I was going to lower the ship anyhow, as I want to approach
The death of Edward VI. (6 July 1553) and the accession of Queen Mary put an end for the time being to the campaign against the Catholic Church. The party of the Earl of Northumberland made a feeble attempt in Ireland, as they had done in England, to secure the succession for Lady Jane Grey, but their efforts produced no effect. On the 20th July the privy council in England sent a formal order for the proclamation of Queen Mary, together with an announcement that she had been proclaimed already in London as Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and on earth Supreme Head of the Churches of England and Ireland. This command was obeyed promptly in Dublin and in the chief cities in Ireland. In Kilkenny Lord Mountgarret and Sir Richard Howth ordered that a Mass of thanksgiving should be celebrated, and when Bale refused to allow such idolatry they informed the clergy that they were no longer bound to obey the bishop. Mary was proclaimed in Kilkenny (20 Aug.), and on the following day the clergy and people took possession of the Cathedral of St. Canice. Crowds of the citizens proceeded to attack the palace of the bishop, so that it was only with the greatest difficulty that the Mayor of Kilkenny was able to save his life by sending him to Dublin at night under the protection of an armed escort. From Dublin Bale succeeded in making his escape to Holland, from which he proceeded to Basle, where he spent his time in libelling the Catholic religion and the Irish clergy and people.
Shortly after the coronation of Queen Mary Sir Thomas St. Leger was sent over to Ireland as Deputy with instructions that he was to take steps immediately for the complete restoration of the Catholic religion. Primate Dowdall was recalled from exile, and restored to his See of Armagh; the primacy, which had been taken from Armagh in the previous reign owing to the hostile attitude adopted by Dowdall towards the religious innovations, was restored, and various grants were made to him to compensate him for the losses he had sustained. In April 1554 a royal commission was issued to Dowdall and William Walsh, formerly prior of the Cistercian Abbey of Bective, to remove the clergy who had married from their benefices. In virtue of this commission Browne of Dublin, Staples of Meath, Thomas Lancaster of Kildare, and Travers, who had been intruded into the See of Leighlin, were removed. Bale of Ossory had fled already, and Casey of Limerick also succeeded in making his escape. O'Cervallen of Clogher, who had been deposed by the Pope, was driven from his diocese, and an inquiry was set on foot at Lambeth Palace before Cardinal Pole to determine who was the lawful Archbishop of Tuam. Christopher Bodkin, Bishop of Kilmacduagh, had been appointed to Tuam by the king in 1536, while two years later Arthur O'Frigil, a canon of Raphoe, received the same See by papal provision. At the inquiry before Cardinal Pole it was proved that though Bodkin had contracted the guilt of schism he had done so more from fear than from conviction, that he had been always a stern opponent of heresy, and that in the city and diocese of Tuam the new opinions had made no progress. Apparently, as a result of the inquiry, an agreement was arranged whereby Bodkin was allowed to retain possession of Tuam. The other bishops were allowed to retain their Sees without objection, a clear proof that their orthodoxy was unquestionable.
In place of those who had been deposed, Hugh Curwen, an Englishman, was appointed to Dublin, William Walsh, one of the royal commissioners, to Meath, Thomas Leverous, the former tutor of the young Garrett Fitzgerald, to Kildare, Thomas O'Fihil, an Augustinian Hermit, to Leighlin, and John O'Tonory, a Canon Regular of St. Augustine, to Ossory, while John Quinn of Limerick, who had been forced to resign the See of Limerick during the reign of Edward VI., was apparently restored. The selection of Curwen to fill the archiepiscopal See of Dublin was particularly unfortunate. However learned he might have been, or however distinguished his ancestry, he was not remarkable for the fixity of his religious principles. During the reign of Henry VIII. he had acquired notoriety by his public defence of the royal divorce, as well as by his attacks on papal supremacy, though, like Henry, he was a strong upholder of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and of Transubstantiation. Like a true courtier he changed his opinions immediately on the accession of Queen Mary, and he was rewarded by being promoted to Dublin and appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1555). The Cathedral Chapter of St. Patrick's that had been suppressed was restored to "its pristine state;" new dignitaries and canons were appointed, and much of the possessions that had been seized were returned.
The Mass and Catholic ceremonies were restored without any opposition in those churches in Dublin and Leinster into which the English service had been introduced. A provincial synod was held in Dublin by the new archbishop (1556) to wipe out all traces of heresy and schism. Primate Dowdall had convoked previously a synod of the Northern Provinces at Drogheda to undertake a similar work. In this assembly it was laid down that all priests who had attempted to marry during the troubles of the previous reign should be deprived of their benefices and suspended; that the clergy who had adopted the heretical rites in the religious celebrations and in the administration of the Sacraments should be admitted to pardon in case they repented of their crimes and could prove that their fall was due to fear rather than conviction; that all the ancient rites and ceremonies of the Church in regard to crosses, images, candles, thuribles, canonical hours, Mass, the administration of the sacraments, fast days, holidays, holy water, and blessed bread should be restored; that the Book of Common Prayer, etc., should be burned, and that the Primate and the bishops of the province should appoint inquisitors in each diocese, to whom the clergy should denounce those who refused to follow the Catholic worship and ceremonies. Arrangements were also made to put an end to abuses in connexion with the bestowal of benefices on laymen and children, with the appointment of clerics to parishes and dignities by the Holy See on the untrustworthy recommendation of local noblemen, with the excessive fees charged by some of the clergy, with the neglect of those whose duty it was to contribute to the repairs of the parish churches, and with the failure of some priests to wear a becoming clerical dress.
