The Ulster Plantation
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 Rising of 1641
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 OMoore 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 War of the Forties
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 ONeill. With Owen Roes coming arose Irelands bright star of hope - and with his passing, that star set. Owen Roe was a nephew of Hugh ONeill, Earl of Tyrone, who fled at the centurys 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 Roes and Irelands.
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 Gods will it proved, their turning to him was in vain.