CHAPTER X. THE CHURCH IN IRELAND DURING THE REIGN OF THE STUARTS (1604-1689)

The king had been advised, too, to enforce the oath of supremacy in case of all officials of the crown. Though in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth something had been done in that direction, yet, in later times, owing to the dangerous condition of the country Catholic officials were not called upon to renounce the Pope. As a result, when James ascended the throne many of the judges were Catholic, as were, also, the great body of the lawyers. In response to the advice from Ireland that judges who refused to attend church and to take the oath should be dismissed, and that "recusant" lawyers should be debarred from practising in the courts, James instructed the council to induce John Everard, a Justice of the Common Pleas, to resign or conform. The mayors and aldermen of the cities, too, had never taken the oath of supremacy. In 1607 the Lord Deputy and council of Ireland informed the privy council in England that, "most of the mayors and principal officers of cities and corporate towns, and justices of the peace of this country birth refuse to take the oath of supremacy, as is requisite by the statute, and for an instance, the party that should this year have been Mayor of Dublin, avoided it to his very great charges, only because he would not take the oath." The contention apparently was that the mayors not being crown officials were not bound to take the oath, but the lawyers decided against such a view, and steps were taken to imprison those mayors who refused, and to destroy the charts of recusant corporations. Still in spite of the attempted banishment of the clergy, the enforcement of attendance at church by fines, and the punishment inflicted on the officials who refused to take the oath, the Deputy and council were forced to admit that they had made no progress. "The people," they wrote (1607), "in many places resort to Mass now in greater multitudes, both in town and country, than for many years past; and if it chance that any priest known to be factious and working be apprehended, both men and women will not stick to rescue the party. In no less multitudes do these priests hold general councils and conventicles together many times about their affairs; and, to be short, they have so far withdrawn the people from all reverence and fear of the laws and loyalty towards his Majesty, and brought their business already to this pass, that such as are conformed and go to church are everywhere derided, scorned, and oppressed by the multitude, to their great discouragement, and to the scandal of all good men."[16]

Although the persecution of James I. was violent the Catholics were well prepared to meet the storm. The Jesuits had sent some of their best men to Ireland, including Henry Fitzsimon, who was thrown into prison, and after a long detention sent into exile, Christopher Holywood, James Archer, Andrew Morony, Barnabas Kearney, etc., and, although there were complaints that their college in Salamanca showed undue favour to the Anglo-Irish, this college as well as the other colleges abroad continued to pour priests into Ireland both able and willing to sustain the Catholic religion. The Dominicans and Franciscans received great help from their colleges on the Continent so that their numbers increased rapidly, and they were able to devote more attention to instructing the people. As in England, the young generation of priests both secular and regular, sent out from the colleges in France, Spain, and the Netherlands were much more active and more determined to hold their own than those who had preceded them. They were in close touch with Rome where their agents kept the Papal Court informed of what was going on in Ireland. Clement VIII. hastened to send his congratulations to James I. on his accession to the throne, and to plead with him for toleration for his Catholic subjects. James White, Vicar-general of Waterford, wrote (1605) to inform Cardinal Baronius of the measures that had been taken to suppress the Catholic religion and to offer his good wishes to Paul V. The latter forwarded a very touching letter in which he expressed his sympathy with the Irish Church, commended the fidelity of the Irish people, and exhorted them to stand firm in the face of persecution.[17] The only weak point that might be noted at this period was the almost complete destruction of the Irish hierarchy. O'Devany of Down and Connor, Brady the Franciscan Bishop of Kilmore, and O'Boyle of Raphoe were the only bishops remaining in the province of Ulster since the murder of Redmond O'Gallagher of Derry. Peter Lombard had been appointed Archbishop of Armagh (1601), but he never visited his diocese. In the province of Leinster Matthew de Oviedo, a Spanish Franciscan, had been appointed to Dublin (1600), and had come to Kinsale with the forces of Spain. He returned to plead for a new expedition to Ireland. Another Spanish Franciscan, Francis de Ribera, had been appointed to Leighlin (1587), but he died in 1604 without having done any work in his diocese. The rest of the Sees in Leinster were vacant. In Munster, David O'Kearney was named Archbishop of Cashel (1603), and soon showed himself to be a man of great activity and fearlessness. Dermod McCragh of Cork had been for years the only bishop in the province, and had exercised the functions of his office not merely in the South, but throughout the province of Leinster. In the province of Tuam all the Sees were vacant. Wherever there was no bishop in residence care was taken to appoint vicars. In Dublin Bernard Moriarty who acted as vicar was arrested in the Franciscan convent at Multifernan in 1601, and died in prison from the wounds he received from the soldiers. Robert Lalor who acted in the same capacity was arrested, tried, and banished in 1606.[18]