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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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1641 rebellion
- Dr. John McCavitt

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Such was the acute sense of discontent by the native Irish in Ulster in 1610, that I have no doubt that there was a lingering bitterness. So how do you account then for the fact that there’s, you know, there’s 30 years, 31 years of a time lapse? And what you must remember is that, at the time of the Ulster Plantation in 1610, there was a concurrent transportation scheme carried out by the royal authorities, which resulted in some 6,000 able-bodied men being transported from Ireland to Sweden. The vast majority of those people were shipped out from Ulster so, to a large extent, the 30-year time lapse is accountable for the fact that a lot of the able-bodied manhood of Ulster (the swordsmen as they were known) have been shipped out.

Secondly, in the Early years of the Plantation, the Crown Authorities had done their best to decommission the arms of the native Irish. You know, it’s a remarkable sort of comparison to the present-day situation where a proclamation was issued in 1605 which sought to disarm people in Ireland. So you actually had a situation in 1610 and thereafter, where the native Irish basically didn’t have any weapons: it’s very hard to launch a revolt without weapons. There’s a remarkable story at the time of the O’Doherty’s rebellion in Derry in 1608 (in the Bogside area of Derry, known as ‘the Bogside’ back then too) where one English Officer was only eventually killed because he had been hit on the head with a stone.

So it’s, you know, the insurgents were so poorly armed - there was only a hundred of them, or a couple of hundred of them - they were so poorly armed that some of them came armed with stones. So it would have been very hard for the Ulster-Irish in 1610 or shortly thereafter to rise in revolt, and again not least because of their leaders had gone to the Continent, Hugh O’Neill.

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