To put some context on the 1641 rebellion (‘We are not Irish, we are a distinct people,’ July 24).
It came about because of resentment by the Catholic Irish both Gael and old English to dispossession of their lands to Scottish and English protestant settlers.
Catholic Irish were frightened because of a threat from the Covenantor Army in Scotland to invade and eradicate Catholics and a simultaneous threat from Cromwell’s puritan army in England who was at war with King Charles, whom the Catholics had hoped might address their concerns, by halting or even reversing the policy of plantation and land repossession.
It was intended as a countrywide rebellion but the insurgents had been betrayed in Dublin and so it only went ahead in the north of the country.
The insurgents had been given instructions by their leaders not to kill anyone but to arrest the gentry and spare the Scottish settlers as they were viewed as kindred.
And for a week of the rebellion the instructions were heeded. However many of the rebels had lost their land to these new settlers and retained animosity, resentfulness and anger towards them and decided instead to avenge what they considered a wrong and so the awful horrendous slaughter occurred.
The following year 1642, The Covenantor army invaded from Scotland, wiping out the population of Rathlin Island, all the Catholics in Island Magee and catholic prisoners and traders in Newry.
In 1649 Cromwell came to Ireland and put Drogheda under siege, a town the rebels of 1641 had attacked unsuccessfully, it was a strongly royalist town loyal to King Charles.
The siege ended with over 3,000 dead. Cromwell had used the 1641 rebellion and the avenging of the protestant lives as the reason to invade Ireland and in doing so he had also brought the English civil war to Ireland.
Mary Russell, Balregan, Dundalk