Stephen Gwynn, History of Ireland (Talbot 1923) viii + 549pp., index. Signed copy, library of Albert le Brocquy.

Gwynn reproduces a map dated 1567 by one Jo: Goghe [sic], showing the territories and tribes of Ireland. Notably, it lacks an indication of the land-projection which forms Sligo, Mayo and Galway. He notes that WS Greeen, in a special study, held that the Armada was finally destroyed by such a map, when it came round from the north and laid course for Spain. Lough Erne is also wrongly mapped. The names Ó Sole (O’Sullivan), Ó DO (O’Donnell), and Ó Brin (O’Bryne), as well as various septs (tuatha, here Toeh) of the MacSwiney’s appear as gallowglasses.

In prefatory remarks, Gwynn writes, ‘In the later part of the work, bothing has been of so much service for my purpose as Mr George O’Brien’s three volumes on the Economic History of Ireland from the seventeenth century to the great famine,’ and that Douglas Hyde’s Literary History of Ireland, though a less definite influence in common with works by JR Green, ‘has affected by whole outlook’. [v].

Gwynn speaks of Jonathan Swift as ‘the leader of a leaderless people’ [369]

On Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century. ‘It has been frequently argued that Catholic Ireland was completely loyal to England during the eighteenth century, and it is true that in the later half of the period Catholic noblemen professing to speak for their religion, made strong protestations of loyalty. But the phrase is false. Ireland was submissive merely through weakness. No people in the world would have submitted to such laws had resistance been possible. But the struggle between England and Ireland, which was pushed almost to the extirpation of the Irish under Elizabeth, and was carred once more to the same point under Cromwell, was renewed again under William; and the third defeat left Irelanad utterly exhausted. After Cromwell’s war, the Irish left Ireland in tens of thousands, but at the Restoration many at least of the leaders came back. From the road on which Sarsfield led his eleven thousand there was no return, and the numbers who followed his track are almost incredible. From researches made in records of the French War OFfic, the Irishmen who died in the French service between 1691, when Sarsfield left the country, and 1745, the date of the Battle of Fontenoy, have been reckoned at nearly half a million—an average of almost ten thousand a year. Lecky disbelieves the figure, though he admits tht an independent investigator had been inclined to accept it. One must remember, too, that though France got most of the men, in Spain and in Austria there was a regular traditional connecion with Ireland and a welcome open to the expatriated—above all, in the armies.

At all events, whether we regard the estimate of numbers as an exaggeration or not, one fact stands out: for a hundred years Catholic Ireland gave up the struggle; and when the struggle was renewed, Protestant and Catholic were the prime movers. It would be difficult to name a single Irish Catholic who achieved distinction in Ireland during the eighteenth century before 1798, and the exception of the peasant poets to whom a belated fame is now accorded. The list of famous men whom Ireland produced from the dominant religion is long indeed: Swift and Congreve were at school [370] together at Kilkenny; Bertkeley was taught there a little later; Burke and Goldsmith have their statues outside Trinity Collegee; Grattan faces them; and these are only a few. the Irish Catholics, their contemporaries, who grew illustrious had to win fame on the Continent; and the alien in foreign service seldom is allowed to rise high. Yest even so, Wall, a Waterford man, became Chief Minister of Spain for some six years; a little earlier, Macnamara was commanding the French fleet that threated England’s coast. Lally Tollendal came near to win control of India for the French; and, as everyone knows, the Battle of Fontenoy was decided by the Irish brigade under Lord Clare, the second of that name in whom the command was vested by tradition. It is true to say, as Lecky does, that the history of Catholic Ireland in this century must be followed on the Continent, not in Ireland. All its achievements were there. [371]

…. nothing was open to them in the country except farming, on conditions which made them extremely dependent on a Protestant landlord, or the career of a middleman who took large tracts of land on short lease and sublet this to others; it was an occupation in which many Catholics earned money and an ill-name. In towns, the professions were closed; there remained only trade and manufacture. Even here, just as the Catholic was handicapped by laws prohibiting him from taking a long lease, so in manufacture he had to face heavy impost called quarterage, over and above the commercial restrictions which depressed all Irish manufacturing industry. The result was a great direction of Catholic energy into distribting trade rther than into manufacture, and the tendency remains.

But over and above this discouragement, the views of he age regarded either trade or manufacture as an impossible career for a man of gentle birth. The Catholic gentry were driven out of Ireland very largely by the pressure of a code which denied them at home the position of gentlemen. Irish [371] rank was recognised all over Europe, and titles which an Englishman would have regarded as ridiculous were held in high honour in the Austrian court, where punctillio on such matters was most extreme. [372]

One result of breaking up the traditional Irish organisation in chieftaincies was to destroy the old literary tradition by which scholarship and learning passed from father to son, and regular schools were maintained. This hereditary cast of bards and historians had made literature somewhat pedantic; they prided themselves on preserving a vocabulary much of which was as obsolete as the language of Chaucer to a modern Englishman; and they imposed rigid and difficult systems of verse. With their disappearnce a popular poetry sprang up, using a more melodious form of rhyme, and constructing its lines by accent rather than measure of syllables. [372]

Swift may stand perhaps for the first effective leader in a long train of constitutional agitators who sought to rouse and unite the Irish people against laws which pressed heavy on them, and who for this oftern used, as did Swift in the [372] Drapier Letters, language of hyperbolical exaggeration concerning some detail of administration. But the essence of Swift’s work is that he taught the people to combine against the law, as it were within the law; to use all powers which the law gave, especially the institution of juries, to defeat the purpose of those who administered the law.

Whiteboys … tithe laws [373] … a form of lynch law in whcih the whole countryside conspired … Oakboys [374] … Steelboys [375]

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