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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Women and the Plantation
- Dr. Mary O'Dowd

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It is quite difficult to document the effect the Plantation had on the local community in Ulster, before 1641. In the depositions of 1641 you can get hints that people are learning to speak English, that they are following some English customs in the way they hold their land. But culturally, it is extremely difficult to prove that society has been changed dramatically as a result of the Plantation.

Q: - But no evidence to suggest that women changed their fashions because they see Scottish and English women dressing differently?

No, what you do get in the depositions (which is the first real references to women’s dress) - you do get in the depositions a number of commentators, from the local Irish population, speaking in a very resentful way about the English and Scottish women’s fashion.

A number of women in the settler community are targeted for attacks from their (usually) female neighbours because of the dress they are wearing. They are attacked sometimes just so that the clothes could be stolen, and there are descriptions of local Irish women stealing dresses from some of the settlers and then putting on the dresses themselves almost immediately.

But you also get statements which clEarly suggest that the fashions, the new fashions brought in by the settler women, were almost seen as symbolic of the changes in Ulster society. And there are statements like ‘After the rebellion is over, we are gong to go back to wearing Irish-style dress and all of the new fashions introduced by the English and Scottish people will be banned or prohibited in Irish society’. So that suggests that there is a resentment at the way in which these people dress differently.

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