Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mass Paths in Ireland

Fowley’s Falls Mass Path
From Atlas Obscura:
Beginning in the 1690s, the Protestant-controlled Irish Parliament, in conjunction with the English Parliament, passed a series of increasingly stringent, brutally wide-ranging penal laws that imposed serious restrictions on the already oppressed Catholic majority. No Catholic person could vote, or become a lawyer or a judge. They could not own a firearm or serve in the army or navy. They could not set up a school, or teach or be educated abroad. They could not own a horse worth more than £5. They could not speak or read their native Gaelic.

In an attempt to decrease Catholic land holdings, in the early 1700s, a new law prohibited primogeniture, and instead, when an Irish Catholic died, his land was divided among his sons and daughters. But any son who became Protestant could inherit everything. According to one report, Catholics made up 90 percent of the country’s population. A the end of 1703, they owned less than 10 percent of the land.

 Catholic bishops were forced to leave the country. One priest per parish could remain, if he registered with the authorities. The rest were banished, and any who returned would be executed. In 1709, another law was enacted that forced priests to take an oath of abjuration to Protestant Queen Anne. Only 33 priests are recorded to have taken this oath, and the rest had effectively been outlawed. The law also forced people to declare where and when they had attended mass during the prior month, and report any hidden clergy.

These hidden priests held mass in secret, away from watchful eyes. It might be in a shed, or outdoors, with a rock as an altar. Priests sometimes obscured their faces, so if anyone in attendance was later questioned, they could honestly assert they did not know who had led the mass. Priest hunters, who received a bounty for any bishop, priest, or monk they captured, created further peril. Mass attendees were at similar risk. Some walked to mass along streams, to mask their footsteps, while many took these secret mass paths to worship. Penal law reforms began late in the 18th century and continued throughout the 19th century, but it was only in 1920 that the last laws were finally repealed. (Read more.)


1 comment:

julygirl said...

These kind of restrictions and limitations are in the long run detrimental and harmful to a society, not just morally but because they withhold talents and expertise that can aid in the advancement of a culture. The U.S. has profited from this by the influx of talent from people escaping injustices in other parts of the world.