Monthly Irish Seisun with Celticado

Celticado with Claudine Langille
  • On the last Thursday of each month from 7-9pm, Celticado will host a seisun 
  • The seisun is hosted at the studio of Adam Sweet in Granby, MA.  
  • This seisun is open to anybody from any background.  The seisun can include anyone from a completely rank beginner up to a seasoned professional!
  • All musical instruments are welcome.    
  • For a list of seisun tunes, click here
  • Some of the regular attendees of the Monthly Seisun include students from Adam Sweet's studio and Celtic group class.  To learn more about taking lessons or joining the weekly Celtic group, click here.
  • If you would like to attend, you need to RSVP.  Use the form on the sidebar to send us your contact information.  Please include your cell phone # in case we have to cancel the seisun and need to notify you.  Watch the weather report!  Generally speaking, if the schools in Granby or Amherst are closed that day, there won't be a Seisun that night.
  • Because we move downstairs to a heated basement in the winter, there is LIMITED SEATING, so it is IMPERATIVE that you RSVP.  We cannot guarantee there will be space if you show up without notice.  The winter room has space for about 12 musicians only.
  • Spring/Summer Seisuns are held in a large sunroom porch with space for about 30 musicians.
  • Because this is an open seisun, anyone may suggest a tune when it comes to them.  We do go around a circle, however, so everybody will get a chance to suggest one.
  • There is a leader each month!  Our leaders include Adam Sweet (fiddle, mandolin, guitar) who is the owner of the venue; Claudine Langille (banjo, mandolin, guitar) a master seisun leader from VT - formerly of Touchstone and now Gypsy Reel; and James "Jim" Bunting (bouzouki, guitar, banjo) - formerly of the Butcher Boys and Woodkerne.

MUSIC LESSONS: violin, viola, mandolin, guitar, bass (Granby)

Jaya M learning mandolin
Music is fun! And especially important for adults. I specialize in teaching adults how to play a musical instrument. 

In addition to weekly private lessons, I offer group classes for beginners, advanced players and those that want to learn a specific style or genre of music (such as Celtic, Bluegrass, or Classical).

Learn more about me and what I am offering on my website http://asmsg.blogspot.com or by calling or texting any time.

Richard Cartwright 18" Viola "The Monster" - For Sale

This viola is one of a kind.  It was made in 1985 by Richard Cartwright, born 1920 Boston, worked in Northampton, Massachusetts USA. Learned from F. Haenel and M. Cornelissen from 1948. Turned professional in 1978, building violins, violas and cellos in Northampton. Earliest work focused on viols. Later used Stradivari and Guarneri violin models. Spirit varnish up to 1983 but subsequently adopted a commercial terpene varnish. 12 violins, 22 violas on the model of Cornelissen, six Montagnana pattern cellos, and 10 viols. The viola was made for a musician that needed a large-size viola.  Unfortunately, the musician never picked up the instrument, so it was stored in Mr. Cartwright's shop until I bought it from him in 1986 when I was playing with the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra. 

The instrument is currently valued at $10,000.   Asking $8,999.




























Ireland's Music Collectors

Old manuscripts make very many references to the playing of music but in the absence of a system of musical notation we have nothing concrete to provide us with specimens of the music played in ancient Ireland. Most of the airs, songs and tunes which are preserved were probably composed in the last three hundred years, the majority belonging to the latter half of the 18th Century and the opening years of the19th Century.

The oldest Irish airs preserved in manuscript are the few contained in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. One of these is entitled “Callen O Costure Me”. Professor Murphy has shown that this is a phonetic representation of the title of a popular song Cailin O Chois tSuire Mé. The above is found in Shakespeare’s HenryV (iv4).This air is found among a collection of songs bound together with William Ballet’s lute book which belongs to the last quarter of the 16th Century. This is the earliest record of an Irish song written in musical notation. The air is a variant of the Croppy Boy.

In the year 1726 the first collection of Irish music appeared entitled A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes and containing forty nine airs. This collection was published by John and William Neale, father and son, Christ Church Yard, Dublin. The only copy of this collection available now is preserved among a collection of Edward Bunting manuscripts at Queen’s University, Belfast.

