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Connacht (Connaught), taking its name from the mythical Irish figure, Conn of the Hundred Battles, was, by the 8th cent., dominated by the Uí Briúin dynasty, their ruling segment at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion being the powerful O'Connor line, whose ecclesiastical capital at Tuam was established as an archdiocese in 1152. Their hegemony was threatened by Anglo-Norman colonization in the 13th cent., led by the de Burgh family, but when the last member of the direct line of the de Burghs was killed in 1333, power in Connacht was shared between their cadet lines (generally known as Burkes) and several lines of the O'Connors and other Irish dynasties. The establishment of the presidency of Connacht in 1570 and the shiring of the province thereafter led to piecemeal plantation, while in the aftermath of the rebellion of 1641 surviving catholic landholders throughout Ireland were transported there, a process summed up in the aphorism ascribed to Cromwell ‘To hell or Connacht!’ It played a significant part in the 1798 rebellion, witnessing the landing of the French General Humbert at Killala and a briefly successful campaign, and Connacht was also the scene of much activity in the Land Wars of the late 19th cent., most memorably in the incident involving the land-agent Captain Boycott which added the latter word to the English language.

Sean Duffy

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Connacht a province in the south-west of Ireland; with Ulster, Munster, and Leinster one of the traditional four divisions of the island. Also called Connaught.
Hell or Connaught is a summary of the choice offered to the Catholic population of Ireland, transported to the western counties of Connacht to make room for settlers, traditionally attributed to Oliver Cromwell.