White bungalows and Victoria churches

(17 Posts)
Lucydogz Sat 13-Aug-16 21:59:36

We're in the middle of our Irish holiday and would love to ask a few questions about it..would anyone like to help me out?
Why so many white bungalows?
Why so few churches older than 19th century?
Who lives in the enormous new detached houses, set in the middle of nowhere?
In case this sounds judgemental - we love it here (except for the bloody weather)

FreeButtonBee Sat 13-Aug-16 22:04:40

All the Catholic Churches were razed to the ground by the British.

Most people lived on their land in tenant cottages (build from stone). There were few estate farms, it was majority sustenance farming for bare survival. Then the potato famine happened and millions died or fled for their lives. So the stone cottages crumbled into the earth. I think the population now is still lower than pre famine. So it was only in the 70/80/90 that people could build homes and small simple bungalows were cheap and easy to build. And people build on their own land so they are scattered all over the shop.

FreeButtonBee Sat 13-Aug-16 22:06:04

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_Laws_(Ireland) This explains how restricted Catholicism was.

Lucydogz Sun 14-Aug-16 08:35:17

Thank you for that. I knew about the famine and penal laws, but hadn't thought about the effect on housing - nor about pulling the churches down. I've got a lot of history to read up on when we get home. We're outside Enniskillen at the moment and finding the whole Plantation issue very interesting.

wobblywonderwoman Sun 14-Aug-16 08:43:29

The large detached houses - these were due to the property boom. It doesn't mean the people living in them are usually well off or anything. Couples probably inherited the site and built at very reasonable cost.

geekaMaxima Sun 14-Aug-16 10:15:32

Ireland also never had the traditional feudal structure of serf villages around a manor house that was common in the rest of Europe. There were towns based around either castles (even before the Normans) or abbeys, but not a huge number. Instead, people tended to live scattered around on their own land (owned or rented), in loose clusters not too far from their nearest neighbours, within a few miles of some focus that was basically a wide spot in the road with a smith, holy well, coach stop, fair, etc. plus the inevitable church/chapel.

There are echoes of this culture in the distributed housing you see today - it's still normal not to build in a village.

Villages - with concentrated houses and residents - only really came into their own during the 17th -18th century plantations in Ireland when the ascendency started building stately piles and often threw up a few cottages for the staff at the same time. Lots of villages and towns were planned at that time to service the local big landowner, usually building around a local church.

Many older churches were enclosed in plantation estates at this time and were effectively closed because the population couldn't access them, and have since disappeared. Other churches that didn't have a village built around them fell into disuse as people started going to the village church and have disappeared from the landscape.

You still see the occasional church out in its own in rural areas with no village around it. These are the remnants of the old system of churches serving distributed communities.

Finally, following gradual repeal of the penal laws in late 18th and early 19th centuries - plus the fading of the ascendency after the Irish Parliament was dissolved - the Catholic Church started investing more money in Ireland and building convents, schools, etc. all over the place. These actions were stepped up after the famine as the church sought to gain firmer control of a country it considered half pagan, with stronger beliefs in fairies and holy wells than in church dogma.

Most village and town churches were rebuilt in the 19th century as a result of this cultural indoctrination building programme, flattening the smaller chapels and building grander-looking replacements. Most churches in Ireland are relatively recent, but occupy a site that has probably held a church for hundreds of years.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Sun 14-Aug-16 10:37:43

Really interesting! Thank you for this thread.

Lucydogz Sun 14-Aug-16 10:57:39

Fascinating geeka. Thank you. It feels odd, travelling around NI, that it is like, yet unlike, England. Are there any history books that you'd recommend for the 16th to 19th centuries?
Also, did the Plantations cover the whole of Ireland, or just the East?

geekaMaxima Sun 14-Aug-16 13:15:10

Lucy I don't know any really good books on the period I could recommend, especially when it comes to social history and the fabric of the landscape. Most books tend to be politically oriented, which is fair enough but neglects what 99% of the population experienced day to day. Or they tend to be exclusively focused on a very narrow period of time and don't have the broader context.

