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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Reaction of the Natives
- Dr. Hiram Morgan

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The natives were affected in a number of ways: the upper classes were decimated by the Plantation of Ulster. In the first instance, many of them had left in the so-called ‘Flight of the Earls’; and then in the land grants that took place, they were of course really quite marginal to the land grants, and only 20 per cent of the land was granted to native Irish Ulster Catholics. So that in those terms 80 per cent of the land was lost to the Irish.

Furthermore, of that 20 per cent a lot of those grants were ‘life grants’ so that those grants expired with the lives of the people the land was granted to. Furthermore, more lands were lost after the 1516 conspiracy so that probably by the 1630s, much more like 12 per cent of the land is owned by native Catholic gentry.

The other consequences... the consequence for the vast majority of the people, the native lower-classes as it were - now their position is very interesting. In the first instance they benefit from the Plantation, in the sense that the tyranny and the exactions of their local lords is removed from them; so that in the first ten or 15 years of the Plantation they are in a quite advantageous position, and one of the great themes of Gaelic literature in the Early 17th century is the ‘uppity Catholic’ - these lower classes who are making their way.

But the thing is that as large numbers of settlers come in the late '20s and Early '30s, these Irish are themselves forced out of tenancies onto bad lands so that they suffer by the 1630s. So their position is pretty good at the start when there are few settlers around but by the 1630s their position is quite attenuated.

And the other consequence also is that for the first time I suppose in Irish history if you like, people experience religious persecution.

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