From the editor…

Published in Early Modern History (1500–1700), General, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2009), Letters, Letters, Volume 17

In 1990 British Tory politician Norman Tebbitt coined his controversial ‘cricket test’: irrespective of whether they held UK passports, which team did Asian and Caribbean immigrants to Britain support? The equivalent ‘loyalty test’ in Ireland must surely be the name you use for the ‘Maiden City’ and its surrounding county: Derry or Londonderry? That this has of late become the subject of good-natured banter (no bad thing) cannot disguise the fact that it goes to the heart of the divided loyalties on this island and, in particular, attitudes to the Ulster Plantation, the focus of this special, expanded, issue.
There is no doubt that from a native perspective the seizure of nearly 3.5 million acres of land by the (new) ‘British’ Crown and the creation of ‘facts on the ground’ was a disaster and that it laid the basis for the subsequent marginalisation of Ulster’s Catholics (to a greater extent than elsewhere in Ireland) for generations to come. It was not, however, unique. All over the world people were on the move, some voluntarily, some not. The c. 100,000 English and Scots who settled in Ulster in the early seventeenth century were (more or less) matched by Irish Catholic migrants to the Continent, mostly to Spanish Hapsburg territories, where in some cases they filled the vacuum left by the previously expelled Moriscos (Spanish Muslims).
Moreover, the Plantation did not create ‘Protestant Ulster’ (any more than it created ‘Unionist Ulster’, a nineteenth-century development). Not all those involved in the plantation were Protestant; some Catholic Scots were also favoured by King James. The earlier private plantations in Antrim and Down proved more durable, and the really significant influx of Scots Presbyterians didn’t occur until the 1680s and ’90s. It is a moot point when considering the origins of Ulster’s Protestants as to whether ‘plantation’ is the appropriate term rather than ‘migration’, one of a series between Ireland and the neighbouring island that had gone on for centuries, if not millennia, and in both directions.

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Finally, a word of thanks to all our contributors and especially to our hard-working commissioning editors, Éamonn Ó Ciardha and Micheál Ó Siochrú. A word of thanks too to Derry City Council, the University of Ulster, the British Academy, the IRCHSS, the AHRC and the City of London for generous subventions, which we have passed on directly to you, the readers, in the form of sixteen extra pages.

Tommy Graham
6 Palmerston Place, Dublin 7
editor@historyireland.com

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