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Assess the Significance of Penal Laws in 18th Century Ireland - Essay Example

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Assess the Significance of Penal Laws in 18th Century Ireland

Groups were formed to fight what was believed to be a greedy and cruel government, one of these such groups was titled, "The White boys" (Garnham 2006, pg. 403). Historical evidence can only lead one who researches the period of the 18th century in Ireland to have been one where there was terrible inequality, violence, incorrigible criminal acts, disparity, and an unrelenting fear among many of the Irish citizens that defined the period as one of "domination of one group over another" (Garnham 2006, pg. 404).
"The penal laws in Ireland during the 18th century forced many Irish Catholics to have to renounce their religious faith in order to just survive from one day to the next" (Canny 1982, pg. 95). This defines these laws as having been meant to overturn the Irish Catholic Faith and thus force the Irish people to reform to English religious beliefs and laws or face severe penalties if they rebuked these penal doctrines. Of course, historical accounts point out that the oppression that the English penal laws placed upon the Irish Catholics not only did this but it also forced many to have to live extremely poor lives and abandon their traditional Gaelic language as well.
The Irish Catholics had poor dwellings and many times the farm animals were inside the mud huts with these people due to the cruelty that English laws had brought down upon them. Much of the food was only vegetables with their main source being potatoes but when disease struck this crop it resulted in the "deaths of 2.5 million Irish Catholics" (MacManus 1974, pg. 112). In history this marks what is known as, "The Great Famine" (MacKay 1992, pg. 27). The Irish farmers did have other crops and livestock but they were all shipped to England as rent for the landlords. Without the rent money the starving Irish could not even afford to live in a home and would have been homeless on top of this horrible famine.
Due to the many atrocities that these various penal codes inflicted upon Irish Catholics there were militia groups that were formed, with one having been mentioned in the introduction of this research. The truth to this matter is that England wanted total domination of Ireland and inflicted very harsh demands onto the people of the country. It is quite natural that there would be rebellion from the citizens of Ireland in order to try and maintain their own religious beliefs and laws in their land, which even today still goes on even though a Republic was formed. Another group that developed due to the escalating violence in the 18th century was the, "IRA-Irish Republican Army" (O'Neill et al 1980, pg. 133). This group and others like it were formed to initially protect the people but in actuality these groups and others were driven by the religious sanctions and political influences that have been central to the conflict in Ireland since as far back as the 16th century (O'Neill et al 1980, pg. 133).
The main problem that has existed in Ireland since the 18th century and perhaps even beforehand is due to the division that ...Show more


The penal laws that were implemented in the 18th century in Ireland served one main purpose, and that was to cripple the Irish Catholics and subject them to harsh conditions that held very little other than disparity. History clearly shows that by the early 1800's much of the land in Ireland was no longer owned by Irish Catholics and that these people were left dealing with illiteracy, and as a nation they had become more like tenant farmers more so than anything else (O'Grada 2004, pg…
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Assess the Significance of Penal Laws in 18th Century Ireland essay example
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