PENAL LAWS IN LIMERICK, C.1690S

AS A RESULT OF THE PENAL LAWS, THE CATHOLIC MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE OF LIMERICK IN THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURIES LIVED IN POVERTY UNDER OPPRESSIVE BRITISH RULE. THERE WAS AN ECONOMIC EXPANSION IN LIMERICK CITY DURING THE GEORGIAN PERIOD WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEWTOWN PERY. IN RURAL LIMERICK UNREST LED TO THE ORGANISATION OF SECRET SOCIETIES SUCH AS THE WHITEBOYS. THOSE FOUND GUILTY OF CRIMES COULD BE TRANSPORTED AS CONVICTS BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT TO AUSTRALIA FROM 1788.

DETAILS TAKEN FROM MAINCHÍN SEOIGHE’S PORTRAIT OF LIMERICK (LONDON, 1982).

NOTE:

IN THE HISTORY OF IRELAND, THE PENAL LAWS (IRISH: NA PÉINDLÍTHE) WAS A SERIES OF LAWS IMPOSED IN AN ATTEMPT TO FORCE IRISH CATHOLICS AND TO A LESSER EXTENT PROTESTANT DISSENTER PLANTERS AND QUAKERS TO ACCEPT THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH OF IRELAND. THESE LAWS NOTABLY INCLUDED THE EDUCATION ACT 1695, THE BANISHMENT ACT 1697, THE REGISTRATION ACT 1704, THE POPERY ACTS 1704 AND 1709, AND THE DISENFRANCHISING ACT 1728. THE MAJORITY OF THE PENAL LAWS WERE REMOVED IN THE PERIOD 1778–1793 WITH THE LAST OF THEM OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE BEING REMOVED IN 1829. NOTWITHSTANDING THOSE PREVIOUS ENACTMENTS, THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND ACT 1920 (COMING INTO FORCE DURING THE IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE) CONTAINED AN ALL-PURPOSE PROVISION IN SECTION 5 REMOVING ANY THAT MIGHT TECHNICALLY STILL THEN BE IN EXISTENCE.

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