• 1640s
  • 1650s
  • 1660s
  • 1670s
  • 1680s-91
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Since the early part of the sixteenth century Ireland had been a zone of English colonial intervention and experimentation. Protestant nations were created in England and Scotland but there was no religious reformation in Ireland. Alongside a sectarian dimension, the efforts to create a colony involved the expropriation and plantation of land with English and Scottish settlers. Siege warfare was a dominant characteristic of this epoch: ‘We make war more like foxes than lions’ wrote Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery.

The Ulster Rebellion of 1641 was followed by the Confederate War between 1642 and 1653. Protestant dominance came under threat. Catholic Ireland failed to win lasting political autonomy but between 1642 and 1649 the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny enjoyed legislative independence and Catholics worshipped freely. The Confederation was the last example of sustained self-government involving Irish Catholics, covering most of the island, before 1922. Oliver Cromwell, a Parliamentarian, defeated King Charles in the English Civil War in 1649. Royalists in Ireland made an alliance with the Confederates. Cromwell brought his New Model Army to Ireland to confront this threat. Cromwell’s campaign consisted largely of a series of sieges, with the Catholic Irish and their royalist allies constantly on the defensive. The last formal surrender was taken in April 1653. Under the Cromwellian settlement, land ownership in Ireland passed almost exclusively to Protestant settlers.

England was a republic in the 1650s. The monarchy was restored in 1660, however, under Charles II. He was succeeded in 1685 by his Catholic brother, James II. The prospect of a Catholic line on the throne was not popular in the predominantly Protestant country. The Protestant William of Orange allied himself with England’s Protestant Parliament against James. When William brought an army to England, James fled to France. In March 1689 James brought a French army to Ireland, where he had much popular support and the loyalty of the army. A Williamite army arrived from England some months later. Siege warfare was again a distinctive characteristic of the Williamite Wars of 1689-91, which ended in victory for William. The anti-Catholic Penal Laws soon came into force.


The Ireland Under Siege App is an Immersive E-Learning tool built upon the existing Layar AR platform. It will allow users to walk around key historical siege sites learning from and interacting with the surrounding environment through their smartphone's camera. The Layar App is free to download from the iTunes store for iPhone and from the Android Marketplace for the many support handsets.

How to get the Ireland Under Siege app:

1. Download the free Layar app here, or by visiting the app store on your device. You can also click your devices logo below.

2. Install and then launch the LAYAR and search for Ireland Under Siege.

King Johns Castle

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