In 1556 and 1557, Queen Mary Tudor took the lands of the Gaelic clans the O’Mores and O’Connors and gave these lands to loyal English settlers. The arrival of these new settlers to Ireland however created a lot of unrest as the Irish clans wanted their land back and often attacked the new settlers.
The settling of English people on native Irish land was called a plantation. The new English people who arrived were called settlers or planters. The settlers got two thirds of the land and some Irish were moved to poorer quality lands near the Shannon.
Settlers had to promise to build stone houses and to have weapons in case they were attacked by Gaelic clans. They were not allowed to mix with Irish families or to marry them. They were forbidden even to have them as servants or to rent land to them. This was because the queen only wanted English speaking loyal subjects living in the plantation areas.
Any Irish who lived in the western part of the planted lands had to promise to obey English laws. The queen ordered that the confiscated lands of O’Mores and O’Connors should be divided into two counties. The area called Laois by the Irish was given the new name of Queen’s County and its main town was called Maryborough (today it is called Portlaoise). Offaly was called King’s County, after Mary’s husband King Philip II, and its main town was called Philipstown (today it is called Daingean).