“Cromwell:God’s Executioner” .

This is how The History Channel, introduces both parts of  Cromwell: God’s Executioner, the two-part series commisioned by it and RTÉ Television (with support from Broadcasting Commission of Ireland)from Tile Films. This drama is not expected to generate the same amount of discussion as it did when broadcast by RTE on the 3rd of September (the 350th anniversary of Cromwell’s death) this year, but then Cromwell is not is not seen in the same light this side of the Irish sea as he is in Ireland.

Oliver Cromwell is the great bogeyman of Irish history. His name appears everywhere in the collective psyche of an island that is obsessed with its past. He is a towering figure, a dark silhouette against the bloodstained backdrop of history. But why did he come to Ireland, and does he deserve this black reputation?

 Leading young historian Micheál Ó Siochrú will present the series, offering fascinating and controversial new insights into this crucial time in Irish history. He puts the conquest in its proper context, showing that it was the apex of many years of conflict between Britain and Ireland. He looks at the war itself, exploring its causes and course, Cromwell’s struggles with his Irish adversaries, and the bitter legacy that still haunts the nation’s folk memory, three and a half centuries on. But even this is not the full story. Strikingly, Micheál reveals how ‘God’s Englishman’ helped to lay the foundations for the modern Ireland that we know today.

 In the first part of this two part series, the historical context of 17th century Ireland is set and the main players in the conflict are introduced, including Cromwell himself and his Irish adversaries, the O’Neills. We trace the events that led to the first and most infamous of the atrocities of his campaign at Drogheda and Wexford. Following Drogheda, he sends 5,000 men to Ulster to crush Royalist resistance there. With the death of Owen Roe O’Neill, leader of the Ulster Catholic army, who now can stand against Cromwell?

As episode two opens, we see Cromwell’s army unexpectedly begin to founder. He fails to take two key strategic positions – Duncannon and Waterford, and reaches a low point in the driving rain of Kilmacthomas, with his army reduced by disease and slowed down by bad weather.But in the spring of 1650 he renews his campaign in Leinster and Munster. He captures important towns like Kilkenny and Cashel, but meets his nemesis at Clonmel, where 2,000 of his troops are wiped out by Hugh Dubh O’Neill. Can the Irish prevail? 

Sadly not. We examine the end of the campaign, the fate of O’Neill and other protagonists, and the bitter aftermath of dispossession. We also explore Cromwell’s legacy and its wider significance today.?



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