THE TUATHA DE DANANN                  THE CROMWELLIAN SETTLEMENT                                                      
THE MILESIANS                                LATER PENAL LAWS                                                           
THE CELTS                                        SUPPRESSION OF IRISH TRADE                                                                  
THE GERALDINES                      THE GREAT REPEAL FIGHT               
SHANE THE PROUD                  
The Irish race of today is popularly known as the Milesian Race, because the genuine Irish (Celtic) people were supposed to be descended from Milesius of Spain, whose sons, say the legendary accounts, invaded and possessed themselves of Ireland a thousand years before Christ.
The races that occupied the land when the so-called Milesians came, chiefly the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Danann, were certainly not exterminated by the conquering Milesians. Those two peoples formed the basis of the future population, which was dominated and guided, and had its characteristics moulded, by the far less numerous but more powerful Milesian aristocracy and soldiery. All three of these races, however, were different tribes of the great Celtic family, who, long ages before, had separated from the main stem, and in course of later centuries blended again into one tribe of Gaels - three derivatives of one stream, which, after winding their several ways across Europe from the East, in Ireland turbulently met, and after eddying, and surging tumultuously, finally blended in amity, and flowed onward in one great Gaelic stream.
The possession of the country was wrested from the Firbolgs, and they were forced into partial serfdom by the Tuatha De Danann (people of the goddess Dana), who arrived later. Totally unlike the uncultured Firbolgs, the Tuatha De Dannann were a capable and cultured, highly civilised people, so skilled in the crafts, if not the arts, that the Firbolgs named them necro-mancers, and in course of time both the Firbolgs and the later coming Milesians created a mythology around these.
In a famed battle at Southern Moytura (on the Mayo-Galway border) it was where the Tuatha De Danann met and overthrew the Firbolgs. The Firbolgs King, Eochaid was slain in this great battle, but the De Danann King, Nuada, had his hand cut off by a great warrior of the Firbolgs named Sreng. The battle raged for four days. So bravely had the Firbolgs fought, and so sorely exhausted the De Danann, that the latter, to end the battle, gladly left to the Firbolgs, that quarter of the Island wherein they fought, the province now called Connaught. And the bloody contest was over. 
The famous life and death struggle of two races is commemorated by a multitude of cairns and pillars which strew the great battle plain in Sligo - a plain which bears the name (in Irish) of "The plain of the Towers of the Fomorians". De Danann were now the undisputed masters of the land. So goes the honoured legend.
Such a great people were De Danann, and so uncommonly skilled in the few arts of the time, that they dazzled even their conquerors and successors, the Milesians, into regarding them as mighty magicians. Later generations of the Milesians to whom were handed down the wonderful traditions of the wonderful people they had conquered, lifted them into a “mystic realm”, their greatest ones becoming gods and goddesses, who supplied to their successors a beautiful mythology. Over the island, which was now indisputably De Danann, reigned the hero, Lugh, famous in mythology. And after Lugh, the still greater Dagda - whose three grandsons, succeeding him in the sovereignty, were reigning, says the story, when the Milesians came. The Dagda, was the greatest of the De Danann. He was styled Lord of Knowledge and Sun of all the Sciences. His daughter, Brigit, was a woman of wisdom, and goddess of poetry. The Dagda was a great and beneficent ruler for eighty years.
The sixteenth century scholar, O’Flaherty, fixes the Milesian invasion of Ireland at about 1000 B.C. - the time of Solomon. It is proven that the Celts whence over they came, had, before the dawn of history, subjugated the German people and established themselves in Central Europe. At about the date we have mentioned, a great Celtic wave, breaking westward over the Rhine, penetrated into England, Scotland, and Ireland. Subsequently a wave swept over the Pyrenees into the Spanish Peninsula. Other waves came westward still later. 
A Celtic cemetery discovered at Hallstatt in upper Austria proves them to have been skilled in art and industries as far back as 900 B.C. - shows them as miners and agriculturists, and blessed with the use of iron instruments. They invaded Italy twice, in the seventh and in the fourth centuries before Christ. In the latter tie they were at the climax of their power. They stormed Rome itself, 300 B.C. The rising up of the oppressed Germans against them, nearly three centuries before Christ, was the beginning of the end of the Continental power of the Celt. After that they were beaten and buffeted by Greek and by Roman, and even by despised races - broken, and blown like the surf in all directions, North and South, and East and West. A fugitive colony of these people, that had settled in Asia Minor, in the territory which from them (the Gaels) was called Galatia, and among whom Paul worked, was found to be still speaking a Celtic language in the days of St. Jerome, five or six hundred years later. Eoin MacNeill and other scientific enquirers hold that it was only in the fifth century before Christ that they reached Spain - and that it was not via Spain but via northern France and Britain that they, crushed out from Germany, eventually reached Ireland. In Caesar’s day the Celts (Gauls) who dominated France used Greek writing in almost all their business, public or private.
Of the Milesians, Eber and Eremon divided the land between them - Eremon getting the Northern half of the Island, and Eber the Southern. The Northeastern corner was accorded to the children of their lost brother, Ir, and the Southwestern corner to their cousin Lughaid, the son of Ith. The oft-told story says that when Eber and Eremon had divided their followers, each taking an equal number of soldiers and an equal number of the men of every craft, there remained a harper and a poet. Drawing lots for these, the harper fell to Eremon and the poet to Eber - which explains why, ever since, that the North of Ireland has been celebrated for music, and the South for song.
The peace fell upon the land then, and the happiness of the Milesians, was only broken, when, after a year, Eber’s wife discovered that she must be possessed of the three pleasantest hills in Eirinn, else she could not remain one other night in the Island. Now the pleasantest of all the Irish hills was Tara, which lay in Eremon’s half. And Eremon’s wife would not have the covetousness of the other woman satisfied at her expense. So, because of the quarrel of the women, the beautiful peace of the Island was broken by battle. Eber was beaten, and the high sovereignty settled upon Eremon.
Long, long ago beyond the misty space
of twice a thousand years,
In Erin old there dwelt a mighty race,
Taller than Roman spears,
Like oaks and towers they had a giant grace,
Were fleet as deers
With winds and waves they made their ‘biding place,
These western shepherd seers.
Their ocean god was Mannanan MacLir,
whose angry lips,
In their white foam, full often would inter
Whole fleets of ships;
Crom was their day god, and their thunderer,
Made morning and eclipse,
Bride was their queen of song, and unto her
They prayed with fire-touched lips.
Great were their deeds, their passions, and their sports;
With clay and stone
They piled on strath and shore those mystic forts,
Not yet over thrown
On cairn-crowned hills they held their council courts
While youths alone,
With giant dogs, explored the elks’ resorts,
And brought them down.
All the stories say that the greatest king of those faraway times was the twenty first Milesian king, known to fame as Ollam Fodla who blessed Ireland in a reign of forty years, some seven or eight centuries before the Christian Era. His title, Ollam Fodla, Doctor of Wisdom, has preserved his memory down the ages. The legends indicate that he was a true father to his people, and an able statesman. He organised the nation for efficiency, dividing it into cantreds, appointed a chief over every cantred, a brugaid over every territory, and a steward over every townland. Some traditions say that he established a School of Learning. And as crowning glory he established the celebrated Feis of Tara, the great triennial Parliament of the chiefs, the nobles, and the scholars of the nation, which assembled on Tara Hill once every three years to settle the nation’s affairs. This great deliverative assembly, almost unique among the nations in those early ages, and down into Christian times, reflected not a little glory upon ancient Ireland. One queen, famous and capable, whom early Ireland boasted was Macha Mong Rua (the red-haired, who reigned over the land about three hundred years before Christ. Her father, Aodh Rua was one of a triumvirate - the others being Dithorba and Cimbaoth - who by mutual agreement, took seven year turns in reigning. For many, the reign of Cimbaoth - which synchronises with that of Alexander the Great - marks the beginning of certainty in Irish history - because of the famed remark of the trusted eleventh century historian, Tighernach, that the Irish records before Cimbaoth were uncertain. When Cimbaoth died this able woman took up the reins of government herself, becoming the first Milesian queen of Ireland.
SCOTIA (A name transferred to Alba (Scotland) about ten centuries after Christ) was one of the earliest names of Ireland - so named, it was said, from Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, one of the ancient female ancestors of the Milesians - and the people were commonly called Scotti or Scots - both terms being frequently used by early Latin historians and poets. One of its ancient titles was Hibernia (used by Caesar) which some trace from Ivernia, the name, it is said, of a people located in the south of the Island. But most trace it from Eber or Heber, the first Milesian king of the southern half, just as the much later name, Ireland, is by some traced from Ir, whose family were in the northeastern corner of the island. Though it seems much more likely that this latter name was derived from the most common title given to the Island by its own inhabitants, Eire - hence Eireland, - Ireland. It was first Northmen and then the Saxons, who, in the ninth and tenth century began calling it Ir-land, or Ir-landa - Ireland.
In the oldest known foreign reference to Ireland, it was called Ierna. This was the title used by the poet Orpheus in the time of Cyrus of Persia, in the sixth century before Christ. Aristotle, in his Book of the World, also called Ierna. It was usually called either Hibernia or Scotia by the Latin writers. Tacitus, Caesar, and Pliny call it Hibernia.
"This Isle is sacred named by all the ancients,
From times remotest in the womb of Chronos,
This Isle which rises over the waves of ocean,
Is covered with a sod of rich luxuriance.
And peopled far and wide by the Hiberni"
 - By: Rufus Festus Avienus, who wrote this at beginning of the fourth century.
In very early Ireland practically all residences were of wood or wicker work and most of them were in circular from. They were usually thatched with straw, rushes or sedge. Stone was very seldom used in building residences before the eighth century. The wooden and wicker work houses were washed with lime on the outside.
Linen sheets and ornamented coverlets were in use. Small low tables for serving meals were supplied with knives, cups, jugs, drinking horns, methers and occasionally napkins. Wheat meal, oat meal, eggs, meat, milk and honey, with some vegetables and few fruits supplied the table. Light was furnished by candles of tallow or of beeswax, rushlights, spails of bog fir, and sometimes oil lamps. All of the better class houses had basins for bathing. After their day’s exertion, and before taking their evening meal, hunters and warriors treated themselves to a bath. And a bath was always a common courtesy to which to treat a newly arrived guest.
The women had mirrors made of highly polished metal. They used cosmetics and had combs. Both sexes devoted the greatest attention to the care of their hair, which was often elaborately curled and plaited. Both women and men (of noble rank) wore beautiful wrought brooches, for fastening their mantle. Other ornaments were bracelets, rings, neck torques, diadems, crescents of gold and silver - all of which may be seen in the National Museum in Dublin.
The chief articles of dress were, in the case of women, one long robe that reached to the ankles, and of the men a short jacket combined with a sort of kilt. Over these both sexes frequently wore a cloak or mantle. The substance of the dress was usually either of linen or wool.
In the poem of the Bruidean de Derga, the Saxon chief Ingcel, in describing King Conaire Mor as he saw him in the Bruidean gives a glorified description of a king’s dress in the early days :
"I saw his many-hued red cloak of lustrous silk,
 With its gorgeous ornamentation of precious gold bespangled
 upon its surface,
 With its flowing capes dexterously embroidered.
"I saw in it a great large brooch,
 The long pin was of pure gold;
 Bright shining like a full-moon
 Was its ring, all around - a crimson gemmed circlet
 Of round sparkling pebbles -
 Filling the fine front of his noble breast
 Atwixt his well proportioned fair shoulders.
"I saw his splendid line kilt,
 With its striped silken borders -
 A face-reflecting mirror of various hues,
 The coveted of the eyes of many, -
 Embracing his noble neck - enriching its beauty.
 An embroidery of gold upon the lustrous silk -
 (Extended) from his bosom to his noble knees."
 Structural Antiquities
The structural antiquities which we can still observe in Ireland arrange themselves under five heads : cromlechs, tumuli, the great duns of the west, ancient churches, and round towers.
The cromlechs, sometimes called dolmen, are each composed of three great standing stones, ten or twelve feet high with a great flat slab resting on top of them, and always inclined towards the east. Sometimes these are surrounded by a wide circle of standing stones. The cromlechs are of such very remote antiquity - ancient - at the beginning of the Christian era - that all legends of them are lost. The invariable inclination to the east of the covering slab suggests altars dedicated to sun-worship. The name cromlech may mean either bent slab or the slab of the god Crom. And this latter derivation suggests to some that they were sacrificial altars used in the very ancient worship of that god.
But some of the best authorities have concluded that they were tombstones - because beneath every one of them under which excavations were made, were found the bones, or the urns and dust of the dead. From this, however, we cannot necessarily conclude that they were erected as tombstones - any more than we should conclude that the various Christian temples and altars under which honoured ones have been interred were only intended as monuments to the dead beneath them.
