Before 1642, unlike in Scotland, there was no organised Presbyterian church in Ireland. In 1641 however, 10,000 soldiers were brought over from Scotland to end a rebellion. Some ministers were sent over with them, and this allowed the first Presbytery in Ireland to be set up the next year.
The Solemn League and Covenant was signed in Scotland in 1643. The next year, Scottish ministers were sent over to Ireland so that people there could sign the covenant too. Soon, 16,000 people had signed the covenant in Antrim and Down alone. The specific places it was signed in Ulster included Carrick, Newtownards, Bangor, Islandmagee, Ballymena, Dunluce, Coleraine, Londonderry, Enniskillen, Ballycastle and Raphoe, Ramelton and Letterkenny in Co. Donegal. Some also signed it in Dublin.
According to the main Presbyterian historian of the time, Patrick Adair, ‘The covenant was taken in all places with great affection; partly with sorrow for former judgements and sins and miseries’ – especially from those who had signed the Black Oath– ‘and partly with joy under present consolation, in the hopes of laying a foundation for the work of God in the land, and overthrowing Popery and prelacy
In 1649, the Irish Presbytery renewed the Solemn League and Covenant. By 1650, anyone who wanted to become a Presbyterian minister in Ireland had to sign the Covenant. So the Solemn League and Covenant wasn’t some document that only a few people had heard of, but it was very important for every Presbyterian in Ireland.
Covenanters in Ulster: The 1644 Covenant Trail
BCW: Irish Uprising 1641
James Seaton Reid, History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, ed. W. D. Killen (3 vols, 3rd edn, Belfast, 1867), i, 420-447; ii, 239-40, 245, 256
Robert Armstrong, ‘Ireland’s Puritan Revolution? The Emergence of Ulster Presbyterianism Reconsidered’ in English Historical Review, cxxi (2006), pp 1048-74
David Stevenson, ‘Monro, Robert (d. 1675?)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2010