Extract from Catholic Encyclopedia (U.S. 1908): “Irish in America”.

‘[...] For over a hundred years before the Cromwellian era Ireland had been distracted by the frequent invasions of the English under desperate and unscrupulous leaders, whose professed purpose was to re-establish English supremacy in Ireland, and to force the new religion of Henry VIII upon her clergy and laity. The old religion which the nation as a whole had cherished for over a thousand years was proscribed, and her churches, monasteries, and other shrines of religion plundered. The lands attached to them were confiscated by the Crown, and parcelled out among the greedy adventurers, whose success in despoiling the true owners of their property meant their own enrichment. The adherents of the old Faith, comprising as they did much more than five-sixths of the population, were made outlaws, their homes destroyed, their estates forfeited and their liberties and life itself were the price they had to pay for their refusal to conform to the new religion. In aid of the policy of exterminating the Catholic Irish (of which no concealment was made) a system of penal laws was put into force, under which they were disfranchised, disqualified from acquiring or holding property, compelled to remain illiterate, fined, imprisoned, and many of them tortured with every refinement of cruelty. Their bishops and priests were classed as felons, a price set on their heads, and an incredible number of both clergy and people who adhered loyally to the religion of their forefathers were either put to the sword or hanged, drawn, and quartered. So cruel and atrocious was this code that Edmund Burke described it as “a truly barbarous system; where all the parts are an outrage on the laws of humanity and the laws of nature; it is a system of elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, imprisonment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man”. “The law”, says another writer, “did not suppose the existence of an Irish Roman Catholic, nor could they even breathe without the contrivance of government”.’ (Lecky, Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, I, 246) [online].

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