The tumuli or enormous burial mounds found in the Boyne section of eastern Ireland show the race in a much more advanced stage of civilisation. These tumuli, as proved by the decorative designs carved upon their walls, were erected at least before the Christian era - and maybe many centuries before it. They are great stone roofed royal sepulchres, buried under vast regularly shaped, artificial mounds. Every one of the tumuli so far explored has shown urn burial. The greatest, most beautiful, of these royal tombs are those as Knowth, Dowth and New Grange, on the Boyne.
After the tumuli, the next structures in order of time are the great duns of the west coast, such as Dun Aengus, and Dun Conor, on the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. The great duns were erected sometime during the first three centuries of the Christian era. They consist of enormously thick walls, of stone, which, though built before the discovery of any kind of cement, are of marvelously fine, firm and impregnable construction. These great walls, in the interior of which are sometimes chambers and passages, surround an amphitheatre of about a thousand feet in diameter. In the amphitheatre are stone huts, the residences of the dun - some of them are bee-hive shape, some of them are of the shape of an upturned boat. Tradition says that these great duns were erected by the Firbolgs who maintained themselves along the western fringe for long centuries after the Milesians possessed themselves of the land.
About the round towers, the antiquarians are now pretty generally agreed that they are of Christian origin always built as adjuncts to churches, and erected after the marauding Vikings had shown the harassed ecclesiastics the need of some immediate, strong, and easily defended place of refuge for themselves, and of safety for the sacred objects, and the rich objects of church art which the Northmen constantly sought. The round towers of Ireland range in height from about a hundred to a hundred and twenty feet; they are from twelve to twenty feet in external diameter at the base, and a little narrower at the top. They are of six or seven storeys high; with one window usually to each floor - except in the upper most storey which has four. The lowermost of these openings is always about ten feet or more from the ground - giving good advantage over attackers. The walls are usually three and a half to four foot thick.
There are still eighty round towers in Ireland, twenty of them perfect. They are always found in connection with churches - and almost invariably situated about twenty feet from the north west corner of the church - and with the door or lowermost window facing the church entrance. Almost all of the earliest Irish churches were of wood. It was practically in the tenth century that the use of stone for building the large churches began. And it was only in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that it became general. In these last named centuries the Romanesque style was introduced, and some beautiful churches erected, like that of St Caimin at Inniscaltra by Brian Boru, and Cormac’s chapel at Cashel. In the decorating of doorways and windows, sculpture began to show in the churches of the tenth century. But Irish sculpture is best exemplified probably on the high crosses of the tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. There are some forty five of these high crosses still remaining, most of them very beautiful There was an Irish cross, having the circle of the Greek cross placed upon the shafts of the Latin. The sculpture on the high crosses include carvings of the saints, scriptural scenes, judgment scenes, royal processions, hunting scenes, stags at bay, horsemen, chariots etc.
The sculpture of the Irish at this period was infinitely superior to that produced by their neighbours, the Welsh, the Anglo Saxons and the Scottish. But the soul of the artist breathed through the work of the Irish sculptor.
Save that of the scribe, there was no other art in ancient Ireland carried to such beautiful perfection as that of the metal worker. And we have, still remaining, hundreds of beautiful pieces of this work. These ancients objects are of various kind; articles of personal adornment, bell-shrines, cumdachs or shrines for books, croziers etc
Among the personal ornaments we have brooches, bracelets, rings, necklaces, torques (twisted ribbons of gold or silver) for wearing around the neck, minns or diadems, crowns, amulets, ear-rings, beads, balls, crescents, gorgets, the niam-lann (a flexible plate of burnished gold, silver, or findruine worn around the forehead) etc - a lavish wealth of beautiful ornaments exquisitely wrought, which, after a long count of centuries, tell us the story of the rarely skilled, noble artificers of Ireland, whose genius in metal was not only unsurpassed, but even unequalled, in western Europe. Of all the many beautiful articles of personal adornment that remain to us from those ancient times in Ireland, probably the most luxurious are the delgs or brooches - the size and costliness of some of which may be judged from the Dal Riada brooch, which was dug up in an Antrim field in the last century, contained two and one-third ounces of pure gold, was five inches long, and two and an eighth inches in diameter.
But for beauty none of them all equals the Tara brooch. Both the face of the brooch and the back are overlaid with beautiful patterns, wrought in an Irish filigree or formed by amber, glass and enamel. These patterns of which there are no less than seventy-six different kinds in this single article are wrought in such minute perfection that a powerful lens is needed to perceive and appreciate the wonderful perfection of detail. There are many other handsome brooches, such as the Ardagh brooch, the Roscrea brooch etc - each with particular beauties of its own.
Only by a very different kind of object, the celebrated Ardagh chalice, is the Tara brooch surpassed in richness and beauty of workmanship.
There are in existence many wonderful bell shrines, like that of St Patricks bell, St Cualanus bell - and shrines like the shrine of St Mogue, the cross of Cong, the crozier of St Dympna, the crozier of Liosmor etc all of them displaying the extraordinary work of the artist of those days.
The making of beautiful shrines called cumdachs, for prized books, rarely occurred in any part of the world except for Ireland. Some of the most finest and most celebrated cumdachs are those of the Book of Kells, the Book of Armagh, the Book of Durrow and many more.
It was in 1171 that Henry the Second invaded Ireland.
He received approval from the newly elected English Pope, Nicholas Breakspeare, Adrian the Fourth, on the grounds that morals in Ireland had become corrupt, and religion almost extinct, and his purpose was to bring the barbarous nation within the fold of the faith and under church discipline. But if we supposed Ireland to be irreligious then, strange indeed would be the choice of an apostle in Henry, a man of vicious life, a supporter of anti-Popes, and reasonably suspected of, and all but excommunicated for, instigating the murder of the holy Thomas a Becket. Those who contend that the Bull was an English fabrication for impressing the irreligious Irish and making easy their conquest point to the fact that the most ancient copies of the document discovered lack both date and signature.
In May 1169, with a small but efficient body of thirty knights in full armour, sixty horsemen in half armour and three hundred archers, Fitz Stephen landed at Bannow, Wexford - and another Knight Maurice de Prendergast with a company of about three hundred. On receiving the news of the landing, MacMurrough raised a body of five hundred from among his Leinster subjects and joined them. And, together they marched against the Danish city of Wexford, which, after repulsing two assaults, capitulated to the strange army with its armoured horses and horsemen and its wonderfully skilled and disciplined army. MacMurrough bestowed the city upon Fitz Stephen and settled near by lands upon de Prendergast and de Mont Maurice.
The Ard Righ and princes of the other provinces looked on inactive. Every prince, occupied as usual with his own problems was not much concerned about what did not immediately affect his own territory.
Strongbow followed in a few months with two hundred knights and a thousand men and immediately took over the city of Waterford. Then they marched into Meath and Breffni laying waste as they went. Henry hearing of Strongbows successes in Ireland grew jealous and summoned Strongbow and all his subjects to return to England. Eventually Strongbow went and laid his successes before Henry. As a result Henry himself went with five hundred knights and four thousand horse and foot soldiers, and landed at Waterford. Slowly the Irish chiefs submitted. When Henry left, the Irish began to wake up to what they had done and slowly began to rise up against the enemy. Now more familiar with the Norman discipline and equipment the Irish princes set strategy against skill and discovered that the Normans were not omnipotent. O’Brien of Thomond inflicted a big defeat upon them at Thurles. Every Norman chief warred on his own account, for purpose of extending his power and possessions and of course every Irish chief and prince, when opportunity offered, warred against the invader. But such demoralisation set in, that in short time not only was Irish chief warring upon Norman baron, but Irish chief was warring with Irish chief, Norman baron warring with Norman baron, and a Norman-Irish alliance would be warring against Normans, or against Irish. Or against another combination of both. The Normans not only marked their progress by much slaughtering and many barbarities, but signalised themselves by robbing and burning churches and monasteries, and oftentimes slaughtering the inmates. They harried, robbed, ravished and destroyed wheresoever they went. And against one another, in their own feuds, they oftentimes exercised as much barbarity as against the Irish. Fearfully true is the Four Masters’ word that MacMurrough’s treacherous act "made of Ireland a trembling sod".
In Spain and Portugal, the ‘noble Irish’, as they were called obtained more valuable privileges than the English. The great Italian financial houses, the bankers of Lucca, the Ricardi, the Friscobaldi, the Mozzi were active agents in Mediaeval Ireland. The wine trade, as shown by the Pipe Roll accounts and other sources was of great dimensions, with Clan and Town. Bordeaux, Dordogne, Libourne, St Emilian besides Spain, Portugal and Oporto, traded direct with the Irish ports. With France, the records of our trade go back to the days of St Patrick. Rouen was the chief port of Normandy and obtained from Henry II the ‘monopoly of Irish trade’. Bordeaux had a colony of Irish merchants - as had St Omar, Marseilles, Bayonne, St Malo, Nantes and other ports - who were importers of Irish wool skins, hides, fish, woollen cloth, fine linen, leather and corn, and they sent to Ireland their own manufacturers and products. The enterprising Flemings were stationed in many of the Irish ports. Their influence on maritime and inland trade was as beneficent here as it was in England. Irish merchants had their own settlements in all the leading ports of Flanders. Irish leather goods were renowned throughout Europe, so it is not a surprise that Irish names should figure on the Tanners Guild of Liege, then the most extensive and famous body of this craft on the Continent. Antwerp, too, had its Irish trade, linen being mentioned amongst other items. Lubeck had commercial intercourse with Ireland and Irish woollens were carried down the Rhine : Cologne being one of the marts. Through the Hansen Towns Irish commerce flowed on to Russia. Irish cloth, mantles, rugs and serges were highly esteemed in Spain and Portugal, likewise. The Irish merchants traded with the Canaries and pushed their way into the Land of the Moors. Prince Henry, the Navigator had his own agent in Galway. There is unimpeachable evidence that agriculture was skilfully and extensively pursued from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. The exportation of enormous quantities of wheat, oats, barley, rye and of other cereals and of flax, beef, mutton, and wool point to intensive land cultivation and stock raising. To a modern Irishman, the quantities of these products exported to France, Scotland, Flanders and England seem incredible.
Learning in Mediaeval Ireland
After the defeat of the Norsemen by King Brian at the Battle of Clontarf (1014) there was a flowering of the National Mind in literature. So the political freedom of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries saw a re-birth of intellectual, as well as of agricultural and commercial activity in Ireland. It was a Golden Age of Gaelic Literature. As the wider gates of Irelands commerce opened on the South and West coasts, so her scholars, pilgrims, clerics and craftsmen followed in the wake of her merchants, through the Gaulish seas into France and Italy. The universities of these lands knew a long succession of our brilliant scholars. In the knowledge of Astronomy mediaeval Ireland was in advance of most European lands. All the greater Lords of the Gaels and Sean Ghalls had their official astronomers. It was but natural that a nation of rovers and travellers should have maintained a sound standard of geographical learning in their schools.. In medicine, Europe could teach the Gaels but little. The King of England had not better pharmaceutical lore or more adept surgical skill at his command than the O’Briens’s in Munster or The Mac Cailin Mor in the Western Isles of Scotland.
The Irish Brehon Law Code goes back to a much earlier epoch than the days of St Patrick. Its interpreters were deeply reverenced by the Irish people because of their even handed justice. There is not a single instance in recorded history of a brehon accepting a bribe. The Irish brehons were men of deep learning, of wide influence and of riches. Three signs marked their abodes, ‘wisdom, information and intellect’. In the Annals we read of many of them being professors of new and old laws, Civil and Canon Law. In history, Irelands fame stands high. She was justly styled a ‘Nation of Annalists’. Each sept, each province had its own genealogist and chronicler whose business it was to record the deeds of the clan and its princes and the deaths of its leading personages, lay and ecclesiastical. Truth and accuracy were regarded as of paramount importance. ‘To conceal the Truth of History’, ran one saying ‘is the blackest of infamies’. The scribes travelled throughout the whole country to verify their references and their facts. The Philosophy of History was unknown in those ages. The office of scribe and genealogist was usually continued in certain families, the son succeeding his father as a matter of course. The Annalists were held in the highest esteem, ranking next to the head of the clan; they fed at his table and were supported by his bounty. No important public business was conducted without their presence and their directing influence. The greater portion of the existing annals have been the resultant of the Revival of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
The history of the Gaelicised Fitzgeralds (the Geraldines) is in a sense the history of the fortunes of Southern Ireland for an extensive period. In Desmond, South Munster and the lands adjoining they ruled as absolute monarchs over a hundred miles of territory. The Geraldines of Kildare held the entire county of Kildare, with parts of Meath, Dublin and Carlow, while their castles stretched beyond Strangford Lough on the coast of Down to Adare. They had their own fleet to patrol the seas. Intermarriages with the great houses in England and with Norman and Gaelic families in Ireland were at first a settled part of Geraldine policy. When they tasted Gaelicism they never forgot its savour, so they became kindly Irish of the Irish, root and branch. The Geraldines afford the most numerous instances of mere men of blood, apostles of the sword, turning, under the influence of Gaeldom into gentle sages and wise scholars.
