I guess what did happen may have been caused by natural
With men such as these in charge of the new religious movement it was almost impossible that it could succeed. In spite of the various royal commissions appointed between the years 1560 and 1564 to secure submission to the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, the people still clung tenaciously to the old faith. Though Elizabeth and her advisers were anxious to destroy the Catholic religion in Ireland they deemed it imprudent to do so immediately in view of the threatening attitude of O'Neill and of several of the other Irish and Anglo-Irish nobles. In case of the Act of Uniformity it had been laid down expressly that in places where the people did not understand Irish the service might be read in Latin, and as not even the people in Kildare knew English at this time, it followed that outside of Dublin the Book of Common Prayer was not obligatory. Indeed outside Dublin, Meath, Kildare, and portion of Armagh very little attempt seems to have been made to put these laws into execution. From the draft instructions drawn up for Sir Henry Sidney in 1565 it is perfectly clear that outside the Pale territory zealous measures had not been taken to enforce the new doctrines, and that even within the Pale the authorities were not inclined to press matters to extremes. In the various agreements concluded between Shane O'Neill and Elizabeth, O'Neill was not called upon to renounce the Pope. It was thought to be much more prudent to pursue a policy of toleration until the English power could be placed upon a sound footing, and that if this were once accomplished the religious question could be settled without much difficulty.
Although the Lord Deputy was empowered to punish those who refused to attend the English service by imprisonment (1561), he was obliged to report in the following year that the people were "without discipline," and "utterly devoid of religion," that they came "to divine service as to a May game," that the ministers were held in contempt on account of their greediness and want of qualifications, that "the wise fear more the impiety of the licentious professors than the superstition of the erroneous Papists," and that nothing less than a Parliamentary decree rigorously enforced could remedy the evil. The commissioners who had been appointed to enforce the religious innovations reported in 1564 that the people were so addicted to their old superstitions that they could not be induced to hear the new gospel, that the judges and lawyers, however, had promised to enforce the laws, that they had cautioned them not to interfere with the simple multitude at first but only "with one or two boasting Mass men in every shire," and that with the exception of Curwen, Loftus, and Brady, all the rest of the bishops were Irish about whom it was not necessary to say anything more." In a document presented to the privy council in England by the Lord Deputy and council of Ireland (1566) a good account is given of the progress and results of the so- called Reformation. They reported that Curwen, Loftus, and Brady were diligent in their pastoral office, but that "howbeit it [the work] goeth slowly forward within their said three dioceses by reason of the former errors and superstitions inveterated and leavened in the people's hearts, and in [on account of] want of livings sufficient for fit entertainment of well-chosen and learned curates amongst them, for that these livings of cure, being most part appropriated benefices in the queen's majesty's possession, are let by leases to farmers with allowance or reservation of very small stipends or entertainments for the vicars or curates, besides the decay of the chancels, and also of the churches universally in ruins, and some wholly down. And out of their said dioceses, the remote parts of Munster, Connaught, and other Irish countries and borders thereof order cannot yet so well be taken with the residue till the countries be first brought into more civil and dutiful obedience."
In Dublin, where it might be expected that the government could enforce its decrees, the people refused to conform, and even in 1565, after several commissions had finished their labours, it was admitted that the canons and clergy of St. Patrick's were still Papists. From Meath the queen's bishop received such a bad reception that he declared he would much rather have been a stipendiary priest in England than Bishop of Meath. "Oh what a sea of trouble," he wrote, "have I entered into, storms rising on every side; the ungodly lawyers are not only sworn enemies to the truth, but also for the lack of due execution of law, the overthrowers of the country; the ragged clergy are stubborn and ignorantly blind, so as there is left little hope of their amendment; the simple multitude is through continual ignorance hardly to be won so as I find /angustiae undique/." But while Brady was involved in a sea of difficulties, the Catholics of Meath rallied round their lawful bishop, Dr. Walsh. According to the report of Loftus, who ordered his arrest (1565), "he was one of great credit amongst his countrymen, and upon whom as touching causes of religion they wholly depended." Loftus petitioned to be recalled from Armagh because it was not worth anything to him nor was he able to do any good in it, since it lay among the Irish; and Craik, who was appointed to Kildare, announced that he could not address the people because they were not acquainted with the English language, nor had he any Irish clergymen who would assist him in spreading the new gospel.
In 1564 several bodies of commissioners were appointed to visit certain portions of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught to enforce the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, and about the same time a royal proclamation was issued enforcing the fine of twelve pence for each offence on those who refused to attend Protestant service on Sundays and holidays. Whether these commissioners acted or not is not clear, but undoubtedly the commissioners appointed for the Pale made a serious attempt to carry out their instructions. They brought together juries chosen out of the parishes situated within the sphere of English influence "and upon the return of their several verdicts they found many and great offences committed against her Majesty's laws and proceedings. But among all their presentments they brought nothing against the nobility and chief gentlemen, who yet have contemned her Majesty's most godly laws and proceedings more manifestly than any of the rest, and therefore they determined to call them before them, and to minister to them certain articles, unto which they required the nobility to answer upon their honours and duty without oath. The rest of the gentlemen answered upon their oaths. And when they brought their several answers, they found by their own confession, that the most part of them had continually, since the last Parliament, frequented the Mass and other services and ceremonies inhibited by her Majesty's laws and injunctions, and that very few of them ever received the Holy Communion, or used such kind of public prayer and service as is presently established by law." "Whereupon," Loftus added, "I was once in mind (for that they be so linked together in friendship and alliance one with another, that we shall never be able to correct them by the ordinary course of the statute) to cess upon every one of them, according to the quality of their several offences, a good round sum of money, to be paid to your Majesty's use, and to bind them in sure bonds and recognisances ever hereafter dutifully to observe your Majesty's most godly laws and injunctions. But for that they be the nobility and chief gentlemen of the English Pale, and the greatest number too; I thought fit not to deal any further with them until your Majesty's pleasure were therein specially known." So long as her Majesty required the noblemen of the Pale to fight against Shane O'Neill and the other Irish chieftains she was too prudent to insist on strict acceptance of her religious innovations.
