THE CIVIL WARS IN IRELAND
The Irish Civil War -- or the Eleven Years War -- began in October 1641 with the outbreak of the rising and effectively ended with the surrender of Galway in April 1652. The conflict has also been dubbed the Confederate War since between 1642 and 1649 the Irish confederates, with their capital in Kilkenny, directed the Catholic war-effort against the various Protestant armies raised to crush them. As in covenanting Scotland, the thorny issue of loyalty to the Stuart crown confused and complicated the course of the war in Ireland. On the one land, the outbreak of the First English Civil War and the need to choose between the king and Parliament shattered the anti-Catholic alliance (with the Scottish covenanters and the British settlers in Ulster and in Munster allying with the parliamentarians until the end of 1647); while, on the other, the desire by some confederates to conclude a peace with Charles I eventually led to the outbreak of civil war within Catholic ranks after May 1648. As a result, Catholic Ireland failed to win lasting political autonomy within the context of a tripartite Stuart monarchy, but its rebellion nevertheless won legislative independence and freedom of worship for Irish Catholics in the 1640s.
The rising (discussed in Chapter 1), which began in Ulster on 22 October 1641, quickly 'diffused through the veins of the whole kingdom'. 1 Even though an attempt on the 23rd to take Dublin Castle failed, the insurgents, led by Sir Phleim O'Neill, captured the key strongholds of Armagh, Charlemont, Mountjoy Castle, Tandragee, and Newry (only Derry, Coleraine, Enniskillen, Lisburn, and Carrickfergus escaped). From Ulster the insurrection quickly spread to Leinster. On 21 November the insurgents besieged Drogheda and skirmished with government forces in Counties Wicklow and Dublin. By December the rising had engulfed much of the country with the Catholics in Counties Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo, Kilkenny, and Tipperary joining the insurgents. The Catholics in