EDWARD BUNTING 1773 - 1843
Bunting was the first of the Great Collectors of Irish music and song who took down and annoted the music from musicians who played it traditionally. This collection was published in 1796 and was entitled General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music. Bunting was born in Armagh in 1773. He was a musical prodigy and was appointed substitute organist at the age of eleven in Belfast. He had a classical background in music but got his first experience and contact with Irish Music when he was appointed at the age of nineteen to take down the various airs played by the Harpers at the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792. This festival was organised by a group of patriotic citizens with the object of noting the music, poetry and oral traditions of Ireland from the old Harpers. This Festival holds an extremely important part in Irish Musical history for it marked the first and the last time that the music of the Harpers was written down in any quality.

Although attractive fees were offered only ten Irish players came plus one Welshman. They ranged in age from 15 yrs to 97 yrs and six of the Irish Harpers were blind. In addition to his work with the Harper’s Bunting collected music also from folk musicians in Co. Mayo and the other western counties. He published his extensive collection in three volumes. Thomas Moore used many of Bunting’s airs and adopted the music to his own lyrics.There is evidence to suggest that Bunting altered the keys in which many of the Harpers played their tunes, in contravention to the instructions he received. He was appointed as musical scribe to the Belfast Harp Festival.

HENRY HUDSON 1798 - 1887
He was a medical doctor but his real love was Irish music. From 1841 - 1843 he was editor of The Citizen, a Dublin monthly magazine of a high standard of culture. Month by month he published no less than one hundred and six tunes from his manuscripts. He died in Co. Cork in 1889 and left many valuable manuscripts of music behind him.The total number of tunes came to eight hundred and seventy.

GEORGE PETRIE 1789 - 1866
He was born in Dublin of Scottish ancestry. He was a painter and archaeologist and also worked on the Ordinance Survey. His great love in life was Irish music and from an early age he collected and wrote down tunes he heard from the country people. He assisted Bunting in the publication of his third volume, which appeared in 1840. In 185I Petrie was instrumental in founding the Society for the Preservation and Publication of the Melodies of Ireland, which issued his Ancient Music of Ireland in 1855. It contains one hundred and forty seven airs with copious notes both historical and analytical.

His collection contains spinning tunes, lullabies, plough tunes, song airs of various types, dance tunes and compositions of the Harpers. Petrie died in 1866 and three important volumes of his work appeared after his death. Finally, Petrie’s daughter entrusted to Sir Charles Stanford three bound manuscripts of her father’s work. From these Stanford produced his complete Petrie Collection of one thousand five hundred and eighty two tunes in 1905.

WILLIAM FORDE C. 1759 - 1850
William Forde made his headquarters in Cork. He gave lectures on classical composers and in Irish music too. He collected many tunes from musicians around Munster He also toured Sligo, Leitrim, Galway, Roscommon and Mayo bringing back very many beautiful melodies. He noted down hundreds of unpublished airs from a fiddler in Ballinamore. He appealed for subscribers so that he could publish his General Collection of Music of lreland, Ancient and Modern. He failed to get 250 subscribers to pay one guinea each so the collection was never published in his lifetime.

JOHN EDWARD PIGOT 1822 - 1871
John Edward Pigot was born in Kilworth, Co. Cork in 1822. He joined the Young Ireland Movement in 1841 and became very friendly with its leader, Thomas Davis. The Nation newspaper was the organ of the young Irelanders and Davis appealed to people to write patriotic songs for it. Davis and Pigot published adverts in The Nation asking those who had Irish tunes to send them in.This seems to be the start of the Pigot collection. In 1844 Pigot went to study for the Bar. While in London he made friends with Patrick McDowel, a celebrated sculptor and an ardent collector of traditional airs. McDowel gave Pigot very many tunes and he collected many more from Irishmen in London. He went to Bombay in 1865 and practiced at the Indian Bar He returned home due to ill health and died in 1871. He collected more than two thousand airs.

JAMES GOODMAN 1828 - 1896
James Goodman differs from all collectors we have mentioned in that he was a native Irish speaker. He was born and reared in Ventry on the Dingle Peninsula. His father was the rector of Dingle. James was interested in music and the many stories, legends and poetry that existed in abundance locally and before he left home he learned to play the flute.

In due course, he graduated from Trinity College and followed in his father’s footsteps and was appointed to a curacy near Skibbereen. In 1860 he was transferred to Ardgroom near Castletownbere which was then Irish-speaking. During his six years residence in this place he compiled his great collection of traditional airs. In all his collection came to almost two thousand Irish traditional melodies with their proper titles in Irish or English.