In 1560 Pius IV. determined to send a special commissary into Ireland in the person of the Irish Jesuit, Father David Wolf, who was a native of Limerick, highly recommended to the Holy See by the general of the Society. The commissary was instructed to visit and encourage the bishops, clergy, and chief noblemen of the country to stand firm; he was to draw up lists of suitable candidates for bishoprics, to re-organise some of the religious houses and hospitals, and to establish grammar schools where the youth of the country might receive a sound education. He left Rome in August 1560, and arrived in Cork in January 1561. According to his report the people flocked to him in thousands to listen to his sermons, to get absolution, and to procure the re-validation of invalid marriages. For so far, he was able to assure the Roman authorities, heresy had made no progress among the masses. From Cork he went to Limerick, and from Limerick he journeyed through Connaught. During the course of this journey he learned a great deal that was favourable about Bodkin the Archbishop of Tuam and Roland De Burgo of Clonfert. He visited the greater part of the country with the exception of the Pale, and, as he found it impossible to go there, he empowered one of the priests to absolve from reserved cases, particularly from the crimes of heresy and schism. In 1568 he was arrested and thrown into prison together with Archbishop Creagh of Armagh. Pius V. instructed his nuncio in Spain to request the good offices of Philip II. to procure their release, but apparently the representations of the Spanish government were without effect. In 1572, however, Father Wolf succeeded in making his escape from prison, and before setting sail for Spain he had the happiness of receiving the humble submission of William Casey, who had been promoted to the See of Limerick by Edward VI. From Tarbet the papal commissary sailed for Spain. Later on he returned once more to Ireland, and was active in assisting James Fitzmaurice. He is supposed to have died in Spain in 1578 or 1579.
Father Wolf had been instructed specially to recommend to the Holy See those priests whom he deemed qualified for appointment to vacant bishoprics. This was a matter of essential importance, and as such he devoted to it his particular care. Thomas O'Herlihy was appointed to Ross (1561); Donald McCongail or Magongail, the companion of his journeys, was appointed to Raphoe (1562); the Dominicans O'Harte and O'Crean were provided to the Sees of Achonry and Elphin in the same year at his request, and during the time he remained in Ireland his advice with regard to episcopal nominations was followed as a rule. He was instructed also to establish grammar schools throughout the country, and he was not long in Ireland till he realised the necessity of doing something for education, and above all for the education of candidates for the priesthood. In 1564 he obtained from Pius IV. the Bull, /Dum exquisita/, empowering himself and the Archbishop of Armagh to erect colleges and universities in Ireland on the model and with all the privileges of the Universities of Paris and Louvain. For this purpose they were empowered to apply the revenues of monasteries, and of benefices, and to make use of the ecclesiastical property generally. Unfortunately owing to the disturbed condition of the country, and the subsequent arrest of both the archbishop and the papal commissary, it was impossible to carry out this scheme.
In the earlier sessions of the Council of Trent the Archbishop of Armagh had taken a leading part. When the Council opened for its final sessions in January 1562 Ireland was represented by O'Herlihy of Ross, McCongail of Raphoe, and O'Harte of Achonry. Nor were these mere idle spectators of the proceedings. They joined in the warm discussions that took place regarding the Sacrifice of the Mass, Communion under both kinds, the source of episcopal jurisdiction and of the episcopal obligation of residence, the erection of seminaries, and the matrimonial impediments. It is said that it was mainly owing to their exertions that the impediment of spiritual relationship was retained. After their return attempts were made to convoke provincial synods to promulgate the decrees of the Council of Trent. In 1566 apparently some of the prelates of Connaught assembled and proclaimed them in the province of Tuam; in 1587 the Bishops of Clogher, Derry, Raphoe, Down and Connor, Ardagh, Kilmore, and Achonry, together with a large number of clergy met in the diocese of Clogher for a similar purpose, and in 1614 they were proclaimed for the province of Dublin by a synod convoked at Kilkenny.
In 1560, and for several years after, the state of affairs in Ireland was so threatening that Elizabeth and her advisers were more concerned about maintaining a foothold in the country than about the abolition of the Mass. In the North Shane O'Neill had succeeded on the death of his father (1559), and seemed determined to vindicate for himself to the fullest the rights of the O'Neill over the entire province of Ulster. The Earl of Kildare refused to abandon the Mass, and was in close correspondence both with his kinsman the Earl of Desmond, and with several of the Irish chieftains. It was feared that a great Catholic confederation might be formed against Elizabeth, and that Scotland, France, Spain, and the Pope might be induced to lend their aid. Instructions were therefore issued to the Lord Deputy to induce the Earl of Kildare to come to London where he could be detained, and to stir up the minor princes of Ulster to weaken the power of O'Neill. By detaining men like the Earls of Kildare, Desmond, and Ormond in London, by stirring up rivalries and dissensions amongst Irishmen, and above all by getting possession of the children of both the Anglo-Irish and Irish nobles and bringing them to England for their education, it was hoped that Ireland might be both Anglicised and Protestantised.