The Plantations:

Early attempts at plantation in Ireland, on the lands belonging to the O’Connors, O’Mores, and O’Dempseys in King’s and Queen’s counties failed. Similarly in Ulster efforts in 1571-72 by Sir Thomas Smith (in the Ards) and the earl of Essex (in Clandeboye) to establish private military settlements, which would provide bulwarks against the destabilising influences exerted by the MacDonnells, ended in disaster. However after the outbreak of the Munster rebellion, plantation became an instrument of royal policy and private enterprise was put to work for the purposes of state. In the wake of English victory at the end of the Nine Years’ War, Ulster met a similar fate. The unexpected flight of leading Irish lords to the continent (1607) and the revolt of Sir Cahir O’Dogherty (1608) enabled the state to confiscate vast tracts of Ulster (encompassing present day counties Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Cavan and Donegal). Ironically the unofficial and unregulated plantation of the non-escheated counties of Down and Antrim, by private entrepreneurs, proved to be much more successful. In addition to plantation the Crown sought to ‘civilise those rude parts’ - while at the same time enriching itself - by interfering in land titles. In 1606 James VI and I established the Commission for the Remedy of Defective Titles which, on pain of fine or forfeiture, required all Irish landowners to prove their title to their land. Many failed and this resulted in the redistribution of land in counties Wexford, Leitrim, Longford and other areas in the Midlands between 1610 and 1620.

Map of East Ulster showing plantation towns of Liford, Dunalong and Derry. TCD MS 1209/14, produced by the courtesy of the Board of Trinity College, Dublin

Map of East Ulster showing plantation towns of Liford, Dunalong and Derry. TCD MS 1209/14, produced by the courtesy of the Board of Trinity College, Dublin

The Ouer-throw of an Irish rebel (London, 1608), produced by the courtesy of the Board of Trinity College, Dublin

The Ouer-throw of an Irish rebel (London, 1608), produced by the courtesy of the Board of Trinity College, Dublin