison and the scaffold; and yet, while Protestantism made no progress, Catholicism more than held its own. In 1728 the Catholics were to the Protestants as five to one, and half a century later Young calculated that to make Ireland Protestant would take 4000 years. Indeed the Protestant clergy made no serious effort to convert the Catholics; nor was this the object of the Penal Code. Passed by Protestants possessing confiscated Catholic lands, its object was to impoverish, to debase, to degrade, to leave the despoiled Catholics incapable of rebellion and ignorant of their wrongs. In this respect it succeeded. A few Catholics, with the connivance of some friendly Protestants, managed to hold their estates; the remainder gradually sank to the level of cottiers and day-laborers, living in cabins, clothed in rags, always on the verge of famine. Shut out from every position of influence, rackrented by absentee landlords, insulted by grasping agents and drunken squireens, paying tithes to a Church they abhorred, hating the Government which oppressed them and the law which made them slaves, their condition was the worst of any peasantry in Europe. From a land blighted by such laws the enterprising and ambitious fled, seeking an outlet for their enterprise and ambition in happier lands. In the time of Elizabeth and James, and still more in Cromwell’s time, thousands joined the army of Spain. But in the latter half of the seventeenth century the stream was diverted to France, then the greatest military power in Europe. Thither Sarsfield and his men went after the fall of Limerick, and in the fifty years which followed 450,000 Irish died in the service of France. They fought and fell in Spain and Italy, in the passes of the Alps, in the streets of Cremona, at Ramillies and Malplaquet, at Blenheim and Fontenoy. Irishmen were marshals of France; an Irishman commanded the armies of Maria Theresa; another the army of Russia; and there were Irish statesmen, generals, and ambassadors all over Europe. Beyond the Atlantic, Irish had settled in Pennsylvania and Maryland, in Kentucky and Carolina and the New England states; Irish names were appended to the Declaration of Independence; and Irish soldiers fought throughout the War of Independence.
Nor were soldiers and statesmen the only Irish exiles whom penal laws had sent abroad. The decay of schools and colleges continued from the eleventh to the sixteenth century; nor did Ireland in that period produce a single great scholar, except Duns Scotus, who was partly educated abroad. Any hope of a revival of learning in the sixteenth century was blasted by the suppression of monasteries and the penal laws; early in the seventeenth century, however, Irish colleges were already established at Louvain, Salamanca, and Seville, at Lisbon, Paris, and Rome. In these colleges the brightest Irish intellects learned and taught, and Colgan and O’Clery, Lynch and Rothe, Wadding and Keating recalled the greatest glories of their country’s past. At home Trinity College had been established (1593) to wean the Irish from “Popery and other ill qualities”; but the Catholics held aloof, and either went abroad or frequented the few Catholic schools left. The children of the poor, avoiding the Protestant schools, met in the open air, with only some friendly hedge to protect them from the blast; but they met in fear and trembling, for the hedge-school and its master were proscribed. Thus was the lamp of learning kept burning during the long night of the penal times.
In the Irish Parliament meanwhile a spirit of independence appeared. As the Parliament of the Pale it had been so often used for factious purposes that in 1496 Poyning’s Law was passed, providing that henceforth no Irish Parliament could meet, and no law could be proposed, without the previous consent of both the Irish and English Privy Councils. Further, the English Parliament claimed the right to legislate for Ireland; and in the laws prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle (1665), and Irish woolen manufactures (1698), and that dealing with the Irish forfeited estates (1700), it asserted its supposed right. The Irish Parliament, dominated by bigotry and self-interest, had not the courage to protest, and when one member, Molyneux, did, the English Parliament condemned him, and ordered his book to be burned by the common hangman. Moreover, it passed an Act in 1719 expressly declaring that it had power to legislate for Ireland, taking away also the appellate jurisdiction of the Irish House of Lords. The fight made by Swift against Wood’s halfpence showed that, though Molyneux was dead, his spirit lived; Lucas continued the fight, and Grattan in 1782 obtained legislative independence. England was then beaten by the American colonies; an Irish volunteer force had been raised to defend Ireland against a possible invasion, and it seems certain that legislative independence was won less by Grattan’s eloquence than by the swords of the Volunteers. These events favored the growth of toleration. The Catholics, in sympathizing with Grattan and in subscribing money to equip the Protestant Volunteers, earned the goodwill of the Protestant Nationalists; in consequence the penal laws were less rigorously enforced, and from the middle of the century penal legislation ceased. In 1771 came the turn of the tide, when Catholics were allowed to hold reclaimed bog under lease. This grudging concession was followed in 1774 by an Act substituting an oath of allegiance for the oath of supremacy; in 1778 by an Act enabling Catholics to hold all lands under lease; and in 1782 by a further Act allowing them to erect Catholic schools, with the permission of the Protestant bishop of the diocese, to own a horse worth more than £5, and to assist at Mass without being compelled to accuse the officiating priest. Nor were Catholic bishops any longer compelled to quit the kingdom, nor Catholic children specially rewarded if they turned Protestant. Not for ten years was there any further concession, and then an Act was passed allowing Catholics to erect schools without seeking Protestant permission, admitting Catholics to the Bar, and legalizing marriages between Protestants and Catholics. Much more important was the Act of 1793 giving the Catholics the Parliamentary and municipal franchise, admitting them to the universities and to military and civil offices, and removing all restrictions in regard to the tenure of land. They were still excluded from Parliament, from the inner Bar, and from a few of the higher civil and military offices.
Always in favor of religious liberty, Grattan would have swept away every vestige of the Penal Code. But, in 1782, he mistakenly thought that his work was done when legislative independence was conceded. He forgot that the executive was still left independent of Parliament, answerable only to the English minis-try; and that, with rotten boroughs controlled by a few great families, with an extremely limited franchise in the counties, and with pensioners and placemen filling so many seats, the Irish Parliament was but a mockery of representation. Like Grattan, Flood and Charlemont favored Parliamentary reform, but, unlike him, they were opposed to Catholic concessions. As for Foster and Fitzgibbon, who led the forces of corruption and bigotry, they opposed every attempt at reform, and consented to the Act of 1793 only under strong pressure from Pitt and Dundas. These English ministers, alarmed at the progress of French revolutionary principles in Ireland, fearing a foreign invasion, wished to have the Catholics contented. In 1795 further concessions seemed imminent. In that year an illiberal viceroy, Lord Westmoreland, was replaced by the liberal-minded Lord Fitzwilliam, who came understanding it to be the wish of Pitt that the Catholic claims were to be conceded. He at once dismissed from office a rapacious office-holder named Beresford, so powerful that he was called the “King of Ireland”; he refused to consult Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon or Foster, the Speaker; he took Grattan and Ponsonby into his confidence, and declared his intention to support Grattan’s bill admitting Catholics to Parliament. The high hopes raised by these events were dashed to the earth when Fitzwilliam was suddenly recalled, after having been allowed to go so far without any protest from Portland, the home secretary, or from the premier, Pitt. The latter, disliking the Irish Parliament because it had rejected his commercial propositions in 1785, and disagreed with him on the regency in 1789, already meditated a legislative union, and felt that the admission of Catholics to Parliament would thwart his plans. He was probably also influenced by Beresford, who had powerful friends in England, and by the king, whom Fitzgibbon had mischievously convinced that to admit Catholics to Parliament would be to violate his coronation oath. Possibly, other causes concurred with these to bring about the sudden and disastrous change which filled Catholic Ireland with grief, and the whole nation with dismay.
