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When did Catholicism and Irishness first become intimately intertwined?


Glaucon

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There is an interesting article on Wikipedia (not always a valid historical source, admittedly, but nevertheless) concerning Ireland's history under the Tudor and Elizabethan regimes.

The pre-Elizabethan Irish population is usually divided into the "Old (or Gaelic) Irish", and the Old English, or descendants of medieval Hiberno-Norman settlers. These groups were historically antagonistic, with English settled areas such as the Pale around Dublin, south Wexford, and other walled towns being fortified against the rural Gaelic clans. However, by the 17th century, the cultural divide between these groups, especially at elite social levels, was declining. For example most Old English lords not only spoke the Gaelic language, but extensively patronised Irish poetry and music. Intermarriage was also common. Moreover, in the wake of the Elizabethan conquest, the native population became defined by their shared religion, Roman Catholicism, in distinction to the new Protestant British settlers and the officially Protestant British government of Ireland.
History of Ireland (1536-1691)

It seems clear that Ireland pre-Henry VIII was a society divided on ethnic lines, with the ''Old English'', especially around the Pale, distinguishing themselves from the Gaelic Irish found elsewhere - particularly in relation to loyalty to the English monarch. With the advent of Protestant colonization, the Old English lost their privileges, but, for a time, remained loyal. However, by 1641, any hope of a reversion to the old order was gone and the Old English threw their lot in with the habitually rebellious Gaelic Irish (or converted to save their titles) and formed a new Irish identity predicated more on Catholicism than language or ethnic background as was hitherto the case. After the failure to confer the Graces in the 1620s and 30s, the Old English in the Pale decided the only recourse lay in rebellion, and the routing of the New English Protestant settlers to re-establish their old rights and influence. So, at least, it seems.

One may agree with or dispute the above, but I'd be interested in hearing more as regards when Catholicism and the concept of being Irish first became extensively interrelated.
 
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Schomberg

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Surly around the time of the famine? Things got pretty "Roman" from that point on.
 

Morgellons

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Surly around the time of the famine? Things got pretty "Roman" from that point on.
You seem to have conveniently forgotten about the Penal Times.
 

eoghanacht

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You seem to have conveniently forgotten about the Penal Times.

Schom has a massive blind spot when it comes 'dear old blighty' he only sees the positives.
 

Analyzer

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After Cromwell.

Cromwell decided that religion was the only basis upon which to divide the subjects of the realm and decide how they should be treated by the state.

Effectively he instigated sectarianism - with the sword. And it still exists in parts of Belfast.
 

Morgellons

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Schom has a massive blind spot when it comes 'dear old blighty' he only sees the positives.
Seems that way. Sure they didn't want those good horses anyway, wasn't too bad, old bean.
 

eoghanacht

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After Cromwell.

Cromwell decided that religion was the only basis upon which to divide the subjects of the realm and decide how they should be treated by the state.

Effectively he instigated sectarianism - with the sword. And it still exists in parts of Belfast.

It's a hard one at what stage did the resistance to British rule become sectarian.

I'm sure those who took part in the massacres in 1640/41 did so to expel invaders as much as to kill protestants.

I think the OP is unanswerable.
 

Schomberg

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You seem to have conveniently forgotten about the Penal Times.
I dunno what your point is supposed to be. The OP asks when Roman Catholicism became a strong part of the Irish identity. That was definitely post famine. Previous to that the fact that the language was still strong meant (catholic) peoples Gaelic identity was much more to the forefront of their identity. Post famine, the language is more or less whipped and the Church is stronger than any time in it's history in Ireland. The Penal Laws? Yawn.
 

PeacefulViking

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After Cromwell.

Cromwell decided that religion was the only basis upon which to divide the subjects of the realm and decide how they should be treated by the state.

Effectively he instigated sectarianism - with the sword. And it still exists in parts of Belfast.
Cromwell did not invent sectarianism. Religious persecution by the state had a long history pre-dating Cromwell. Ever heard of the Inquisition?
 

Schomberg

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Schom has a massive blind spot when it comes 'dear old blighty' he only sees the positives.
Playing to the gallery are we Eogh? You know that post is bollox.
 

SideysGhost

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Well the 1640s Kilkenny Confederacy merged the Old English/Anglo-Norman and Gaels into one version of Irishness but I'm not sure if Catholicism was the defining characteristic there - didn't some Protestant families like (IIRC) the Butlers switch sides a couple of times during that particular war? And then there's 1798 and all that.

The late-19th-century Gaelic Revival had loads of Protestants like the Yeats in leading positions too. And there was a strain of Belfast Protestant Republicanism that survived up to the 1950s.

Granted these may be the exceptions that prove the rule though. Late-19th-century seems to be the period of increasing sectarian division along political lines, with Partition merely accelerating the trend.
 

