Irish Slaves in the Caribbean
To Hell, Connaught, or Barbados
Though little has been discussed about them, thousands of Irish men, women, and children, were captured or arrested and shipped to the Caribbean as slaves. Because they did not factor into Oliver Cromwell's new plan of government, these people were gathered and shipped off, with no dignity, to work as slaves in the island plantations of the Caribbean. Their influence is left in those places, in the street names, the towns names, and in any local phone book. But, their stories have not been told.
Mention of these white slaves are often left completely out of history books, or sometimes sugar-coated as "voluntary indentured servants", however thousands were kidnapped from the streets and from their beds. That is not voluntary. And the term indentured servants is meant to describe a temporary situation, which for most this was not.
Novel: Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl - ~ Historical Fiction ~
Kate McCafferty's period fiction reflects life as an Irish slave in the Caribbean and the relationships between Irish slaves and black slaves. She spoke about writing this book in a news article at the University at Albany.
Teachers, and reading groups may want to check out this discussion guide for Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl.
Also Available for the Kindle!
Cot Daley, abducted from her hometown in Ireland, and sold into slavery, recounts her life as a sugar plantation slave. She describes her journey, her life as a white slave, her relationships, and a plan for island slave revolt.
Lord Protector of England from 1653 - 1658
Oliver Cromwell, in 1648, put down a rebellion in Ireland with such savagery and cruelty that is is nearly unimaginable. In his own words after the siege of Drogheda, "the officers were knocked on the head, every tenth man of the soldiers killed and the rest shipped to Barbados."
Cromwell drove Irish men and women, as threats to his new government, from their homes into the relatively barren and inhospitable province of Connaught. He created a system of arresting people for terribly minor infractions and forcing them onto ships headed to the Caribbean, providing the British planters there with "indentured laborers". Often times they actually just 'captured' the Irish for no reason at all.
By his command, roughly 12,000 Irish people were sold into slavery under the Commonwealth. Thousands more were killed on the spot.
Were you surprised? - Did you know about Irish slavery?
It seems that Irish slavery has escaped many texts, and therefore the entire education of many.
Were you surprised to learn that there were Irish Slaves in the Caribbean?
To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland
The nonfiction book goes into the details of Cromwell's atrocities that American history books gloss over. It is a well written history of the genocide and enslavement of the Irish.
Articles About Irish Slaves - Learn More About Irish Slavery in the Americas
- England's Irish Slaves by Robert E. West
Records are replete with references to early Irish Catholics in the West Indies. Gwynn in Analecta Hibernica, states: 'The earliest reference to the Irish is the establishment of an Irish settlement on the Amazon River in 1612."...
- Island paradise recalls Irish slavery
A monument to commemorate Cromwell's Irish victims. In the Caribbean St. Kitts is one of those places holidaymakers dream about. However, there is a bit of history of the island which until recently has gone overlooked by virtually all visitors. That
- Out of Africa, Out of Ireland
"Under Cromwell's policy, known as "To Hell or Connaught," Irish landowners were driven off millions of acres of fertile land. Those found east of the river Shannon after May 1, 1654, faced the death penalty or slavery in the West Indies. Cromwell re
- Musical Origin: The Blues
Although many credit the Mississippi Delta area as the region where Blues music originated, others cite its origins as beginning much earlier in the West Indies, where the Irish and African slaves produced a unique, yet sorrowful, blend of Celtic and
- A Short History of the Irish in Jamaica, Part 1 of 3 -- The Wild Geese Today
In this three-part series, I will attempt to solve a puzzle that has bothered and intrigued me from the time I first set foot in Jamaica some 20 years ago. What is it about this small island and its people, 6,000 miles from Ireland, hardly the size o
- Ireland's Slavery Memorial Day?
Given that tens of thousands of Irish people were shipped into slavery, isn't it strange that Ireland has no day remembering them?
- Irish Slavery in America
One of the topics of interest to a number of our people is the Irish language in America. This is intimately related with the subject of indentured servitude and slavery in America. Gerry Kelly has contributed the following information, as a sample o
- The Irish in the Caribbean 1641-1837: An Overview
By Nini Rodgers
- The People Who Came: The Arrival Of The Irish
The Irish arrived in Jamaica over 350 years ago in the mid-1600s at the time of British Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell's capture of Jamaica...
- In memory of Irish victims of the Irish Slave trade
Few people know that the majority of Slaves in the Caribbean, during the 17th Century, were actually Irish
Goodwife "Goody" Ann Glover
Goodwife "Goody" Ann Glover is an Irish slave that you may have actually heard of before. Ann Glover was the last woman hanged in the Massachusetts witch trials. She was sold as a slave to the Barbados under Englishman Oliver Cromwell reign, during the occupation of Ireland in the 1650s. By 1680 Anne and her daughter were living in Boston, housekeepers for John Goodwin. When the Goodwin children became sick, Goody Glover was accused of being a witch and afflicting them. She insisted on only speaking Irish during her trial, and was subsequently found guilty and hung. Learn more about Goody Glover.
Spirited Away - A Novel of the Stolen Irish
This new novel by Maggie Plummer tells the story of a brother and sister "spirited away" from Ireland and brought to Barbados as slaves. it is interesting to read the story of both a boy's and a girl's experience.