PATRICK WESTON JOYCE 1827 - 1914
Patrick Weston Joyce was born in Glenosheen in the year 1827. He was a native Irish speaker as Irish was the spoken language in Glenosheen and The Ballyhoura Hills at that time. He received his early education in the local hedgeschools and became a teacher. He was later appointed principal of Marlborough St. Training College for teachers in Dublin. He was one of the outstanding educationalists of his day. He was the author of numerous works on Irish History folklore and mythology including a social history of ancient Ireland. He was one of the greatest collectors of traditional music and song, publishing such valuable collections as ancient Irish music and Old Irish Folk music and songs.The latter collection contains 842 traditional Irish tunes and songs.This collection also contains music collected by Forde and Pigot which were not previously published.

Captain "Chief" Francis O'Neill
CAPTAIN FRANCIS O’NEILL I848 - 1936
O’Neill is regarded as one of the foremost collectors of traditional music and song. He was a flute player himself and so had a deep understanding of the music. He was Chief of Police in Chicago and recruited traditional Irish musicians into the police force. He collected tunes from all available sources and published the following collections:
  • 1903 - O’Neill’s Music of Ireland containing 1,850 assorted pieces of music, airs, jigs, reels, hompipes, long dance marches etc
  • 1907 - 1,001 tunes
  • 1915 - 400 tunes arranged for piano and violin
  • 1922 - Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melodies 365 pieces
  • He also published books giving biographies of the musicians from whom he collected music. In 1913 he published one such book entitled Irish Minstrels and Musicians. In 1910 he published a book called Irish Folk Music - a fascinating hobby. His collections are regarded as a very important reference for traditional Irish musicians.


BRENDAN BREATHNACH 1912 - 1985
Brendan Breathnach was a civil servant who worked in the Dept. Of Agriculture. He was always interested in collecting traditional Irish music and regularly noted tunes he heard musicians play. He was seconded from the Dept. of Agriculture to the Dept. of Education where he was entrusted with the mammoth task of travelling the country to meet musicians and write down their versions of jigs, reels, hompipes etc.

He collected over 7,000 traditional Irish tunes and these are held by An Gum. To date five of his collections are published as follows:

  • Published 1963 - 213 (no. of tunes)
  • Published 1976 - 314 (no. of tunes)
  • Published 1985 - 230 (no. of tunes)
  • Published 1998 - 225 (no. of tunes)
  • Published 1999 - 224 (no. of tunes)

The last two collections were published after his death. His collections are highly regarded among musicians and are very important as a source of interesting versions of tunes.

PROFESSOR ALOYS FLEISCHMAN 1910 - 1992
Fleischman was Professor of Music at University College Cork. He undertook the work of writing a complete catalog of traditional Irish tunes from 1600 - 1855.   This onerous and important work took forty years to complete. The work was competed after his death and two major collections totaling seven thousand tunes were published in 9999. The work was completed by Professor Michael O’Suilleabhain, University of Limerick.

THE ROCHE COLLECTION 1866 - 1961
Frank Roche was born in Elton, Knocklong, Co. Limerick He inherited his love of music and dance from his father John who was a dancing master. Frank held the Munster Belt for Irish Dancing at one stage. He studied violin and piano in Cork and set up a dancing and music academy in Limerick City along with his father and brothers. He later moved back to Elton permanently where he and his brother Jim taught music and dancing. He began the task of putting together his collection of Irish music in 1891. He published his first edition of two volumes in 1912 and a new revised edition of three volumes in 1927. His last music publication was in 1931 entitled Airs and Fantasies. The Roche Collection, which was put of print for many years, was re-issued and published by Ossian Publications in I 982. There are 566 Irish airs, marches and dance tunes in the collection.While many of the tunes are well known there are many unusual versions of tunes

Thanks to Dónal O'Connor for much of this information

One Irish Perspective: a story of Irish music

Traditional Irish Music is known today throughout the world. It is an oral tradition and its prolific nature has captured the attention of listeners everywhere.

Though it is only in the past two decades that Irish Music has gained such recognition on an international scale, its origins can be traced back to almost two thousand years ago when the Celts arrived in Ireland. They brought with them, among other skills and crafts, music. Having been established in Eastern Europe since 500BC, the Celts were undoubtedly influenced by the music of the East, and indeed, it is speculated that the Irish Harp originated in Egypt. While travelling to Ireland, the Celts left their mark on the musical cultures of Spain and Brittany (Northern France) as well as in Scotland and Wales. However, it is here in Ireland that the tradition has evolved most articulately, thrived most strongly and survived most courageously.

