Rebellion to Restoration Plandáil


Rebellion to Restoration

Documentary about the Plantation of Ulster. Neil Martin traces the 1641 Irish rebellion. A Scottish army arrives to protect the plantation lands.


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Transcript


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Some of the records indicate that, at first,

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it was the English settlers who got the initial brunt of the massacre.

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But then, that spread, as inevitably it would.

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The figures today seem to indicate seem to indicate something like 4,000 deaths by massacre

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and maybe double that, another 8,000 dying of exposure,

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for many people were simply turned into a harsh winter.

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Myself, my husband and our ten children

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at the beginning of the rebellion,

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were all stripped stark naked after being robbed of all our means.

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In that posture, we were turned away into the frost and snow

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amongst about nine score more of men, women and children.

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In that posture, we escaped to Dublin.

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My husband took up arms against the Irish rebels.

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He got a bruise amongst them at the battle of Clontarf near Dublin.

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He languished for five or six days and he died of that bruise.

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Leaving me and my ten children, five of whom were infants,

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the sole mourners of his death.

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And all without means of subsistence.

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This was perfectly normal in the way things were reported all over Europe.

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Atrocities in wars, each side tries to demonise the other

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to store up the motivation for revenge.

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Clearly, thousands of people lost their lives

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and we cannot minimise that.

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I know the locality that I grew up in,

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the Roman Catholics in Island Magee were butchered man, woman and child.

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Some forced off the Gobbins cliffs into the sea to their death.

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So there were reprisals and the one thing we can say about Irish history

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is that no-one has clean hands. There's blood everywhere.

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The arrival of the Scottish army in 1642 is crucial

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to the emergence of Presbyterianism in Ireland.

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It provides the framework

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within which a Presbyterian system takes off.

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The garrison at Carrickfergus with the four resident regiments

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each had a kirk session, each had a chaplain. And so five ministers

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and some of the elders from the army met,

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either in the castle or St Nicholas Church, we don't know where,

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and formed the first presbytery and that is the official birth

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of Presbyterianism in Ireland as a denomination.

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From the start, they are keen to incorporate communities within Ulster

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and so, within a matter of a very few years,

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the presbytery system in Ulster has moved well beyond the army.

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Essentially, it was an alliance or an agreement

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between Scottish Presbyterians and English Parliamentarians.

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A common cause against Charles I and the royalists.

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The Presbyterians in Scotland saw making covenant as a way

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of bringing a Presbyterian millennium to bear in Britain and Ireland,

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bringing about a state that had a Presbyterian church.

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The draft that was sent to England was changed. It included Ireland at the last minute.

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Because of the haste of the times, there was not a proper procedure of proof reading and checking,

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so it's signed in some haste, but the general truth, I would say,

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is that the English were more interested in military co-operation

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and the Scottish side were more interested in the religious aspects of that covenant.

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What is done in Ulster is an attempt to get bodies of troops

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and, to some extent, local communities as well to join in

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the Solemn League and Covenant.

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There's some debate over why they might want to do that.

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Some historians incline to the view that, by signing up for the Solemn League and Covenant,

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they're showing their credentials and that they will then get supported

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in their war against Catholic Ireland.

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We put O'Neill and his troops under heavy fire, but they held their line.

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Then the advance started.

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O'Neill's men overran our gun positions

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and his horsemen broke into our ranks.

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The Scottish horse was routed.

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And then the confusion started.

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Most of our infantry was cut to pieces.

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Over 3,000 of our men lay dead on the field of battle at Benburb.

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What started as a goodly retreat became a massacre

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as the Scottish cavalry tangled with the foot soldiers in the darkness.

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We abandoned six cannons, almost all our muskets and our provisions.

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This was a gift from heaven for the Irish.

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The Stuart kings did have problems trying to sign up to the Covenant.

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They liked the fact that the Church of England was Erastian.

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In other words, the head of the church is the monarch.

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Whereas in Presbyterianism,

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that royal supremacy was going to be reduced.

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So there's an important element in the Stuart rejection of the Covenant

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because it doesn't recognise the king as being head of the church.

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Ultimately, the covenanting leadership

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decides to hand over Charles I

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to the jurisdiction of the English parliament.

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Quite simply, because Charles I would not take the Covenants.

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He would not take the National Covenant of 1638,

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he would not take the Solemn League Covenant of 1643

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and, eventually, the Covenanters said, "Well, to hell with you."

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And they handed him over to the jurisdiction of the English Parliament in 1646.

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Scottish settlers in the north of Ireland were opposed to the execution of Charles I

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largely because Charles was the King of Scotland.

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When Charles I was executed in Whitehall,

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he was executed as King of England.

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And he was described as a man of blood. No foreigner whatsoever...

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would tell the English what to do.

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So this was an English political act

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by a minority of the English political nation.

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We don't care what the Scots say. We don't care what the Swedes say.

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We don't care what the Dutch say.

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He's English, this is England, this is English soil, he's going down.

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Like most of Charles I's subjects,

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the Presbyterians in Ulster are scandalised by his execution.

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They may have resisted his policies, but it was never part of the goal

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to remove him from power, let alone have him put to death.

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And so they're in a quandary.

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They neither want to align themselves

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with the more thorough going royalists in Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant,

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but nor are they willing to align themselves with the new English republic.

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What the Scottish parliament does, in February 1649,

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is issue a proclamation

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that states the Prince of Wales is proclaimed as being King of Great Britain, France and Ireland.

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At that point, Scotland's radical regime

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and Cromwell are on a collision course.

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But more interestingly, this regime in Edinburgh informed,

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or publicly stated, to Charles II,

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you will only become King of Great Britain, France and Ireland

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if you meet the following conditions.

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Those conditions were really for him

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to be a covenanted king of three covenanted kingdoms.

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Your Majesty, we have here in front of us...

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The Covenanters had more troops,

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they were in a better position.

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Cromwell was on the point of withdrawing.

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They charged down the hill and were routed.

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So, for some Covenanters, this was a sign of God's wrath.

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So Scotland had to become more pure and more godly to please God.

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This was a godly war.

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Likewise for Cromwell, this proved that God was an Englishman.

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That God was on his side.

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Though Cromwell's conquest of Ireland is ethnic

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and has a racial dimension to it, that's not the case in Scotland.

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He regarded the Scots as a godly people,

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a godly Protestant people who had gone astray.

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The right Protestant way was his way.

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Advance George Monck and Monck St George shall be

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England's restorer to its liberty,

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Scotland's protector, Ireland's president,

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reducing all to a free parliament,

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and if thou dost intend the other thing,

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go on, and all shall cry God save ye king.

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Neil Martin traces the 1641 Irish rebellion. A Scottish army arrives to protect the plantation lands and, just as importantly, offers a firm foundation for a new Presbyterian church in Ireland. This is a new beginning for the lowland Scottish settlers in Ulster.


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