Remember 1641…

HISTORY buffs should take a look at the digitised 1641 Rebellion testimonies; the Ulster depositions are the first online. According to the site, these controversial documents, rarely seen over the centuries

are witness testimonies mainly by Protestants, but also by some Catholics, from all social backgrounds, concerning their experiences of the 1641 Irish rebellion. The testimonies document the loss of goods, military activity, and the alleged crimes committed by the Irish insurgents, including assault, stripping, imprisonment and murder. This body of material is unparalleled anywhere in early modern Europe, and provides a unique source of information for the causes and events surrounding the 1641 rebellion and for the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of seventeenth-century Ireland, England and Scotland.

Propagandists, politicians and historians have all exploited the depositions at different times, and the controversy surrounding them has never been satisfactorily resolved. In fact, the 1641 ‘massacres’, like King William’s victory at the Boyne (1690), and the battle of the Somme (1916), have played a key role in creating and sustaining a collective Protestant/British identity in the province of Ulster.