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The Story of Ireland By Emily Lawless Characters: 4142

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

With Mary's accession the religious struggle was for a while postponed. Some feeble attempts were even made to recover the Church property, but too many people's interests were concerned for much to be done in that direction. Dowdal, Archbishop of Armagh, who had been deprived, was restored to his primacy. Archbishop Brown and the other conforming bishops were deprived. So also were all married clergy, of whom there seem to have been but few; otherwise there was no great difference. As far as the right of exercising her supremacy was concerned, Mary relished Papal interference nearly as little as did her father.

Although the religious struggle was thus for a time postponed, the other vital Irish point--the possession of the land--now began to be pressed with new vigour. Fercal, Leix, and Offaly, belonging to the fierce tribes of the O'Moores, O'Dempseys, O'Connors, and O'Carrols, lay upon the Kildare frontier of the Pale, and had long been a standing menace to their more peaceful neighbours. It was now determined that this tract should be added to the still limited area of shire land. The chiefs, it is true, had been indentured by Henry, but since then there had been outbreaks of the usual sort, and it was considered by the Government that nowhere could the longed-for experiment of a plantation be tried with greater advantage.

There was little or no resistance. The chiefs, taken by surprise, submitted. The English force sent against them, under the command of Sir Edward Bellingham, was irresistible. O'Moore and O'Connor were seized and sent prisoners to England. Dangen, which had so often resisted the soldiers of the Pale was taken. The tribesmen whose fathers had fed their cattle from time immemorial upon the unfenced pastures of the plains were driven off, and took refuge in the forests, which still covered most of the centre of Ireland. The more profitable land was then leased by the Crown to English colonists--Cosbies, Barringtons, Pigotts, Bowens, and others. Leix and a portion of Offaly were called Queen's County, in compli

ment to the queen, the remainder King's County, in compliment to Philip. Dangen at the same time becoming Phillipstown, and Campa Maryborough. The experiment was regarded as eminently successful, and congratulations passed between the deputy and the English Council, but it awakened a deep-seated sense of insecurity and ill-usage, which argued poorly for the tranquillity of the future.

Of the rest of Mary's reign little needs to be here recorded. That indelible brand of blood which it has left on English history was all but unfelt in Ireland. There had been few Protestant converts, and those few were not apparently emulous of martyrdom. No Smithfield fires were lighted in Dublin, indeed it is a curious fact that in the whole course of Irish history--so prodigal of other horrors--no single execution for heresy is, it is said, recorded. A story is found in the Ware Papers, and supported by the authority of Archbishop Ussher, which, if true, shows that this reproach to Irish Protestantism--if indeed it is a reproach--was once nearly avoided. The story runs that one Cole, Dean of St. Paul's, was despatched by Mary with a special commission to "lash the heretics of Ireland." That Cole slept on his way at an inn in Chester, the landlady of which happened to have a brother, a Protestant then living in Dublin. This woman, hearing him boast of his commission, watched her opportunity, and stole the commission out of his cloak-bag, substituting for it a pack of cards. Cole unsuspiciously pursued his way, and presenting himself authoritatively before the deputy, declared his business and opened his bag. There, in place of the commission against the heretics, lay the pack of cards with the knave of clubs uppermost!

The story goes on to say that the dean raged in discomfited fury, but that the deputy, though himself a Roman Catholic, took the matter easily. "Let us have another commission," he said, "and meanwhile we will shuffle the cards." The cards were effectually shuffled, for before any further steps could be taken Mary had died.

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