The eight Earl of Desmond was the flower of the Southern Geraldine stock. The Irish people have taken this Thomas Fitzgerald to their hearts, and enshrined him there as a ‘Martyr of Christ’. He was the first of a long and fine line of Sean Ghalls to be martyred in the cause of Irish freedom. Thomas of Desmond tried to re-establish a National University and for that purpose had an Act of Parliament passed at Drogheda (1466). By precept and by practice he endeavoured to unify the two races in Ireland. He was a promoter and a patron of trade and commerce between Ireland and the Continent. He was murdered by the Earl of Worcester, afterwards known as ‘The Butcher’.
Gerald the eight Earl of Kildare (1477-1513) was named by Ireland ‘Gerait Mor’ - Gerald the Great. His mild, just government, drew the hearts of his people to him in passionate devotedness. By lines of blood-relationships he obtained great influence amongst the great Irish houses. Gerait Og ‘Gerald the Younger’, Ninth Earl of Kildare (1487-1534) although educated in England was even more Irish than his father. He continued the policy of intermarriage with the Irish and so consolidated the power of his house. Maynooth under him was one of the richest earls houses of that time. ‘His whole policy was union in his country, and Ireland for the Irish’. He was first appointed Lord Deputy by his cousin Henry VIII, in 1513. After seven years rule he was removed, charged by the English with ‘seditious practices, conspiracies and subtle drifts’. His cousin, the Earl of Desmond. Had entered into a solemn league and covenant with Francis I, King of France (1523) to drive the English out of Ireland, whilst Scotland was to render assistance to the cause by invading England. But the heart of the leader of the Scottish army, the Duke of Albany, failed him at the last moment and the gallant Scots dejectedly turned homewards. Kildare was summoned (1526) to England by Cardinal Wolsey to answer the charge of complicity in the plot. Wolsey denounced Kildare as a traitor. Before his departure from Dublin he appointed as vice Deputy his son, the famous Silken Thomas. Disregarding his fathers advice to be guided by his elders, he fell an easy prey to the veteran English of Dublin Castle, who had been secretly under-mining the foundations of the House of Kildare for generations. A forged letter was shown round in official circles in Dublin claiming his father was killed. Lord Thomas, having consulted with the young bloods, inopportunely raised the standard of revolt - against the entreaties of all the wisest heads. His enemies rejoiced - his well wishers were in despair. At first Lord Thomas swept all before him. Then England poured troops lavishly into Ireland - accompanied by the new invention, the canon, which proved the young leaders undoing. Eventually he submitted and was sent to the Tower of London - where his father had already died of a broken heart, on learning of Thomas’s insurrection. He was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn (1537). The destruction of the Geraldines became policy and the Act of Parliament (1537) decreed all the Geraldines countries to be forfeited to the Crown.
From the beginning of his reign (1515) Henry VIII undertook to destroy the basis of Irish resistance. With this object in view he issued ‘most secret’ instructions to his officials to capture our trade and commerce, by every subtle device. All the laws against Irish civilisation, against marriage, fosterage and gossipred, against the use of native literature and its language, against every phase and aspect of National life was re-enacted. By a Parliament (May 1536) composed of English colonists only, and convened by fraud, corruption and terror, Henry was acknowledged as Head of Church and State; and the Catholic religion, with its ritual and teachings, declared null and void, ‘corrupt for ever’. Five years later the same body proclaimed Henry ‘King of Ireland’. The Lord Deputy, St Leger, preached and acted on this Gospel. The unfortunate result was the submission of O’Neill, O’Donnell, O’Brien, the MacCarthy, the Burkes, and all the rules of the Irish, Old and New. They went through the form of acknowledging Henry as King of Ireland, as Head of Church and State in Ireland, and promised to substitute English for Brehon Law, and English manners, and customs for Irish. ‘They have turned, and sad is the deed, their back to the inheritance of their fathers’. Yet in spite of ‘doing knee-homage, they would not get from the King of England for Ireland a respite from misery’. The people, faithful to Ireland in woe as in weal, resented, lamented, and even cursed their ‘diplomatic’ chiefs.
Another of Henry’s devices for the conquest of Ireland was the kidnapping of noblemen’s sons and having them reared and educated in England, hostile to every tradition and instinct of their nationality. Chiefs could be ensnared one by one in misleading contracts, practically void. A false claimant could be put on a territory and supported by English soldiers in a civil war, till the actual chief was exiled or yielded the land to the King’s ownership. No chief, true or false, had power to give away the people’s land, and the king was face to face with an indignant people, who refused to admit an illegal bargain. Then came a march of soldiers over the district, hanging, burning, shooting, ‘the rebels’, casting the peasants out on the hillsides. There was also the way of ‘conquest’. The whole of the inhabitants were to be exiled, and the countries made vacant and waste for English peopling: the sovereign’s rule would be immediate and peremptory over those whom he had thus planted by his sole will, and Ireland would be kept in a way unknown in England. Henceforth it became a fixed policy to ‘exterminate and exile the country people of the Irishry’. Henry hoped to have a royal army of Ireland as ‘a sword and a flay’ to his subjects in England and to his enemies abroad. His dream seem to be realised when Earl Con O’Neill and other Irish lords, in the full flush of faith and confidence in English justice, sent an army to aid Henry’s troops against Francis I, King of France - Ireland’s best Continental friend - at the siege of Boulogne (1544). The false, disillusioned Irish did not repeat this experiment.
Also, Henry believed he could raise a big revenue out of Ireland’s pockets for his sensualities and his political objects. But this likewise failed, because his ‘cormorants and caterpillars’ were too busy amassing wealth for themselves. The introduction of the Protestant Reformation principles added sources of fresh outrages, new oppressions. In Ireland Protestantism was not given a chance to appeal to the people by any ethical, religious or political ideals. The licentious unpaid English soldiery who had to maintain themselves by plunder and rapine, were accompanied by incendiaries who left not a homestead standing. The soul of Ireland, resurrected through the crucifixion of her body, became the most devoted daughter of the Catholic Church. Poets and historians were put to the sword, and their books and genealogies burned, so that no man ‘might know his own grandfather’. Henry’s well-defined policies were religiously pursued by his successors, Edward and Mary. The ministers of his, Edward VI, intensified the vigour of his religious crusade. Religion was to be made sweet to the heretical Irish - ‘with the Bible in one hand, in the other the Sword’. Mary’s Irish rule was no less merciless than that of her two predecessors.
The O’Connors of Offaly and the O’Moores of Leix having dared to defend their lands against the English invaders were outlawed and their countries forfeited to the Crown. A long and bloody warfare, conducted with terrible ferocity, was the result. Even in Ireland there is nothing so heroic, so persistent, so indefatigable as the efforts made by these two gallant clans to recover their homes and altars. The struggle was maintained for generations. Even to this day O’Moore and O’Connor are the principal families in the district, where their forefathers ruled as just, munificent princes.
Shane was a bad man in private life, but a born soldier, a sagacious ruler, and a believer in his rights. When Conn, the Lame, his father, accepted an English title, and became Baron of Dungannon, Shane went into rebellion. On his father’s death, he slew his half brother, the next baron, and was inaugurated the O’Neill. Shane the Proud, Ulster called him. He stood across England’s advance into the province. Elizabeth and her Lord Deputies tried to cajole him, to deceive him, to defeat him, to capture him, to murder him. Then when his soldiers had pierced to the Pale, they recognised him as the "O’Neill". Sinner, soldier, chieftain, he was a strong figure in the century. Shane’s territory was now supposed to be safe from English interference or invasion. He and England’s queen were friends. Sussex, the Lord Deputy, wrote offering him his sister in marriage with a safe conduct to Dublin. His intention was to capture Shane. Later he sent him a present of wine. Elizabeth knew of the gift; knew what was in it.
Shane and his household drank the wine - and just escaped death. But Shane knew now forever with whom he had to deal. It was the second attempt that English statesmen had secretly made to assassinate him.
Shane flung off his allegiance. After that draught of wine he thought his sword was his best security. He won a victory notable of its name. They were three hundred English soldiers, not in buff but in scarlet coats. So that battle was called the battle of the red coats. But hard were the strokes of his enemies - ‘Queens’ O’Donnels, ‘Queens’ O’Neills, Elizabeths forces - and the Proud was left the choice of submission or an appeal to the Scots mercenaries. He choose the latter, freed Sorley Boy McDonnel, and went to a banquet they gave. To that banquet also went a man whom the Lord Deputy had maintained privately in Tyrone when he and Shane were in friendship and peace. The spy waited till the wine had made men drunk and think of their wrongs. Then O’Neill was slain. The spy hastened to Dublin Castle and received from Sir Henry Sidney a thousand marks from the public treasury.
So Shanes head went upon the north-west gate of Dublin.
The conquest of Ireland had been going on four centuries. The rock against which every attempt to complete it had broken was the immemorial laws of Ireland, the Brehon Laws. These bound Irishmen within the four seas to one social and legal rule. All attempts to plant the feudal system in Ireland by England went down before them.
The strongest Norman house in Irish history was the Geraldines. They must be suppressed. The Ormonds were castle men, guardians of English authority. The Black Earl of Ormond seized Gerald, Earl of Desmond, and sent him to London, and Elizabeth sent him to the tower. A little later his brother was seized and sent there too. Their cousin, James Fitzmaurice, drew his sword to protest against the seizures. They won victories; they routed a queens army. Then Elizabeth made peace with Fitzmaurice. And she then directed a plot for the treacherous murder of himself, his brothers and cousins - which by discovering in time, he escaped. After a time the new Earl had to flee to Spain for safety and succour. He visited Rome, too, got Italian mercenaries, fourscore Spaniards, a promise of more and returned to Ireland, where he vanished out of life in a skirmish. Spain remembered her promise. Eight hundred Spaniards landed on the coast of Kerry. Gray sent in his soldiers and massacred seven hundred men. The massacre was directed by Sir Walter Raleigh and an officer named Wingfield.
The Earl and his kinsmen, fighting now for their religion and their homes, joined hands with the MacCarthys, the O’Sullivans and other Munster chiefs. Carew, a Devonshire knight, claimed Desmond territory, and brought an army to seize it and ‘pacify’ the province. The Desmond war lasted three more years, altogether five. The Earl, finally defeated, was at last captured and beheaded.
English Law had made a breach in Connacht. The head of the Burkes, Clanrickard, a ‘queens’ man, was seized and sent to Dublin. Then all the Burkes loosened their swords in their scabbards and sprang into rebellion. The rebellion grew and strengthened, before the ‘strong measures’ of the Lord President. Soon, the disarmed Catholics were taken and hanged. Surrendered garrisons were put to the sword; a search for rebels in West Connacht saw women, and boys and old men, and all who came in Binghams way, slain.
Into Leinster, too, English Law had driven a wedge. Mary of Englands Deputies had seized Offaly and Leix, the territories of the O’Connors and the O’Moores. They had planted English settlers there; abolished the ancient territorial names and in Irish blood rechristened them "Kings and Queens counties". The dispossessed chiefs and their clansmen bided their time. A noble boy grew up among them, and in manhood became an avenging sword. This was Ruari Og O’Moore. After six years of successful guerilla warfare he fell when reconnoitring a force brought against him. His soldiers avenged his death and put the army to flight. His name remained an inspiration to oppressed Irish, down to the present day. ‘God, and Our Lady, and Rory O’Moore!’.
In the North the smouldering fire had flamed forth again. The predestined boy had come whose advent a Tir-Conaill seer had long ago foretold. Young Hugh O’Donnell, Aod Ruad, the golden-haired, minatory, deadly foe to England. The fame and renown of him had reached the ears of Lord Deputy Perrot, illegitimate son of Henry VIII. The dreaded lad was being fostered by MacSwiney, Lord of Fanat on the Northern sea’s verge. When the boy was fourteen a merchant ship sailed into Loch Swilly, and anchored under the stone castle of MacSwiney. The captain invited MacSwiney and his family aboard the ship where they were tricked and captured. All but Red Hugh were released. Red Hugh was carried away to Dublin and placed in the Birmingham tower of the castle. In Fanat, throughout all Tir-Conaill and indeed through Eirinn there was weeping, wrath, shame and anger. After three years the boy made a wonderful and daring escape on a December night - but alas ! was retaken. After another year, this time spent in irons, in company with Henry and Art, the sons of Shane O’Neill, both in irons also, he made another daring attempt - and this time succeeded in freeing all three. Red Hugh’s escape sent a thrill through Ireland. Messengers rode north and south and east and west with the joyous word. On a May day the lad was made The O’Donnell. Sir Hugh his father, gladly gave place to a son so fit to rule. Thus Red Hugh’s star rose and shone high in the north over Ireland; and still shines in the dark sky of her history.
