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"The Influence of Limerick's Treaty on the Phenomenon of the English Hallmark in Ireland" |

“The Influence of Limerick’s Treaty on the Phenomenon of the English Hallmark in Ireland”

The impact of Limerick’s Treaty on the emergence of the English Hallmark phenomenon in Ireland cannot be understated. In a thought-provoking article published in a recent edition of the “Leader”, the subject of the English Hallmark is examined by a writer known as “Avis.” While Avis attributes the desire of the Catholic bourgeoisie and minor gentry to acquire the Hallmark for their children to Anglomania, this explanation only scratches the surface of the matter. The question remains: What is the root cause of this Anglomania?

It is evident that the Irish people, in general, possess limited knowledge about England and its culture, making it unlikely for them to harbour a fervent longing for English things solely for their intrinsic value. Therefore, we must look closer to home to understand the origin of this Anglomania. Since the Treaty of Limerick was breached, Irish society has undergone a profound transformation, gradually eroding its Irish identity. While I speak in broad terms, it is worth considering how this transformation could have been averted. The Catholic gentry, having been dispossessed, sought refuge in France, while the Catholic peasantry found themselves without property or education. The trades and professions fell predominantly into the hands of non-Catholics, many of whom were recent English immigrants. As Lecky astutely reminds us, the soil was forcibly taken from its rightful owners and placed into the hands of “foreigners and enemies.”

With the landed estates, which traditionally gave rise to a native gentry, controlled by what Lecky himself describes as “foreigners and enemies,” it becomes clear how a society inherently non-Irish would naturally develop. In fact, one might even argue that it was anti-Irish, as the established English caste referred to the native Irish as “the common enemy.” The Penal Laws further exacerbated the situation by systematically excluding Catholics from the professions and, gradually, from commerce and manufacturing. In such a climate, there was no room for a society rooted in Irish values. To envision an Irish social structure thriving with the elegance and sophistication of civilized life within these circumstances would be akin to imagining orchids flourishing in the Arctic regions.

Although the Penal Laws began to be relaxed around 1760 and underwent various amendments until 1829, the damage had already been done. The Catholic gentry had vanished, and the Ascendancy class had firmly established itself. The true fabric of Irish society, including the Catholic Anglo-Irish, found itself devoid of the necessary ingredients to build a society based on Irish principles.

In conclusion, the repercussions of Limerick’s Treaty reverberated throughout Irish society, leading to the emergence of the English Hallmark phenomenon. The displacement of the Catholic gentry, the marginalization of the Catholic peasantry, and the systematic exclusion from the professions and economic opportunities all contributed to a society that lacked a foundation rooted in Irish heritage. It is within this context that the desire for English symbols and cultural markers, such as the English Hallmark, took hold. Understanding this historical backdrop allows us to grasp the complex dynamics that shaped Irish society and its relationship with England during that era.

Dublin Leader – Saturday 09 April 1904

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