Massacre of the Protestant Martyrs at the Bridge over the River Bann in Ireland, 1641. Engraving from Matthew Taylor, England's Bloody Tribunal: Or, Popish Cruelty Displayed ...London: J. Cooke, 1772. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
Drowning of Irish Protestants by Catholics
This image is a depiction of the murder by Irish Catholics of approximately one hundred Protestants from Loughgall Parish, County Armagh, at the bridge over the River Bann near Portadown, Ulster. This atrocity occurred at the beginning of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Having held the Protestants as prisoners and tortured them, the Catholics drove them "like hogs" to the bridge, where they were stripped naked and forced into the water below at swordspoint. Survivors of the plunge were shot.
The first British involvement in Ireland began in 1169, when Anglo-Norman troops arrived at Bannow Bay in County Wexford. During the next half millenium, successive English rulers attempted to colonize the island, pitching battles to increase their holdings – moves that sparked periodic rebellions by the Irish.
As the English gradually expanded their reach over the island by the 16th century, religious persecution of Catholic Irish grew – in particular after the accession of Elizabeth I, a Protestant, to the throne in 1558. Oliver Cromwell's subsequent siege of Ireland in 1649 ended with massacres of Catholics at Drogheda and Wexford and forced the resettlement of thousands, many of whom lost their homes in the struggle. By 1691, with the victory of Protestant English King William III over the Catholic forces of James II, Protestant supremacy in Ireland had become complete.
Catholics in Ireland suffered greatly in the subsequent period of British occupation, enduring laws that prevented them from bearing arms, holding public office and restricting their rights to an education. While many of those rights were eventually restored, the animosity between Catholics and Protestants remained..