Second Year: The Plantations

Queen Elizabeth I ordered the Munster Plantation.
Her hand on the globe symbolises her power.
The Plantations have a reputation for being the most boring part of the History course. They are (hopefully) the first topic you'll look at and ask "why does this matter?" It can be very hard to figure out why you need to learn about the Plantations, but it's only in 3rd year that their importance to Ireland today becomes obvious.

In 3rd year, you'll learn about Northern Ireland. You'll learn why Ireland was divided, why there was a struggle there for decades, why the Troubles began, and why there was so much fighting between republican groups (the IRA etc.) and loyalist groups (the UVF etc.). You might know already that one of the biggest problems in Northern Ireland was that the Catholics and the Protestants were nearly always against each other. Protestant unionists held the power in Northern Ireland for decades, and they discriminated against the Catholic people living there.

The origin of this story (like a prologue in a book) is the Plantations.

You've seen how the Reformation changed the religion in most of England to Protestantism. Now, English Protestants are being sent to Ireland as "planters" to take over the land for the King or Queen of the day. You learn about three different Plantations in this chapter: Laois-Offaly, Munster and the most important one - Ulster. Ulster is made up of nine counties. Today, six of those counties make up Northern Ireland. Learning about the Ulster Plantation is the first step to understanding the whole history of Northern Ireland.

Continue to the Age of Revolutions

Go back to Second Year 

It's a good idea to learn where the counties are for this chapter, especially Laois (23) and Offaly (22).
Munster is in red and Ulster is in yellow. Click on the image to make it bigger.

Ordinary Level students should focus on the Special Topic, which is in *asterisks*.
  • What Ireland was like in 1500: Gaelic lords, Anglo-Irish lords, the Pale.
  • Why the Tudors wanted to conquer Ireland, and how they tried.
  • The Laois-Offaly and Munster Plantations.
  • *The Ulster Plantation (People in History)*
  • Cromwell and his Plantation.
  • The Results of the Plantations.

Click here for advice and tips on answering exam questions.


1. Name two British rulers who ordered plantations to be carried out in Ireland. (2010 HL, 2006 HL)

2. Name one group of people who received land in Ireland during the plantations. (2012 OL)

3. Name one area of Ireland where a plantation occurred and the ruler who carried it out. (2015 OL, 2011 OL)

4. Why did the plantations occur? (2011 OL)

5. Name two effects which the plantations had on Ireland? (2010 OL)

6. Explain one way in which Ireland changed because of the plantations. (2015 OL)

7. Choose one of the following terms about Ireland and Britain c.1500-1660 and give one fact about your chosen term:
                            The Pale                       The Armada                      Undertakers                 (2015 OL)


    Q.5C, 2009 HL

    Name one of the plantations which you have studied and write about the effects of that plantation on two of the following:       (2x8)

    (i)     Religion.
    (ii)    Political control.
    (iii)   Language and customs. 

    For the Plantations, you'll always write your People in History answer on the Ulster Plantation, because it's the one you learn the most about. There are two different types of People in History question you could be asked on the Plantations, and they are:

    A settler who received land in a named plantation.
    (2015 HL, 2012 HL, 2010 HL, 2008 HL, 2006 HL, 2009 OL)

    A native Irish landowner who lost land in a named plantation. (2014 HL, 2011 HL, 2014 OL)

    The Story of the Ulster Plantation
    This essay tells the story of the Ulster Plantation, with lots of pictures to illustrate what happened.

    BBC History: Maps of Londonderry
    This site has a feature allowing you to explore a map of Londonderry from the Ulster plantation, showing you where the different merchants settled.

    BBC History: Architecture of the Plantations
    Learn about the types of buildings the English introduced to Ireland.

    BBC History: The Map of the Plantations
    Find out which parts of Ulster went to the servitors, which parts to the undertakers, and who got what.

    Oliver Cromwell Biography
    Learn more about Cromwell here. Ever used the expression "warts and all"? He's famous for using it.