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CHAPTER VI.

THE PLANTATION OF LEIX AND OFFALI.

A.D. 1547-1559.

HENRY VIII. had, in spite of the Irish council, carried out his plan of conciliating the Irish by “sober ways, politic drifts, and amiable persuasions of law and reason," and the fruits of his system promised well for the future. Upon his death the contrary counsels prevailed: it was believed to be better to drive the Irish than to lead them. The timorous counsels of the Dublin oligarchy could look for safety only in harsh and cruel measures, and little by little a course was entered upon of extermination and plantation, which was pursued for two centuries, and which, when combined with the policy of forcing a novel form of faith upon a reluctant people, has imbued the Irish nation with a hatred of English government, which bids fair to be ineffaceable for generations to come.

The territories of Leix, Offaly, Fercal, and Ely, lay in the centre of Ireland. They marched upon Ormonde's territory on the south, and upon Meath and Kildare on the north and east. They consisted chiefly of trackless forest and impenetrable morass, interspersed with tracts of profitable land, and were occupied by the warlike tribes of O'Moore, O'Connor, O'Dempsey, O'Dunn, O'Molloy, and O'Carrol. Thus situated, and thus tenanted, they were the source of constant danger to the English settlement. They had in their time done more than their share in the constant harryings of the Pale, and they were a standing menace to the line of communication between Dublin and Kilkenny, which lay through Kildare and over Leighlin Bridge.

The chiefs of these tribes had been indentured by Henry; and though since then they had on the whole been pretty quiet, they showed some signs of turbulence on Henry's death. The Government acted with prompt severity. They at once sent Sir Edward Bellingham, with six hundred horse and four hundred foot, to the spot, in conjunction with St. Leger's forces. Resistance there was none ; O'Connor and O'Moore were captured, and sent over as prisoners to England; the strongholds of Dangen and Campa were taken ; the tribes were thrust from their homes and dispersed, their cattle driven off, and their land laid waste. The rightful owners of the soil having been ejected, the next step was to repeople it with English colonists. This was accomplished, and a revenue of £500 per annum secured to the Crown by the granting of leases of twenty-one years in the confiscated lands to various English colonists : notably to Sir Francis Bryan, who had married the Dowager Countess of Ormonde, and to other families which came over from England-the Barringtons, the Cosbies, the Berretons, and the Hovendens, the Harpools, the Deavils, the Grahams, the Pigotts, and the Bowens.

For nine years a guerilla warfare was kept up between the dispossessed tribesmen and the settlers of a most fierce and bloody character, which ended in the almost total expulsion of the latter. Again the Government stepped in, and this time proceeded to do its work more thoroughly. The natives were either shot down in the field, or executed by martial law, and the remnant driven into the neighbouring bogs and mountains, where for a few years longer they preyed upon and spoiled the settlers, and in their turn were hunted as brigands, and put to death as outlaws. The confiscated territories were converted into “shireland ;"* the greater part of Offaly, Fercal, and Ely, being denominated King's County, and its stronghold Dangen converted into a fort, and constituted a market town under the name of Philips-town, in honour of the queen's husband ; while Leix, and a portion of Offaly, and the barony of Upper Ossory, became Queen's County; and Campa was rechristened Mary-borough, in honour of her majesty. The reinstated settlers were called upon to adhere to the English language and habits, to subscribe to the English laws, and to abjure Irish marriages and fosterage; to clear the country and maintain the fords and highways, and to build a church in every town within three years. These were the first counties which had been set out since the days of King John, unless the division of the county of Meath into Meath and Westmeath by Henry VIII. be taken into account.

3, 4 P. and M., cc. 1, 2, 3. † 34 Hen. VIII., C. I.

There is evidence in the .correspondence between Elizabeth and the Earl of Sussex that quite in the early part of her reign the former had adopted in her own mind the plantation scheme, and looked forward to the possible destruction of the Ulster chieftains as affording the means of carrying it out. Sussex had also a plan for the more efficient governing of the island, by putting the provinces under responsible presidents, with a chief justice and council, and a force of eight hundred men, and converting the queen's alleged rights to take "bonaght" into an annual tribute, all of which schemes were eventually carried out by succeeding deputies. Elizabeth was not, however, on her accession in 1558 prepared to enter upon an heroic treatment of the Irish question. On the death of her sister she found England in a state bordering on revolution; plunged in a war with France, which had resulted in the loss of Calais; and threatened by Scotland, whose queen was married to the French king, and had assumed the arms of England. She could spare neither men nor money at present for schemes of aggression. It was only when driven by the intrigues of her foreign enemies, who endeavoured to strike at her through Ireland, that she set herself the task of pursuing that policy to the bitter end.

CHAPTER VII.

THE WAR WITH SHANE O'NEIL.

A.D. 1559–1569.

ELIZABETH'S troubles soon began; and they arose out of her father's endeavours to substitute the feudal laws of inheritance for the law of Tanistry in his grants of peerages to the native chiefs. Quarrels had arisen from this cause in Thomond, Clanricarde, and the north ; and had been suppressed. The feuds in Tyrone broke out afresh on the death of Con O'Neil, the new Earl of Tyrone. Henry seems to have been deceived by Con's representations as to his legitimate heir, and regranted his surrendered lands, and conferred his peerage, in remainder to Mathew and his heirs male ; who, though the elder son, was base born. Rumour, indeed, averredand this was the material point according to Irish law -that he was not Con O'Neil's offspring at all, but was the son of a smith. Mathew, in the course of the struggle which was carried on in Con's lifetime, had been killed by some of Shane's men ; and upon Con's death in 1559, the tribe elected Shane, a younger son, but one of whose paternity there was no question, to be "The O'Neil," and

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