The Nine Years War had begun. A spear darted through Tir-Conaill. The invader was driven out; chiefs who had given their allegiance to the foreigner were taught that the O’Donnell was their chief and prince. He swept through Ulster and drove out the English sheriffs. He entered Connacht and hurled Binghams forces before him. Hugh O’Neill watched events; waited, held his hand, still uncertain.
So the issue of an independent Ireland or a conquered country was now to be put to the sword. Almost for the first time since the invasion Ireland had a statesman who saw the root of her weakness, and who placed the politics of the nation before the politics of the clan.
The war was not only one of independence but a religious war as well. Men looked to Spain, the great Catholic country; would she help ? Messengers crossed and re-crossed the seas. The instinct of local freedom had gathered round the Norman houses in Ireland during the centuries. Thus Irish soldiers always true to their leaders marched with the Earl of Ormond, or the Earl of Kildare, or other Norman lord who paid allegiance to England. O’Neill cast off the title of Earl, and was proclaimed The O’Neill. Seven miles from his castle a fortress was held by the English. O’Neills men stormed the fortress, drove out the English garrison, levelled the fort and burnt the bridge. He marched to Monaghan, gave battle to Norris, the English general who was advancing to its relief and defeated him. England proclaimed O’Neill an enemy and a traitor. Armies were sent against him. He evaded and defeated the armies. He showed generalship of a high order. She recalled her best soldiers from the Spanish war in Belgium and flung them into Ireland. Generals and soldiers failed to break his power.
Red Hugh went like a flame through the west. He scattered his enemies, and drove Bingham before him. He re-captured Sligo castle; defeated Clifford, the English governor of Connacht, in the Curlew pass; brought the Burkes to his standard.
Within a decade of the ‘Flight of the Earls’ came the Ulster Plantation. It was the excuse needed for the wholesale robbing of the clans. That the lands belonged to the whole clan community was of no consequence to the English. According to English law and custom it should belong to the lords (chiefs). The English Lord Lieutenant, Sir Arthur Chichester, and the Attorney General, Sir John Davies, were the instruments , for giving effect to the great Plantation. The natives were driven to the bogs and the moors where it was hoped that they would starve to death. The conditions upon which the new people got their land bound them to repress and abhor the Irish natives , admit no Irish customs, never to intermarry with the Irish, and not to permit any Irish on their lands. As a result many of the Irish starved to death. Many others sailed away and enlisted under continental armies.
The Irish were not content to starve and die upon the moors. The Rising of 1641 was the natural outcome of this great wrong. Rory O’Moore is chiefly credited for this great resurgence of the Irish race. For years he patiently worked among the leading Irish families, Irish Generals in the Continental armies, and other Irish representatives in the European countries. Plans being matured, the Rising broke in Ulster on the night of the 21st October 1641. Practically in one night they reconquered their province, having sent the Planters scurrying into the few Ulster cities that they still could hold. It was Ulster only that had risen that night - the other quarters remained quiet due to a miscarriage of plans and through a traitor. For the purpose of inciting the English at home , the English invented stories of massacres and Irish cruelty - many of which are still believed today. The fearful cruelties perpetrated by Sir Charles Coote, leader of the English army in Leinster, and by St Leger, English commander in Munster, combined with fear for themselves and their estates, drove the Anglo-Irish Catholic lords and their fellows in Munster to join the Rebellion. When the great and historic Synod met in Kilkenny in May ’42, the Irish practically owned Ireland, English power merely clinging by its teeth to some outer corners of the country.
The Confederation of Kilkenny proved to be perhaps more of a curse than a blessing to Ireland.
The establishing of the Confederation was the establishing of a Parliament in Ireland. In England Charles and his Parliamentary Government were now at bitter odds - beginning the great civil conflict there. They manacled, and thwarted the great Irish figure of the Forties - the truly admirable man and signally great military leader, Owen Roe O’Neill. With Owen Roe’s coming arose Ireland’s bright star of hope - and with his passing, that star set. Owen Roe was a nephew of Hugh O’Neill, ‘Earl of Tyrone’, who fled at the century’s beginning, and had died abroad. Owen Roe was a young man at the time of the Flight of the Earls, had fought in that last disastrous fight at Kinsale and going abroad also, had won signal distinction as a military commander in the Spanish Netherlands. He had never ceased to hope that he would yet be the means of freeing his Fatherland. And through the years in which his sword had been in the service of Spain, his heart was ever with Ireland. He came to his own North, when, close following its first bright burst the clouds of despair had come down, and begun to sit heavy on it again. On the 6th July 1642, with a hundred officers in his company, the long wished for saviour stepped off a ship and was given command of the Northern army. So potent was the name and fame of Owen Roe that even while his army was still in embryo, Lord Levin from Scotland at the head of twenty thousand men refused to meet such a formidable battler and strategist. In June 1646 he fought and won his great pitched battle, the famous victory of Benburb. Here he met and smashed the Scottish General Monroe, who then held the British command in Ulster. All remaining Scottish forces were, by his signal victory sent scurrying into the two strongholds of Derry and Carrickfergus. The province was Owen Roe’s and Ireland’s.
So would the whole country soon have been - but unfortunately the Supreme Council, flinging away the golden opportunity, not only signed a peace with Ormond, acting for King Charles, but went so far as to put under his command all of the Confederate Catholic Army. Owen Rose hurried south with his forces to overawe the traitors and try to counteract the harm they had done. But every move made by Owen Rose, and every combination, was wisely directed toward the great end. Yet the noble man held steadily to his task, and when eventually Cromwell came like an avenging angel Owen Roe was the one great commanding figure to which the awed and wasted nation instinctively turned.
But, as by God’s will it proved, their turning to him was in vain.
It was in August of ’40 that Cromwell landed in Dublin. The great leader of the grim Ironsides, himself, was destined to leave behind him in Ireland for all time a name synonymous with ruthless butchery. The first rare taste of the qualities of this agent of God the Just, and first Friend of the Irish was given to the people at Drogheda. Only thirty men out of a garrison of three thousand escaped the sword. After Drogheda, Cromwell in quick succession reduced the other northern strongholds, then turned and swept southward to Wexford - two thousand were butchered here. Cromwell reduced the garrisons of Arklow, Enniscorthy and New Ross on the way to Wexford. After Wexford he tried to reduce Waterford, but failing in his first attempt, and not having time to waste besieging it, passed onward - and found the cities of Cork an easy prey. He rested at Youghal, getting fresh supplies and money from England. In January he took the field again, reduced Fethard, Cashel and eventually got Kilkenny by negotiation. Against his new and powerful cannon, the ancient and crumbling defences of the Irish cities were of little avail. The conqueror then - in the end of May - sailed from Youghal for England after having in eight months, subdued almost of Ireland, destroyed the effective Irish forces, and left the country prostate at the feet of the Parliament. He left in command his general, Ireton, who on his death soon after, was to be succeeded by Cromwells son, Henry. It took his successors another two years to finish up the remnant of work that he had left unfinished. Waterford, Limerick and Galway still held out. Scattered bands of fighters here and there, and an army of the North, under Heber MacMahon, kept Ulster resistance still alive. The few towns - Waterford, Limerick, Galway - and the scattered fighting forces were gradually conquered or capitulated. Till on the 12th May ’52, Articles of Kilkenny signed by the Parliamentary Commissioners on the one hand and the Earl of West Meath on the other - yet fiercely denounced by the Leinster clergy - practically terminated the longest, the most appallingly dreadful and inhumane, and the most exhausting, war, with which unfortunate Ireland was ever visited.
But Irelands sufferings, great and terrible as they had been, were yet far from ended. "Ireland , in the language of Scripture, lay void as a wilderness. Five-sixths of her people had perished. Women and children were found daily perishing in ditches, starved. The bodies of many wandering orphans, whose fathers had been killed or exiled, and whose mothers had died of famine, were preyed upon by wolves. In the years 1652 and 1653 the plague, following the desolating wars had swept away whole counties, so that one might travel twenty or thirty miles and not see a living creature". In September 1653, was issued by parliament the order for the great transplanting. Under penalty of death, no Irish man, woman or child was to be found east of the River Shannon, after the 1st May 1654. Sir William Petty, in his Political Anatomy of Ireland, estimated that the wars had reduced the population.
When fire and sword had signally failed to suppress the Irish race new means to that end must be found. So the fertile mind of the conqueror invented the Penal Laws. The object of the Penal Laws was threefold ;
1) To deprive the Catholics of all civil life.
2) To reduce them to a condition of most extreme and brutal ignorance.
3) To dissociate them from the soil.
The Penal Laws enacted or re-enacted in the new era succeeding the siege of Limerick, when under the pledged faith and honour of the English crown, the Irish Catholics were to be "protected in the free and unfettered exercise of their religion", provided amongst other things that :
  • The Irish Catholic was forbidden the exercise of his religion.
  • He was forbidden to enter a profession.
  • He was forbidden to hold public office.
  • He was forbidden to engage in trade or commerce.
  • He was forbidden to live in a corporate town or within five miles thereof.
  • He was forbidden to own a horse of greater value than five pounds.
  • He was forbidden to purchase land.
  • He was forbidden to lease land.
  • He was forbidden to vote.
  • He was forbidden to keep any arms for his protection.
  • He was forbidden to hold a life annuity.
  • He could not be guardian to a child.
  • He could not attend catholic worship.
  • He could not himself educate his child.
The law soon came to recognise an Irishman in Ireland only for the purpose of repressing him.
The Volunteer movement in the 1780’s first began to take the edge off Protestant prejudice. In the year 1793, an Act was passed relieving the Catholics of many of their disabilities - in theory at least. Another thirty-six years were to elapse before the next step was taken, under compulsion from the O’Connell agitation, and the Act known as Catholic Emancipation made law.
In the early centuries of the Christian Era the highly civilised Celt was inclined to trade and commerce. The early Irish, were famous for their excellence in the arts and crafts - particularly for their wonderful work in metals, bronze, silver and gold. By the beginning of the 14th Century, the trade of Ireland with the Continent of Europe was important. This condition of things naturally did not suit commercial England. So at an early period she began to stifle Irish industry and trade.
The Irish woollen manufacturers began to rival Englands. So in 1571 Elizabeth imposed restriction upon the Irish woollen trade that crippled the large Irish trade with the Netherlands and other parts of the Continent.
Ireland tried its hand at manufacturing cotton. England met this move with a twenty-five per cent duty upon Irish cotton imported into England. And next forbade the inhabitants of England to wear any cotton other than of British manufacture.
Ireland attempted to develop her tobacco industry. But a law against its growth was passed in the first year of Charles the Second.
Four and five centuries ago and upward the Irish fisheries were the second in importance in Europe. Under careful English nursing they were, a century and a half ago, brought to the vanishing point. Then the independent Irish Parliament at the end of the eighteenth century saved them. Here we have set down only examples of the principal Acts and devices for the suppression of Irish manufacturers and Irish industries, but yet sufficient to show how England protected her beloved Irish subjects in the enjoyment of all they have - how Ireland prospered under English Rule in a material way - and how England in her step-motherly way, took each toddling Irish industry by the hand, led its childish footsteps to the brink of the bottomless pit, and gave it a push - thus ending its troubles forever.
And thus is explained in part why Ireland, one of the most favoured by nature and one of the most fertile countries in Europe, is yet one of the poorest. And why it is that, as recent statistics show, ninety-eight per cent of the export trade of the three kingdoms is in the hands of Britain and in Ireland’s hands only two per cent.
The Volunteers needed no special perspicacity to see that the most formidable enemy even of the English colony in Ireland was the English trade interest, to which their advantages were ruthlessly sacrificed. The first invasion they set themselves to repel was that of English manufacturing goods. Shopkeepers and merchants who imported foreign goods or tried to impose them on their customers as Irish manufacture, were warned of the consequences. The Volunteers were there to see that the boycott was duly observed. When Parliament met in October 1779, Grattan moved his celebrated amendment to the Address to the Throne, demanding Free Trade for Ireland - that is the right to import and export what commodities she pleased, unrestrained by foreign legislation. The amended address was carried by a huge majority, and next day it was borne to the Castle and dispatched to England. Acts were rushed through the English Houses of Parliament in a few weeks which restored to the Irish the trade rights of which they had been robbed. At any moment England might revoke the concessions she had granted under duress. There still remained on the Statute Books of the two countries the Acts which gave her this power - Poyning’s Act , and the Sixth of George 1.