The new viceroy, Lord Camden, was instructed to conciliate the Catholic bishops by setting up a Catholic college for the training of the Irish priests; this was done by the establishment of Maynooth College. But he was to set his face against all Parliamentary reform and all Catholic concessions. These things he did with a will. He at once restored Beresford to office and Foster and Fitzgibbon to favor, the latter being made Earl of Clare. And he stirred up but too successfully the dying embers of sectarian hate, with the result that the Ulster factions, the Protestant “Peep-of-Day Boys” and the Catholic “Defenders”, became embittered with a change of names. The latter, turning to republican and revolutionary ways, joined the United Irish Society; the former became merged in the recently formed Orange Society, taking its name from William of Orange and having Protestant ascendancy and hatred of Catholicism as its battle cries. Extending from Ulster, these rival societies brought into the other provinces the curse of sectarian strife. Instead of putting down both, the Government took sides with the Orangemen; and, while their lawless acts were condoned, the Catholics were hunted down. An Arms’ Act, an Insurrection Act, an Indemnity Act, a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act placed them outside the pale of law. An undisciplined soldiery, recruited from Orange lodges, were then let loose among them. Martial law, free quarters, flogging, picketing, half-hanging, destruction of Catholic property and life, outrages on women followed, until at last Catholic blood was turned into flame. Then Wexford rose. Looking back, it now seems certain that, had Hoche landed at Bantry in 1796, had even a small force landed at Wexford in 1798, or a few other counties displayed the heroism of Wexford, English power in Ireland would, temporarily at least, have been destroyed. But one county could not fight the British Empire, and the rebellion was soon quenched in blood.
Camden’s place was then given to Lord Cornwallis, who came to Ireland for the express purpose of carrying a Legislative Union. Foster refused to support him and joined the opposition. Fitzgibbon, however, aided Cornwallis, and so did Castlereagh, who for some time had discharged the duties of chief secretary in the absence of Mr. Pelham, and who was now formally appointed to the office. And then began one of the most shameful chapters in Irish history. Even the corrupt Irish Parliament was reluctant to vote away its existence, and in 1799 the opposition was too strong for Castlereagh. But Pitt directed him to persevere, and the great struggle went on.
On one side were eloquence and debating power, patriotism, and public virtue, Grattan, Plunket, and Bushe, Foster, Fitzgerald, Ponsonby, and Moore, a truly formidable combination. On the other side were the baser elements in Parliament, the needy, the spendthrift, the meanly ambitious, operated upon by Castlereagh, with the whole resources of the British Empire at his command. The pensioners and placemen who voted against him at once lost their places and pensions, the military officer was refused promotion, the magistrate was turned off the bench. And while anti-Unionists were unsparingly punished, the Unionists got lavish rewards. The impecunious got well-paid sinecures; the briefless barrister was made a judge or a commissioner; the rich man, ambitious of social distinction, got a peerage, and places and pensions for his friends; and the owners of rotten boroughs got large sums for their interests. The Catholics were promised emancipation in a united Parliament, and in consequence many bishops, some clergy, and a few of the laity supported the Union, not grudging to end an assembly so bigoted and corrupt as the Irish Parliament. By these means Castlereagh triumphed, and in 1801 the United Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland opened its doors.
SINCE THE UNION.—The next quarter of a century was a period of baffled hopes. Anxious to stand well with the Government, Dr. Troy, the Archbishop of Dublin, had been a strong advocate of the Union, and had induced nine of his brother bishops to concede to the king a veto on episcopal appointments. In return, he wanted emancipation linked with the Union, and Castlereagh was not averse; but Pitt was non-committal and vague, though the Catholic Unionists had no doubt that he favored immediate concession. Disappointment came when nothing was done in the first session of the United Parliament, and it was increased when Pitt resigned office and was succeeded by Addington, a narrow-minded bigot. Cornwallis, however, assured Dr. Troy that Pitt had resigned, unable to overcome the prejudices of the king, and that he would never again take office if emancipation were not conceded. Yet, in spite of this, he became premier in 1804, no longer an advocate of emancipation but an opponent, pledged never again to raise the question in Parliament during the lifetime of the king. To this pledge he was as faithful as he had been false to his former assurances; and when Fox presented the Catholic petition in 1805, Pitt opposed it. After 1806, when both Pitt and Fox died, the Catholic champion was Grattan, who had entered the British Parliament in 1805. In the vain hope of conciliating opponents he was willing, in 1808, to concede the veto. Dr. Troy and the higher Catholics acquiesced; but the other bishops were unwilling, and neither they nor the clergy, still less the people, wanted a state-paid clergy or state-appointed bishops. The agitation of the question, however, did not cease, and for many years it distracted Catholic plans and weakened Catholic effort. Further complications arose when, in 1814, the Prefect of the Propaganda, Quarantotti, issued a rescript favoring the veto. He acted, however, beyond his powers in the absence of Pius VII, who was in France, and when the pope returned to Rome, after the fall of Napoleon, the rescript was disavowed.
