Already Shaftesbury's two subordinates, Titus Oates and Tonge, were concocting the infamous story of the Popish Plot in the hope of securing the exclusion of the Duke of York from the throne. In this plot, according to the account of its lying authors, the Catholics of Ireland were to play an important part, the Jesuits and the Archbishops of Dublin and Tuam being supposed to be particularly active. In October 1678 a proclamation was issued ordering all archbishops, bishops, vicars, abbots, and other dignitaries of the Church of Rome, and all others exercising jurisdiction by authority of the Pope, together with all Jesuits and regular priests, to depart from the kingdom before the 20th November, and all Popish societies, convents, seminaries, and schools were to be dissolved at once. This was followed by a number of others couched in a similar strain, and large numbers of priests were sent to the coast for transportation. The chapels opened in Dublin and in the principal cities were closed, and the clergy who remained were obliged to have recourse to various devices to escape their pursuers. Dr. Talbot was arrested and thrown into prison (1678), where he remained till death put an end to his sufferings in November 1680. Though both the king and Ormond were convinced of his innocence, yet such was the state of Protestant frenzy at the time that they dare not move a hand to assist him. Dr. Plunket, after eluding the vigilance of his pursuers for some time, was arrested in 1679. He was brought to trial at Dundalk, but his accusers feared to trust an Irish court, the case was postponed, and in the meantime his enemies arranged that he should be brought to London for trial. Every care was taken to obtain a verdict. The judges refused a delay to bring over witnesses for the defence, and made no attempt to conceal their bias and their hatred for the Catholic religion, the very profession of which was sufficient to condemn him in their eyes. He was executed at Tyburn (1681), and he was the last victim to suffer death in England on account of the plot of Oates and his perjured accomplices. But in Ireland Ormond had no intention of dropping the persecution. Several of the bishops and vicars-general were arrested and either held as prisoners or banished, and spies were sent through the country to track down those who defied the proclamation of banishment by remaining to watch over their dioceses.
On the accession of James II. (Feb. 1685) the Catholics of Ireland had reason to hope for an improvement of their position, and this time at least they were not disappointed. The Duke of Ormond was recalled, and the Earl of Clarendon was sent over as Lord Lieutenant. He was instructed to maintain the Act of Settlement, but at the same time to allow Catholics full freedom of worship, and to consider them eligible for civil and military appointment. With him was associated as military commander Colonel Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell, brother of the late Archbishop of Dublin. In accordance with the well-known wishes of the king, Catholic officers were appointed in the army, Catholics were allowed once more to act as sheriffs, magistrates, and judges, and steps were taken to see that the corporations, which had been closed against Catholics for years, should be no longer safe Protestant boroughs. The Irish bishops hastened to present an address of welcome to the king, and they were assured of his Majesty's favour and protection. Religious communities of both men and women were re-opened in Dublin, and in the principal cities throughout Ireland, and synods of the clergy were held to restore order and discipline. Irish Catholics as a body were delighted with the royal edicts in favour of religious toleration, but the small Protestant minority in the country were alarmed at seeing Catholics treated as equals, and particularly at the prospect of seeing the Act of Settlement upset, and their titles to their estates questioned by the real owners whom they had despoiled twenty years before. Their fears were increased when the Earl of Clarendon, whom they regarded as in some sort their protector, was recalled (1687) to make way for the Earl of Tyrconnell as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The new Lord Lieutenant was far from being perfect, nor was he always prudent in his policy or his actions, but if his conduct towards the small body of Protestants in Ireland be compared with that of his predecessors for more than a century, or with that of his successors, towards the Irish people, he ought to be regarded as one of the most enlightened administrators of his age.
The revolution that broke out in England (1688), the arrival of William of Orange (1688), and the flight of King James to France were calculated to stir up strife in Ireland, though it is remarkable as showing the fair treatment they had received that a great body of the Irish Protestant bishops were in favour of supporting James against the usurper, and that it was necessary to have recourse to lying stories of an intended general massacre to stir up opposition to the king. Tyrconnell, who had long foreseen such a course of events, had made wonderful preparations, considering the situation of the country and the constitution of his council. Had James II. contented himself with inducing Louis XIV. to send arms and ammunition to Ireland and to utilise to the fullest the splendid French navy, Tyrconnell, aided by the able Irish officers who flocked to his standard from all parts of Europe, might have bidden defiance to all invaders.
