The Irish rebellion of 1641 was ‘conceived among us, but we never felt it kick in the womb, nor struggle at the birth’ according to a Protestant settler. What began as an aristocratic coup d’etat rapidly mutated into violent attacks against the Plantation Protestant colonies by dispossessed Irish Catholics. The Protestants retaliated with equal brutality, reinforced by a Covenanter army from Scotland. In May 1642, with England descending into Civil War, the Catholic rebels formed a Confederation, which, while pledging loyalty to the king, effectively introduced self-rule outside the Royalist strongholds around Dublin and Cork. However, as Charles I began to lose the war with Parliament, radical rebels routed the Covenanters at Benburb (1646), then turned against the Crown and laid siege to Dublin (1646). In response, Dublin’s governor, the Earl of Ormonde invited in a parliamentary army, which proceeded to rout the rebels at Dungan’s Hill and Knockanass (1647).
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