In these years the Catholics badly needed a leader. John Keogh, the able leader of 1793, was then old, and Lords Fingall and Gormanstown, Mr. Scully and Dr. Dromgoole, were not the men to grapple with great difficulties and powerful opponents. An abler and more vigorous leader was required, one with less faith in petitions and protestations of loyalty. Such a leader was found in Daniel O’Connell, a Catholic barrister whose first public appearance in 1800 was on an anti-Unionist platform. A great lawyer and orator, a great debater, of boundless courage and resources, he took a prominent part on Catholic committees, and from 1810 he held the first place in Catholic esteem. Yet the Catholic cause advanced slowly, and, when Grattan died in 1820, emancipation had not come. Nor would the House of Lords accept Plunket’s Bill of 1821, even though it passed the House of Commons and conceded the veto. At last O’Connell determined to rouse the masses, and in 1823, with the help of Richard Lalor Sheil, he founded the Catholic Association. Its progress at first was slow, but gradually it gathered strength. Dr. Murray, the new Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, joined it, and Dr. Doyle, the great Bishop of Kildare; other bishops followed; the clergy and people also came in; and thus rose a great national organization, supervising from its central office in Dublin subsidiary associations in every parish; maintained by a Catholic rent; watching over local and national affairs, discharging, as Mr. Canning described it, “all the functions of a regular government, and having obtained a complete mastery and control over the masses of the Irish people”. The Association was suppressed in 1825 by Act of Parliament; but O’Connell merely changed the name; and the New Catholic Association with its New Catholic rent continued the work of agitation as of old. Nor was this all. By the Catholic Relief Act of 1793 the forty-shilling freeholders obtained the franchise. These freeholders, being so poor, were necessarily in the power of the landlords and were wont to be driven to the polls like so many sheep. But now, protected by a powerful association, and encouraged by the priests and by O’Connell, the free-holders broke their chains, and in Waterford, Louth, Meath, and elsewhere they voted for the nominees of the Catholic Association at elections, and in placing them at the head of the poll humbled the landlords. When they returned O’Connell himself for Clare in 1828, the crisis had come. The Tory ministers, Wellington and Peel, would have still resisted; but the people were not to be restrained: it must be concession or civil war, and rather than have the latter the ministers hauled down the flag of no surrender, and passed the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829. The forty-shilling freeholders were disfranchised, and there were some vexatious provisions excluding Catholics from a few of the higher civil and military offices, prohibiting priests from wearing vestments outside their churches, bishops from assuming the titles of their sees, regulars from obtaining charitable bequests. In other respects Catholics were placed on a level with other denominations, and at last were admitted within the pale of the constitution.
From that hour O’Connell was the uncrowned king of Ireland. Where he led the people followed. They cheered him when he praised Lord Anglesey and when he attacked him; when he supported the Whigs and when he described them as “base, brutal and bloody”; when he advocated the Repeal of the Union and when he abandoned the Repeal agitation; and when, after long years of waiting for concessions that never came, he again unfurled the flag of Repeal, they flocked to hear him, and laughed or wept with him, responsive to his every mood. Finally, to leave him free to devote his whole time to public affairs they subscribed yearly to the O’Connell tribute, giving him thus an income which never fell below £16,000 and often went far beyond that figure. And yet the legislative results of nearly twenty years of such devotion and sacrifice were poor. The National Education system, established in 1831, required much amendment before it worked smoothly, and even now is far from being an ideal system. The Commutation of Tithes Act only transferred the odium of collection from the parson to the landlord, but gave little relief to the people. The Poor Law system, though it often relieved destitution, too often encouraged idleness and immorality. And the Corporation Act, while reforming a few of the corporations, abolished many. Nor could anything be more complete than the failure of the Repeal agitation. The explanation is not far to seek. O’Connell had a wretched party, men without capacity or patriotism. His acceptance of offices for his friends and his alliances with the Whigs was surely not a sound policy. And when he took up Repeal in earnest he was already old, with the shadow of death upon him. Lastly, as he neared the end, he lost the support of the Young Irelanders, the most vigorous and capable section of his followers. These things embittered his last days and hastened his death in 1847.
Meantime the shadow of famine had fallen upon the land. The potato blight first appeared in Wexford, in 1845, whence it marched with stealthy tread all over the country, poisoning the potato fields as it passed. The stalks withered and died, the potatoes beneath the soil became putrid, and when they were dug and the sound ones separated from the unsound ones and put into pits, it was soon discovered that disease had entered the pits. The reckless creation of forty-shilling freeholders by the landlords for political purposes, the reckless subdivision of holdings by the tenants, had so augmented the population that in 1845 the inhabitants of Ireland were well beyond 8,000,000, most of them living in abject poverty with the potato as their only food. And now, with half the crop of 1845 gone, and with the loss of the whole crop in the two succeeding years, millions were face to face with hunger. To cope with such a calamity required heroic measures, and O’Connell urged that distilleries should be closed, the export of provisions prohibited, public granaries set up, and reproductive works set on foot. But the premier, Peel, minimized the extent of the famine, and Lord John Russell, who succeeded him in 1846, was equally skeptical. He would neither stop distilling nor the export of provisions, nor build railways; and when he set up public works they were not reproductive, and the money expended on them, largely levied on the rates, was squandered by corrupt officials. Ultimately indeed he set up government stores, and in many cases food was distributed free. Charity supplemented the efforts of Government, and with no niggard hand. There were Quaker, Evangelical, and Baptist relief committees, and subscriptions from Great Britain and from Continental Europe, from Australia and from the West Indies. But America was generous most of all. In every city from Boston to New Orleans meetings were held and subscriptions given. Philadelphia sent eight vessels loaded with provisions; Mississippi and Alabama large consignments of Indian corn; railroads and shipping companies carried relief parcels free; and the Government turned some of the war vessels into transports to carry food to the starving millions beyond the Atlantic. Yet were the sufferings of the people great, and the number of deaths from famine and famine-fever appalling. Thousands lived for weeks on cabbage and a little meal, on cabbage and seaweed, on turnips, on diseased horse and ass flesh; and one case is recorded where a woman ate her dead child. Men died from cold as well as from hunger. They died on the roads and in the fields, at the relief works and on their way to them, at the workhouses and at the workhouse doors. They died in their cabins unattended, often surrounded by the dying and frequently by the dead. Flying from the country they died in the hospitals of Liverpool or Glasgow, or on board the sailing vessels to America. And thousands who crossed the ocean reached America only to die. In 1848 and in 1849 the famine was only partial, but in the latter year cholera appeared. In 1851 the famine was over, and such was the havoc wrought that a population, which at the previous rate of increase should have been 9,000,000, was reduced to 6,500,000.
