- being a Roman Catholic priest was punishable by death
- saying Mass was punishable by death
- attending Mass was punishable imprisonment
- harboring a priest was punishable by imprisonment
- exclusion of Catholics from most public offices
- ban on intermarriage with Protestants
- Catholics were tithed to support the Church of Ireland (Anglicanism)
- Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the armed forces – (n.b. my great-grandfather on my father’s side was a sergeant in the British Army stationed in Egypt in the late 19th century. He could not become an officer due to the fact he was Irish. My father’s mother was born on Cyprus and is reported to have spoken six languages including Arabic.)
- Catholics barred from membership in either the Parliament of Ireland or the Parliament of Great Britain
- Catholics could not vote
- Catholics were excluded from the legal professions and the judiciary
- it was illegal for Catholics to travel to the content to be educated in Catholic schools and to return to Ireland
- Catholics barred from entering Trinity College Dublin
- on a death by a Catholic, his legatee could benefit by conversion to the Church of Ireland (Anglicanism)
- Catholic inheritances of land were to be equally subdivided between all an owner’s sons with the exception that if the eldest son and heir converted to Protestantism that he would become the one and only tenant of estate and portions for other children not to exceed one third of the estate. This law kept Catholics “land impoverished” in their own country and made them tenant farmers in the same and forcing the native populace into monoculture.
- ban on converting from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism on pain of traemunire (treason), forfeiting all property estates and legacy to the monarch of the time and remaining in prison at the monarch’s pleasure. In addition to forfeiting the monarch’s protection, by said conversion, one forfeited protection under the law, no matter how atrocious any future crime against the converted.
- ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years
- ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of 500 pounds that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin.
- ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land
- prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (in order to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority’s hands’
- ‘No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm’ upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offence.
- Any and all rewards not paid by the crown for alerting authorities of offences to be levied upon the Catholic populace within parish and county. (You had to pay for the persecution of your own religion.)
- during An Gorta Mor, The Great Hunger, 1845-1852, English authorities offered a watery soup if one apostatized to Anglicanism. Over one million Irish men, women, and children chose to starve over that humiliation. (Irish are offended by/resist the term “Famine”, as there was no famine in Ireland, plenty of foodstuffs were being shipped to England and English colonies: wheat, cattle, fruits, vegetables, etc. All that was left to the Irish was the potato, which the fungus destroyed, and which the French would not eat as a staple, contributing to the French Revolution. The term genocide is not inappropriate or misused.)
If you ever come to visit Kelly and I, and you look closely…no, not at the dust and general disarray, but look closely and you may see a swan motif. These are the Children of Lir. Mara will soon be able to understand stories. We will tell her of the Children of Lir.
Long ago, in Ireland, there lived a king called Lir. He lived with his wife and four children: Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. They lived in a castle in the middle of a forest. When Lir’s wife died they were all very sad. After a few years Lir got married again. He married a jealous wife called Aoife. Aoife thought that Lir loved his children more than he loved her. Aoife hated the children. Soon she thought of a plan to get rid of the children.
One summer’s day Aoife took the children to swim in a lake near the castle. The children were really happy to be playing in the water. Suddenly Aoife took out a magic wand. There was a flash of light and the children were nowhere to be seen. All there was to be seen was four beautiful swans, with their feathers as white as snow.
Aoife said, “I have put you under a spell. You will be swans for nine hundred years,” she cackled. “You will spend three hundred years in Lough Derravaragh, three hundred years in the Sea of Moyle, and three hundred years in the waters of Inish Glora,” Aoife said. She also said, “You will remain swans for nine hundred years until you hear the ring of a Christian bell.”
She went back to the castle and told Lir that his children had drowned. Lir was so sad he started crying. He rushed down to the lake and saw no children. He saw only four beautiful swans.
One of them spoke to him. It was Fionnuala who spoke to him. She told him what Aoife had done to them. Lir got very angry and turned Aoife into an ugly moth. When Lir died the children were very sad, but the curse of Aoife would not be lifted. When the time came they moved to the Sea of Moyle.
Soon the time came for their final journey. When they reached Inish Glora they were very tired. They were nine hundred years old. Early one morning they heard the sound of a Christian bell. They were so happy that they were human again. The monk (some even say it was St. Patrick himself) sprinkled holy water on them and then Fionnuala put her arms around her brothers and then the four of them fell on the ground. The monk buried them in one grave. That night he dreamed he saw four swans flying up through the clouds. He knew the children of Lir were with their mother and father.
A statue of the Children of Lir resides in the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square in Dublin, Ireland. It symbolizes the rebirth of the Irish nation following 900 years of struggle for independence from Britain, much as the swans were “reborn” following 900 years of being cursed.
The Garden of Remembrance (An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin) is a memorial garden in Dublin dedicated to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom”. In 1976, a contest was held to find a poem which could express the appreciation and inspiration of this struggle for freedom. The winner, “We Saw a Vision” by Liam Mac Uistin, is inscribed in the stone wall surrounding the Garden of Remembrance in Irish, English, and French.
We Saw A VisionIn the darkness of despair we saw a vision,
We lit the light of hope,
And it was not extinguished,
In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision,
We planted the tree of valour,
And it blossomed
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision,
We melted the snow of lethargy,
And the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river,
The vision became a reality,
Winter became summer,
Bondage became freedom,
And this we left to you as your inheritance.
O generation of freedom remember us,
The generation of the vision.
Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig oraibh!!!Or,
Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan = my hovercraft is full of eels (from a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit).