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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Long term consequences
- Professor Nicholas Canny

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Unquestionably, the Plantation in the medium-term - the fact that it wasn’t a total success - means that you have the survival of a historical memory of dispossession. The fact that the Plantation was, after 30 years, followed by the insurrection of 1641, and all of the unpleasantness associated with that, means on both sides that you have the formulation of opposition statements, and the cultivation of historical memories resulting from the atrocities which occurred on both sides, if you proceed from 1641 forward to the Cromwellian confiscation of the 1650s.

None of these are unique to Ulster: the Plantation happened in many parts of Ireland other than in Ulster. The principal ingredient that makes Ulster different is that the Plantation in Ulster was followed at the end of the 17th century, in the 1690s, and again continuing into the Early years of the 18th century, of a significant further influx of Scottish people.

So that it was at this juncture that the population balance in Ulster moves, in particular areas, particularly the north-eastern parts of Ulster, significantly towards Protestantism rather than Catholicism, and towards Scots rather than English. Because you have this further in-migration which occurs because a Scottish population in Ulster already existed and because a calamitous collapse in the Scottish economy occurred during the 1690s. And Ulster was the principal place of outlet for people who were fleeing effectively from the collapse of an agricultural economy, and that dramatically transforms the population balance, particularly in the Ulster north-east.

And this would have been happening at a time when the Protestant population on the ground in Munster, for example, where population had also occurred, the Protestant population was probably declining through out-migration to the Americas at that point, and then you have this dramatic increase occurring in the particular Scottish element in the Ulster Plantation.

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