The conduct of the landlords during this terrible time was selfish and cruel. With few exceptions they gave no employment and no subscriptions to the relief funds. Unable to get rents from tenants unable to pay, they used their right to evict, and in thousands of cases the horrors of eviction were added to the horrors of famine. Retribution soon followed. The evictors, without rents and crushed by poor-rates, became hopelessly insolvent. The British Parliament considered them a nuisance and a curse, and in 1849 passed the Encumbered Estates Act, under which a creditor might petition to have the estate sold and his debt paid. Insolvent landlords were thus sent adrift, and solvent men took their places, and to such an extent that in a few years land to the value of £20,000,000 changed hands. But the new landlords were no better than the old. They raised rents, confiscated the tenant’s improvements, worried him with vexatious estate rules, evicted him cruelly; and from 1850 to 1870 was the period of the great clearances. The necessary result was a constant and ever-increasing stream of emigration from Ireland, chiefly to America. Nor would British statesmen do anything to stem the tide. Lord John Russell would not interfere with the rights of property by passing a Land Act. Lord Derby was a landlord with a landlord’s strong prejudices. Lord Palmerston declared that tenant right was landlord wrong. Nothing could be expected from the Irish members. Sadleir and Keogh broke up the Tenant Right party; Lucas was dead; Duffy in despair went to Australia; Moore was out of Parliament; and from 1855 to 1870 the Irish members were but place-hunters and traitors. In these circumstances the Irish peasant joined the Ribbon Society, which was secret and oath-bound, and specially charged to defend the tenants’ interests. Agrarian outrages naturally followed. The landlord evicted, the Ribbonman shot him down, and the evictor fell un-pitied by the people, who refused to condemn the assassin. After 1860 the Ribbonmen were gradually merged in the Fenian Society, which extended to America and England, and had national rather than agrarian objects in view. The Irish are not good conspirators, and the attempted Fenian insurrection in 1867 came to nothing. But the meditated assault on Chester Castle, the Clerkenwell explosion, and the Fenian raids into Canada showed the extent and intrepidity of Irish disaffection. An increasing number of Englishmen began to think that the non possumus attitude of Lord Palmerston was no longer wise; and with the advent to power of Mr. Gladstone in 1868, at the head of a large Liberal majority, the case of Ireland was taken up.
The Catholic masses had a threefold grievance calling urgently for redress: the state Church, landlordism, and educational inequality. Mr. Gladstone called them the three branches of the Irish ascendancy upas tree. Commencing with the Church, he introduced a Bill disendowing and disestablishing it. Commissioners were appointed to wind it up, taking charge of its enormous property, computed at more than £15,000,-000 ($75,000,000). Of this sum, £10,000,000, ultimately raised to £ 11,000,000, was given to the disestablished Church, part to the holders of existing offices, part to enable the Church to continue its work. A further sum of nearly £1,000,000 was distributed between Maynooth College, deprived of its annual grant, and the Presbyterian Church deprived of the Regium Donum, the latter getting twice as much as the former. The surplus was to be disposed of by Parliament for such public objects as it might determine. This was generous treatment for the state Church which had been so conspicuous a failure. Supported with an ample revenue, and by the whole power of the State, its business was to make Ireland Protestant and English. It succeeded only in intensifying their attachment to Catholicity and their hatred of Protestantism and England. In 1861, after the havoc wrought by the famine, the Catholics were seven times as numerous as the members of the state Church. There were many parishes without a single Protestant; and in a poor country a Church numbering but 600,-000 persons had an income of nearly £700,000, mostly drawn from people of a different creed, who at the same time had their own Church to support. Yet there were members of Parliament who described Mr. Gladstone’s Bill as robbery and sacrilege. The House of Lords, afraid to reject it altogether, emasculated it in committee. And Ulster Protestants declared that if it became law they would kick the Queen’s crown into the Boyne. Ignoring these threats, Mr. Gladstone rejected the Lords’ amendments, though on some minor points he gave way, and in spite of all opposition the Bill became law. And thus one branch of the upas tree came crashing to the earth. The Land Act of 1870 was well-meant, but in reality gave the tenants no protection against rackrenting or eviction. Two years later the Ballot Act freed the Irish tenant from the terrors of open voting.
In 1873 the education question was reached. And first as to the primary schools. What the Catholic primary schools were in the early years of the nineteenth century we learn from Carleton. The teacher, the product of a local hedge-school and of a Munster classical school, or perhaps an ex-student of Maynooth, had first been employed as a tutor in some farmer’s family. Then he became a hedge-schoolmaster, and the manner in which he attained to this position was peculiar. Challenging the schoolmaster already in possession to a public disputation, they met at the church gates on Sunday in presence of the congregation. The intellectual swordplay between the combatants was keenly relished, and, if the younger man won the applause of the audience by his depth of learning and readiness of reply, his opponent left the district and the victor was installed in his place. His school, built by the roadside by the people’s voluntary efforts, was of earthen sods, with an earthen floor, a hole in the roof for a chimney, and stones for the pupils’ seats. In many districts the teacher received little fees, but the people supplied him liberally with potatoes, meal, bacon, and turf, and entertained him at their houses. A century before Carleton’s time the Charter schools were established, and endowed to educate the children of the destitute poor. They were to give industrial as well as literary training, and took religion and learning as their motto. But they became dens of infamy, with incompetent and immoral teachers, who taught the pupils nothing except to hate Catholicism. As such the schools were shunned by the Catholics, and were manifest failures, and yet till 1832 they received government grants. Such societies as the Society for Discountenancing Vice, the London Hibernian Association, and the Baptist Society were proselytizing institutions. The Kildare Street Society founded in 1811, though Protestant in its origin, was on different lines. The design was to have Catholics and Protestants educated together in secular subjects, leaving their religious training to the ministers of their religion outside of school hours. O’Connell favored the scheme and joined the governing board, grants were obtained from Parliament, and for some years all went well. But again the bread of knowledge given to Catholics was steeped in the poison of proselytism. The bigots insisted on having the Bible read in the schools “without note or comment”; the Society was then vigorously assailed by John Mac-Hale, at the time a young professor at Maynooth, and O’Connell retired from the board.
Recognizing the failure of such a system, Lord Stanley, the Irish chief secretary, passed through Parliament in 1831 a bill empowering the lord lieutenant to constitute a National Board of Education with an annual grant for building schools, and for payment of teachers and inspectors. Religious instruction was to be given on one day of the week by ministers of the different religions to children of their own Faith. The schools were open to all denominations, and even “the suspicion of proselytism” was to be excluded. But the Catholics were treated unfairly. In spite of their numbers they were given but two of the seven members of the Board. Mr. Carlisle, a Presbyterian, was made resident commissioner, and as chief executive officer appointed non-Catholics to the principal offices; and he and his fellow-commissioner, Dr. Whately, the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, compiled lesson-books, in which the history of Ireland and the Catholic religion were treated with injustice. In a few years the original rules of the Board were so changed that Catholic priests were entirely excluded from all Ulster schools under Presbyterian management. Outside of Ulster, a bigoted Protestant clergyman, named Stopford, was able in 1847 to abrogate the rule compelling Catholic children in Protestant schools to leave when the hour for religious instruction arrived. This left it optional with the children to remain, and brought much suffering on poor Catholics at the hands of tyrannical and bigoted landlords.
