Plantation of Ulster, The
During the reign of James I, an official scheme was drawn up for the ‘plantation’ of designated areas in west Ulster. However, the actual area settled by the new colonists was much more extensive.
With them came innovation. A radical transformation of the landscape began. The spread of a market-based economy resulted in a quite spectacular growth in urbanisation. Permanent dwellings of a more sophisticated construction became the norm in many areas, and around the towns new field patterns emerged. The spread of hedged enclosures heralded innovations in agricultural methods, tools, livestock and systems of land tenure. In a more abstract sense, the settlers also brought with them new religion, new language, new surnames and of course a change in political and historical allegiances.
This account of the plantation landscape shows how colonisation on the ground was not as much influenced either by the London Government or by the new landowners as has often been assumed. Environmental factors proved more important than governmental controls in shaping the emerging settlement pattern where Scots Dissenters, English Protestants and native Irish Catholics each consolidated their own territories. The author also demonstrates how seeds of conflict were quickly sown between the Protestants and the Catholic natives whom they displaced, with consequences that last to this day.