MARY ANGLAND continues her series on famous battles that helped shape the country


The Irish Confederate Wars, also known as the Eleven Years’ War, ended in 1653 with the defeat of the Confederates and their English Royalist allies by the New Model army under the notorious Oliver Cromwell. The end of this period saw the cementing of the English colonisation of Ireland under the Cromwellian Settlement.

The Catholic, James ll, outraged many of his subjects by his close relationship with France, his elevation of Catholicism, his conflict with Parliament and the uncertainty over who would succeed him.

In April 1687, James passed the Declaration of Indulgence Act, which removed all laws against the rights of Catholics. Those who opposed James were further alarmed by the expansionist ambitions of the Catholic Louis XIV of France.
An interesting point to note here is that the Pope was no admirer of Louis nor of James ll and was an ally of the Protestant William. All of these factors ultimately led to the fall of James in 1688-9 in what became known as the Glorious Revolution or the Bloodless Revolution.

He was replaced by his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her Dutch husband, William of Orange.

James, however, was not yet ready to throw in the towel and in March 1689 he landed in Ireland to begin his fight to regain the crown of England, as he knew he would get strong Catholic support here. The Irish Catholics saw the conflict as a sectarian and ethnic one. In many ways, it was a re-run of the Confederate War half a century earlier.

The supporters of James were known as the Jacobites and they fought for Irish sovereignty, land ownership and tolerance for Catholicism. After Cromwell’s conquest, Catholic upper classes had either lost almost all their lands or been forced to exchange them, they couldn’t hold public office, practice their religion or sit in the Irish parliament.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own