Injustice for Irish Catholics

Religion is an important part of a lifestyle to many, but it carries a lot of hardships and conflicting perspectives with it. Because of religion, people have encountered discrimination and possible death. Ireland history was no exception to that in the earlier  centuries. As one of the dominating religions in the world, Catholicism was not welcomed or viewed as the acceptable religion in Ireland  during the time England was making its presence in Ireland. Catholics encountered many obstacles and where victims to injustices when a series of laws known as Penal Laws were passed as the English took office and control of Ireland. The laws were very powerful into how Ireland would be shaped even to who would own lands as Kilfeather explains” It had been argued that the laws were not vigorously prosecuted, but the cultural effects of such systematic discrimination were profound.”

The Penal Laws has served to encourage Protestant to settle in Ireland and on the other hand created barriers to Catholics in areas of educations, owning property, clergy positions, to breaking apart the religion through its messengers (priests). Believers of this religions were being put as inferior to others and injustices came their way. The were not to marry Protestant, evolve to receive better education, and were deprived from owning land or having to follow protocols to control their means. One of the strong effects these Penal Laws had was limiting and forcing Catholics priest from resining in which a number of them did. 

One of the effects of the Penal Laws against Irish Catholics is presented in a series of maps of Irish plantations provided by OpenLearn.  Through the marginalization that Catholics faced in Ireland there was visible decrease in who did not take control of land in Ireland especially in Northern side: the Catholics. From seventeenth to eighteen century the number of Catholic property and land holders had been going down. Within a span of forty-seven years as seen on the maps from many of land owners who were once Catholic had gone down in a big and important amount. As expressed in the article, “This map illustrates the extent to which England regarded Ireland as an imperial possession during the seventeenth century, fit for colonization and exploitation.” The Penal Laws had done damage to Catholics as the injustices made their presence.

#weektwo #penallaws

Courtesy of OpenLearn
Decrease of Catholic Land Owners
Courtesy of OpenLearn
Decrease of Catholic Land Owners


  1. Love the discussion of English imperialism in the same vein as Penal Laws, which highlights the concurrence and connection between the two. The maps are extremely helpful in their depiction of these laws’ noticeable impact upon the Irish population.

  2. I really like the comparison of the two maps, which really shows the decline of Catholic land owners. I also enjoyed how you tied your argument with “It had been argued that the laws were not vigorously prosecuted, but the cultural effects of such systematic discrimination were profound”, a quote by Siobhán Kilfeather. Nice Job!

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