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Thursday 15 August 2002, 9.02 am - 9.30 am.
Melvyn Bragg follows his long historical exploration of the Routes of English with Voices of the Powerless, in which he explores the lives of the ordinary working men and women of Britain at six critical moments across the last 1,000 years.

Read the original sources..>>

The Plantation of Ireland - Introduction
Ulster, one of the four ancient provinces of Ireland, remained largely independent of English rule until the end of the 16th century.

During the 16th century the English had tried to break the powers of the Gaelic overlords primarily through military conquest. Many of the Gaelic gentry were attracted by the security of land title that the Crown promised. The seizing of land by expansionist overlords, such as Hugh O'Neill, had created great resentment among the lesser lords. Many of this class had fought against O'Neill and initially welcomed the plantation.

Ireland at the time of the Spanish Armada: an Irish chief entertained by a bard and harper - from a series of woodcuts from The Image of Irelande by John Derrick, 1581.

The plantation period the programme analyses is the half century between the Tudor conquest of Ulster in the 1590s to the rebellion of the Ulster Irish in 1641.

The Plantation
During the period of mid 16th century to mid 17th century Ulster is unique in being the only place to be colonized on a major scale within Europe.

James 1 was closely involved in the planning. The official government sponsored plantation of Ulster (previous plantation schemes had been privately organized) began in 1610, initially with the co-operation of many Irish landowners.

The Ulster Plantation, like earlier 16th century plantations in Leix, Offaly and Munster, was chiefly driven by the English government's desire for financial gain and increased security, pragmatic concerns rather than a political or religious crusade.

A survey of the Estate of the Plantation of the County of Londonderry taken in 1624 by Sir Thomas Philips.

The aim was:
  1. To replace Gaelic law with English law.
  2. protect against future alliances between a Gaelic Ulster and Spain.
  3. Establish the king's title to confiscated lands.
  4. Offer land to English servitors and settlers.
There were certain factors that made the plantation possible, including: the Flight of the Earls( Gaelic Lords opposed to England including the 'Great O'Neill'), the availability of vast church lands and the confiscation of land following a series of rebellions made unprecedented amounts of territory available for colonisation.

1n 1610 the structure of the plantation was finalised. It involved three grades of grantees of land: English and Scottish 'undertakers' ( on whom the chief responsibility for the plantation was to fall ), Servitors ( English crown servants in Ireland ) and native Irish freeholders.

While several hundred Irish remained landowners, threee times as much land was acquired by English and Scottish grantees.

Effects of the Plantation on the Ulster Irish
The Irish remained in the majority on all estates. Some poorer Irish may have benefitted from the secure leases offered by servitors and undertakers. Only the 'kerne', the remaining soldiers or swordsmen of the Gaelic lords were expelled, living as outlaws in the woods or forcibly shipped abroad.

However, those Irish who remained on plantation lands were rarely given ownership. This combined with the flight or death of the greatest of the lords had a grave impact on the whole of Gaelic society.

Thomas Raven's map of land division in Ulster, circa 1625.

The Irish were not forcibly pushed onto poor and marginal land but in some counties, although not all, English and Scots settlers did increasingly dominate the more fertile land.

The 1641 rebellion.
Many of the smaller landowners who had welcomed the plantation and the opportunity to formalise ownership of their land. Gradually however, and partly as a result of their own failure to adapt to a commercial economy, this group became disaffected. It was among this class, the gentry class, that resentment really became overwhelming and it was they who initiated the 1641 rebellion against the settlers.

Although tens of thousands of British settled, they remained in the minority. Many of the Ulster Irish were resentful and they saw their opportunity as King Charles was quarrelled with his Parliament. Together they rose in rebellion and overwhelmed the Planters over almost the whole of Ulster.

Atrocities against the settlers by the local population took place. Thousands were killed and made homeless.

The British Crown lost control of almost the whole of Ulster as a civil war began in England. War raged in Ulster for many years, and an end to the turmoil was brought about only by the arrival of Cromwell in 1649.

Dr Jonathan Bardon of Queen's University, Belfast.
Dr Hiram Morgan of University College, Cork.
Professor Nicholas Canny of the National University of Ireland in Galway.
Roddy Hegarty of Federation for Ulster Local Studies.
Listen Live
Audio Help
l - Castles and Cruelty - extracts on programme page.
2 - The Peasants' Revolt - extracts on programme page.
-3 - The Reformation - extracts on programme page
4 - The Plantation of Ulster - extracts on programme page
5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester - - extracts on programme page
Listen to Melvyn Bragg talk about Voices of the Powerless
Listen to Simon Elmes, executive producer, give an unigue insight into the programme.
Listen to the signature music
Go to - Homepage.
Go to Prog l - Castles and Cruelty
Go to Prog 1 - Biography of Orderic Vitalis
Go to Prog 2 - The Peasants' Revolt
Go to Prog 3 - The Reformation
Go to Prog 3 - The Reformation - Key Events
Go to Prog 4 - The Plantation of Ireland in the Counties of Armagh and Tyrone.
Go to Prog 5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester
Read The Sources
Go to Prog 1 - Castles and Cruelty
Go to Prog 2 - The Peasants' Revolt
Go to Prog 3 - the Reformation
Go to Prog 4 - the Plantation of Ulster
Go to Prog 5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester

In Our Time
Thursday 9.00-9.45am, rpt 9.30-10.00pm. Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas. Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.
This Sceptred Isle
BBC History - Plantation of Ireland
Melvyn Bragg
Melvyn Bragg presents In Our Time for BBC Radio 4, a series where he and his guests discuss the "Big Ideas" of cultural or scientific significance.

He also presented The Routes of English, his millennial series celebrating 1,000 years of the English language.

Melvyn Bragg was born in 1939 in Wigton, Cumbria - where many of his books are set. He won a scholarship to Oxford to read history, and in 1961 he gained a coveted traineeship with the BBC.

He has presented a number of television series including: Read All about It, Two Thousand Years, and Who's Afraid of the Ten Commandments? and createdThe South Bank Show.

Melvyn presented Start the Week between 1988 and 1998. In his 1998 series On Giant's Shoulders he interviewed scientists about their eminent predecessors.

As well as presenting for Radio 4, he is Controller of Arts for London Weekend Television. In 1998 he was made a life peer. He's written 17 novels, the latest of which, The Soldier's Return, won the WH Smith Literary Award.

Melvyn Bragg was made a Life Peer in 1998 and he took the title of Baron Bragg of Wigton in the County of Cumbria.

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