episcopal Church of Ireland, half Presbyterians located mainly in Ulster. This latter group posed a second challenge to the episcopal state church. According to Swift, 'the zealous presbyterians of the north are more alienated from the established clergy, than the romish priests; taxing the former with idolatrous worship, as disguised papists, ceremony-mongers, and many other terms of art; and this for a very powerful reason; because the clergy stand in their way, which the popish priests do not'.33 Yet the Presbyterians themselves suffered schism in 1725 between the 'Old Lights', supporters of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and a 'New Light' party rejecting the imposition of creeds, often for anti-Trinitarian reasons.
Defeat in 1691 was a disaster for the Catholics. William III did little to shield them from a Protestant Dublin parliament. By a series of acts, from the 1690s to the 1720s, Catholics were subjected to a catalogue of civil disabilities. Such legislation, passed piecemeal, soon earned the systematizing title 'the penal laws'. This code was, arguably, effective: there were no Jacobite Irish risings like those of 1715 and 1745 in Scotland, and the position of the Irish Catholic interest steadily weakened. The anti-Catholic legislation on the statute book was therefore less and less enforced after c. 1720 and Catholic worship won a de facto toleration. Yet although coercingpeople into religious belief later acquired a bad name, the provision of material reasons for adherence to religious truth posed no problem for the clergy of the Church of Ireland: they adopted a strategy which would have been pursued by their Catholic co-religionists had the result of the war of 1689-91 been different.
Moreover, this strategy proved largely successful: before the emergence of Daniel O'Connell's populist Irish nationalism in the 1820s, Roman Catholics in Ireland as well as in England were increasingly seen as potential supporters of a monarchical state, a reversal that the American and French revolutions served to confirm. So evident was this shift that the Irish parliament felt able to pass Catholic Relief Acts in 1778 and 1782, which dismantled the penal code with respect to religious worship, education, andlandownership; further relaxations followed in 1792-93. In 1780, the rural plebeian violence with its revolutionary and republican undertones that was to characterize the last two decades of the century could hardly be foreseen: as in England, the state church in Ireland appeared to be the route to increasing harmony and prosperity.
Legal discrimination against Protestant Dissenters was less effective. Presbyterians flourished in Ulster; their sense of grievance, combined with their ancient resistance theory, found expression in colonial America, which witnessed mass emigration from Ulster in the early 1770s, and in a domestic political campaign that almost saw Ireland break free from English domination
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