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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost


Part III. History of the County of Clare
Chapter 14. History of the County of Clare from 1580 to 1641

Pernicious Political Institutions of the Irish

In a former part of this book, a minute account of raids made by the inhabitants of Thomond upon one another is given. I allude to the contentions of the time of de Clare. In the Annals of the Four Masters, two others of these plundering expeditions are described: these we here proceed to give, and they will be found highly illustrative of the state of things that existed in Ireland under its native rulers. Of all the political institutions ever devised by human ingenuity the system of clanship, as it prevailed in Ireland, was the best contrived for retarding the progress of civilisation and preventing the material prosperity of a people. The perpetually recurring practice of the different septs, invading the territories of their neighbours, on the slightest provocation, and often without any reason at all, acted as an effectual bar to the advancement of the inhabitants in worldly well-being. No man would build a substantial house when he knew, that at any day, it might be burned to the ground. No man would sow more corn than would suffice for his indispensable wants when he knew, that at any time, it might be trampled on, burned, and destroyed. War was the occupation of the people; the maintenance of a crowd of idle retainers, the business of the chiefs. Steady industry or trade was never thought of; nothing was considered but the indulgence of empty pride and insolent bullying. Their jealousies prevented the native rulers from combining to expel the English.

 

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