Sunday, 13 November 2011

Irish Rebellion 1641

Irish Rebellion 1641

Charles I was on the throne of England and was attempting to maintain both control over Ireland and indeed his own parliament, who were nervous as he chosen to marry a Catholic, Henrietta Maria, a French princess. Irish History shows that in the year of 1641 a major Irish rebellion took place when the people of Ulster saw England's weakness as their opportunity to strike.

There was already resentment at the failure to pass the graces in parliament and many complaints about religious hardness.  Sir Phelim O’Neill and other members of the Irish gentry were keen to recover their lands and take back their homes and farms.

They were joined by Owen Roe O’Neill who had proved himself in the battlefields of Spain and he urged an immediate rising.  The main plan of the attack was to take Dublin Castle mainly to acquire the large store of arms kept there. The rising was compromised on Dublin Castle as tey were informed on by Owen O'Connolly to whom one of the gentry had brought him in on the plan.

The leaders were arrested, but the rebellion went ahead in Ulster, and in the early days had some success under the leadership of Phelim O'Neill. Once he had secured Ulster he marched on Drogheda where he was joined by the Anglo-Irish. The initial plan had been to have as little bloodshed as possible but many did die mainly due to personal vendettas from O’Neill’s assembled army.

The Irish then met in Kilkenny to consolidate what they had gained and in October 1642 effectively became Ireland's new government. This referred to as the Confederation of Kilkenny and maintained that they were loyal subjects to the king.

The Catholic clergy had been instrumental in setting up such a parliament and in 1643 the king tried to come to terms with this formed government.  Several exiled leaders now returned to help. Owen Roe O'Neill was one such man and originally came from County Armagh and had been in the Spanish Army for almost 40 years.

In 1645 the Pope sent Archbishop Rinucci to the new government to help propogate the Catholic religion, unite the Irish and the Anglo-Irish Catholics and to sustain the king against the parliament.

He also brought with him money and arms to serve these purposes.  The English parliament wanted nothing to do with the new government and the king was trying to play both cards mainly for his own personal gain of wealth and money.

The new government became split with the Irish Catholics siding with Rinucci and the Anglo-Irish working with Ormond who represented the king.

The Anglo-Irish were strongest in the new government and they signed a treaty with Ormond which gave Catholics only one concession, the removal of the oath of supremacy.  This greatly upset Rinucci and Catholics throughout Ireland and it also causes disruption within the army.  Monro continued to plunder Ulster and Preston refused to support O’Neill.

Owen Roe O’Neill with his experience took control of the forces in Ulster and won an impressive victory at Benburb in County Tyrone, wiping out Munro.  These battles continued throughout Ireland and only after some seven years of war and fighting was a peace agreed between the government and Preston where it was agreed Catholics would be left alone to practise their religion.

They also agreed there would be a repeal of the penal laws.  Not long after this was agreed King Charles was beheaded in England.

The 1641 rebellion in Ireland would certainly not be the last Irish rebellion in Irish history and many more would follow.  I would now recommend reading about the Irish Penal Laws in Ireland.