Turloch O'Carolan 1670 – 1738
The harp is best known of all the traditional Irish instruments and was most dominant from the Tenth to the Seventeenth Centuries. In the Nineteenth Century it evolved into the Neo-Irish Harp which, in structure, is much like that of the classical concert harp. Before the Seventeenth Century, the harp tradition was at its height and all the harpists were professional musicians. The ruling Chieftains employed them, under a system of patronage, to compose and perform music. The tradition enjoyed a steady and secure status under this arrangement. However, in 1607 the Chieftains fled the country under pressure from invaders. This came as a serious blow to the professional harpists and the tradition as a whole. They no longer held the title of professional musician and were now called “travelling” or “itinerant” harpists. Turlough O’Carolan is the best remembered of the harpists during this period and many of his compositions are still played by traditional musicians today.

First Collection of Irish Music
In the year 1726 the first collection of Irish music appeared entitled A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes and containing forty nine airs. This collection was published by John and William Neale, father and son, Christ Church Yard, Dublin. The only copy of this collection available now is preserved among a collection of Edward Bunting manuscripts at Queen’s University, Belfast.

However, it was not until the Belfast harp festival of 1792 that the most significant notation of Irish music was made by Englishman Edward Bunting. The manuscripts survive to this day and are among the most important documents in the history of the tradition.

Just as the flight of the Chieftains in 1607 affected the harping tradition, attempts at colonization adversely affected Irish culture in the decades following the initial invasion. Many of the laws introduced by the British crown were aimed at crushing the Irish culture (see my post about Penal Laws) and, in the case of the penal laws, it was forbidden to participate in any traditional or cultural activities. Many would believe that such laws were to some extent successful in suppressing the hampering the growth of music in Ireland during the period of their enforcement.

The Great Famine

Due to the Great Famine of the 1840’s, one million people died and there is no doubt that much of the tradition in the form of songs, stories and tunes, died with them. The subsequent wave of emigration, of over two million people, which accompanied the Famine, though a devastating factor in Irish life, did help to bring the music tradition further afield. Thousands of Irish people were spread across the world from the USA to Australia. On leaving Ireland, the immigrants brought with them their songs and music and a traditional Irish music network was quickly established in cities such as New York, Chicago and Boston where there was a concentrated Irish population. By the 1920’s, recordings of a number of Irish musicians were being made in the USA, most notably the fiddle players Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran and the Uilleann Piper, Patsy Tuohey. When these 78-RPM recordings made their way back to Ireland they had a dramatic effect on the tradition here. To the surprise of the listeners, piano accompaniment was given to the fiddle and uilleann pipes and the dance tunes were played at a quickened pace. As a result of these recordings, musicians in Ireland also began to speed up the tempo of the tunes as well as using the piano as an accompanying instrument, an idea previously unheard of in the tradition.

Sean O'Riada
Up to the 1960’s, Irish music still had as its main setting the houses and pubs of rural areas, and music was played mainly to be danced to. It was not until Sean O’Riada’s involvement in the tradition that the music found a wider audience. O’Riada had a wide knowledge of Western Art Music and while working as a music lecturer at University College Cork, he became aware of Irish traditional music. As his interest in it grew he began to explore it in greater depth. He set up a band of traditional musicians in the early 1960’s called Ceoltoiri Chualann, with the aim of creating a new music built on the tradition. He made use of many Classical music forms within the workings of the band which was made up of fiddle, flute, uilleann pipes, accordion and bodhran, and came up with a formula of playing solos within the group. His music was played to be listened to and not danced to, thus bringing the music across a social divide. It was no longer associated solely with rural areas and poverty. When Ceoltoiri Chualann performed their first concert, it did not take place in a public house or a concert hall but in the grandeur of the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. O’Riada created the concept of an Irish music ensemble, which gave rise to the whole idea of arranging the music.

As the 1900’s were to become known as the traditional music revival, the 1970’s were to earn the title the golden age of traditional music, and not without good reason, for it was in this decade that the music saw possibly its finest years in term of popularity and innovation.