But James insisted on returning to Ireland. He landed in March 1689 and proceeded to Dublin, where a national Parliament was summoned to meet in May. As a result of allowing the majority of the people to have some voice in the selection of the members, the House of Commons in 1689 was almost as Catholic as that of 1662 had been Protestant. In the House of Lords the Protestants might have been in the majority had all the spiritual and temporal peers taken their seats, but as several of the bishops were absent from the country, and as many of the lay lords had either joined the party of William or were waiting to see how events would go, few of them put in an appearance. From the beginning it was clear that the ideals of James were not the ideals of the Irish Parliament. He wished merely to make Ireland the stepping- stone to secure his own return to England, while the representatives of Ireland were determined to provide for the welfare and independence of their own country. They began by laying down the principle that no laws passed in England had any binding force in Ireland unless they were approved by the king, lords, and commons of Ireland. They next affirmed the principle of liberty of conscience for all, whether Catholic or Protestant, thereby setting an example which unfortunately was not followed either in England or in later parliamentary assemblies in Ireland. They decreed further that for the future Catholics should not be obliged to pay tithes for the support of the Protestant ministers, but rather that both Catholics and Protestants should contribute to the support of their respective pastors, a system which no impartial man could condemn as unfair. They repealed the Acts of Settlement and Explanation, and declared that those who held estates in Ireland in October 1641 should be restored to them, or if they were dead that their heirs should enter into possession. The soldiers and adventurers were deprived thereby of the property which they had acquired by legalised robbery and had held for over twenty years, but it was provided that those who had purchased lands from the Cromwellian grantees should be compensated from the estates of those who were then in rebellion against the king. In view of what had taken place in Ulster under James I., of what the Earl of Wentworth had in contemplation for portions of Munster and Connaught had his plants not miscarried, and of what had been done by Cromwell in nearly all parts of Catholic Ireland, the action of the Parliament of 1689 was not merely justifiable. It was extremely moderate. An Act of Attainder was also passed against those persons who had either declared for William of Orange, or who had left the country lest they should be regarded as taking sides with James II. Such men were called upon to return within a certain time unless they wished to incur the penalty of being regarded as traitors and punished as such. It is not true to say that there was any secrecy observed in regard to this act, or that knowledge of it was kept from the parties concerned till the time- limit had expired. It was discussed publicly in the presence of the Protestant bishops and Protestant representatives, and its provisions were well known in a short time in England and Ireland.
Derry and Enniskillen had declared against King James towards the end of 1688, and all efforts to capture these two cities had failed. In August 1689 the Duke of Schomberg arrived at Bangor with an army of about fifteen thousand men, but little was done till the arrival of William of Orange in June 1690. Had the Irish and French military advisers had a free hand they might easily have held their own, even though William's army was composed largely of veteran troops drawn from nearly every country of Europe. Had James taken their advice and played a waiting game, by retiring behind the Shannon so as to allow time to have his own raw levies trained, and to hold William in Ireland when his presence on the Continent against Louis XIV. was so urgently required, the situation would have been awkward for his opponent; and even when James decided to advance had he gone forward boldly, as was suggested to him, and insisted upon giving battle north of Dundalk in the narrow pass between the mountains and the sea where William's cavalry would have been useless, the issue might have been different. But with a leader who could not make up his mind whether to give battle or to retreat, and who, having at last decided to fight in the worst place he could have selected, sent away his heavy guns towards Dublin with the intention of ordering a retirement almost when the decisive struggle had begun, it was impossible for his followers to expect any other result but defeat. In the battle of the Boyne the brunt of the fighting fell upon the Irish recruits, and both the Irish cavalry and infantry offered a stubborn resistance. James fled to Dublin, and in a short time left Ireland (1690). The Irish and French commanders then fell back on the line of the Shannon, according to their original scheme. They defended Limerick so bravely that William was obliged to raise the siege, but the capture of Athlone (1691) and the defeat of the Irish forces at Aughrim turned the scales in favour of William. Towards the end of August 1691 the second siege of Limerick began. Sarsfield, who was in supreme command, made a vigorous defence, but, as it was impossible to hold out indefinitely, and as there seemed to be no longer any hope of French assistance, he opened up negotiations with General Ginkle for a surrender of the city. As a result of these negotiations the Treaty of Limerick was signed on the 3rd October 1691. ----------
 /Cambrensis Eversus/, iii., 53. /Arch. Hib./ iii., 273 sqq.
 /Cal. State Papers, Ireland/ (James I.), i., 17-26.
 /Cal. State Papers, Ireland/ (James I.), i., 58-60.