The English Plantations

1556 - 1620

The Protestantism of Henry VIII was reversed by his daughter Mary, who had married the Catholic Philip II of Spain, in 1554. Even so the Tudor policy of planting Ireland with British stock continued. Under Queen Mary the lands of Offaly and Laoise were settled with English people, and the hereditary Irish families, O'More, O'Dempsey and O'Connor, were removed to poor land in the west. The counties, renamed King's County and Queen's County after Philip and Mary, had fortresses built in each at Philipstown (Daingean) and Maryborough (Portlaoise).

The Protestant Queen Elizabeth, who ruled Ireland from 1558 to 1603, had, by the end of her life, completed the Tudor conquest. In 1586 she embarked on the plantation of Munster seizing more than
200,000 acres of Desmond lands for plantation by English stock, amongst whom Sir Walter Raleigh gained an estate of 40,000 acres. In 1599 she turned her attention to Ulster, as a consequence of which the last remaining representatives of the ancient families of O'Neill and O'Donnell - the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell - were forced to flee the country in 1607. Their lands were confiscated by the new king, James I, who planted Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal with Scots and English settlers. The new families were obliged to build fortified houses and to bring Protestant settlers to inhabit their towns.

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