Talk:Nine Years' War (Ireland)

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This article really needs a map, particularly when it comes to the fortification of Ulster and the routes into the province: Newry-Armagh, Sligo-Ballyshannon, Lough Foyle, the various crown garrisons, rebel strongholds, the forest of Glenconkyne, Lough Neagh, mountains, and the Scots connection across the channel. The map would also help with all the sub-articles. Is there anyone out there who could help me with all these squiggles and arrows? I am the untechnical shtove 23:25, 26 February 2006 (UTC)


Article would benefit from citations for a lot of the statements and assertions currently appearing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:53, 18 September 2007 (UTC)


Is this article a propaganda piece for English, and its surrogate British, nationalism? This article is supposed to be about resistance to the English conquest of Ireland between 1594 and 1603. How, pray tell, are the native Irish "rebels"? How are they "rebelling" against a people or a state that still has not conquered them? The English called them "rebels" because the English wanted to project themselves as the norm, as the established government, as the rightful rulers, of Ireland and Irish rule as an aberration on that. The truth was that it was the English who were rebelling against the norm, against the established governments, against the rightful rulers of Ireland. That is what the English conquest was: a rebellion against the established authority. It could not have been a conquest otherwise. This article is lazy, pro-English and anti-Irish in all its premises. Shamefully unintelligent. (talk) 10:52, 22 June 2008 (UTC)


No point is exchanging insults. To answer your points;

  • The English imposed Kingdom of Ireland was declared by the English in 1534 and subsequently accepted by Irish lords in the Surrender and regrant scheme. Hugh O'Neill himself had not only accepted this settlment but actually profited by it, being named Baron of Dungannon and given English troops to support him against rival O'Neills. So when in 1594, he decided to fight against the English government in Ireland, and not, initially to get rid of it but so they would recognise him as The O'Neill, how else can he be described except as a rebel? This doesn't imply any moral judgement whatsoever about the legitimacy or otherwise of English rule in Ireland.
  • There was no established Irish government in Ireland at the time. There were many competing Irish and Old English lordships. The English tried to co-opt these into their administration, sometimes peacefully sometimes by use of force and in he end by dispossession and plantation.
  • I'm sorry if you think the article is anti-Irish and pro-English and unintelligent, but of course you're entitled to your point of view. However I don't see how you can call it lazy when you have not gone to the trouble to learn the facts involved yourself. I am Irish btw.

Jdorney (talk) 10:39, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

  • The English imposed Kingdom of Ireland was accepted in the Gaelic mode as temporary. To believe that the Gaelic world suddenly started to view political settlements as long-term has no basis. What you, and those who think like you, are doing is imposing a teleological view of the sixteenth-century Gaelic world; you are imposing modern nation-state thinking upon a people who viewed engagements with the crown as temporary. It is absurd to argue that because of surrender and regrant the lords of Gaelic Ireland committed themselves and their descendants to eternal subservience to the English crown.
  • To argue that Gaelic Irish lords had no view of a political nation state but somehow went beyond the locality and embraced that view when they signed agreements with the English crown is the absurdity at the heart of the "rebel" argument. It is a convenient English argument, based on an English worldview and English values and aspirations at the time. It has nothing to do with the short-term view of the Gaelic Irish who only wanted to make sure the English didn't side with their rivals and lead to their demise/ use the English crown to lead to their rivals demise. Their motivations for signing this agreement was very little different to the motivations behind agreements signed by lords throughout Europe with foreign monarchs: short-term opportunism. This "rebels" line is ahistorical. It is used by modern historians because the English sources scream it loud enough, and often enough. Lazy historians, in other words.
  • Again you are still on your Irish rebels axis. You argue that O'Neill was being opportunistic in 1594, but ignore any opportunism in his alliance with the crown. Why? Again, the deviation for you is clearly his alliance with his fellow Irish, not with the newcomers, the aspiring English. The world has gone upside down.
  • Which is why I said "established governments". And there were absolutely many, very very many established governments in Gaelic Ireland. One does not need to adopt this English nation-state view that a single established government was necessary in order for the English to be considered rebels in Ireland. The fact that the English were attempting to overthrow the established orders from the O'Donnell lordship of Tyrconnell to the Barry lordship of Cork is sufficient. The English, the newcomers, were rebelling against all of these. To deny the existence of these established authorities, these established governments, beyond the Pale is just silly. They existed, and those trying to overthrow them were rebelling against the established governments. Unfortunately, you are demeaning this real power, real authority and real tradition because you are viewing sixteenth-century Ireland in modern English nation-state terms.
  • Alas, I am acutely aware of "the facts", English and Irish. (talk) 13:14, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Fair points, but;

