I know there was conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholic nationalists due to their difference of opinion on Home Rule, but why would the protestants in Ulster and conservative party want to coalesce with England? They weren't exactly 'gaining' anything from it. Did they come from England?

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    Have you had a look here? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ireland_(1801%E2%80%931923) Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 2:48
  • Yeah, I have. I've used wikipedia plenty before, thanks. I was looking for something a little less 'broad' as you might say and a little more "at one place". Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 4:04
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    Did you really read the wikipedia article? If you had read all the way through, I don't think you'd be asking this question-perhaps you would know the reasons for the conflict and wouldn't need to ask, or otherwise you would be asking a more specific question. But from your comment, it sounds like you don't want to read the whole article. SE works best when questioners have made an effort to answer their own question, and can ask a more precise question about specific
    – bluphocks
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:48
  • Despite this being a comment, as you pointed out, it deserves an upvote IMHO.
    – o0'.
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 16:04
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    -1 Your question is fundamentally flawed. Conflict between Protestants and Catholics wasn't related to their "difference of opinion on Home Rule". The Scotch-Irish and English were seen as invaders and occupiers, and the Catholic Irish were made to be second class citizens in their own homeland. The Protestants had an interest in being affiliated with the British Empire, as English money and English soliders were their protection against a majority population which hated them. Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 16:42

4 Answers 4


The problem started with the "flight of the Earls" in 1607. After losing a war to England, the Catholic Ulster nobles Hugh O'Donnell, Hugh O'Neil, and others, fled Ireland for Europe. Meanwhile, England brought in Protestant "settlers" from Scotland to "pacify" Ulster. Thus, the formerly most rebellious province of Ireland became the most pro British.

These tensions were exacerbated in the 17th century, first with Cromwell's "to Hell or Connaught" policy that drove many Catholics out of the two eastern provinces, Ulster and Leinster, to Connaught in the northwest, the poorest of the four Irish provinces. Protestant domination of Ulster was further reinforced when Catholic King James II was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 by his Protestant son in law, William of Orange in a civil war, (which is why the Protestants call themselves "Orangemen").

Basically, Ulster Protestants were England's "catspaw" in Ireland. As such, they did not want to be part of an independent, Catholic, Ireland. Their preference, which lasts to this day, was to be part of the "United Kingdom" with English Protestants,

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    ... and this is also why many Irish consider it a grave insult to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day. Word to the wise (or unwise).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 17:47
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    This is superficial on so many levels. There were "problems" before 1607, which led to the Tudor reconquest of Ireland. There were plantations elsewhere in Ireland before there were in Ulster, including those from the catholic Queen Mary. Cromwell's war in Ireland was targeted as much against Anglican Royalists and Presbyterian Scots who were a threat to his rule in England as it was against Catholic Irish. The Battle of the Boyne was part of a greater European Nine Years War, with the Pope supporting William of Orange against France and James....
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:13
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    ... Some Ulster protestants rebelled against British rule as the Society of United Irishmen in 1798. Others opposed political union with Great Britain in 1800/01 out of concern it would lead to Irish Catholic Emancipation, as it eventually did in 1829. The Unionists, especially in Ulster, did oppose Home Rule in the 19th and early 20th century because of their fears that it would lead to Catholic dominance....
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:18
  • ... Ironically, an accident of history led to Home Rule in Northern Ireland from 1921 and the Unionists exploited this for Protestant dominance. They broke from the British Conservatives only in the early 1970s when increasing disorder led to abolition of Home Rule and the imposition of direct rule from London.
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:20

The principal reason that Protestants in Ireland opposed Home Rule was fear of extermination.

In every uprising from the Irish Confederate Wars of 1641 to the 1798 rebellion there were numerous massacres of Protestants, and this bred a fear of rule by a Catholic Church dominated majority.

After the establishment of the Free State there was a church/state policy to discriminate against Protestants, evidenced by the decline of the Protestant population from around 10% in 1900 to around 3% today.

Don't agree with a lot of the conclusions drawn in this link but the statistics don't lie. http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/protestants_1861_1991.html


The Protestants in Ireland were a small (but wealthy) minority. This put them in a precarious situtation, since an uprising could deprive them of power. If they unite with the United Kingdom of Great Britain, then they are in a much safer place.


If we are talking about the 1800's then you will find a lot of Irish Protestants were in favour of Home Rule, with the Home Rule League being led by Isaac Butt in the 1860's. Many Protestants were against the Act of Union which had abolished the Irish parliament and essentially meant more taxes going back to Britain.

The successor to the Home Rule League, the Irish Parliamentary Party, led to a gradual shift towards a Catholic backed Home Rule and positions hardened. Unionism can be traced back to 1885 with the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union.

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