The Bothy Band
Probably the most obvious development was the espousement of influences such as contemporary, American and European folk, into traditional music and with the arrival of the group Planxty in 1972, a new sound had emerged. The arrangements of pure traditional music in folk and ballad style, played with the virtuosity of Liam O’Flynn’s uilleann piping, along with the intricately captivating bouzouki, mandolin and guitar accompaniment, created a sound that was to prove them as the leader in a new musical movement, and to play a vital part in the inspiration for many groups, too numerous to mention here, that formed around this time. They were the prototype for what was to be arguably the most influential and ground-breaking band during the period and possibly to date for it was the Planxty man, Donal Lunny, who in 1975 formed The Bothy Band. This professional group, characterized by a powerful core of pipes, flute and fiddle with a driving rhythmic accompaniment, not unlike that of rock music, played on bouzouki, guitar and clavichord, achieved one of the most exciting combinations of traditional music talents ever gathered. Their greater use of harmony and occasional interdependence of instruments: their more intricate use of O’Riada’s model of arrangement: their professional rock-group like approach to performance and mainly their master musicianship and explosive sound, all served to win them the imagination of a new generation the world over.

The Bothy Band’s influence from their heyday to the present is undiminished. It is because of bands such as De Dannan, Planxty and perhaps mainly the Bothy Band, that certain traditional musicians can stand alone on stages throughout the world and be appreciated and acclaimed for playing in their own pure style.

Moving Hearts
Since the ‘70’s, many interesting ventures in new areas have been attempted, such as the traditional rock-fusion initially tempted by Moving Hearts: experimentation with the arrangement of traditional instruments with orchestras: the attempted fusion of traditional music with world music and jazz, etc. All these developments are notable in their own right and have served to popularize the music, contributing to the apparent situation today where it is seen to be thriving.

But if we were to study how music is performed at the present time, one would notice some dramatic changes:

1. more attention to tone and technique:
2. material acquired from public performers as opposed to one specific region:
3. an increase in the tempo of dance tunes:
4. a greater awareness of harmony and
5. the acceptance and popularity among traditional players of accompaniment instruments such as the Greek bouzouki which has been adapted in style and structure thus further increasing its versatile ability.

Now, in the twenty-first century, with traditional music enjoying every success, it would seem as if its future is secure, but today more than at any other time, this is the foremost topic of debate among musicians and commentators. Through the profusion of media, the influence of groups and individual musicians filtering back into the tradition is viewed with great concern by many as corrupting and detracting from the essential purity and integrity of traditional music. Indeed, it has been recognized that with few exceptions, regional styles have, since the advent of recording, been eroding at a frightening rate and are almost completely erased.

But to conclude, it should be simply stated that never before has Ireland seen so many young and talented traditional musicians and singers. I can see not reason why traditional music in its purest form is coming under threat. Music, traditional or otherwise, lives in its musicians and therefore must be relevant to this generation. If it’s not we will have failed to keep it alive for the next. With one eye on the past and one on the future, traditional music knows no boundaries and will continue to reflect the nation’s spirit for generations to come.

Thanks to The Crawl for this information

Music in Ireland during the Penal Times

By James Reddiough   Posted November 25, 2017   

Seanchai
Would you believe that under the penal laws in Ireland (1669 - 1920) it was illegal to have musical instruments of any kind? Where else did the playing of the spoons, bones and the gentle art of lilting come from? Where did the tradition of the rambling house and the house dance or ceili come from but from the days when people were forced by law to gather in their own houses in remote areas for fun and diversion?

As one source tells many of the laws introduced by the British crown were aimed at crushing Irish culture and in the case of the Penal Laws it was forbidden to participate in any traditional or cultural activities. Many would believe that such laws were to some extent successful in suppressing and hampering the growth of music in Ireland during the period of their enforcement.

Irish Music Goes Into Hiding

Rambling House by Joe Harrington
This era was the origin of sturdy trusty bodhran and all of these were improvised instruments that did much to entertain and enlighten the different generations in what were extremely difficult times. During the Penal days the people danced in front of the hearth. People would go to a safe house or to a remote crossroads to hold their traditions this was how they kept the music and dance alive.

Each one roomed cabin was an entertainment venue with a seanchai passing on the lore and traditions of the people; a lilter who sounded out the music and the rhythm for the dancers on the kitchen floor. Then you the percussionists who beat the spoons and the bodhrans and, indeed the playing of the bones to add to the lilting for the enjoyment of the gathering.

This was the genesis of the rambling houses and the tradition that would carry on into the 1950’s a practice extending over 200 years when people made their own entertainment and by all accounts until 1935 when they were forbidden by their own church.