Poyning’s Act bound the Irish Parliament to legislate only as the British Parliament permitted it. The Sixth of George 1, also called the Declaratory Act declared that the King had full power and authority to make or amend laws. The following year, 1783, under pressure from the Volunteers and Flood a ‘Renunciation Bill’ was carried through the British parliament. It declared that the ‘right claim by the people of Parliament of that Kingdom in all cases whatever, and to have all actions and suits at law, or in equity, which may be instituted in the Kingdom, decided by His majesty’s courts therein finally, and without appeal from thence, shall be and is hereby declared to be established and ascertained for ever, and shall at no time here-after be questionable’.
The first general meeting of the United Irishmen was held on 18th October 1791, and the following resolutions were proposed and carried ;
1) That the weight of English influence in the Government of this country is so great as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce.
2) That the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed is by a complete and radical reform of the people in Parliament.
3) That no reform is just which does not include Irishmen of every religious persuasion.
During the year 1796, events had moved in Ireland with extraordinary rapidity. On the one hand the Government had let loose on the country a storm of organised terrorism, and on the other the country, as a measure of self-protection, if nothing else - had gone solidly into the ranks of the ‘United’ men. Among the sinister measures adopted by Government to break the ‘Union’ was the establishment of the Orange Society.
The Rising of 1798
The Insurrection of '98 was delayed in the hope of the promised aid from France. When it did take place it was under the worst possible conditions. The Rising was left without any of its main leaders. What is also astonishing is that it was confined to only a portion of the country and that the efforts of the counties that ‘rose’ were speedily suppressed. Between 24th and 27th May there were engagements with the military at Naas, Clane, Prosperous, Kilcullen and Monasterevin in Kildare, at Dunboyne and Tara in Meath, at Baltinglass in Wicklow, at Lucan, Rathfarnham and Tallaght in Dublin. The only other important engagements in Ulster were at Saintfield and Newtownards, where the insurgents were successful, and at Ballinahinch where Monroe and his United Men were defeated by General Nugent.
When news of these events reached Wolfe Tone in France, he was frantic with anxiety and impatience to be with his comrades in Ireland. Tone was called to Paris to consult with the Ministers of War and Marine in the organisation of a small expedition. Wolfe Tone accompanied eight frigates under Commodore Bompard and 3000 men under General Hardy to Ireland. However they were set upon by the English fleet. Tone was not recognised at first but his disguise was soon upturned. He made a gallant figure as he stood before his judges in the uniform of a French Colonel, making his last profession of faith in his principles to which he had devoted all that was his to give. "From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain as the curse of the Irish Nation, and felt convinced, that while it lasted, this country would never be free or happy. In consequence, I determined to apply all the powers which my individual efforts could move, in order to separate the two countries. That Ireland was not able, of herself, to throw off the yoke, I knew. I therefore sought for aid wherever it was to be found.......Under the flag of the French Republic. After such sacrifices, in a cause which I have always considered as the cause of justice and freedom - it is no great effort at this day to add the sacrifice of my life".
Tone is buried at Bodenstown alongside his brother who had died for the same glorious cause a few weeks earlier.
Everybody knew that the war between France and England, to which the peace of Amiens had put a temporary cessation, would soon break out again; and it was common belief likewise that when the war did break out, an invasion by Bonaparte either of England or Ireland would be attempted. The United Irishmen, both on the continent and in Ireland therefore were prepared to sacrifice their just resentment against France for her failure to keep her engagements with them in ’98 and enter into a new alliance with her. The Agent of the United Irishmen in Paris, was Thomas Addis Emmet, who left Brussels for the French Capital early in 1803, to act in that capacity on definite instructions from the Provisional Government in Ireland.
In the first place there was an absolute promise on the part of the French of a large expeditionary force to aid the Rising in Ireland. In the second there was an understanding with, and guarantees of co-operation from the revolutionary societies in England and Scotland. In the third, there were pledges from men of the highest social, military and political standing in Ireland to aid the movement with money, moral and other backing. If ever an effort for Irish Liberty seemed destined to succeed, it was that to which Robert Emmet found himself committed when he returned to Ireland, after his ‘Grand Tour’ on the continent, in the Autumn of 1802. His primary object was to get the country organised and armed, ready to co-operate with the French landing. Emmets own work was mainly confined to Dublin, but he was in close touch with the men of Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford. On the 16th July an explosion took place in a house in Patrick Street, which Emmet had taken as a depot for arms and explosives. This event, which made him regard the discovery of his plans as imminent, caused him to fix an early date for the Rising without waiting for the promised French help. Assurance came from all over the country that if Dublin rose the rest of Ireland would speedily follow. Saturday, the 23rd July was the day arranged for the Rising. But on the day appointed it was discovered that only a small fraction of the men expected to help had turned up. The romantic sequel of Robert Emmets story has given to the occurrences of the 23rd July an importance which the men who organised the conspiracy of which they were only an incident, did not recognise. One part of the plan, the Rising in Dublin, had miscarried, through no fault of Robert Emmets; but if the French had been true to their plighted word the rest of the country would have risen later, according to the plan, and the dream to which the gallant youth sacrificed fortune, life and love, might yet have come true. But the French failed their Irish allies once more, and Thomas Addis Emmet, though he still continued for a time his negotiations with the agents of the First Consul, had at length to convince himself that ‘Bonaparte was the worst enemy Ireland ever had’. As for his brother, Robert, when he saw the blood of Lord Kilwarden, he dispersed his followers and was determined to do nothing more until the promised French aid had arrived. To expedite its coming he sent Myles Byrne to France with an urgent message to his brother, Thomas Addis. Before Myles Bryne had arrived in Paris, Robert had been arrested at Harolds Cross, to whose dangerous neighbourhood he had been drawn by an overpowering desire to see once more his ‘bright love’ the exquisite Sarah Curran. On the 20th September the sacrifice was consummated. The brave youth was publicly beheaded on a Dublin street.
Throughout almost the first half of the nineteenth century Irelands history is reflected in the life of Daniel O’Connell. In Dublin he associated with the United Irishmen and shared their national sentiments. When the Emmet alarm burst on the country in 1803, he flew to arms to preserve the Constitution. He was one of the Lawyers Corps that was formed for defence of the realm against the assault of French principles. It was in 1808, that O’Connell first got marked prominence in Irish affairs. When in ’13 those Protestant champions of Catholic Emancipation, Grattan and Plunkett, had introduced in Parliament a Catholic Relief Bill which had every chance of passing, and which had the approval of the Irish Catholic aristocratic party and the English Catholics, O’Connell aroused Ireland against it because it was saddled with the objectionable veto and also gave to the British the right to supervise all documents passing between Rome and the Roman Catholic hierarchy in these islands. The passion of O’Connell, the people, and the prelates had the desired effect. The rights of the Irish church were no longer to be considered a negotiable security at Rome.
Catholic Emancipation (the full restoration of rights to catholics) had a tireless champion in O’Connell. He now had complete control of the national mind, and his voice was the voice of Ireland. The unquestioning faith of his multitude of followers put in his hands a power which he unsparingly wielded to work out the peoples emancipation. In 1823 O'Connell with another lawyer, Richard Lalor Shiel formed the Catholic Association. This group had two main aims; to seek the repeal of the Penal Laws that still remained, and to improve the conditions endured by tenant farmers. These hard working farmers were at the mercy of their landlords who could charge exorbitant rents and evict them at will.
The Association gathered what was known as "The Catholic Rent" of one penny a week from its members to finance its operations. Although it was led by lawyers, businessmen and the clergy, all the members felt they were making a worthwhile contribution. O'Connell brought into politics a new great power that had never before been systematically enlisted, namely, the priests. He organised the Association by parishes with the priest in each case as natural leader.
 It is true that in ’21 the English House of Commons passed the Catholic Relief Bill which, while proposing to make Catholics eligible for Parliament and for offices under the Crown was again saddled with the impossible veto, and with another equally un-acceptable condition, namely, that the Roman Catholic clergy should take oath to elect only bishops who were loyal to the British Crown.
O'Connell found it a particularly good time for agitation because it was a particularly bad time for the country. The year ’22 and again ’23 brought with them much want and hardship to the nation. The Association, too, was more virile and determined in its demands. So dangerous became the peoples attitude that the English Government was forced to take a decisive step. The Catholic Association was suppressed, and an Emancipation Bill brought in. O’Connell, nothing daunted, started to rebuild again.
 Though the general election of '26, went very happily for the no-popery party in England, the new no-popery Government was frightened to discover that the election in Ireland had gone entirely the other way. The mighty power of combined priest and people was taking form, and the Irish nation now realise the solidity of their power more surely and more boldly than ever before. It was because of a bi-election in County Clare in 1828 that can be said that Emancipation was won. O'Connell himself was elected as M.P. and could further the cause of Emancipation on the floor of the Parliment.
That was the first truly golden milestone met by the Irish people upon their weary march from the centurys beginning. The Clare election was to Ireland a joyful surprise and a fearful one to England. County Clare had conquered England. The Emancipation Bill was brought in - and passed - but not without fierce opposition.
The Emancipation Bill was passed, the commonest citizen rights from which Irish people had hitherto been debarred, because they were heretics and idolaters, were now permitted by law. And civil offices from which they had been, for their crime, shut out, were supposedly thrown open to them. But practically speaking Irish Catholics continued, for many decades after, to labour under their former disability. And in many parts of Ireland, even down to a short generation ago, they were in practice still shut out from all offices except the most menial.
When Emancipation was won, Repeal of the false and corruptly purchased "Union" of Ireland with England was the great issue that the Leader started. In 1810, the grand jurors of Dublin, all of them of course Tories and British-Irish, tried to start the Repeal movement. Now that Dan was free to throw himself into the repeal movement, and the Catholics almost to a man were behind him, no support could be got from their Protestant fellow-countrymen. There were two reasons for this - the fierceness of the fight for Emancipation had embittered the Protestants against their Catholic neighbours; and besides all the offices and patronage of the country which had been securely theirs in pre-Emancipation days were getting shaky in their grasp now that Catholic disabilities were by law removed.
Repeal of the Union would finally break their monopoly; so the overwhelmingly body of the Protestant population was henceforth as bitterly anti-Repeal as they had formerly been anti-Union - and more bitterly than they had been anti-Emancipation. To help the English Whigs in their great fight for Parliamentary Reform, O’Connell much against the wish of many wise ones, slackened the Repeal fight, while he let the popular fight against "tithes" forge to the front. And he cast all his weight to the English Whigs in their Reform struggle.
  The "tithe war" spread like wildfire. The people refused to pay the unjust tariff. Thousands of troops were poured into the country to protect the tithe proctors and process-servers. The Protestant clergy, unable to collect the tithes, were now in such real distress that the Government had to provide a Relief Fund for them. O’Connell wanted the tithe reduced two-fifths. The tithe-war dragged on, in varying intensity, until 1838 when an Act was passed, which reduced the tithe by a fourth, and shifted it to the landlord.
In his desire to help the English Whigs in their Reform struggle, O’Connell had put Parliamentary Reform temporarily before Repeal, worked for it with might and main, and with his Irish following finally gave the Whigs the margin of majority that carried the Reform Bill. When in ’31 he had been warned against abandoning Irish Repeal for British Parliamentary Reform, he said to the people:
‘Let no one deceive you and say that I have abandoned anti-Unionism. It is false. But I am decidedly of opinion that it is only in a reformed Parliament that the question can properly, truly, and dispassionately, be discussed’. Throughout the Thirties O’Connell seemed to work in complete forgetfulness of the one big fact which the agitation of the Twenties should have stamped indelibly on his mind, namely, that an Ireland lulled by the promise of English friendship always proved to be an Ireland fooled; while an Ireland rebellious was an Ireland successful. It was little wonder that in the late Thirties the Whig-befooled Dan found his popularity waning, got down-hearted, depressed, discouraged and in ’39 made retreat in Mount Melleray Abbey to regain his calm.
He came out of his Mount Melleray retreat - with a mind much calmed - able collectedly to review his position and make his plans. But only a miracle could rehabilitate him.
In 1840 O’Connell founded the National Association of Ireland for repeal. The name of the Association was in ’41, improved into the Loyal National Repeal Association.
