Ireland in 1500

King was Lord of Ireland and had little control. The country was divided into 3 areas:

  1. The Pale (English speaking, common law, cattle raids)
  2. The Anglo-Irish lordships (Norman descendants, common law, some Irish customs)
  3. The Gaelic Irish lordships (Brehon law, clan owned tuath, little had changed since Celts)


Henry VIII and Ireland

Henry wanted greater control in Ireland because:

  1. To reduce the power of the Fitzgerald’s of Kildare.
  2. To prevent the French or Spanish from using Catholic Ireland as a base.
  3. To introduce the changes in religion to Ireland.

Garret Óg put in jail. Silken Thomas rebelled. Skeffington and gunpowder led to ‘the pardon of Maynooth’. Very expensive, so Henry tried a new approach.

Surrender and Regrant: Gaelic and Anglo-Irish lords gave their land to the king and got it back, with a title, if they promised to speak English, obey English law and practice English customs. This led to disputes over succession and now land could be confiscated from a chieftain.

Plantations were now possible. Loyal planters would get the land of rebellious Irish.


The Plantation of Laois and Offaly

O Moores and O Connors raided Pale. Lord Deputy defeated them and confiscated lands.

Queen’s County (Laois) with a county town called Maryborough (Portlaoise).

King’s County (Offaly) with a county town called Philipstown (Daingean)

Plantation failed because not enough planters came and the Irish kept attacking the settlers.


The Plantation of Munster

Causes of the Desmond Rebellions:

  • Queen Elizabeth wanted to increase control. Presidents of Munster appointed (English law and Protestant religion). 
  • Adventurers encouraged to claim land.


James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald got help from the Pope after his first rebellion failed. All 600 Spanish and Italian soldiers killed. Munster laid waste. Land confiscated.

The Plantation:

Undertakers got 4,6,8 and 12 thousand acre lots. Expected to be able to defend against the Spanish in 7 years.


Not nearly enough settlers came. The Irish attacked. Ownership changed. New towns (Bandon and Lismore). Timber for barrels and ships. New farming methods. Trade prospered


The Plantation of Ulster (special study)

Background and Causes:

Elizabeth wanted English law and Protestant religion in Ulster. O Neill and O Donnell rebelled. Some victories (Battle of Yellow Ford) and final defeat in Kinsale 1601.

Treaty of Mellifont.

Flight of the Earls 1607.

James 1 confiscated land.

The Plantation:

James wanted loyal settlers, an income and a way to pay soldiers.

6 counties (Armagh, Derry, Donegal, Cavan, Fermanagh and Tyrone)

Estates of 1000, 1500 and 2000 given to 3 groups:

  • Undertakers (no Irish tenants, £5.33 per 1000 acres)
  • Servitors (some Irish, £8)
  • Loyal Irish (£10.66)

Bawns and Castles had to be built.
12 Guilds in London formed the Irish Society to plant Derry
Antrim and Down planted by Chichester, Hamilton and Montgomery.


  • Many Scottish Presbyterians did come.
  • Wood kern attacked settlers
  • Legacy of hatred
  • New towns
  • Trade prospered


The Cromwellian Settlement

Background and Causes:

1641 rebellion. Ulster settlers massacred.

Civil War in England.

Ireland was regarded, as Royalist and Cromwell needed to pay his Roundheads and adventurers who had financed the Civil War. Religion was important to Cromwell.

The Plantation:

1652 Act of Settlement. ‘To hell or to Connaught’

Many sent to the West Indies. Soldiers allowed enlist in armies not at war with England.

Sir William Petty and the Down Survey. 11 million acres.


  • Biggest change in land ownership.
  • Did not crush Catholic religion.
  • Outlaw bands called Tories attacked the settlers.
  • Power and wealth in Protestant hands.