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Settlement and Social Change in the Barony of Tulla, c. 1650-1845


This thesis asserts that a diverse landowning elite and fragmented ownership was imposed in the barony of Tulla by the cumulative effect of the Cromwellian and Williamite land confiscations. Given that an exceptionally high proportion of its landowners, old and new, were Irish Catholics, one would expect to see a cultural continuity between old and new landowners. If such continuity existed it should have facilitated the economic and social change epitomised in the ideologies of 'improvement', leading to improvements in the material and moral wellbeing of the whole community.
The thesis shows that key to the failure of 'improvement' was the stratification of society. The more or less enforced conversion of Tulla's landowners and middlemen created a cultural discontinuity within the landed class and a widening cultural and economic gap between them and the bulk of the population. This gap was exacerbated by subdivision of land and rampant population growth. As proto-industries failed, increasing dependence on farming allowed the creation of a network of progressively smaller and less viable holdings which led to deepening poverty and the overall 'disimprovement' of Tulla's lower classes.

Suggested citation:

. () Settlement and Social Change in the Barony of Tulla, c. 1650-1845 [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 18th September 2019].


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