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The city of Cork itself was founded in the sixth century by the establishment of a monastery and school on the site by St. Finbarr. In the early ninth century the Norse Vikings raided and later settled in the town, establishing it as a trading post.

In the twelfth century the county was granted to the Norman knights Fitzstephen and De Cogan. They brought over other Anglo-Norman settlers and built near the present city of Cork. Like the Norsemen, the Normans in the county gradually merged with the native Irish and adopted the Irish way of life. The main names of Norman extraction in the county are Barry, Roche, Cogan and Nagle.

The power of Norman and Gaelic families was broken after the unsuccessful revolt of the Earl of Desmond in the late sixteenth century. Many families lost their holdings and their land in 1583 to English adventurers. during what is known as the Plantation of Munster, around 15,000 people were brought over and settled in Cork an nearby counties. Most of them left during Hugh O'Neill's war with the English in 1598. Some returned again after his defeat but the plantation was largely a failure. Further English settlers came in the 1650's following the defeat of the 1641 rebellion, and many left and emigrated to Canada, Australia and the Americas.

In the Great famine of 1845-47, County Cork was one of the most severely affected areas. The population which peaked at 854,000 in 1841 had fallen to 650,000 in 1851. Almost 150,000 people died between 1845 and 1850 and thousands emigrated. The population is currently about 404,000.

Early Gaelic families are:  McCarthy, O'Keefe, Murphy, O'Mahony, O'Callaghan, O'Donovan, O'Driscoll, and O'Riordan.

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                                            THE PENAL LAWS

                                           THE POPERY CODE
 After the defeat of the Catholic King,  James the II,  by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 169O,  the Irish Parliament,  which was entirely Protestant,  enacted laws to make sure that the Catholic majority would  never again  endanger the Protestant Ascendancy.  These anti-Catholic laws were designed "to prevent the further growth of Popery."
  

These laws did not come from Parliament at Westminster,  but from the Irish 
House of Commons,  who were afraid Westminster would dilute them, as they 
were contrary to the terms of surrender granted to the followers of King James  II.

   

Those articles promised Catholics could exercise their  own  religion.  The Penal 
Laws were to destroy the last remnants of the Catholic landed gentry.
  This is an abstract from the Bill of 1704:

"Where as  it  is  notoriously known that the late rebellions in this kingdom have 
been contrived,  promoted and carried on by Popish archbishops, bishops, Jesuits  and other ecclesiastical persons of the Romish clergy,  and forasmuch as the peace and public safety of the kingdom is  in  danger,  by  the  great number  of  the  said  archbishops  which,  not  only endeavor to withdraw His Majesty's subjects from their obedience, but do daily stir up and move sedition and rebellion...

  No Catholic may sit in the Irish Parliament.
  No Catholic may be a solicitor, game-keeper or constable.
  No Catholic may possess a horse of greater value than L.5.
  Any Protestant offering that sum can take possession of the
  hunter or carriage horse of a Roman Catholic neighbor.
  No Catholic may attend a university, keep a school, or send his children to be
  educated abroad.
  L.10 reward  is offered for the discovery of a Roman Catholic schoolmaster.
  No Catholic may buy land or receive it as a gift from a Protestant.
  No Catholic may bequeath his estate as a whole, but must divide it among
  all his sons, unless one of those sons become Protestant, where he will inherit
  the whole estate.
  No Catholic may be the guardian of a child. The orphan children of Catholics
  must be brought up as Protestants."

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"Saint Patrick's Day we'll no more keep,
his colours can't be seen,
for there's a bloody law agin',
the wearin' o' the green."

 
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