Memory of 1641
The 1641 Depositions constitute the chief evidence for the sharply contested allegation that the 1641 rebellion began with a general massacre of Protestant settlers. Propagandists, politicians and historians have all exploited the depositions at different times. The 1641 ‘massacres’, like King William’s victory at the Boyne (1690), and the battle of the Somme (1916), have played a key role in creating and sustaining a collective Protestant/British identity in the province of Ulster.
This process was officially promoted after the Restoration when October was declared a day of commemoration, marked by church services and a sermon, to serve as an annual reminder of Catholic treachery and savagery. The promulgation of such views each year helped to affirm and perpetuate a sense of communal solidarity among Irish Protestants. Indeed, histories of the 1641 rebellion, including numerous editions of John Temple’s Irish Rebellion, were reprinted throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to lobby against the granting of Catholic rights.
Iconic images from the 1641 rebellion, such as the drowning of 100 Protestants in the River Bann at Portadown in County Armagh, frequently appeared in publications. To this day, the Orange Order Lodge at Portadown carries a banner depicting the massacre when they parade every 12th of July.