Through Great Britain and Ireland With Cromwell - H. E. Marshall

Oliver Goes to the Green Island

The Lord-Lieutenant drove through England in state to Bristol. From there he went on through Wales to Pembroke Castle, from which but a few months before he and his hungry army had marched away ragged but victorious. There, in Milford Haven, ships lay ready to carry him over the Irish Sea. It was August, and the sea was rough, and "the Lord-Lieutenant was as sea-sick as ever I saw a man in my life." No doubt he was glad when the voyage was over, and he was safe at last within the blue waters of Dublin Bay.

Ireland is a very different country from Britain in many ways. It has no backbone of mountains, like England and Scotland, forming a water-parting  range. Instead, the whole centre of the country is a plain, ringed round with mountains. As these mountains lie near the shore, the rivers rising there are very short and rapid, and of little use for commerce. There is one great river, however, called the Shannon. It is larger and longer than any river in the British Isles, and ships can sail up it for a greater distance. It rises in the north-west mountains, and crosses the great central plain, falling into the Atlantic on the south-west.

If Ireland were rich in coal fields like Britain this river would be of great use as a trading waterway. But, although there are a few coal fields in Ireland, they are not large enough to bring factories. They are not even large enough to supply all the coal that is needed for house use. So many people burn peat, which is cut from the bogs, of which there are many in the great central plain. Indeed one-seventh of the whole surface of Ireland is bog.

Ireland has good iron ore, and lead and copper too, but they are little worked. It is difficult to make it pay when coal has to be brought a great distance. As long as there were plenty of trees in Ireland, which could be cut down for wood, iron ore was worked. But now, although the climate and soil of Ireland are well suited for tree-growing, it is one of the worst wooded countries of Europe. On the whole, Ireland cannot be said to be either a manufacturing or a mining country.

The climate of Ireland is damper than that of Britain. Lying, as it does, between Britain and the Atlantic, its high mountains catch the heavy rain-clouds blowing from the west before they pass on. And although much of the land is very rich, being so damp, it is more suitable for pasture than for agriculture. So Ireland has become famous for its cattle, poultry, dairy produce, and horses.

Besides being divided into counties, as England and Scotland are, Ireland is divided into provinces. These are the five old kingdoms into which Ireland used to be divided long ago, each having a separate king. Their names were Ulster, Connaught, Munster, Leinster, and Meath. But Leinster and Meath are now one, so to-day there are four provinces.

Dublin, at which Cromwell now landed, is in the province of Leinster. Besides being the capital, Dublin is the finest town in Ireland. It lies upon the Liffey, which flows right through the town, and is crossed by many bridges. Although it is not a manufacturing town, it has two great industries, brewing and poplin making. The water of the streams here is good for making beer and for dyeing silk and wool. So Irish poplins and Guinness's stout are famous the world over.

Dublin is not naturally a good harbour, for the bay is full of sand-banks. So a harbour has been built at Kingstown, on the south shore of the bay, about six miles off. Through this port all the trade of Dublin passes. Lying opposite South Lancashire, with its busy manufacturing towns, Kingstown has grown important.

From here, eggs, butter, poultry, and all kinds of farm produce are shipped across to feed the hungry workers. And to this port are brought tea, and coffee, and many other goods from foreign lands for the people of Ireland. For the valley of the Liffey, breaking through the ring of hills, makes Dublin a convenient place from which to carry goods inland, and to distribute them over the towns of the plain.

Dublin was in the hands of the Parliamentarians, and, when Cromwell landed, the people received him with great joy, cheering loudly as he and his men marched through the streets. But the capital was almost the only place except Londonderry left to the Parliamentarians in all Ireland, and Londonderry was besieged by Royalists.

Cromwell began at once to remodel the Irish army as he had remodeled the English. He found it full of bad men who drank, and swore and plundered. None of these things were allowed in Oliver's army, so he got rid of the bad men. He also proclaimed that soldiers must henceforth pay for what they took. Any who robbed the people should be punished. Then, having rested for a few days, he marched northward to Drogheda. He arrived there on the 3rd of September, which he always thought was his lucky day.