Among the Catholic bishops there was toleration rather than approval of the National system. But Dr. MacHale, who had become Archbishop of Tuam in 1834, opposed the system from the first, believing that education not founded on religion was a curse. He preferred to have in his diocese the Christian Brothers’ schools in which religious instruction was given the premier place. Dr. Murray of Dublin and Dr. Crolly of Armagh were not so hostile, and, when the matter was referred to Rome in 1841, the reply was that the National system might be given a further trial. The “Stopford Rule” strengthened MacHale’s hands, as did a board rule in 1845 providing that all schools even partially erected by a board grant should be vested in the Board itself, and not as hitherto in the local manager, who in Catholic schools was usually the priest. MacHale also objected to the disproportionately small representation of Catholics on the Board, to the character of the lesson-books, to the large number of non-Catholics in the higher positions. These attacks told. In 1850 the Synod of Thurles condemned the National schools as then conducted. In 1852 Dr. Murray of Dublin died, and was succeeded by Dr. Cullen, who shared MacHale’s views. The following year Whately’s lesson-books were withdrawn from the Board’s lists, and Whately in consequence resigned his seat. In 1860 the Board was enlarged from seven to twenty, and thenceforth half of these were to be Catholics. The “Stopford Rule” and the rule regarding the vesting of schools were abrogated, and, with the resident commissioner a Catholic, the system became more acceptable to Catholics. For the training of teachers however there was only one Training College under non-Catholic control, but the Catholics established the Training College at Drumcondra, and in 1883 that at Baggot Street, Dublin, and since then they have established others at Belfast, Limerick, and Waterford. But even as the National system stood in 1873, Mr. Gladstone thought that the Catholics had no substantial grievance, and did nothing.
Nor did he interfere with the state of things in intermediate education, though the inequality which existed was glaring. The diocesan free schools of Elizabeth, maintained by county contributions, and the free schools of James I and those of Erasmus Smith, maintained by confiscated Catholic lands, were under Protestant management and as such generally shunned by Catholics. Further, the Protestants were the richer classes, and, though their Church had been disestablished, it had been but partially disendowed. The Dissenters also had wealth and had well-equipped schools. But the Catholics, long prohibited from having any schools, got no help from the State even when the pressure of penal legislation had been removed. They had, however, set manfully to work, and, partly by private donations, principally by collections, had established colleges all over the land. Carlow College was founded in 1793, Navan College in 1802, St. Jarlath’s College, Tuam, in 1817, Clongowes by the Jesuits in 1814, and others in the years that followed. But they could get no state assistance till 1879, when the Intermediate Education Act was passed. The yearly interest on £1,000,000 was then appropriated for prizes and exhibitions to pupils, and for result fees to colleges, and without distinction of creed, following competitive examinations to be annually held. The system, depending so much on examination and encouraging cramming, is certainly not ideal, but it has been of enormous assistance to struggling Catholic schools.
It was in the field of higher education that Catholics suffered most. In 17May 95nooth College had been founded for the education of the clergy. Its annual Parliamentary grant had been lost in 1869, but it nevertheless continued to flourish, and flourishes still as one of the first ecclesiastical colleges in the world. There were other ecclesiastical colleges at Carlow, Thurles, Waterford, and Drumcondra. But the laity had only Trinity College or the Queen’s Colleges. The former had first opened its doors to Catholics in 1793, lout would give them no share in its emoluments, nor did it abolish religious tests till 1873. The Queen’s Colleges, three in number, one at Galway, one at Cork, and one at Belfast, were constituent colleges of the Queen’s University, and were meant by Peel to do for higher education what Stanley had done for the primary schools. But the Catholic bishops’ demand to have some adequate provision made for religious teaching, some voice in the appointment and dismissal of professors, and separate chairs in history and philosophy, not being acceded to, the Queen’s Colleges were denounced by Dr. MacHale as godless colleges, and condemned by Rome as intrinsically dangerous to faith and morals; and at the Synod of Thurles, in 1850, it was resolved on the advice of Rome to set up a Catholic University. The model given was the University of Louvain. A committee was then appointed, subscriptions received both from Ireland and from abroad, a site was purchased in Stephen’s Green, Dublin, Dr. Newman was made first rector, professors and lecturers were appointed, and in 1854 work was begun.
But there were difficulties from the first. The nation still felt the effects of the famine, the secondary schools were but imperfectly organized and unable to furnish sufficient students, and Dr. MacHale and Dr. Cullen did not agree. Dr. MacHale complained that the administration was too centralized, that he could get no details of the expenditure, that there were too many Englishmen among the professors. He objected also to Dr. Newman. Though the great Oratorian loved Ireland, he was an Englishman with English ideas, and wanted Oxford and Cambridge men as his colleagues. MacHale, on the contrary, would have the whole atmosphere of the University Irish, and thus, trained by Irish teachers, Irish students would go forth to exhibit the highest capabilities of the Irish character. Dr. Cullen did not fully share these views, and generally agreed with Newman. Not always, however, for he objected to have Newman appointed an Irish bishop, and he disliked Newman’s excessive partiality for professors trained in the English universities. This want of harmony was not conducive to enthusiasm or efficiency, and the pecuniary contributions obtained left the various faculties woefully undermanned. Nor could any provision be made for students’ residence or for tutorial superintendence. Most fatal of all, the Government refused to give a charter, and students could not be expected to frequent a university where they could get no degree. Unable to succeed where the elements of failure were so many, Newman resigned in 1857. In 1866 the Government of Earl Russell granted a supplemental charter making the Catholic University a constituent college of the Queen’s University, a sort of fourth Queen’s College, but the charter was found to be illegal. Nor did Lord Mayo’s attempt to settle the university question in 1868 succeed, and thus the Catholic University struggled painfully on.
Nor was Mr. Gladstone’s Bill of 1873 satisfying. He proposed to abolish the Queen’s University and the Queen’s College, Galway, and to have Dublin University separated from Trinity College, but with Trinity College, the Queen’s Colleges at Belfast and Cork, Magee College and the Catholic University as constituent colleges. From Trinity College £12,000 a year would be taken and given to the Dublin University, which would have in all an income of £50,000, for the payment of examiners and professors and the founding of fellowships, scholarships, and prizes to be competed for by students of all the constituent colleges. There was to be a senate, at first wholly nominated by the Crown and subsequently half and half by the Crown and Senate. The endowment of the Queen’s Colleges would remain, though the Catholic University would get nothing; nor would there be in any of the colleges any endowment for chairs of history, theology, or philosophy. This was perpetuating the inferior position of the Catholic University, as it was perpetuating the endowment of the godless colleges, and it would be almost impossible for the Catholics ever to have their proper share of representation in the Senate. Finally, men asked what sort of university that was which had no chairs of history or philosophy. The Bill in fact satisfied nobody, and Mr. Gladstone being defeated resigned office.
