Saturday, November 1, 2008

Penal Law

I'm browsing The Internet and came across this article.
I know you all are aware of the conditions that our family lived under in Ireland, however, take a moment to read this article.
"Fitzgerald, James. "The Causes that Led to Irish Emigration". Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, 1911. Vol X. New York: American Irish Historical Society , 1911

I am very thankful to my old and valued friend, your distinguished Chairman, Hon. Morgan J. O’Brien, for his more than kindly introduction, and deeply grateful to you for the cordiality of your reception. We are all to be congratulated upon the opportunity afforded us of participating in the Silver Jubilee of the Mission of the Holy Rosary. The good work the Mission has accomplished for immigrant girls during the past twenty-five years has earned international recognition, and as we listened to the highly interesting and very eloquent address of Father Henry, the history and details of the splendid services performed by himself and his lamented predecessors on behalf of morality and religion, were deeply impressive. We wish the Mission God-speed for the future, and ardently hope that as long as young Irish girls must emigrate, they may find to greet them at the portals of the New World, the good priests of the Mission ready to guard them against the pitfalls of the tempter and profligate, and to point out to them the secure roadways over which they may unfalteringly advance by industry and virtue to win fortune and friendship on these hospitable shores. I have been requested to speak this evening on the causes that led to Irish emigration, and in opening, can truthfully say that with the vast majority, emigration was not a matter of choice. The love of Irishmen for Ireland, their devotion to her history and traditions, their loyalty to her cause under the most discouraging circumstances, their unshaken faith in her future, are all matters so universally recognized as to be considered well within the common knowledge of mankind. The Irishman loves his native soil, he clings to it with tenacity, he parts from it in sorrow. The valleys and mountains, the woods and rivers of his beloved country are endeared to him by the honest of memories, as he is bound to them by the strongest and most enduring of ties. There are no people on earth more deeply rooted in their affection for their native land and the blue sky above it than are the children of the Island of St. Patrick. These qualities have long characterized them; they constitute the indisputable evidence of their patriotism; they are the Heaven-set marks of racial demarcation which make of the Gaels of Ireland a people distinctive and indestructible. When we begin to consider what the causes are that led to Irish emigration, we must eliminate from among those causes any disposition upon the part of the Irish people to voluntarily forsake Ireland; we must look for other reasons to account for that vast out-pouring of the Irish nation which has contributed so largely to the population of North and South America, of Australia and its outlying islands, of South Africa, and, in lesser degree, to that of many other lands, for there does not seem to have been a discoverable spot upon the surface of the earth too remote for the Irishman to settle in; he and his descendants are to be found in far Western isles, as they are traceable throughout all European countries, and the account which they have given of themselves in war and peace, in field and forum, in Church and State, throughout civilization constitutes as proud a record of achievement as is to be found in history. The question of involuntary Irish emigration is an old one; we do not have far to wander in our search for some of its causes, and in tracing them, we must arraign the sister isle, in other words, call England to the bar, for, when we strike the root of Irish trouble, we find it is mainly attributable to injustice and misgovernment.
The Penal Laws.
Religious persecution, as exemplified by the Penal Laws, hardly tended to make Ireland a desirable place to live in for Roman Catholics. By these statutes, a person professing that faith was prohibited from acquiring land in fee or by leasehold; his tenure was at sufferance; he could not hold an estate in land, nor of personal property, nor could he be the owner of a single chattel worth more than five pounds; he could not educate his children under penalty of transportation; he could not worship in the sacred sanctuaries of his Church without rendering himself liable to persecution. He had no property rights, no personal rights, So completely were Irish Catholics, who constituted the vast majority of the population, bereft of their civil rights, so absolutely were they without legal redress to prevent or remedy wrongs that the Lord Chancellor and Chief Justice of Ireland in those days solemnly declared from the bench that "the law does not contemplate the existence of any such person as an Irish Roman Catholic."
Restrictive Trade Laws.
These Penal Laws, which were directed against conscience were supplemented by industrial statutes which were directed against industry and trade. When it was discovered that Ireland could undersell England in woollen fabrics, and thus became her dangerous competitor in the markets of the world, the exportation of woollen cloth from Ireland to any part of the earth other than England and Wales was absolutely prohibited, and a prohibitive tariff was laid upon manufactured woolen goods entering English or Welsh ports. Under those circumstances, is it any wonder that the woolen industry died out in Ireland, and is it surprising that English woolen factories flourished? And then there were the Navigation Laws. With the character of these Navigation Laws, Americans are somewhat familiar, but, thank God, their pernicious effect was summarily ended here when the British connection was severed and the sovereign independence of the United States established in the glorious era of the Revolution. But, to return to Ireland, the English merchants and ship owners wanted no Irish competition in Colonial trade, and by these Navigation Laws, direct trade between Ireland and the Colonies was prohibited. Nothing could be imported into Ireland from the Colonies, except by the way of England, and nothing could be exported out of Ireland to the Colonies except in the same manner. In other words, Ireland could only do business with the Colonies through the agency of English middlemen, and when these middlemen were selfish and avaricious competitors, the prospects of the Irish manufacturer must have been the reverse of encouraging. In theory, Englishmen would have us believe that the relationship maintained between great Britain and Ireland is a kind of mutually beneficial partnership. From their point of view, it is theoretically sublime and practically superb. From the Irishman’s point of view, this relationship is not only galling to national and personal pride but absolutely ruinous to individual advancement or national progress. Under the peculiar articles of this co-partnership, it is provided that all of the benefits and profits shall be received by and paid over to the party of the first part-England, and that all of the disadvantages and losses are to be suffered and borne by the party of the second part-Ireland. This is not an over-statement of the proposition ; it is historically true. Charles II. prohibited the export of cattle, pork, bacon or dairy produce. The Irish people then resorted to wool raising and the manufacture of woolen fabrics, with the result, as I have told you, that it was decreed that Ireland could neither export woolen fabrics nor raw wool. Any attempt to build up industry with promise of success was immediately frustrated by a prohibitory act of Parliament until unjust and arbitrary legislation accomplished the utter annihilation of Irish trade. For over two hundred years, such were the conditions prevailing in Ireland, and is it surprising that the Irish became dissatisfied? English writers throughout all of this time accused them of being lawless. Deprived of property rights and of personal rights, prohibited from trade, persecuted in their religion, without opportunity for investment of capital, without market for labor, subjected to indignities and insults, with the jail and the gibbet as the penalty of even protest, and all of these infamous measures enacted and administered in the name of the law and carried out with all of its pomp and circumstance, is it any wonder that the people of Ireland looked upon the law of the land as an infamous iniquity, and plotted and planned and fought with a fury often wild and irresistible to rid themselves of a system which upon principles of natural justice, it was criminal mockery and sacrilege to dignify by the sacred name of law."