English, one of a number of contemporaneous as well as historical terms of
reference for the descendants of the Anglo-Norman adventurers who came to
Ireland in the twelfth century. By historical convention, the
term Old English is applied to the beginning of the seventeenth century
as a means of differentiating the descendants of the original, and largely
catholic, Anglo-Norman settlers in Ireland from the ‘New English’, and
almost exclusively protestant, settlers who proliferated following the
Elizabethan conquest in 1603. The Old English were predominantly resident in the
Pale and southern and western coastal towns such as Waterford, Cork and Galway.
Traditional rivals of the majority Gaelic Irish population, a shared catholic
faith since the Reformation did little to mould a common identity for a
prolonged period, the reasons for the Old English joining the Gaelic Irish in
rebellion in 1641 remaining one of the great conundrums facing Irish historians.