It will be convenient here to anticipate. In 1879 the Queen’s University was abolished and the Royal University took its place, empowered to give degrees to all corners who passed its examinations. The Queen’s Colleges were left. In 1882 the Catholic University passed under Jesuit control, and of the twenty-eight fellowships of £400 a year founded by the Royal University fourteen were given to the Catholic University staff. With this slender indirect endowment it entered the lists with the Queen’s Colleges and beat them all. Subsequently there were two University commissions, one dealing with the Royal University, the other with Trinity College, but nothing was done. Finally, in 1908, Mr. Birrell passed his Irish Universities Act leaving Trinity College untouched. Abolishing the Royal University, the Act sets up two new universities, the Queen’s University with the Queen’s College at Belfast, and the National University at Dublin, with the Queen’s Colleges at Cork and Galway and a new college at Dublin as constituent colleges. In these colleges there are new governing bodies, largely Catholic and National, but religious services of any kind are prohibited within the precincts, and there are no religious tests. This change has resulted in the Jesuits severing their connection with the Catholic University, the buildings of which have been taken over by the new Dublin college.
To go back, when Mr. Gladstone was replaced by the Tories, in 1874, a new Irish party had been already formed demanding an Irish Parliament, with full power to deal with purely domestic matters. It was called the Home Rule party, Mr. Butt, a Protestant lawyer of great ability, being its chief. At the general election in 1874, sixty Home Rulers were returned. But Mr. Butt accomplished nothing. His own methods of conciliation and argument were not the most effective. His party, nominal Home Rulers, were mostly place-hunters, and except the Intermediate Education Act of 1878 there were no legislative results. Mr. Butt died in 1879, and for a brief period the Home Rule leader was Mr. Shaw; but after the general election of 1880 Mr. Shaw was deposed, and a younger and more vigorous leader was appointed in the person of Charles Stewart Parnell. There had been a serious failure of the potato crop in 1877 and 1878, but in 1879 there was only half the average yield. The landlords unable to get their rents began to evict, and it seemed as if the horrors of 1847 were to be renewed. Large relief funds were collected and disbursed by the Duchess of Marlborough, the viceroy’s wife, and by the Lord Mayor of Dublin; and Mr. Parnell went to America in the last days of 1879 and appealed in person to the friends of Ireland. He was accompanied by Mr. John Dillon, son of Mr. Dillon, the rebel of 1848. Within two months they addressed meetings in sixty-two cities, bringing back with them to Ireland £40,000 ($200,000). Nor would Mr. Parnell have come back in March but that the Tory premier, Lord Beaconsfield, had dissolved Parliament. Appealing to the country on an anti-Irish cry, his answer came in a crushing defeat, and in the return of Mr. Gladstone to power with a strong Liberal majority. Of the Home Rulers returned many were mere Whigs, but a sufficient number favored an active policy to depose Mr. Shaw and put Mr. Parnell in his place.
In 1879 the Tories had followed up the Intermediate Act by the Royal University Act, which left the Queen’s Colleges and Trinity College untouched, but set up the Royal University, a mere examining board. But they would do nothing to restrain the landlords and nothing effective to relieve Irish distress. Better was expected from the new Liberal Government which included, besides Mr. Gladstone, such men as Bright, Chamberlain, and Forster, the latter appointed chief secretary for Ireland. Yet the Liberals were slow to move, and not until evictions had swelled to thousands did they introduce the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. It was thrown out in the Lords and not reintroduced. But the Irish peasants were in no humor to acquiesce in their own destruction and already a great land agitation was shaking Ireland from sea to sea. Begun in Mayo by Mr. Michael Davitt, the son of a Mayo peasant, and favored by the prevailing distress and by the heartlessness of the landlords, it rapidly spread. Mr. Parnell soon joined it, and in October, 1879, the Land League was formed, its declared object being to protect tenants from eviction and to substitute peasant proprietary for the existing system of landlordism. Extending to America, many branches were formed there and large subscriptions sent home. In November, 1879, an abortive prosecution of Mr. Davitt and others only strengthened the League. In the new year a Mayo land agent, Captain Boycott, roused the ire of his tenants by issuing processes and threatening evictions; in consequence no servant would remain with him, no laborer would work for him, no shopkeeper would deal with him, no neighbor would speak to him. This system of ostracism became known as boycotting, and was freely used by the League against landlords, agents, and grabbers, with the result that they were compelled to make terms with the people. Government was unable to aid the boycotted, and before the end of 1880 the law of the League had supplanted the law of the land.
These events changed Mr. Forster into a coercionist. He prosecuted Mr. Parnell and thirteen others in November, 1880, but failed to convict them. Then he asked for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Mr. Gladstone reluctantly acquiesced, and early in 1881, after a fierce struggle with the Irish members, the measure passed. In a short time nearly two hundred persons were in jail without trial. Mr. Gladstone next passed a comprehensive Land Act, setting up courts to fix rents, and giving increased facilities to tenants to purchase their holdings. But the Irish members, angered because of the Coercion Act, received the Land Act without gratitude; and Mr. Parnell advised the tenants not to rush to the land courts, but rather go there with a limited number of test cases. Mr. Gladstone retorted by imprisoning Mr. Parnell and his principal lieutenants. For the next few months terror reigned supreme. Mr. Forster filled the jails, broke up meetings, suppressed news-papers, and yet succeeded so ill in pacifying the country that he felt compelled to ask for more drastic coercion. Mr. Gladstone, however, had had enough of coercion, and in May, 1882, Lord Cowper, the viceroy, and Mr. Forster were relieved of office, and Mr. Parnell and his colleagues were set free; and by an arrangement often called the Kilmainham Treaty an Arrears’ Bill was to be introduced, while Parnell, on his side, was to curb the agitation and gradually reestablish the reign of law.
On the evening of May 6 these happy changes were fatally marred by the murder in the Phcenix Park, Dublin, of the undersecretary, Mr. Burke, and of the new chief secretary, Lord Frederick Cavendish. The assassins, entirely unconnected with the Land League, belonged to a secret society called the Invincibles. Mr. Parnell was stunned, the Irish cause grievously injured, and in England there was a cry of rage. A new Coercion Act was passed and vigorously enforced, and during the remainder of Gladstone’s Parliament between the Irish and the Liberals there was bitter enmity. But meanwhile Parnell’s power increased. In place of the suppressed Land League the National League was established, and spread over the United Kingdom and America. Mr. Parnell, while opposing Mr. Dillon’s project of a renewed land agitation and Mr. Davitt’s scheme of land nationalization, was aided by the Fenians; and though English intrigue succeeded in obtaining a papal rescript condemning a testimonial that was being raised for him, its only effect was to increase the subscriptions. Being friendly with the Tories, he joined with them to defeat Mr. Gladstone in 1885, and for a brief period Lord Salisbury was premier. He governed without coercion, and passed the Ashborne Act, which advanced £5,000,000 to Irish tenants for the purchase of their holdings. In return, Mr. Parnell advised the Irish electors in Great Britain to vote for the Tories at the general election in October, 1885. But the Liberals were given a majority over the Tories, though not sufficient to form a government without the Irish. On the understanding that Home Rule was to be conceded, Liberals and Irish coalesced, the Tories were turned out, and Gladstone became premier and brought in his Home Rule Bill of 1886, setting up an Irish Parliament with an executive dependent on it. Deserted by a large section of his followers under Bright, Chamberlain, and Hartington, he was defeated, and going to the country was seriously defeated at the polls. In August Lord Salisbury was again in office at the head of the Tories and Liberal Unionists, and in overwhelming strength.
