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The Plantation of Ulster


The Plantation of Ulster is considered a controversial period in our history, leading, ultimately, to the partition and subsequent strife of Ireland (check out the comprehensive video below).

It was initiated in 1607, following the flight of the Earls, which created a power vacuum and left the northern part of Ireland relatively sparsely populated.

Six counties were chosen: Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Coleraine (now Londonderry), Donegal and Cavan and Protestant settlers from England and Scotland were encouraged to migrate and expected to observe the Anglican faith of the monarchy.

It was hoped that this would transform Ulster into a productive and loyal territory, after its unruly and turbulent past.

That this plantation succeeded, where that of Munster and The Pale (Greater Dublin) failed, was largely due to the large numbers of Scottish settlers that arrived predominately in Antrim and Down, ironically outside the official plantation counties.

They brought with with them their Scots language – a Germanic language that has a common origin with English and was the everyday tongue of the 17th century lowland Scotland, as well as their Presbyterian faith, which put them at odds very often with the authorities.

This in turn led a great many to seek a new “promised land” further west in America, where they prospered enormously, providing many presidents and a huge influence over the United States.

Many of those that remained took encouragement from their American cousins after they gained independence from Britain, rebelling in 1798 alongside the Irish Catholics under Wolfe Tone with the United Irishmen.

This failed, and during the 19th century Anglicans, Presbyterians and other dissenters pulled together, developing a distinctive culture that most Northern Irish Protestants maintain to this day, loyal to the crown and proud of a shared and unique history.

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