Anti-Catholic Penal Laws In Ireland

When Limerick fell to the Williamite army in 1691,  the first article of surrender stated that:

Penal Laws Against Irish Catholics
The Roman Catholics of this Kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in their exercise of their religion as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of King Charles the second: and their majesties, as soon as their affairs permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such farther security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbances upon the account of their said religion

This promise was, of course, dependent upon Catholics taking the oath of loyalty to King William and Queen Mary within the first year of their realm. At first glance this would seem reasonable as William had conducted his campaign in Ireland with the blessings of his ally, the Pope.

In 1693 however, Papal support switched to King James ll, who was in exile in France. This caused King William to become less tolerant and for Irish Catholics to be less willing to take a loyalty oath. This is highlighted by a bill put forward in the Irish Parliament in 1695 and passed in 1697, outlawing Catholic clergy.

Also, in Ireland, the now totally Protestant parliament, was more inclined to impose much harsher punishments upon Catholics and Dissenters and following the death of William in 1702 (Mary died in 1695) they took the opportunity to increase the restrictions against Catholics holding office or land. In this they were supported by the British Parliament and Queen Anne ll the Protestant daughter of James ll and sister in law of William. She was the last of the Stuart monarchs to sit on the British throne.

The more major of the laws include:

  • Exclusion of Catholics from holding public office such as Judge MP solicitor Jurist or barrister, civil servant, sheriff, or town councillor.
  • No Catholic could vote or be elected to office.
  • A ban was imposed upon Catholics from owning land.
  • Catholics could not lease land for longer than thirty one years and the rent was to equal two thirds of the yearly value of the land.
  • Catholics were not allowed to hold arms nor be members of the armed forces nor own a horse worth more than £5.
  • If a Catholic landholder died, his estate could not be passed to the eldest son unless that son was a Protestant. Otherwise it was to be shared by all the surviving sons.
  • A ban imposed upon intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants.
  • Catholic could not be an orphan’s guardian.
  • Catholics were barred from living in many provincial towns.
  • Catholic clergy were to be registered and required to take an oath of loyalty, but friars, monks, hierarchy and Jesuits were to be exiled.
  • No cleric could wear distinguishing clothes.
  • Places of worship could not have a steeple nor display a cross.
  • Catholics and dissenters were required to pay tithes to the Anglican Church of Ireland which was the Established Church.
  • Catholics could not establish schools or send their children abroad for education.

The introduction of the Penal Laws in Ireland would have a serious impact on Irish society and dive Ireland into deeper poverty for years to come.

As 18th century progressed, the anti-Catholic penal laws were strengthened and had a profound effect upon all aspects of  Irish society.

The great Gaelic lords were gone and the clans beaten and subdued. The Catholic Old English were totally excluded from all the upper positions of social and political life. Except for a few Presbyterian members, the Parliament was Church of Ireland (Anglican).

The House of Lords in it’s entirety was composed of the Anglican hierarchy and nobility. This became known as the Protestant Ascendancy, a name first used in 1782. They were to become an extremely wealthy and elite class of people who owned most of the property of Ireland.

Converting from Catholicism

A few Catholic families had managed to hold onto their lands but as the century progressed many converted to Protestantism to protect their interests. By the time Queen Anne died in 1714, Catholic ownership of land had fallen to 14% of the total. In 1780 that percentage reached as low as 5%. The percentage of Catholic in the population terms was 75%.

It is interesting to note that one Catholic who had turned Protestant was to become the wealthiest man in Ireland. He was William Connelly the son of a Donegal innkeeper and a lawyer who dealt in buying confiscated lands.

As Britain started to expand its empire abroad the Ascendancy class invested heavily in Dublin turning it into the second city of the empire after London. Many new impressive buildings were constructed. Broad thoroughfares were laid down and beautiful parks also established. Large and impressive houses were built on estates throughout the country. Life was extremely good to them.

Victims of the Penal Laws

As for the Catholics, and increasingly, the non-conforming sects such as the Presbyterian’s, life was pleasant. By refusing to take the Eucharist test of 1704, the dissenting Protestants were excluded from any major role in the governance or wealth of the country. Although they had fought in the Cromwellian and Williamite wars against the Catholics they were now cobbled to them in their misfortune as victims of the penal laws.

The Penal Laws were described by Edmund Burke as “a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

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