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The 17th century


(8) Inniskilling flag Fragment of the flag carried by the Inniskilling men at the Boyne, 1690. - 49k

From the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Museum at Enniskillen Castle.

The flight of the earls was followed by an unsuccessful rebellion in 1608 by Sir Cahir O'Doherty. Sir Niall O'Donnell and Sir Donnell O'Cahan were also accused of treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London. This meant that almost all the land in the six counties of Tyrconnell (Donegal), Coleraine, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Cavan could be confiscated by the crown, and therefore available for plantation.

The plantation was to be carried out by "undertakers", who could only take Scottish and English tenants, and servitors who were often ex-soldiers but could take Irish tenants. About a quarter of the land was to be retained by the "deserving" Irish who had not been implicated in the rebellions. County Coleraine was planted by London companies (including Clothworkers, Drapers and Fishmongers) and was renamed County Londonderry.
"Haveing taken an exact survey of ye workes and plantacon performed by the Cittie of London, I cannot find that either in the one or other they ever intended his Majesties satisfacc'on ..."
- Sir Josias Bodley,
in a report to James I, 1614.

The population of Ireland in 1600 may not have been much more than 1 million. The Ulster counties were the poorest in Ireland and had been devastated by nine years of war. In the early years of the plantation, not enough settlers came to fulfil the aims of the plantation, and there were complaints that the undertakers were allowing Irish tenants live on their estates. There seemed to be no reason to believe that this plantation would be any more successful than any of the others carried out in Ireland. In fact, it was probably the influx of Scottish immigrants later in the century, mainly moving to Antrim and Down, which was to bring the strong Scottish traditions which persist in Ulster to this day.

In 1641, there was a major rebellion led by the Catholic gentry, who had lost most during the plantation. The accounts of the massacres of the settlers appear to be exaggerated, but certainly many men, women and children were killed, and others died from exposure and hunger. The following years were unsettled and extremely confused, with Civil War in England and the arrival of a Scottish army under General Monro at Carrickfergus in 1642. In 1649, Cromwell arrived in Ireland and took merciless revenge at Drogheda and Wexford for the Ulster massacres of 1641. In December, his army also defeated the settlers' army in Ulster.   
"I am persuaded that this is the righteous judgement of God upon those barbarous wretches who have imbrued their hands with so much innocent blood"
- Oliver Cromwell.

From about the middle of the century, there was a rise in exports of salt beef from Ireland to the new colonies in the West Indies, from ports like Galway. However, it was not until the 1680s that there was a marked improvement in economic conditions in Ulster, when there was a further influx of immigrants and capital. This was also the beginning of the rapid growth of Belfast, which became the fourth most important port in Ireland by 1700.

In 1688, Ulster once more became embroiled in conflict as a result of the Glorious Revolution, when the Protestant William of Orange was invited to take the English throne, replacing the Catholic James II. Even before William accepted the crown in England, a group of apprentice boys took matters into their own hands, shutting the gates of Londonderry to stop the Earl of Antrim's Catholic troops entering the city. The siege started in April 1689, when Jacobite troops blockaded the city to try to starve the garrison into submission. After 105 days, following many deaths from starvation and disease, the merchant ship Mountjoy broke the boom across the Foyle to bring supplies to the city. The garrison at Enniskillen also refused to surrender to the Jacobites, and won a notable victory at Newtownbutler.

In June 1690, William III landed in Carrickfergus, and started to move his army towards Dublin. He won a significant victory at the Battle of the Boyne, although the Jacobites were able to retreat in good order towards Limerick. A daring raid on the Williamite siege train frustrated attempts to take Limerick, and William himself had to return to London. It was not until 1691, after heavy Jacobite losses at the Battle of Aughrim, that Limerick finally surrendered. After the Treaty of Limerick, many Irish soldiers, who later became known as the "wild geese", were allowed to sail away to fight for Louis XIV of France.

See also:
The English Civil War

The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology

(7) Tudor conquest
Tudor conquest
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