I've gleaned what I know from a wide and messy range of sources where the info about the social landscape makes up about 5-10% of the contentconfused

The best written overview of Ireland's social history and change that I've seen is probably the Dublin novels by Edward Rutherfurd. Yes, they're fiction and compress some timelines here and there, but they're well-researched and probably as accurate regarding social history as any one historian's interpretation of the period. The second book covers 16th - 20th centuries, and much of it applies to Ireland more broadly rather than just Dublin.

geekaMaxima Sun 14-Aug-16 13:35:57

Oh - and the plantations happened everywhere except west of the Shannon. Officially, Dublin and the Pale wasn't planted but had a high concentration of English and Welsh settlement for other reasons (govt and trade, mostly).

Wiki has some good maps, although they leave out small scale planted settlements, esp in the south-west.

geekaMaxima Sun 14-Aug-16 13:36:37

South-east! Not sw smile

ComedyWing Sun 14-Aug-16 14:03:57

Yes to what geeka said. The exotic thing for me about being Irish and living in rural England is just that lack of wholescale clearance caused by colonisation - the existence of Saxon/Norman churches in every little village around us, lots of 17thc and earlier houses (cottages and manor houses), and how much ancient woodland there is compared to Ireland, where a huge amount of it was deliberately culled.

FurryDogMother Sun 14-Aug-16 14:27:17

A book I found to be a good introduction to (modern) Irish history is 'The Great Hunger' by Cecil Woodham Smith. It's (fairly obviously) about the famine of 1845-49. Not a difficult read, but very informative, because the famine had so many ramifications.

geekaMaxima Sun 14-Aug-16 17:04:45

If you're in NI at the moment, bear in mind it has had quite a different history to the rest of Ireland since the 17th century.

NI experienced intensive plantation after the flight of the earls, largely in revenge for rebellion led by the Ulster Gaelic aristocracy, and was fuelled by a lot of nonsense but effective propaganda that the Irish were savage nomads with no concept of farming, etc. It came as a bit of a shock to some of the plantation settlers that their allocated land was not in virgin or friendly territory, but smack in the middle of a well-established Gaelic community who were unsurprisingly angry at being evicted from lands they had lived and worked on since time immemorial. The resulting conflicts triggered the Cromwellian invasion in Ireland.

Also, most of the persuaded plantation settlers in NI were Scottish Presbyterians rather than established Church of England, and they came in larger numbers and over a longer time period than planters elsewhere in Ireland. By the 18th century, Presbyterians were the largest religious group in what's now NI, followed by Catholics, followed lastly by CoI / CoE.

Unfortunately, one result was that the divisions in NI between native Irish and planted settlers followed obvious religious lines (poor-to-middling farmers could be either Presbyterian planters or Catholic Irish, and long-rooted tensions stopped them from mixing), as opposed to the rest of Ireland where it was conflated with class (tiny population of wealthy CoI landowners and a large population of poor Irish Catholic tenants, with a smattering of Protestant dissenters across the country). These religious tensions in NI of course formed the background to the Troubles.

Meanwhile, plantations in the rest of Ireland were too small to be wholesale effective, as the planted Protestant settler farmers often did mix with and marry into the Irish Catholic population. There were tensions and conflicts, but not necessarily along religious lines - case in point, the leaders of the 1798 rebellion were Protestant of all stripes as well as Catholic, who saw no inherent conflict between religion and Irish cultural identity.

The resurgence of catholic church control in the 19th century introduced and intensified religious divisions, unfortunately. Yet another slow hand clap for the Catholic Church...

Lucydogz Sun 14-Aug-16 21:34:45

Thanks again geek, I find all of that very interesting. Earlier in our holidays, we went to the Mussenden temple, and Frederick Hervey (the Earl Bishop) who built it, seems to have been remarkable in his tolerance, especially given the period he lived in.
Oh yes, another question, are the long, straight, wide, but minor roads associated with the Plantations?

geekaMaxima Sun 14-Aug-16 22:31:32

A lot of road building was related to the plantations, partly to link up the new planned market towns and partly to move military units more easily.

Not sure about the general straightness of the roads, though! I suspect there's a lot of local variation smile

squoosh Sun 14-Aug-16 23:45:14

I think the population now is still lower than pre famine.

Prior to the famine the population was just over 8 million! Today it's at about 4.5.

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