The Repeal movement was undoubtedly popularised, and materially stimulated by a couple of big happenings in the Dublin Corporation in these years. In 1841 for the first time in history, a Nationalist corporation in Dublin Corporation was elected. Up to this point the Corporation was ultra-Orangeism. The majority was now five-sixths Nationalist. And to the frenzied delight of Dublin, and all Ireland, Dan O’Connell was elected the first Nationalist Lord Mayor. The second stimulus was the great Repeal debate in the Dublin Corporation, where the new Lord Mayor made a Repeal speech, which, to the eager people who in every corner of the land devoured the report of it, was one of the most wonderful of his career. By overwhelmingly majority they carried a resolution to present a Repeal petition to Parliament.
Now the Repeal movement was in full swing. And O’Connell filled the land with the agitation. In wonderful speech after speech bristling with urge, ringing with hope, and thundering with defiance, he fostered the ferment in which the populace found itself. The climax of the great Repeal fight came in ’43. That was the year of the Monster meetings, the year of the sublime hope and the undaunted resolve, of the mighty welding of two million men into one solid body of freedom. And yet, alas, it was the sad year of real defeat !
The fighting spirit which stirred the hearts of the people that year expressed itself at these wonderful gatherings, unique in the cult for Irishmen. A quarter of a million people in attendance came to be considered moderate. But the greatest and most memorable of all the great meetings was that at Tara - when his eye swept over that human sea O’Connell himself must have marvelled at the spirit that animated the nation.
"What", he said, "could England effect against such a people so thoroughly aroused, if, provoked past endurance, they rose out in rebellion". The Government, now aroused to the imminent danger of these meetings, forbade the Clontarf meeting. Five regiments of soldiers, with canon and all the appliances of war, were stationed at vantage points. The gauntlet was thrown down to O’Connell. The country stood on tip-toe awaiting "the word" from O’Connell - whatever that word might be. And tens of thousands of eager ones prayed that it might be a bold one. But, Peace was the word given by the leader. The people implicitly obeyed. Yet time proved that on the day of Clontarf was the end of the dream of O’Connell’s Repeal.
But the movement and the man had an Indian summer. Clontarf and its sequel; the trial and imprisonment, had marked a great turning point in O'Connell’s career. He studiously avoided any statements of future policy. And without giving the country a lead he went home to Derry, to rest and recuperate - to forget politics for a time. He was never again the old Dan, the bold Dan, whose magnetic power had gifted him to lead a nation. The National party, the Young Irelanders were rebelling against him and the Association, and were preaching revolution to the country. O'Connells health went into decline and another disaster was about to hit the countryside.
Famine now fastened its clutch on the country. The potato crop of ’46, which was eagerly expected to cure the acute distress produced by the ’45 failure, was blighted. And the harvest of ’47 was yet to plunge the people in far deeper distress. The dreadful sufferings of the poor people now helped to complete the Liberators mental breakdown. His heart sank down into a new depth of sadness. In the beginning of ’47, though feeling sick and worn both in body and soul, he set out on the weeks journey to London to plead, this time, the material cause of the people. He made his last appearance, and last speech in Parliament, in February of that year. He was ordered by his physicians to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. At Genoa, he could go no further. The great mans end came, calm and painless, on May 15th 1847. Having been accorded the greatest funeral that Dublin had ever witnessed, the remains of Daniel O’Connell were laid under the earth in Glasnevin cemetery.
By his intimate and personal friend, O’Neill Daunt, it was truly said of O’Connell: "Well may his countrymen feel pride in the extraordinary man, who, for a series of years, could assail and defy a hostile and powerful government, who could knit together a prostrate, divided, and dispirited nation into a resolute and invincible confederacy; who could lead his followers in safety through the traps and pitfalls that beset their path to freedom; who could baffle all the artifices of sectarian bigotry; and finally overthrow the last strongholds of anti-Catholic tyranny by the simple might of public opinion".
The Great Famine
We are the Silent People.
How long must we be still,
To nurse in secret at our breast
An ancient culture?
Let us arise and cry then;
Call from the sleeping ashes
Of destiny a chieftain who
Will be our voice.
He will strike the brass
And we will erupt
From our hidden caves
Into the light of new-born day. (Macken 5)
From 1845, when Ireland's potato crop partially failed, to 1847, when starvation and disease rose to dramatic
levels, to 1852, when the economy and population was just getting back on its feet, the Irish were the Silent
People. The "Great Hunger", known as "An Gorta Mor" in Gaelic, happened in an era when millions of people knew only
famine, oppression, and degradation. The potato famine itself was a natural disaster such as a flood or an
earthquake, and there is no way to predict when such an event will happen. A fungus known as "phytophthora
infestans" causes the blight itself. But to be prepared for such an event and to deal with it in a correct and
timely fashion is the important issue. The English, the ruling body in all of Ireland at the time, did not remedy
the situation, nor did they care to. In fact, they seemed to do the opposite.
Scholars offer some reasons for the large-scale effect of the potato blight on Ireland's economy and people. First,
we must understand that the population had been steadily rising and by 1841 had reached over eight million. This was
one of the healthiest in Europe. With so many people, and so little land, unemployment rose, and two-thirds of the
people fell into great poverty. So how could a poor farmer best feed his family on a small parcel of land that he
did not own? The answer was to become dependent on agriculture to be able to pay rent to the English landlords. Now
that we understand why the people were dependent on the potato, we can now see how this dependency came about.
A visitor to Ireland in 1822 noted, "Potatoes are the grand nutrient principle and support of existence, and without
this valuable vegetable, hundreds must daily fall into the grave. It forms the great barrier to the ravages of
hunger and indeed constitutes almost the only one".
The dependence on the potato had already been deeply rooted at this time. Also noted by Austin-Bourke, a famine authority, was "a sinister trend toward monoculture"  Potatoes were first used as backup for grains but toward the end of the seventeenth century had become an
important winter food. By the middle of the eighteenth century, potatoes were a general field crop and a staple diet
item of tenant farmers year round. The potato adapted very well to Ireland's cool, wet climate, while grains suffered
from a high moisture content that could lead to moulding in storage. The landlords then grew grain as a cash crop and
the tenants were satisfied with a small patch of ground, one acre could yield six tons of potatoes, as payment for
harvesting the grain. They provided a substantial diet and were easy to grow and harvest. In perspective, if the
potato crop were to fail, disaster would occur on a tremendous scale.
In September of 1845, the blight was observed first in Waterford and Wexford. It then spread quickly to other
regions of Ireland. No part of the country was spared, but those who lived near fishing areas fared better than
those who lived inland.
"The scourge of famine has struck the West and the South with greater fury than elsewhere" (Keegan ). In the first year of the blight, the English authorities took prompt action to remedy the situation. To prevent food prices from soaring, and to control the market, Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of England, purchased £100,000 worth of Indian corn and meal from the United States . This was a considerate gesture, by any
means, but the first act that should have been implemented was to prohibit the export of foodstuffs from Ireland.
This was never considered because foremost in Peel's mind was the thought of the revenue that the exports would
collect for England. But he did donate £365,000 in government grants and the Irish made it through the first year
But in 1846, the blight was more severe, and to complicate matters a new Chancellor of the Exchequor was elected,
Charles Wood. His economic philosophy, that of lassiez faire, was in tune with that of other
intellectual people of that era. They believed that government should not interfere with an economy, that "the
invisible hand" should rule it. So in 1846 no relief was extended to Ireland.
By 1847, the famine was raging out of control and many people were dying of both hunger and disease, so the English
Parliament passed the Labour Rate Act to Ireland. This act enabled the Irish to tax themselves to
give employment to those people worse off than they. Also granted was £100,000 to benefit those areas that were too
destitute to even raise money at all. Of course, Anglo-Irish agents, who distributed what money that remained after
their salaries had been deducted, administered these funds. This remaining money was paid to starving men for doing
unprofitable public work. The 'unprofitable' was a noted stipulation in the Act. Among other things, the Irish could
not build Irish railways because this would discriminate against English railway builders. They could not seed lands
because this might give the Irish farmer an advantage over the English farmer and enable him to fare better in the
market. The money could only be used, and was only used, to build roads where nobody ever travelled, to have them
start anywhere and end nowhere, or to erect bridges where there was no river.
These 'acceptable' uses can still be seen in parts of Ireland today as monuments to British wisdom. Reported in The Dublin Evening Mail was, "a gentleman
travelling… counts on both sides of the road… 'nine men and four ploughs' occupied in the fields; but sees multitudes of wan laborers… laboring to destroy the road he was traveling upon. It was 'public work'.
American corn was still being imported, but a ship sailing into an Irish harbour would meet several ships with Irish
foodstuffs sailing out. It is also noted that more corn was exported from Ireland in one month than
was imported in an entire year. It seems like such a contradiction, that in one of the richest
agricultural lands in the world, with plenty of crops to feed the population that so many people were dying of
Parliament's next idea was to force the English landowners in Ireland to bear the cost of the famine. The way the
landlord's dealt with the situation was to ship the poor tenants out of Ireland and to dump them on the United
States or Canada. This became the age of the 'coffin ships'. An actual letter from an agent to his tenants read,
"There is no hope for you as long as you remain in Ireland. The only means of improving your situation is to leave
the country. All those who are in arrears for rent will be forgiven what is due, passage to Canada will be paid and
you will be given a title to free land from our agents in Canada" (Keegan).
Many people have said that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. This is an understatement in this situation. Starving
from an artificially created famine, and disease ridden because of it, the poor tenants were easy bait. The cruelty
of the landlords is well known, but life aboard the coffin ships is hardly documented and the ultimate fate of the
emigrants is rarely adverted to. To put it simply, the route from Ireland to Canada is littered with the bodies and
graves of Irish tenant farmers. It is estimated that one million people died of hunger and another one million people emigrated.
The English Government of the time kept the Irish in total poverty and at the same time tried to convert them to the Protestant religion. Soup kitchens were set up by various religious organisations and if the Catholics changed religion to Protestant they received the soup. "Soupers" was a name the converts were now known by. The Quakers, however, won a place in the hearts of the Irish with their "no strings attached" good work and relief.  
 One authority on Irish History summed up the situation; "It would be difficult in the whole range of history, to find another instance in which various and powerful agencies agreed to degrade the character, and blast the prosperity of a nation" (Lecky).  England just wanted the economical
resources that Ireland could provide but did not want the responsibility that went with it.
The Irish people's feelings of resentment caused by the way the famine was handled (or not handled) were deep and
slow to heal. But Ireland survived, and didn't let the feelings cause bitterness. They let the hardships of the past
teach them valuable lessons that would lead them into a bright future, one full of reawakening culture and pride in
their country.
The Passing Of The Gael
They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills,
They are leaving far behind them the heathery moor and mountain rills,
All the wealth of hawthorn hedges where the brown thrush sways and thrills.
They are going, shy-eyed cailins, and lads so straight and tall,
From the purple peaks of Kerry, from the crags of wild Imaal,
From the greening plains of Mayo, and the glens of Donegal.
They are going, going, going, and we cannot bid them stay,
Their fields are now the strangers, where the strangers cattle stray,
Oh! Kathaleen Ni Houlihan, your ways a thorny way!
An accurate record of ninety thousand emigrants to Canada in ’47, records that; 6,100 died on the voyage, 4,100 died on arrival, 5,200 died in hospital and 1,900 soon died in the towns to which they travelled.
The Fenians
Fenianism began in Ireland and America at the end of the ‘Fifties. James Stephens who had been a very young man in the ’48 movement, and who had since been a tutor both in Paris and in Kerry, was the founder and great organiser of Fenianism. From that modest beginning sprang, at first slowly, but after a few years with a rapidity that was magical, one of the greatest of Irish movements, which had far reaching consequences. "The Irish People", the Fenian paper, was founded in ’63 with John O’Leary as the editor. "The Irish People" obtained a large circulation - but not so great as did "The Nation" in the Young Irelanders time.
In Autumn ’65 the Government suddenly delivered a great coup - seizing The Irish People, its editors, Stephens and many of the leading figures in the movement in various parts of the country. This was truly a disaster, removing as it did from the direction of the movement some of the wisest heads that guided it. And every one of the hundreds of thousands of the rank and file severely felt this blow - from which indeed the movement never recovered - even though Stephens was given back. The other Fenian leaders were tried in December on a charge of high treason and sentenced to penal servitude.
  Colonel John Kelly replaced Stephens and the Rising was arranged for March 5th, 1867. The Rising was frustrated by a combination of circumstance. The informer, Corydon, betrayed the plans; and, strangely, a great snow storm, one of the wildest and most protracted with which the country was ever visited made absolutely impossible not only all communications but all movements of men. One of the greatest Irish movements of the century ended apparently in complete failure.
 Interestingly for though there was not a success in rebellion, other kinds of success began to show immediately. Within two years,the Established (English) Church was disestablished, and within three years the first Land Act of the century, the Act of ’70 was made law. Prime Minister Gladstone afterwards confessed that "it was the healthy fear instilled in him by the astonishing spirit of the Fenian movement, which forced him to these actions".