Glaucon

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Surly around the time of the famine? Things got pretty "Roman" from that point on.
The Catholic Church in Ireland became much more conservative, or ultramontane to use the technical term, around that epoch, but the linkage between the two was ensconced long before that, I think. Of course, this was not (and is not) always firm, for large parts of recent history it has been fluid; under the influence of the French Revolution and the doctrine of the Rights of Man, considerable numbers of Catholics and Presbyterians in Ulster struck out for an Irish Republic (and Anglican révolutionnaires were active further south).

To move on to the 1840s, Tresham Gregg, and the Dublin Protestant Operative Association were agitating in the following manner in the early part of that decade:

One such group in 1840s Ireland was the Dublin Protestant Operative Association. This was created by an evangelical Church of Ireland minister named Tresham Gregg in early 1841 to, “reverse the decline of the Protestant cause, reverse the concessions to Popery and to defend the Union between Ireland and Britain”. It wound itself up in 1848, merging with the Orange Order.
For instance, an “Address to the Protestants of Ireland” in 1843 stated, “we scorn the idea of there existing a physical force superior to our own…the deliverance we Irish Protestants have recorded in the annals of our nation [at the battles of] Aughrim, the Boyne and Derry [show] we are the masters of this land…we hold it for Him [God].[17]

Protestants must also stick together. “It is only by acting in concert with the Protestants of Ireland that the Protestant Church can be maintained and the Repeal of the Union averted”.
Loyal Dublin – The Dublin Protestant Operative Association | The Irish Story

Constitutionally-minded Irish nationalism, it is true, certainly seems to have taken on a more resolutely Catholic character in these years, partly due to O'Connell (Protestants like John Mitchel were still trampling the route of violent rebellion) and partly due to the effects of the Famine and the feeling that the Catholic Irish were being left to starve to death, perhaps purposely (even still, the Irish who went to America became Fenian republicans and advocates of violent rebellion against British rule, even invading Canada in 1866 and sailing back to Ireland to participate in the Rising of 1867, so perhaps drawing that correlation is more tenuous than one might think. Irish Americans were, on the whole, much more radically minded than their cousins back home in the period 1850 to 1918).
 
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eoghanacht

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Playing to the gallery are we Eogh? You know that post is bollox.
Your one about the rise of romanism being down to the famine and your choice to ignore the millennia or so of Catholicism that pre existed prior to the famine and your choice to ignore the penal laws as having anything to do with when being Irish and being Catholic became inextricably linked, yes I would agree that post of yours was complete bollix.

BTW there is no gallery here I was replying to a poster.
 

DaveM

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Second half of the 19th century in terms of what we saw over the past century. That's when Rome directly intervened and really clamped down on the local church to make sure that dogma and doctrine were strictly adhered to.
 

Analyzer

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Cromwell did not invent sectarianism. Religious persecution by the state had a long history pre-dating Cromwell. Ever heard of the Inquisition?
In the context of Ireland, Cromwell invented sectarianism.

There were wars of religion. But it took a real zealot (and a Puritan), with an army of likeminded zealots to bring sectarianism.
 

Schomberg

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The Catholic Church in Ireland became much more conservative, or ultramontane to use the technical term, around that epoch, but the linkage between the two was ensconced long before that, I think. Of course, this was not (and is not) always firm, for large parts of recent history it has been fluid, and under the influence of the French Revolution and the doctrine of the Rights of Man, considerable numbers of Catholics and Presbyterians in Ulster struck out for an Irish Republic.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that RC was never a factor in peoples identities prior to the mid 19th century, but I don't believe it was the strongest factor for the masses of Irish catholics, pre famine when they were largely still Irish speaking people. Church attendance pre famine was also fairly low compared to afterwards. I think Protestants on the other hand, being a minority in the country and largly monolingual had their religious identity as the distinguishing characteristic and hence were much more fervant in labeling themselves Protestant
 

pedagogus

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I dunno what your point is supposed to be. The OP asks when Roman Catholicism became a strong part of the Irish identity. That was definitely post famine. Previous to that the fact that the language was still strong meant (catholic) peoples Gaelic identity was much more to the forefront of their identity. Post famine, the language is more or less whipped and the Church is stronger than any time in it's history in Ireland. The Penal Laws? Yawn.
I don't think it is that simple. All the interaction with continental Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries seems to have been on the basis of Catholicism rather than Irish ethnicity. Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell were welcomed both in Rome and Madrid as Catholic rather than Irish leaders. I think the absolutely defining change was after the Treaty of Limerick when the enforcement of the Penal Laws obliterated the dispara;te identities of those Old English who hadn't embraced Protestantism.
 

PeacefulViking

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In the context of Ireland, Cromwell invented sectarianism.

There were wars of religion. But it took a real zealot (and a Puritan), with an army of likeminded zealots to bring sectarianism.
You are aware that Elizabeth and James also persecuted Catholics in Ireland?
 

Schomberg

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Your one about the rise of romanism being down to the famine
I'm saying that post famine Catholicism became the key component in the identity of the majority of the Irish population. Don't shoot the messanger. If Riadach said that, ye've have liked it ffs lol
 

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