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January 18

In 1688, Lionel Sackville English political leader and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was born on this day.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

Irish King of the RoadsDirk writes - Today is the 325th birthday of Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset, the "Irish King of the Roads".

While the first part of his life took its course relatively uneventful, a chance meeting, allegedly in a Dublin house of ill repute with the great Irish orator James Grattan and young Henry Flood changed Dorset's policy during his second term as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland entirely.

While Catholic emancipation was out of the question in the 1750s, Dorset managed to get an exemption from the Navigation Act of 1663, virtually granting Ireland the same commercial rights and privileges Scotland had since the Union, making Irish built vessels "English Bottoms" as well.

The steadily increasing trade with the American colonies and the West Indies made harbours like Sligo, Galway and especially Cork and Wexford natural ports of call, were the infrastructure behind not in a rather medieval state. Until the end of his second and during his third Lieutenancy in the 1760s, Dorset was responsible for the construction of the "Auld Triangle", the three great roads connecting the Irish West and South with Dublin with funds collected by the great Anglo-Irish landholders by means of persuasion, promise and sheer blackmailing.

The tax exemption and possibilities of direct shipping from Irish ports also gave a meteoric rise to local wool production and the establishment of a new breed of sheep called the "mamat" within a generation, making most of the Emerald Island a rather prosperous place by the end of the 18th century. Famines like the one in 1740/41 seemed to be a thing of the past. An entirely new Irish self-consciousness was born as well, marking the starting positions for negotiations and finally the Civil War of 1798.

© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.