Primary Sources - Available to Be Viewed Online
If want to hear it strait from the horse's mouth, or you are writing a report and realize that primary sources are the best, visit these links:
- Salem Quarterly Court, Master Samuel Symonds against Irish slaves
Law Case, Master Samuel Symonds against Irish slaves. William Downing and Philip Welch. Salem Quarterly Court. Salem, Massachusetts. June 25, 1661. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex...
- Letters from Mr Corker: British History Online
Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, we aim to support academi
- Oliver Cromwell's letters and speeches, with elucidations
This is a 40MB PDF files which is a scan of Thomas Carlyle's entire 1438 page book. A copy of the book as just the text, and therefore searchable is located at questia.
- Calendar of state papers: colonial series, America and West Indies 1689-1692
On May 31, 1692 we see Mary Peters who was an "indentured servant" attempting to receive her freedom after having served eight years. However, her master and his mistress had her marry a negro which then made her a slave. (Page 644)
- Eyewitness to Irish History
Quotes from primary sources regarding the Irish sold as slaves. (Page 121)
A true man of the people in Ireland, and always looking to sing Irish issues into the hearts of the rest of the world, Dempsey's upcoming release and title track, "To Hell Or Barbados" refers to Oliver Cromwell's campaign against Ireland in the mid 1600s, during which many Irish were deported and sent as slave labor to Bermuda and Barbados.
Download the MP3 of the song To Hell Or Barbados from this album.
Published References to Irish Slavery in the Caribbean
These books are now in the public domain and viewable free online:
- History of Ireland: from the earliest times to the present day
By Edward Alfred D'Alton Published 1792 - Page 460 (bottom)
- A memoir on Ireland, native and Saxon By Daniel O'Connell
Published 1843 - Page 73, right column - paragraphs 3-4
- A historical geography of the British colonies, Volume 2
Published 1890 - page 186 Authors Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas, Reginald Laurence, Sir Charles Alexander Harris, Henry Charles Miller, John Davenport, Hugh Edward, R. E. Stubbs, Chewton Atchley
To Hell or Barbados...
Irish Slave Genealogy
Has your genealogical research led you to the slaves of the Caribbean? These links may help you continue:
- The Cavanaugh's
There are a great many K/Cavanaughs in North America who trace their ancestry back to a Charles Cavanaugh, who trace their ancestry back to a Charles Cavanaugh, who arrived in Virginia,
- Notes on Barbadoes and Irish Slaves
Genealogical references to Irish slaves
- The Caribbean Y-DNA Project
My goal is to find out the ancestry of many of the Europeans who immigrated and settled or conquered most of the Caribbean Islands. Also the Native population and the African population in result of the slave trade. Especially the Irish population wh
- McGinley - Irish in the Caribbean
The surname McGinley, along with many other Irish names, can be found throughout the Caribbean today. Some are 20th Century settlers but some are descended from Irish slaves who were transported to the islands hundreds of years before.
Tobacco Island by Flogging Molly
The Artist: Flogging Molly
The Song: Tobacco Island
The Album: Within a Mile of Home Release: 2004
Flogging Molly on Facebook
Flogging Molly's Myspace Page
All to hell we must sail
For the Shores of sweet Barbados
Where the sugar cane grows taller
Than the god we once believed in
Till the butcher and his crown
Raped the land we used to sleep in
Now tomorrow chimes of ghostly crimes
That haunt Tobacco Island
Flogging Molly's song Tobacco Island, beautifully describes the anger and the pain that the Irish slaves must have felt at being torn from their homes and sent as labor to the Caribbean. At a Flogging Molly concert, Dave King said "This is a song about a man named Oliver Cromwell... and tonight I hope you all dance on his grave!". He has also dedicated the song to Oliver Cromwell on other occasions in a perfect act of irony.
"Roundheads" is the term used by the Irish of that time to describe the English, because of their short haircuts - the Irish wore their hair longer. "Redlegs" is something that the Irish slaves were called in Barbados because of the red hair on their legs.
Escape from Barbados - Historical Fiction on Irish Slavery
This novel is the story of Sean Tierney who is sent to Barbados as a slave. There, he falls in love with an African princess and has a son. He lives as a slave for 35 years and then he, his multi-racial son and grandson make their way back to Ireland.
It should be noted that while this book is set in the time of Irish slavery, it is fiction. The time and circumstances of slavery may be portrayed well, but no records have surfaced that show any of the Irish men and women sent to the Caribbean as slaves every made it back to Ireland.
End Slavery Today
One reason that I made this page, is to remind people that slavery was not a one time thing that attacked one group of people. Throughout time, worldwide, slavery has existed: in Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; in medieval Europe; under the viking rule; the Jews under the Nazi regime; in the Arab world; in Africa; in Brazil; in China; in India; and indeed in America.
You would think that in a world as modern as ours, where people pride themselves on being educated, that slavery would be gone. Unfortunately that is not the case. Slavery exists today, as in any other time. It is merely covered up and disguised (most of the time). People being traded as sex slaves, children being sold off, factories that pay nearly nothing and provide threats of violence if people try to quit, immigrants enslaved to pay for their trip and fake papers - it is all happening today. And, it is slavery.
Help end slavery today.
- Free The Slaves (not for profit)
Free the Slaves liberates slaves around the world, helps them rebuild their lives and researches real world solutions to eradicate slavery forever.
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