« Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal Home »


To Hell or Connaught. The Kildare Transplanted

James Durney

When Oliver Cromwell’s son-in-law, Charles Fleetwood, took over the civil and military command of Ireland in 1652, he arrived in a country devastated by pestilence, famine and eleven years of vicious warfare. Both the English merchants, who had financed the Commonwealth Army in Ireland, and the soldiers themselves, now demanded the land they had been promised as payment for their services. In August 1652 an act of the Commonwealth Parliament, entitled An Act for the Settling of Ireland, declared that a position had been reached when a settlement of the Irish nation might be effected. The preamble intimated that the settlement did not contemplate the ‘extirpation’ of the whole nation. A series of ‘Qualifications’ distinguished various punitive circumstances – degrees of guilt in the ‘rebellion’ begun in 1641 – and defined the penalties and forfeitures attaching to the respective persons comprehended. Penalties were banishment, proportionate forfeitures of estates and removal to such places in Ireland as the Parliament might direct. That ‘place’ was announced on behalf of the Parliament in additional instructions to Charles Fleetwood, Commander-in-Chief, and other Commissioners of the Parliament for the Government of Ireland on 2 July 1653 – the Province of Connaught and the County of Clare. They were by this order to proclaim that ‘for the better security of all those parts of Ireland which are intended to be planted with English and Protestants’, all persons who had right to articles or to any favour and mercy by the Qualifications of the Act of 1652 should before 1 May 1654 remove and transplant themselves into the province and county already specified.
There followed a relentless persecution of the Catholics in Ireland, with mass transportations to the West Indies, and a ruthless elimination by trial, imprisonment and execution of all those who had taken part in the bloody insurrection of 1641. The transplantation may be said to have begun with the appointment of Commissioners to the town of Loughrea, County Galway, 112 miles from Dublin, the seat of government. Their instructions dated 6 January 1654 communicated the purpose of their appointment, namely the setting out and distributing of lands to persons to be removed into Connaught and Clare. Heads of families liable to transplant were to proceed to the Commissioners of Revenue in the precinct where they lived. The fifteen precincts into which Ireland was divided were Dublin, Trim, Athy, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, Clonmel, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Athlone, Galway, Belturbet, Belfast and Derry. They were to give the names of their families, particulars of tenants and others who were prepared to accompany them voluntarily. Ages, colour of hair, height and distinguishing marks were to be listed by the Commissioners plus an account of cattle and tillage. After satisfying themselves as to the accuracy of the information the Commissioners of Revenue were to issue Transplantation Certificates which, when presented to the authorities in the reserved area, would entitle the holder to land proportioned under the Act of Settlement. The heads of families were then to travel to Connaught or Clare, claim their allocated land, and there build huts to house their families and tenants who were to follow them before 1 May 1954.
Some landowners protested while others resignedly obeyed. The first two recorded transplanters were Mrs. Alison Aylmer, of Co. Kildare, and Mrs. Mary Bermingham, of Bermingham Castle, Tuam, both of whom were widows. Their decrees were dated respectively 12 January and 4 September, though their ‘First Settlements’ did not materialize until 1656.
The project for the redistribution of the population evidently had far-reaching economic and social effects on the Irish landowners, turned adrift in the comparatively unproductive counties of Connaught and Clare after their fields, farms and estates had been confiscated, and while the transplantation was ultimately – for many reasons – only a partial success, nevertheless, a recorded sixteen Kildare families were transplanted, in whole or in part, to baronies in Counties Roscommon, Galway, Mayo and Clare. Of the six baronies of County Roscommon, Cork and Wexford were assigned two, and Kildare, Meath, Queen’s and Dublin, four.

Barony of Athlone
                                            Irish acres (profitable decreed)
Alison Aylmer, widow. Co. Kildare.                                                                           716
Lady Mary Dongan, alias Talbot, widow. Castletown.                                              1,569

Barony of Ballintober
Pierce Fitzgerald, alias McThomas, and his mother Sissly.                                        1,055
Thomas Fitzgerald, Co. Kildare, decreed                         
100 acres. For the same name from Limerick
500 acres and from Westmeath 300 acres.
Ann Sherlock, Co. Kildare.                                                                                        123

Barony of Boyle
Garrett Sutton, Richardstown.                                                                                     100

Barony of Roscommon
Pierce Fitzgerald, alias McThomas, and his mother                                                    

Barony of Athenry
Philip Fitzgerald, Allen.                                                                                            4,200

Barony of Clare
Lady Mary Dongan, alias Talbot, widow. Castletown.                                            
Walter Hussey, Cappabeg.                                                                                        400
Matthew Nangle, Ballysax.                                                                                        600

Barony of Dunkellin
Philip Fitzgerald, Allen.                                                                                           
Sir Walter Dongan. Castletown.                                                                              1,500

Barony of Kilconnell
Sir Walter Dongan. Castletown.                                                                           

Barony of Killian
Katherine Dillon, alias Wogan. Barbarstown.                                                             364

Barony of Kiltartan
Katherine Dillon, alias Wogan. Barbarstown.                    
Pierce Fitzgerald, alias McThomas, and his mother                                           
Thomas Fitzgerald, Co. Kildare, decreed 100 acres.

Barony of Longford
Philip Fitzgerald, Allen.                                                     

Barony of Loughrea
Philip Fitzgerald, Allen.                                                     

Barony of Tiaquin
Katherine Dillon, alias Wogan. Ballydowd.                       

Barony of Gallen
Matthew Nangle (or Neagle), Co. Kildare

Barony of Tirawley
William, Robert, Michael and Thomas, sons of
Sir John Dongan, Bt., deceased. Co. Kildare                                                               550
James Sherlock, Naas.                                                                                                381

Barony of Moyarta
Ann & Martha Eustace, daughters to Eustace of Confy.                                               222
Bridget, Francis & Clare Eustace, Confy.                                                                    166

Barony of Tulla
Matthew Nangle, Ballysax.                                               
Philip Nangle, Co. Kildare.


In September 1653, Cromwell's plan for colonization of Ireland became law. Sixteen Co. Kildare families were given the choice - to Hell or Connaught!

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2