Wasn't O'Neill being opportunistic before 1594 and after it as well? He wanted to be the top dog in Ulster, with English help or without it. The same goes for the other local lords. I agree completely that their priorities were local, dynastic and often personal.

With regard to estblished governments, sometimes the English wanted to overthrow the native lordships and sometimes they didn't. For example, the ruling branch of the O'Briens did quite well out of the conquest. Florence MacCarthy and his branch of the MacCarthys lost out but the Muskerry branch consolidated their position. The Barry lordship, which you have mentioned here, sided with the English and had their lands ravaged twice by O'Neill's forces. By 1603, the majority of land was still held by native lords. So we can talk about the English imposing a different type of authority on the lordships, but only in cases destroying them.

This doesn't mean at all that the conquest was not brutal or that the English showed respect for Gaelic culture. But a simple model of the English conquering the country through force of arms and 'rebelling against the established governments' does not work.

For me, the term rebel is not a big issue if we can use a better one. But what should we call a coalition of people who had accepted an authority, for whatever reason, taking up arms against it? You're right that the English sources called them rebels, because to the English mind-set this is what they were. We could call them O'Neill's supporters, or the confederates, which was the term O'Neill and O'Donnell used in their correspondence, perhaps the Irish, though this is problematic because as many Irish lords fought against O'Neill as with him. Suggestions?

Aside from this wording issue, what other problems do you have with the article?

Jdorney (talk) 22:52, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

I would say this article gives a pretty good account and its got good detail and so on. This thing about "rebels" is nonsense imo, its a non issue, O'Neill was rebelling against an authority he had previously accepted. The only criticism is that O'Neill's allies don't seem to be clearly identified and his relationship with them. How was he able to suddenly give his "allies" titles and whatnot, did these clans recognise O'Neill's authority over them? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Ok, well O'Neill's initial allies were the heads of the Ulster clans who were opposed to English authority being directly extened over Ulster. Some of these were O'Neill dependents, the McCanns, and the O'Cahans off the top of my head, who essentially had no choice, thy had to do what they were told. Some others were allies united by common interest - the O'Donnells and MaGuires for example. They swore an oath promising to be faithful to each other and in effect recognising O'Neill as their leader for the duration of the conflict. This didn't mean him having authority over their territories however.

Outside of Ulster, O'Neill had some consistent allies - the O'Byrnes of Wicklow for example. But most other clans or lordships were split over which side to take. So O'Neill supported Earls and Chiefs who supported him and in some cases this meant using force to appoint his candidates as Chief or Earl of their lordships in plae of the incumbent. For this reason there were pro and anti O'Neill Earls of Desmond and MacCarthy Mors claiming allegiance at the same time. So O'Neill didn't actually give people titles, he supported contenders for these titles who were prepared to work with him and take his 'Oath of confederation'.


English Soldiers in the nine years war[edit]

I feel this article needs to say more about the English Soldiers who fought in the war.

