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Lillibulero – The New Irish Song

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 07, 1991


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by Professor Brendan O'Buachalla

"It has often been pointed out that religion was as central to seventeenth-century life as sports or economics are to today's. Since it underlay all political ideologies in Western Europe, religion subsumed not only practice and belief but also matters of state.

The application of the principle cuius regio eius religio not only determined the denominational/sectarian character of the emergent centralized monarchies and states but for many of Europe's peoples it inextricably intertwined religion with national consciousness.

In England and Ireland, in particular, religious allegiance and national identity coalesced, Protestant and Catholic being perceived as synonomous with English and Irish respectively. There was a fundamental dif­ference, of course. In England, Protestantism (the Anglican variety) enjoyed the privileges and status of a state-church whereas in Ireland, Catholicism,the religion of the majority, was denied legal rights or official recognition.

In rejecting the Reformation,the Irish found themselves in an anomolous and unique situation in Western Europe in that a Catholic majority was ruled by a Protestant sovereign. Therein lay the kernel of the politico-religious nature of Ireland's problem."

This article looks at Thomas Wharton, the generally accepted author of Lilli­bulero, a famous parody song.