In July 1556 Lord Fitzwalter was sent to Ireland as Deputy. "Our said Deputy and Council," according to the royal instructions, "shall by their own good example and all other good means to them possible, advance the honour of Almighty God, the true Catholic faith and religion, now by God's great goodness and special grace recovered in our realms of England and Ireland, and namely they shall set forth the honour and dignity of the Pope's Holiness and Apostolic See of Rome, and from time to time be ready with our aid and secular force, at the request of all spiritual ministers and ordinaries there, to punish and repress all heretics and Lollards, and their damnable sects, opinions, and errors." They were commanded, too, to assist the commissioners and officials whom Cardinal Pole as papal legate intended to send shortly to make a visitation of the clergy and people of Ireland. On the arrival of the new Deputy in Dublin he went in state to Christ's Church to assist at Mass, after the celebration of which he received the sword of state from his predecessor before the altar, and took the oath in presence of the archbishop. "That done, the trumpets sounded and drums beat, and then the Lord Deputy kneeled down before the altar until the /Te Deum/ was ended."
The new Deputy was instructed to take measures for summoning a meeting of Parliament in the following year to give legal sanction to the restoration of the Catholic religion, and to deal with the ecclesiastical property that had been seized. Possibly in the hope of securing some of these again for the Church a commission was issued to the Archbishop of Dublin, the Bishop of Kildare, and a number of clerics and laymen "to inquire concerning the chalices, crosses, ornaments, bells, and other property belonging to the parish churches or chapels in the county of the city and county of Dublin and of sales made thereof to any person or persons, the price, in whose hands they then remained, and also in whose possession were the houses, lands, and tenements, belonging to those churches." Similar commissions were issued to others for the counties of Drogheda and Louth, Kildare, Carlow, Wexford, Kilkenny, Meath, Westmeath, Waterford, Tipperary, Limerick, Cork, and "for the county of Connaught."
In June 1557 the Irish Parliament met. A Bull of absolution from the penalties of heresy and schism was read by the Archbishop of Dublin on bended knees, while the Lord Deputy, officials, and members, both Peers and Commoners, knelt around him. When this ceremony was finished all retired to the cathedral, where the /Te Deum/ was sung in thanksgiving, and all pledged themselves as a sign of their sincere repentance to abolish all the laws that had been passed against the Holy See. The acts prejudicial to the rights of the Pope enacted since the year 1529 were abolished. The title of supreme head of the church, it was declared, "never was or could be justly or lawfully attributed or acknowledged to any king or sovereign governor, nor in any wise could or might rightfully, justly, or lawfully, by the king or sovereign governor of the same realms, be claimed, challenged, or used." "All Bulls, dispensations, and privileges obtained before the year 1529 or at any time since, or which shall hereafter be obtained from the See of Rome, not containing matter contrary or prejudicial to the authority, dignity, or pre-eminence royal or imperial of these said realms or to the laws of this realm" were allowed to be "put in execution, used, and alleged in any civil court in Ireland and elsewhere." The jurisdiction of the bishops was restored, the laws against heresy passed in the reign of Richard II. and Henry IV. were renewed, and the payment of First Fruits was suppressed. Care was taken, however, to avail of the dispensation granted by the Holy See, whereby those who had obtained possession of the property of churches and monasteries should not be disturbed, although it was enacted that none of the laymen who had obtained such grants could plead the rights of exemption enjoyed by some of their former owners against the jurisdiction of the bishops, and that notwithstanding the Statutes of Mortmain those who then held "manors, tenements, parsonages, tithes, pensions or other hereditaments" might bequeath or devise them to any spiritual body corporate in the kingdom, such clause to have the force of law for twenty years.
From no quarter was the slightest opposition offered to the restoration of Catholic worship, and consequently there was no need to have recourse to persecution. There was no persecution of the Protestants of Ireland by fire or torture during this reign. "In truth, the Reformation, not having been sown in Ireland, there was no occasion to water it by the blood of martyrs; insomuch that several English families, friends to the Reformation, withdrew into Ireland as into a secure asylum; where they enjoyed their opinions and worship in privacy without notice or molestation." Yet in spite of this tolerant attitude of both the officials and people of Ireland an absurd story, first mentioned in a pamphlet printed in 1681, is still to be found in many books dealing with Mary's reign. According to this story the queen appointed a body of commissioners to undertake a wholesale persecution in Ireland, and she entrusted this document to one of the commissioners, a certain Dr. Cole. On his way to Ireland the latter tarried at Chester, where he was waited upon by the mayor, to whom he confided the object of his mission. The landlady of the inn, having overheard the conversation, succeeded in stealing the commission and replacing it by a pack of cards. Dr. Cole reached Dublin and hastened to meet the Lord Deputy and council. "After he had made a speech relating upon what account he came over, he presents the box unto the Lord Deputy, who causing it to be opened, that the secretary might read the commission, there was nothing but a pack of cards with the knave of clubs uppermost." Dr. Cole assured them that "he had a commission, but knew not how it was gone." Then the Lord Deputy made answer, "Let us have another commission and we will shuffle the cards in the meanwhile." The messenger returned promptly to England, "and coming to the court, obtained another commission, but staying for a wind at the waterside, news came unto him that the queen was dead. And thus God preserved the Protestants of Ireland." This ridiculous fabrication was first referred to in a pamphlet written by that well-known forger, Robert Ware, in 1681, and was reprinted in his "Life" of Archbishop Browne (1705). Its acceptance by later writers, in spite of its obvious silliness, and unsupported as it is by the official documents of the period, or by any contemporary authority, can be explained only by their religious prejudices.