If I am not mistaken the nine years war was the largest war to be fought in the Tudor period (at one point 18,000 English soldiers were in Ireland) but excepting Cyril Falls and Morgan, few English historians have written about the soldiers who fought in the war; this article may be an opportunity to correct this bias. Inchiquin (talk) 02:39, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

The English casualty figures seem a little odd: "30,000 casualties" from a force of "18,000"?? Presumably the English were so superhuman that they needed to be killed several times over; and then, after they were all doubly-dead, they still managed to win the war. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:44, 21 June 2016 (UTC)

Irish civilian deaths[edit]

Thanks for the response to my previous query. I was wondering whether the number of civilians killed in the conflict would really have been as high as that stated. I've read in several places that the Irish population was about a million at this time so 100,000 seems to be a pretty high civilian death rate, especially if the mentioned famine only occurred in one province. Another related question is the issue of the population of Ulster at that time. I've heard it said from sources I would not consider reliable that the population of Ulster was much lower than that of the other provinces and was therefore 'underpopulated', as a kind of justification for the Plantation of Ulster. Although there may be some truth in that because of the famine that was instigated by the English Army I was wondering is there any evidence that the population of Ulster was historically less than the rest of Ireland. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:24, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Nine Years' War or Nine Years War[edit]

Which is correct? Mooretwin (talk) 16:32, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm not 100% sure. This name comes from the Irish language name - the English called it Tyrone's Rebellion. If the correct Irish term is Cogadh na naoi mBliana, then this is possessive and in English needs an apostrophe. If it's Cogadh Naoi mBliana, it's more like, 'the war that lasted nine years'. I think. We need someone with good Gaeilge. Jdorney (talk) 17:54, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Nine Years War: (p.13). (talk) 03:24, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Counter-revolution, not a rebellion[edit]

The O'Neills were trying to restore their legitimate sovereign authority and the power of the True Church, contrary to heretical schism and monarchal usurpation. This must be viewed in a very different context to the later communist ("republican") pleb/middle-class rebellions which were allied to the naturalists and Grand Orient masons of France. This war was aristocratic, Catholic and supported by a masculine country of similar nature; Habsburg Spain. - Yorkshirian (talk) 08:55, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree wholeheartedly about this being much more a counter-revolution than a 'rebellion'. Dunlavin Green (talk) 02:00, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Good points but the O'Neill clan itself had divided and Hugh was the creature of the English administration. The succession went: Conn), Shane d.1567 and Turlough Luineach who d.1595. Hugh was supposed to be Conn's grandson. Were it not for the English we would never have heard of him. He had a good run of luck before his rebellion came to an end, and cost the rest of Ireland very dear. (talk) 15:04, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
But is it not assuming far too much to look at his choices through the prism of the (essentially modern) English nation state? In the Gaelic world alliances were viewed as short term rather than as some long-term commitment/contract between "subject" and "sovereign" as Tudor propaganda was intent upon portraying even the most ephemeral self-serving alliance with its aims. Ó Néill used the English connection to advance himself for sure, but to say that he owed some long-term loyalty to that connection is looking at things from a perspective which did not belong in the Gaelic world. It appears that many, many people are unable to see things in the reality of that world and are instead projecting an English worldview upon actions and motivations from the Gaelic world. (talk) 19:25, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
More exactly the flashpoint was Henry Bagenal being appointed President of Ulster, as he and O'Neill hated each other. (talk) 10:18, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Commanders and early war years[edit]

As of right now there are 27 commanders listed in the infobox, and there are many more (with and without wikipedia articles) that could be listed. To avoid these large awkward lists in the infobox, I feel that a Nine Years' War equivalent to a "List of military leaders in the American Revolutionary War" type article would be a useful database to have. Given the smaller scale of the war it could incorporate clan chiefs, officials, Lord Deputies, Governors, etc. not just military leaders. At the very least a proper Nine Years' War infobox is required that lists people, battles and events. I will begin work on this to see if it's feasible.

Also the article jumps from the outbreak of war in 1593 to Yellow Ford in 1598 in the space of a paragraph. There is a huge amount on O'Donnell's activity during these early war years contained within the articles - West Breifne and Tiobóid mac Walter Ciotach Bourke. These are obviously not the first places you'd think to look for this information so currently trying to figure out a way to more clearly link this information to O'Donnell and the Nine Years' War without making the latter articles repetitive and over encumbered with secondary information. --Jacobfrid (talk) 01:35, 27 August 2017 (UTC)