The rejection of Mr. Parnell’s Bill of 1886 providing for the admission of leaseholders to the benefits of the Land Act of 1881, and for a revision of judicial rents to meet the recent heavy fall in prices, led to the starting of the Plan of Campaign by Messrs. Dillon and O’Brien. The tenant was to offer his landlord a fair rent; and if it was refused he banked the money and fought the landlord, and was assisted by his fellow tenants throughout the land. The Plan was not approved of by Mr. Parnell, and it had the unfortunate effect of placing the perpetual Coercion Act of 1887 on the Statute Book. But it caused the Government to pass the very measure they had so lately rejected, and it compelled many of the poorer landlords to make terms with the tenants. While on the one hand the Plan was thus put in operation in Ireland, and on the other hand the Coercion Act, the Liberals and Irish worked well together in Parliament and on British platforms. The London “Times”, always the bitter enemy of Ireland, became enraged, and in its anxiety to do harm published a series of articles on Parnellism and Crime. It relied, as it pretended, on authentic documents which connected Parnell and his colleagues with crime, and showed that Parnell himself condoned the Phoenix Park murders. A Special Commission appointed by Parliament discovered that the chief letters were forgeries and that the “Times” had been fooled by a disreputable Irishman named Richard Pigott. The forger confessed his crime and then committed suicide, and Parnell became the hero of the hour. When the Special Commission issued its report, early in 1890, the tide had turned with a vengeance against the Tories. Their majority was then seriously diminished, and when the general election came it was certain that nothing could prevent the triumph of Home Rule. In the midst of these bright hopes for Ireland there came the mournful wail of the banshee, and, even before the Special Commission report was issued, Captain O’Shea had filed a petition for divorce on the ground of his wife’s adultery with Mr. Parnell. There was no defense, and could be none, and the decree was is-sued. Mr. Gladstone evidently expected that Mr. Parnell would have retired from the leadership, and, finding that he did not, intimated that his continuance in that position would wreck Home Rule. The Irish party which had reelected Mr. Parnell were not prepared to go so far, and, as he would not retire even for a day, they deposed him. A minority still supported him, and at the head of these he appealed to the Irish people. Week after week he attended meetings and made speeches. But his health, already bad, could not stand the strain; the stubborn and reckless fight ended in his collapse, and at Brighton, on the 6th of October, 1891, the greatest Irish leader since O’Connell breathed his last.
In the years that followed faction was lord of all. At the general election in 1892 the Parnellite members were reduced to nine, while the anti-Parnellites were seventy-two, and at the election in 1895 there was no material change. To argument and entreaty the minority refused to listen, and though the anti-Parnellite leaders, Mr. MacCarthy and Mr. Dillon, were ready to make any sacrifice for unity and peace, their opponents rejected all overtures; and under the shelter of Parnell’s name they continued to shout Parnell’s battle-cries. At last patriotism triumphed over faction, and in 1900 Mr. John Redmond, the Parnellite leader, was elected chairman of the reunited Irish party. Much had been lost during these years of discord in unity and strength, in national dignity and self-reliance. To faction it was due that the Liberal victory of 1892 was not more sweeping; that, in consequence, the Home Rule Bill of 1893 was rejected by the Lords; and that, in 1894, Mr. Gladstone retired, baffled and beaten, from the struggle. At the elections of 1895 and 1900 the Tories were victorious, and during their long term of power the Coercion Act was frequently enforced. But there, were concessions also. In 1890, Mr. Balfour’s Land Act provided £33,-000,000 for Irish land purchase, and in 1891 the Congested Districts Board was established. In 1896, there was an amending Land Act; and in 1898, the Local Government Act transferred the government of counties and rural districts from the non-representative Grand Juries to popularly elected bodies. A further important Act was that of Mr. Wyndham, in 1903, providing more than £100,000,000 for the buying out of the whole landlord class. Mr. Wyndham also favored a policy of devolution, that is a delegation to local bodies of larger powers. But nothing was done till the Liberals came into office in 1906, and they had nothing more generous to offer than Mr. Birrell’s National Councils Bill, a measure so halting and meager, that an Irish National Convention rejected it with scorn. Mr. Birrell has been more fortunate in his University Bill, which, though not establishing a purely Catholic University, provides one in which Catholic influences will predominate. In recent years also the programs both in the national and secondary schools have been made more practical, facilities have been given for agricultural and technical education, and the great ecclesiastical college of Maynooth continues to maintain its reputation as the first ecclesiastical college in the world.
RELATIONS BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE.—By the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 legal proscription ceased for the Catholic Church, as did legal ascendancy for the Protestant Church by Mr. Gladstone’s Act of 1869. In practice, however, Protestant ascendancy largely remains still. Only within living memory was the first Catholic lord chancellor appointed in the person of Lord O’Hagan; Catholics are still excluded, except in rare instances, from the higher civil and military offices; and from the lord-lieutenancy they continue to be excluded by law.
ECCLESIASTICAL ORGANIZATION.—The Catholic Church, divided into four provinces, not, however, corresponding with the civil divisions, is ruled by four archbishops and twenty-three bishops. But the number of dioceses is more than twenty-seven, for there have been amalgamations and absorptions. Cashel, for instance, has been joined with Emly, Waterford with Lismore, Kildare with Leighlin, Down with Connor, Ardagh with Clonmacnoise, Kilmacduagh with Galway, the Bishop of Galway being also Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora. In many dioceses there are chapters, in others none. The number of parishes is 1087. A few are governed by administrators, the remainder by parish priests, while the total number of the secular clergy—parish priests, administrators, curates, chaplains, and professors in colleges—amounts to 2967. There are also many houses of the regular clergy: Augustinians, Capuchins, Carmelites, Fathers of the Holy Ghost, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Marists, Order of Charity, Oblates, Passionists, Redemptorists, and Vincentians. The total number of the regular clergy is 666. They are engaged either in teaching or in giving missions, but not charged with the government of parishes. There is, however, one exception—that of the Passionists of Belfast, who have charge of the parish of Holy Cross in the city. There are the two Cistercian abbeys of Mount Melleray and Roscrea, each ruled by a mitred abbot, and having forty-three professed priests.
