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History of Ireland BACK

1691 - 1789: Segregation and the Industrial Revolution
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After the Treaty of Limerick, a series of Penal Laws were passed by the Irish Parliament whose expressed purpose was to try to rid Ireland of Catholicism, by forcing Catholics to become Protestant. These laws banned Catholics from a) having a gun b) being professionals (except medical) c) being involved in politics d) owning land e) receiving education (except for that in the Protestant faith) f) owning a horse over 5 value.

These laws were so harsh that many Irish converted to Anglicanism, if only to escape the penalties that were incurred by those who broke the Penal Laws. In 1728 another law was passed which banned Catholics from voting. Another law introduced was that if a man converted to Protestantism then he would be given his Catholic father's estate, even if the father was still alive. As you can imagine, this produced a lot of ill feeling within families.

Catholics were not the only group to be discriminated against. In 1704 a law was passed which banned Presbterians from town councils and other official positions. Presbyterian ministers were also banned from conducting wedding ceremonies.

In 1713, France made peace with England by the Treaty of Utrecht, thus ending the war in Europe, finally ending a war that had dragged on for a quarter of a century. Being an island nation, England had had to develop a huge navy in order to defend its shores. This navy was put to use during the years of Colonisation, when all the European powers joined in the mad scramble for territory abroad, especially Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australasia. having already amassed a large navy, England was at an advantage from the start.

Throughout the 18th century, England made spectacular conquests around the world, namely in India, southern Africa, Australia and North America. This was the dawn of the golden era of the British empire. In 1776, however, England went to war when the residents of their colonies in New England, (on the east coast of North America) declared themselves independent. Despite fighting a war, England lost control of its New England colonies in 1777. And 12 years later, in 1789, the French monarchy was overthrown in the French Revolution. The King of France was beheaded in a spectacular finale of the rise of the Republic over the Monarchy.

Towards the end of the century, which was relatively peaceful in Ireland despite the discrimination, England became the first country in the world to hit the Industrial Revolution. Soon factories were springing up in Dublin, Cork and Belfast and the cities were soon swelling with new residents. The population rose and many large buildings were constructed including magnificent churches.

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