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Friends and Foes

At various times other European kings - mainly the Spanish and French - found it politically useful to support the Irish and occasionally even sent armies to assist.

The Spanish were at loggerheads with the English at around the time of the Nine Years War and sent an army to help the O'Neill and the O'Donnell - probably because they were still smarting from the debacle of their mighty armada, most of which sank in the English Channel and the rest of which was demolished by Elizabeth's debonair captain, Francis Drake. Unfortunately they landed at Kinsale in the far south, obliging O'Neill and O'Donnell to march their men the length of Ireland in an attempt to rescue them. The inevitable defeat of the Irish and Spanish led to the destruction of the Irish resistance.

The French helped some of the Irish rebels to escape after the 1798 rising, but were generally ineffective as allies. The Irish were encouraged by the French Revolution, but were not very successful revolutionaries. France's attitude depended on its monarch's relationship with the English at the time - the French were supportive against Elizabeth, but had better relations with James so refused to help when the Earls fled there after being dispossessed of their lands. The best they were prepared to offer was an uneasy refuge. Following their 1788 revolution, the French Government was inclined to support anyone else's attempts at overthrowing monarchs, but their country was too disorganised to be of much use to the Irish rebels.

The Americans have been the source of most of the IRA's funding. Irish immigrants who fled their homeland as a result of the famine and religious persecution took with them a strong desire to rescue their country from the English, and it was in the USA that one of the stronger rebel associations, the Fenians, was founded.






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