STATISTICS.—The population of Ireland has been steadily diminishing. In 1861, it was 5,798,564; in 1871, 5,412,377; in 1881, 5,174,836; in 1891, 4,704,751; in 1901, 4,458,775. The decrease is due to emigration, and as the great majority of the emigrants are Catholics, the Catholic population has suffered most. In 1861, it numbered 4,505,265; in 1871, 4,150,867; in 1881, 3,960,891; in 1891, 3,547,307; in 1901, 3,310,028. In the period from 1851 to 1901 the total number of emigrants, being natives of Ireland, who left Irish ports was 3,846,393. No less than 89 per cent went to the United States, the remainder going to Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The saddest feature of this exodus is that 82 per cent of the emigrants were between 15 and 35 years of age. The healthy and enterprising have gone, leaving the weaker in mind and body at home, one result being that the number of lunatics increased from 16,505 in 1871 to 21,188 in 1891. In the latter year the total number of primary schools was 9157, of which 8569 were under the National Board, 97 under the Christian Brothers and other communities, and 471 other primary schools. In 1908 the total number of National Board schools was 8538 under 3057 managers, of whom 2455 were clerical and 602 laymen. Of the clerical managers 1307 were Catholics, 713 Protestant Episcopalians, 379 Presbyterians, 52 Methodists, and 4 un-classed. In 1901 the number of pupils in all the primary schools was 636,-777, of whom 471,910 were Catholics. There has been a steady improvement in the matter of illiteracy. In 1841 the percentage of those above five years who could neither read nor write was 53; in 1901 it had fallen to 14. Of the whole population 14 per cent could speak Irish. In 1901 there were 35,373 pupils in the Intermediate schools, the number of Catholics being .78 per cent of the total Catholic population. The Catholic girls in these schools were for the most part educated in the various convents. The boys were educated in the diocesan colleges, or in the colleges of the religious orders, and a proportion also in the Christian Brothers’ schools. “In Colleges of Universities and other Colleges”, in 1901, there were 3192 students, of whom 91 were females. The highest form of ecclesiastical education is obtained at Maynooth, other such colleges being All Hallows and Clonliffe in Dublin, Thurles, Waterford, and Carlow colleges.
CHURCH PROPERTY, CHURCHES, SCHOOLS, CEMETERIES.—Church property is usually held in trust by the parish priest for the parish, the bishop for the diocese, the religious superior for his order, and often associated with other trustees. In many cases the title-deeds have been lost, but undisputed possession is considered sufficient, and the parish-priest or other superior for the time being is recognized as the legal owner of the church, church grounds, and cemetery, if there be such. New churches are built on land purchased out, or acquired free of rent or under very long lease, and church and ground are exempt from taxation. New cemeteries belong to the District Council, and many of the older cemeteries have been taken over by the same authority. Schools under the National Board are either vested or non-vested. If vested, they are held by trustees—usually the priest, who is manager, and two others—and in this case only two-thirds of the cost of building is granted by Government. In the case of non-vested schools, which are the property of the National Board itself, the full amount for building is granted by Government, and the school is also kept in repair, while in vested schools repairs have to be made by the manager. Both in vested and non-vested schools the National Board regulates the program, selects the school books, and provides for the cost of examination and inspection. The appointment and dismissal of teachers rests with the manager, from whom in the Catholic schools there is an appeal to the bishop. All these schools are exempted from taxation. Clergymen of all denominations get loans from Government on easy terms to build residences. These houses, however, are not exempt from taxation, and belong to the clergyman and his successors, not to himself personally.
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS.—Prisons are under government management, and always have a Catholic chaplain, when there are Catholic inmates. So also have workhouses, asylums, and county hospitals, which are under the local authority. Reformatories and industrial schools in the great majority of cases are under Catholic management, but they must be certified as suitable by a government official and are subject to government inspection from time to time. In 1900 there were in Ireland six reformatories and seventy industrial schools; the number of both sexes in the former being 624, and in the latter 8221. Both reformatories and industrial schools are maintained partly by a government grant and partly by the local rates.
LEGAL STATUS OF THE CLERGY.—The clergy have, with some few exceptions, the usual rights of citizens. They can receive and dispose of property by will as all others, and they can vote at elections. But they are excluded by law from the House of Commons, though not from the House of Lords; and they are excluded from the County and District Councils, though not from the various committees appointed by these bodies. They are exempt from military service and from serving on juries. Public worship is free; but priests may not celebrate the Mass outside the churches or private houses, nor appear publicly in their vestments, nor have religious processions through the streets; nor may the regular clergy go abroad in the distinctive dress of their order. These laws, however, are not enforced and not infrequently processions do take place through the streets, and the regular clergy do go abroad in their distinctive dress. Similarly, it is illegal for religious orders of men to admit new members; but this provision of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 has never been enforced.
LAWS RELATING TO CHARITABLE BEQUESTS, MARRIAGE, DIVORCE.—Generally speaking, all bequests for the advancement of public worship are valid; but bequests for superstitious uses are void. A bequest, for instance to maintain a light before an image for the good of one’s soul is void; but bequests for Masses are good, unless left to a member of a religious order as such, the reason being that religious orders are still technically illegal. For the validity of a will nothing is required but that the testator be of sound mind at the time, and free from undue influence, and that the document be signed by two witnesses. As to marriage, it is necessary that the contracting parties should be free, and that the mutual consent be given in the presence of two witnesses and a clergyman, or registrar duly appointed for the purpose. In the Irish courts no marriage can be dissolved; only a judicial separation can be obtained. When such a separation is obtained there is no difficulty in having a Bill passed through Parliament dissolving the marriage.
THE PRESS.—There is no purely Catholic newspaper acting as the mouthpiece either of an individual diocese or of the Irish Church. There are, however, in most of the provincial towns weekly newspapers, often owned by Catholics, and always ready to voice Catholic opinion. In Cork and Belfast there are daily papers animated with the same spirit, and in Dublin the “Freeman’s Journal” and the “Daily Independent”. In Dublin also is the “Irish Catholic“, which is a powerful champion of Catholicity; and there is the “Leader”, not professedly Catholic, but with a vigorous and manly Catholic tone. These two are weeklies. Published monthly are the “Irish Monthly” under the Jesuits, the “Irish Rosary” under the Dominicans, the “Irish Educational Review”, dealing with Catholic educational matters, and the “Irish Ecclesiastical Record”, edited by Dr. Hogan of Maynooth, under episcopal supervision. There is also the “Irish Theological Quarterly”, which, as its name implies, is published quarterly, and conducted by the professors of Maynooth College with an ability, an extent of knowledge, a grasp of the subjects treated, and a vigor and freshness of style worthy of Maynooth College in its palmiest days.
E. A. DALTON