The reasons for the so called ‘Irish Problem’ goes back many centuries and began with the forced subjugation of its native people, the Celts who had a wonderfully complex culture centred on nature. The Celts regarded the Romans as barbarians because of their practice of murdering prisoners or selling them , including women and children, into slavery. Then came Christianity.
Europeans Christians invaded many countries seeking to impose their beliefs on peoples neither want it or needed it because they had a berlive system and a cultured in balance with the land, and it had sustained them for centuries. This was always the way Christians did things, hiding their greed for land and gold, spices and other commodities behind religion and it continued for centuries, all over the world. Counties such as South America, North America, Australia, South Africa, India were invaded and claimed for one European King or another. In many cases this involved the annihilation of the native populations either by war or by disease.
Ireland received much the same treatment, despite being close to England's shores. Under the Gaelic system from earliest times, the Celts were largely farmers/herders with common rights of ownership of the soil, their landlord was a chief or king who was elected by them. That was until one king invited Norman mercenaries to Ireland to help him with his local problems, from then on things began to change.
The newly arrived Normans seized large tracts of land with each defeat of an Irish chief in battle. This was not helped by the fact that the Irish people regularly rose up in revolt. The incomers, the gentlemen leaders of the army, were given grants of land as reward for their military service. Uprisings continued throughout the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries until by 1640, thirty five percent of all the tillable land in Ireland was owned by outsiders or English soldiers/settlers.
The Tudor 16th century re-conquest of Ireland took place under the Tudor dynasty. It following a failed rebellion against the crown by the Geraldines in the 1530s. Henry VIII was declared King of Ireland by statute of the Irish parliament, with the aim of restoring such central authority as had been lost throughout the country during the previous two hundred years.
By bloody and merciless repression the conquest continued for sixty years, until 1603, when the entire country came under the nominal control of James I exercised through his privy council at Dublin. This control was perfected upon the Flight of the Earls in 1607.
The conquest was complicated by the imposition of English law, language and culture, as well as by the extension of the English Protestant Reformation. The Roman Catholic Spanish Empire intervened several times at the height of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604), and the Irish found themselves caught between their widespread acceptance of the Pope's authority and the requirements of allegiance demanded of them by the English Monarchy.
By the time this conquest was complet Gaelic Ireland had been largely destroyed and the Spanish were no longer willing to intervene directly. This left the way clear for extensive confiscation of the country by English, Scots, and Welsh colonists, and dispossession of former Irish landowners which culminated in the Plantation of Ulster.
Plantations were the confiscation of land by the Government of England and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and Scotland. They were established throughout the country by the confiscation of lands occupied by Gaelic clans and Hiberno-Norman dynasties, but principally in the provinces of Munster and Ulster. The lands were then granted by Crown authority to colonists ("planters") from Britain. This process began during the reign of Henry VIII and continued under Mary I and Elizabeth I. This was accelerated under James I, Charles I and Cromwell.
In 1641, just before the English Civil War (1642-1651) the Irish mounted a nationwide war, the "Great Rebellion", a fight that dragged on for eleven years with wholesale death and destruction throughout Ireland
fanatical Oliver Cromwell brought his New Model Army to Ireland. They marched
into every Irish town, slaughtering those who resisted. Drogheda, is a prime
example of the ruthless ferocity with which the British executed their mission
to subdue Ireland. In Drogheda they found a few defending soldiers and some
three thousand unarmed civilians.
By 1652, one third of the Irish Catholic population had been killed and thousands had been transported to the West Indies as slaves. Next came an order to either move to the barren lands of western Ireland or be killed, "to hell or Connaught"- By 1655 seventy five percent of land was owned by non-Irish (Protestants). Yet despite this an Irish nation still existed--separate, numerous and, not surprisingly, very hostile.
English authorities now felt safe believing that Irish rebellions would cease because of savagery used in the suppression. They soon found out that they were wrong.
New trouble started in 1685 when Charles II, died and was succeeded by his brother James II, a Catholic. The Catholic Irish believed the new king would restore their lands and gave him their wholehearted support, however Britain's political and religious leaders became increasingly opposed him, he was too pro-French, too pro-Catholic and too much the absolute monarch. Protestant nobles in England wishing to retain control and their religious observance, and maybe dreading a return to the bloody time of Mary Tudor, invited the Dutch Protestant William of Orange to come to England to be their king, his right to the throne coming from his Mary the daughter of James II.
William accepted their offer and in 1688 James II, fled to France, thereby abdicating, and planned to regain his throne. William came to England to Brixham where he was welcomed by the populace.
James landed in Ireland in 1689 and won a series of battles before William’s army landed in July 1690 and defeated him at the Battle of the Boyne. However, feeling threatened by a Catholic army so close to their shores the English government enacted a series of laws aimed at reducing the threat and the Irish Catholics to almost nothing.
The Penal Laws forbade the Irish Catholic’s education, they could not serve in the military, or be employed in professional vocations. They were not allowed civic responsibilities, nor could they attend Catholic Church services.
They were not permitted to purchase land and for those already in possession of land the normal rule of primogenitor was voided. The eldest son could not inherit and estates had to be equally among all the sons--unless one of them renounced his Catholic faith and became a Protestant, in which case he took the lot.
The Catholics were not permitted to own horse valued more than £25, and if a Protestant offered a Catholic that £25 for his horse, he was obliged to sell it to him. This resulted in bizarre events such as one Irish catholic farmer who shot his favourite horse rather than sell it to a Protestant incomer.
One of the most hated provisions of these laws obliged all Catholics (but not Protestants) to pay tithes to the Church of England. Since Ireland was more than ninety five percent Catholic, the Protestant ministers received their income from people who never came to their church making the annual income of many ministers in Ireland three times that of one in England.
There is one irony to this law. The names of all the heads of households who paid their tithes were dutifully recorded and today these lists have proven to be an excellent source of genealogical information for people tracing their Irish roots.
Notes on Pomeroys in Ireland
1184 AD ~Pipe Rolls of Henry II; Record of a/c for 60/- for passage to Ireland of Joscelin de Pomeray. Powley’s history of the Pomeroy states that Henry II offered the Kingdom of Limerick to Joscelin de la Pomerai in 1177 but either he did not accept or failed to subdue it.