Moreover, the spirit begotten by Fenianism went forward for future triumph.
Charles Stewart Parnell
From 1865-1870 the English courts in Ireland were kept busy with the trial of Fenian Prisoners. The leading counsel for the defence of the prisoners was Issac Butt QC, one of the most able and eloquent lawyers at the Bar. Butts definition of independence was not that of the Fenians. He invented a new term "Home Rule". The first meeting of the "Home Government Association" afterwards re-named the "Home Rule League" was held in a Dublin hotel in 1870. A resolution was passed "that the true remedy for the evils of Ireland is the establishment of an Irish Parliament with full control over our domestic affairs". Charles Stewart Parnell was the squire of Avondale, County Wicklow. In 1874 he was made High Sheriff of Wicklow. Then in 1875 he replaced John Martin as M.P. for Meath. Parnell remained for a while a spectator, not quite sure which course to pursue. After consideration he decided to adopt "Biggars". But Parnells obstruction was of a new brand. It was not just wanton like "Biggars"; it was scientific. The system was this : he would propose an amendment to practically every clause of every measure introduced by the Government, and then discuss each amendment fully, his friends forming relays to keep the discussion going.
In 1877 Issac Butt was called into the House to remove Parnell. He did so. Parnell disposed of him in one short sentence. Parnell and Butt were obviously coming to blows. On September 1st 1877, the Home Rule Federation of Great Britain held their annual meeting at Liverpool. Parnell was elected president over Butt. Butt was annoyed and made no secret of the fact. In 1880, he was elected leader of the Irish Party. Explanations of his rise to power are somewhat contradictory. There are two words common to all explanations of his election - character and personality. Parnell had only a limited belief in the efficiency of parliamentarianism. He was of opinion that without a well organised public opinion in Ireland his power in Parliament would be slight. He publicly advised the Irish people to keep a keen watch on the conduct of their representatives in the House of Commons. He publicly stated that long association with the House of Commons would destroy the integrity of any Irish Party. He saw nothing but disaster in the policy of conciliating the English.
Parnells wish for an energetic movement at home was gratified in an unexpected manner. Michael Davitt was released from prison. The name of Michael Davitt brings up the Land Question. Even in Ireland today, it is difficult to understand the condition of affairs in bygone days. During the year ‘76-’79 the distress of the Irish tenantry touched the line of famine. The rents were not reduced. The landlord demanded payment for land which the land never earned. England's Parliament would do nothing to remedy matters. Between 1870 and 1876 fourteen attempts to amend the Land Laws failed. It was no wonder that the Irish people got agitated. By 1876 their patience finally broke. That year a land agent was shot at in County Cork. In 1878 Lord Leitrim, whose reputation for rack-renting was notorious was shot in Donegal. His slayers were never discovered, though the whole population was supposed to know who they were. A great public meeting was held at Irishtown. The keynote of the speech was "the land for the people". The speakers in advocating peasant proprietary broke away notably from the more moderate land policy of Butt, "the three F’s" ie Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rents and Free Sale. A land revolution was in progress. Parnell was naturally, interested in this new movement. Butt had already warned him against the dangers latent in widespread organisations. He decided to take the risk. The ‘National Land League" was established at Castlebar. Parnell finally agreed to recognise the "National Land League" and to become its president. He did not interfere in the plans of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, neither did he give himself away. He had espoused Parliamentarianism and was determined to see what could be got out of it. Any outside help was all to the good.
The Land Struggle Begins
The following is a list of acts "at once liberal and prudent" which the British Parliament, with "almost unanimous sanction", did legislate on Ireland in those years :
1830 Importation of Arms Act
1831 Whiteboy Act
1831 Stanleys Arms Act
1832 Arms and Gunpowder Act
1833 Suppression of Disturbance
1833 Change of Venue Act
1834 Disturbances Amendment and Continuance
1834 Arms and Gunpowder Act
1835 Public Peace Act
1836 Another Arms Act
1838 Another Arms Act
1839 Unlawful Oaths Act
1840 Another Arms Act
1841 Outrages Act
1841 Another Arms Act
1843 Another Arms Act
1843 Act Consolidating all Previous Coercion Acts
1844 Unlawful Oaths Act
1845 Unlawful Oaths Act
1846 Constabulary Enlargement
1847 Crime and Outrage Act
1848 Treason Amendment Act
1848 Removal of Arms Act
1848 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1848 Another Oaths Act
1849 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1850 Crime and Outrage Act
1851 Unlawful Oaths Act
1853 Crime and Outrage Act
1854 Crime and Outrage Act
1855 Crime and Outrage Act
1856 Peace Preservation Act
1858 Peace Preservation Act
1860 Peace Preservation Act
1852 Peace Preservation Act
1862 Unlawful Oaths Act
1865 Peace Preservation Act
1866 Suspension of Habeas Corpus Act
1866 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1867 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1868 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1870 Peace Preservation Act
1871 Protection of Life and Property
1871 Peace Preservation Con.
1873 Peace Preservation Act
1875 Peace Preservation Act
1875 Unlawful Oaths Act
Fall of Parnell and of Parliamentarianism
Parnell was now the man of the hour. He had triumphed over all who had crossed his path. He had broken Forster; he had humbled even Gladstone. Captain O’Shea who had given what was meant to be damaging proof against him at the Times Commission, filed a petition for divorce against his wife, naming Parnell as co-respondent. There was no defence, and no appearance for the defence. Parnell ignored the whole business as if it were of no importance, whatever. When the decree was made absolute he promptly married Mrs O’Shea. If others had taken matters as coolly as Parnell, it might have been better. But a meeting of the party was called and a resolution of confidence in Parnells leadership was passed. The Irish Party met. Parnell simply asked them not to sell him without getting his value. Envoys of the party called on Mr Gladstone but to no avail. It was now a personal duel between Parnell and Gladstone. The latter won. Then came the Kilkenny election and Parnell crossed over to Ireland. That night, Parnell spoke a sentence that lived for ever in the hearts of those who heard it, and ought to live in the hearts of their descendants. He said :
"I don’t pretend that I had not moments of trial and of temptation, but I do claim that never in thought, word, or deed, have I been false to the trust which Irishmen have confided in me".
Parnells last meeting was at Creggs, County Galway. He was warned by his medical advisors not to go. This was on September 27th 1891. There was death in his face, as he delivered his speech. On October 6th, he died at Brighton. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, close beside O’Connell.
Shortly after Parnells death there was a General Election. Gladstone had a working majority of about forty-two. The Home Rule Bill of 1893 was passed in the House of Commons by a majority of forty-three. It was rejected by the House of Lords. Next year the "Grand Old Man" resigned and was succeeded by Lord Rosebery. John Redmonds party (the Parnellites), Dillons party, O’Briens party and Healys party, floundered rather hopelessly for years, disputing plenty, achieving little.
During the Boer war which broke out in 1899 the sympathies of the Irish people were, of course, on the side of the Boers, and no attempt was made to dissemble the delight in Ireland when the Boers scored a victory over the English. Major John MacBride held command of an Irish Brigade fighting with the Boer forces.
In 1902 on the initiative of Captain Shawe-Taylor, representatives of landlords and tenants met in conference to investigate the possibility of an agreed solution of the Land Question. An agreement was reached on the basis of long term purchase which would secure the landlords against loss, and while making the purchase money of their farms higher to the tenants would enable them to secure money at a low rate of interest, and secure them their land at a fixed annuity which would be lower than the actual rent. Mr George Wyndham, Chief Secretary, proceeded to give effect to these recommendations and the result was the Land Act of 1903.
In 1906, Mr Davitt passed away. One great quote bestows on him the high respect for Land League founder; "and dear to Irish hearts is that grave in Mayo, which encloses the mortal remains of a man whose spirit could not be broken".
In 1914 a so-called "Home Rule" Act was passed - empowering the Irish people to play at a "Parliament" in Dublin, whose enactment’s could be vetoed by either the British Lord Lieutenant or the British Parliament. The Irish Parliamentary Party grasping at any straw that might save it from being finally engulfed, begged Ireland to believe that this was the nations "great charter of liberty". When the "Home Rule" Bill became law, it was postponed on the plea that the war was on - in reality because Sir Edward Carson forbade its application.
The British Government kept postponing it period after period, till eventually it never went into force. The Irish people most of whom had at first been deceived into regarding it as a desirable step toward larger liberty, eventually disillusioned, would not in the end accept it. In the English House of Commons John Redmond in 1914, unreservedly offered the services of the manhood of Ireland in one of Englands wars. The Parliamentary leaders, Redmond, Dillon, Devlin and O’Connor, came out openly as Englands recruiting sergeants - and their followers in the country, disillusioned by their leaders stance, began a wholesales desertion - which in startlingly short time left the leaders looking in vain to find any followers. They were to be formally wiped out in the next general election. The Parliamentary Party, having compromised Irelands every claim to nationhood, and touched the depths of disgrace, then disappeared from history. And Ireland severed itself from the bad tradition of British Parliamentarianism.
Sinn Fein
The world  witnessed in Ireland an extraordinary national renaissance which expresses itself in literature, art, industry, social idealism, religious fervour and personal self-sacrifice. Deprived of the means of learning, impoverished and ground down, the Irish people for 200 years have not known culture or freedom, and their history for that period is gloomy reading. In the closing years of the 19th century the untilled field was ploughed up and sown in by the Gaelic League. From this educational movement which began in 1893 the whole revival of Irish Ireland may be dated. Recovering some measure of strength at last after the exhaustion of the famine years, but disheartened and confused by the collapse of the Parnell movement, Ireland welcomed the Gaelic League as a new and hopeful means of exerting her national energies.
The League spread like fire. The centre of gravity in national life changed from the anglicised towns to the rural population, sturdy, unspoilt, patriotic, virile, the offspring and living representatives of the traditional Gael. From this Irish politics began to reflect the mind of the real Irish race. Extraordinary little newspapers and magazines began to appear. The most important was the "United Irishman" edited by Mr Arthur Griffith. In 1905 Mr Griffith and his friends put before the nation a new political movement. In a newly founded weekly, Sinn Fein (succeeding the United Irishman) Mr Griffith proceeded to show how the nation could conduct its own affairs even while the national parliament was denied recognition by outside powers. Thus, through the Harbour Boards, difficulties could be imposed in the "dumping" of foreign goods, which would amount to a system of protection for Irish industries. The public could be organised for the support of native industry, and capital could be encouraged by the offer of rate-free sites etc. Arbitration Courts could be set up everywhere, superseding the British courts in civil matters. National insurance could be undertaken. National banks could divert from foreign sources the Irish money which could so much more profitably be invested in buying up Irish land, financing Irish developments and extending Irish control of home resources. A national mercantile marine could be co-operatively bought and set to carrying Irish produce to those Continental markets which offered so much better prices than the English markets to which English ships carried Irish cattle and manufactured goods. Irish commercial agents - consuls - could be sent to the great foreign trade centre. Though he alone could not have made Sinn Fein the power in Ireland that it is, yet those brilliant minds, those fighters and doers, who brought his movement to its strong position, would without him have been disunited and perhaps conflicting forces.
 When Easter Week was over, and the insurgents were crushed, the country was not broken as after ’98 or ’48 or ’67, because the large fabric of the comprehensive Sinn Fein policy remained, and the sacrifice of Pearse and his comrades served as a stimulus to the people to carry on the work of industrial revival, language-restoration etc.
When in 1910 Mr Redmond secured the Balance of Power in the British Parliament, Mr Griffith suspended the organising of Sinn Fein as a political party, giving the Parliamentary leader a free hand to achieve whatever he could achieve for Ireland with the parliamentary weapon. Unhappily Redmond allowed himself to be coerced by the threats of Sir Edward Carson, and early in 1914, accepted the principle of Partition. In Ireland, there was horror and almost despair.
Meanwhile, Nationalists had organised a Volunteer force numbering up to 200,000 to repel the threat of Sir Edward Carson’s Volunteers, who were armed with the connivance of English military authorities and at the expense of the English Unionists. But the Great War found the Irish situation under the influence of another element than Unionism, Parliamentarianism and Sinn Fein - Fenianism or Republicanism. A Physical Force party, aiming at an independent Irish Republic exerted an influence on public opinion that was far from being negligible. The Fenians adopted from Fintan Lalor the motto : "Repeal not the Union, but the Conquest".
These were lean years for Sinn Fein, but the two small parties of enthusiasts worked side by side without acrimony. Each was equally devoted to the full Irish-Ireland program of a Gaelicised nation. The Fenians were the active element in the Volunteers when that extraordinary armed movement came into being: but they did not at first control the new development. Such, then, were the factors in the Irish situation on which the Great War descended in August 1914.
Poblacht na hEireann

The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic To the People of Ireland
Irishmen and Irishwomen! In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives the old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag, and strikes for her freedom …….
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible……In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to National freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent Sate, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations ……
The Republic guarantees civil and religious liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past …….
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, whose blessing we invoke upon our arms…… In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children, to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.
Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government
Thomas J Clarke
Sean MacDiarmada Thomas MacDonagh
P H Pearse Eamon Ceannt
James Connolly Joseph Plunkett
Easter Rising
Early in 1914 the Carsonite Volunteers, with the British sympathisers in high places, ran a big cargo of arms ashore at Larne. Then the British Government prohibited the importation of arms into Ireland, lest the Nationalists should secure weapons too. The Irish Volunteers thus organised an illegal shipment of arms to Howth from the Continent. A rising had been planned for Easter Sunday. But on Easter Monday, soon after noon, the Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin, and the insurgent Tricolour suddenly broke on startled eyes from the flagstaff above the General Post Office in the heart of the Irish capital. The Easter Monday Rising, however, had no such military prospects of success. There was always, of course, the chance that a German success on the Western Front would break Englands defences and allow substantial help to be sent before the Rising was crushed, but this proved a vain hope. On the morning of Easter Monday, April 24th 1916, the Dublin battalions paraded, bearing full arms and one days rations. Shortly after noon, the General Post Office, the Four Courts, three of the railway termini, and other important points circling the centre of Dublin were rushed and occupied. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic was published in big placards.
There was little fighting on the first day of the Rising. Wholly unprepared since it was believed that the Volunteers had abandoned the project, the British authorities were taken by surprise and could not immediately muster forces to attack the insurgents before they had "dug themselves in". It was on Tuesday that a British force of some 4500 men attacked the rebel strongholds and secured the Castle. A cordon was then drawn around the north of the city, some of the rebel outposts being attacked and broken with rifle or artillery. Meanwhile large reinforcements were being hurried into Ireland. On the Thursday the encircling forces pressed closer and penetrated to the central scene of operations. Liberty Hall had been shattered by gunfire from the river, and now shells ignited great buildings in O’Connell Street. The lines of communication between the insurgent strongholds were broken, and the British Forces, concentrated on reducing headquarters, the General Post Office, over which the Republican flag still flew.
In Co Galway Liam Mellows led a large body of insurgents on Galway city. A gunboat in Galway Bay dispersed them by shellfire. At Athenry, the insurgent camp was surrounded and dispersed when the hopelessness of resistance became clear.
On Friday, a terrific bombardment had set the centre of Dublin city wholly ablaze. Banks, churches and business places were burned and reduced to rubble. The loss of life among non-combatants was appalling. Commandant Daly had destroyed the Linen Hall Barracks but was now surrounded at the Four Courts. Countess Markievicz, after being driven out of trenches in Stephens Green, was defending the College of Surgeons. Commandant McDonagh was surrounded in Jacobs factory. Commandant de Valera, whose men had so tenaciously resisted the advance from the south, was now holding Bolands Mills, while Commandant Ceannt held part of the South Dublin Union. On Saturday at 2pm Pearse surrendered to Sir John Maxwell unconditionally. And so the Rising ended, the outstanding forces laid down their arms on the Sunday.
All the signatories of the Republican declaration were put to death. Some death sentences were commuted to sentences of imprisonment for life, happily for Ireland, Commandant de Valera escaped such a fate (due entirely to his American citizenship). After a year the prisoners were released for the purpose of English propaganda in America. When one year later that is, in 1918, England decreed the conscription of Irelands manhood to save her from the great German advance, it was around deValera that the nation rallied. His coolness and wisdom saved Ireland from a bloody defeat, and secured a moral victory. In December, at the General Election, all Nationalist Ireland declared its allegiance to the Republican ideal, and the Sinn Fein policy of abstention from Westminster was adopted. In January, the republican representatives assembled in Dublin and founded Dail Eireann, the Irish Constituent Assembly, proclaiming the Republic once again. A message was sent to the nations of the world requesting the recognition of the free Irish Sate, and a national government was elected.
The Last War ?
No sooner had the new Government begun to flourish, established its Courts, appointed Consuls, started a stock-taking of the country’s undeveloped natural resources, and put a hundred constructive schemes to work, than Britain stepped in, with her army of Soldiers and Constabulary, to counter the work, harassing and imprisoning the workers. This move of Englands called forth a secretly built-up Irish Republican Army which, early in 1920, began a guerilla warfare, and quickly succeeded in clearing vast districts of the Constabulary who were ever Englands right arm in Ireland. Lloyd George met this not only by pouring into Ireland regiments of soldiers with tanks, armoured cars and all the other terrorising paraphernalia that had been found useful in the European War, but also by organising and turning loose upon Ireland an irregular force of Britons, among the most vicious and bloodthirsty known to history - the force which quickly became notorious to the world under the title of the Black and Tans. Yet the well planned campaign for the quick wasting of Ireland, and breaking of Irelands spirit did not come off on schedule. The atrocities which were meant to frighten and subdue, only stimulated the outraged nation to more vigour ; and by the time the fight was expected to end it was found to be only well begun.
More than by anything else, probably, the world was awakened to the truth of the situation in Ireland through the extraordinary heroism of Terence MacSwiney, who in protest against the foreign tyranny which seized and jailed him as a criminal for the guilt of working for his country, refused to eat in a British jail. After three months of "hunger strike" McSwiney died. The world was stirred. The terrible truth about Britains treatment of Ireland began to be realised. In the spring of 1921 there was galloped through the English Parliament a "Home Rule Bill" for Ireland - however the eastern part of Ulster, the protestant dominated corner, received a Parliament of its own. This move detached it from the rest of Ireland, thus dividing the nation on sectarian lines. The Prime Minister invited Sinn Fein to a meeting. Ireland had proved unconquerable by any other means. President De Valera for the Irish Republic accepted the invitation. An offer was made to give Ireland what Lloyd George called  "Dominion status" - supposedly that amount of freedom under the British Crown which equalled that of Canada and Australia - but less the control by Britain of the Irish harbours, seas, skies and some other requirements. The offer was promptly and unanimously rejected by An Dail Eireann.
 Then, after resorting to threat of a renewed war upon Ireland far more fierce than had gone before, the English Prime Minister invited Ireland to send delegates to a peace conference, on the understanding that the idea of separating Ireland from the British Crown should not be considered. De Valera, for An Dail Eireann, refused such condition. Lloyd George finally called for a conference free of conditions to be held in London on October 11th 1921. President De Valera accepted the invitation. An Irish delegation headed by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins met representatives of the British Cabinet in London, and after six weeks conference, the Irish delegates, compelled by threat of renewed ruthless warfare on their land, signed a compromise treaty on December 6th. The British Parliament almost unanimously ratified the treaty for Britain. But in Ireland De Valera fought for a change in the treaty terms - and a change in the form of oath. He would "externally associate" Ireland with the British Empire and would have elected Irish representatives swear to "recognize" the English king as the head of the association of British nations with which Ireland now joined. An important group of the Irish workers and fighters held out for the Irish Republic, which had been consecrated by the blood of Pearse, Connolly, Clarke and their gallant companions. After long and hot debate, the Dail Eireann, on January 7th 1922, ratified the treaty by a narrow majority.
Seemingly an end was put to one phase of Irelands struggle. But the end was not yet.
After the Treaty
The treaty was signed on behalf of Ireland by Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Robert Barton, Eamon Duggan and George Gavan Duffy. The first three were Ministers of the Irish Executive Council. The delegates returned to find the Dail already split - those members who were in favour of the Treaty on one side and those opposed on the other. President de Valera heading the opposition, opposed the Treaty because (1) the Partition clause (2) the inclusion of an oath of allegiance to the King of England (3) the appointment of a Governor General to represent the British King in Dublin (4) the retention by the British of certain Irish ports which were to be used by the British naval fleet as naval bases. The proponents of the Treaty held it would be madness to reject it because, while Ireland was too exhausted to continue the fight now, it gave Ireland an immensely greater measure of independence than had ever been offered in any Home Rule bill, involving complete control of Local Government, education, customs and excise, police force and a limited army. Arthur Griffith believed that the Boundary clause in the Treaty would end partition. The vote, taken on January 7th 1922, revealed 64 of the deputies in favour of the Treaty and 57 against. The pro-Treaty party, under Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, became known henceforth as the Free State party, the anti-Treaty party as the Republicans. A provisional government was formed with Arthur Griffith as President, Michael Collins of Finance, William Cosgrave as Minister for Local Government, George Gavan Duffy as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin O’Higgins as Minister for Economic Affairs and Richard Mulcahy as Minister for Defence.
On January 14th the 64 pro-Treaty members met to form a Provisional Government and officially approve the Treaty. Evacuation of British troops from the twenty-six counties was begun at once, also disbanding was Irish Constabulary and evacuation of the hated Auxiliaries and bloody-handed Black and Tans. An Irish police force, the Civic Guard was formed. During the first six months of 1922 the country gradually drifted into Civil War. Republican troops had occupied the Four Courts and other public buildings in Dublin in April and were entrenched there. On June 1926 came what amounted to an ultimatum from Winston Churchill, speaking for the British Government, demanding that the Provisional Government should immediately dislodge the Irish Republican Army from these positions. The Free State troops opened fire on the Four Courts on June 26, the siege lasted two days and ended in the burning of the building. The fighting continued intermittently throughout the country until May 1923, when De Valera called on the remnant of the Republicans to cease fire - but, despite this, many small bodies of them perseveringly carried on a harassing guerilla warfare. In August 1922, Arthur Griffith, President of the Dail, died suddenly. A few days later, Michael Collins, Commander-in-Chief of the Free State forces was killed in an ambush in Cork. During the succeeding months seventy-seven Republican prisoners were executed. They included Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Erskine Childers. The first meeting of the newly elected Dail was held under heavy guard in the autumn of 1922. In September they began the formulation of the Free State Constitution. William Cosgrave, who had been chosen as Vice President by Arthur Griffith, was President of this Dail. Cabinet members were Kevin O’Higgins, Richard Mulcahy, Ernest Blythe, Desmond Fitzgerald and Patrick Hogan. The Republican party did not take their seats in this Dail as they refused to take the oath of allegiance - so from 1923 to 1927 the Government party functioned without opposition except from a small Labour group and a few pro-British Independents.
In 1924, in accordance with terms of the Treaty, a Boundary Commission was set up - for altering or confirming the provisional boundary between "Northern Ireland" and the Free State. The situation was aggravated by the continuing bitterness between the Government party and the Republicans and by the severe agricultural depression - which was a part of the prevailing world depression. The second General Election was held in 1927, showing a decided gain for the Republicans. Fianna Fail (Republicans) still declined to sit because of the oath of allegiance and things seemed about to progress as before. But on Sunday July 10th 1927, Kevin O’Higgins, Vice President was assassinated. Faced with the alternative of seeing his party denied all power to register the amount of popular support accorded them, and being determined to embark on a constitutional movement, Mr De Valera after publicly declaring that he attached no binding power to an oath that was forced on them, led his party into the Dail and went through the form of oath-taking on August 12th 1927. Early in 1932 Cosgrave's government was defeated on a vote in the Dail and a General Election was called. De Valera took 72 of the 151 seats against Cosgrave’s 65, and assumed office. He at once introduced a bill to remove the oath of allegiance and with the help of the Labour party carried it through the Dail. From the time the Fianna Fail party took office, payment of the land annuities to Britain were withheld, leading to a bitter quarrel between the two countries and developing into an economic war. In 1938 the British government called a halt, and began negotiations for settlement of the dispute. Mr De Valera refused to enter the negotiations unless the whole general field of relations between the two counties was brought into review. In the result, the British accepted the sum of ten million pounds in lieu of the annuities - a small fraction of their worth - and agreed to hand over the reserved ports of Cobh, Castletowbere and Lough Swilly to the Irish government. The British refused however, to negotiate on the question of Irelands partition and that problem remained outstanding.
In 1938 came one of the greatest achievements of the Irish government - the enactment of the new Constitution. The Constitution asserts that "Ireland is a sovereign and democratic state, and all powers derive under God from the people, who are the final arbiters of any and every question. The principles of social justice which are set forth in the Constitution are of the highest order".
 Shortly after de Valera came to power, it was the turn of Irelands representative to preside at the League of Nations. De Valera did so with distinction and pride. Later in 1938 he told the world through the medium of the League, that "civilisation was heading for disaster and destruction in another world war. He said that if and when that war came and was over, there would be another "Peace" conference - but why should not a real peace conference come first ? so that the world might be saved pain, misery, disillusionment and destruction". His words were not listened to.


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