The depth of change which the country experienced in the reign of James I has become an axiom of early modern Irish historiography. The extension of crown government throughout the island, the flight of the northern earls, the subsequent plantation in Ulster and the putative religious reformation of the indigenous inhabitants contributed to a climate of flux and tension. The burgeoning scholarly interest in this phase of Irish history has resulted in a more detailed understanding of administrative, political, regional and religious trends in the period. Progress has also been made in the study of contemporary mentalities. An interesting development has been the use of sources in the Irish language for the reconstruction of previously obscure intellectual currents amongst the Gaelic élite. The recent appearance of Michelle O Riordan’s monograph on the Gaelic reaction to the collapse of traditional society represents the fullest exposition yet of an interpretation which has characterised the early modern Gaelic ideological response to conquest and social change as fundamentally passive and backward-looking. O Riordan has, in effect, elaborated upon the conclusions of preceding commentators, notably Tom Dunne and Bernadette Cunningham, in portraying the Gaelic understanding of socio-political transformation as lacking in critical perception. This essay is intended as a further contribution to the elucidation of the mental climate of the time. More particularly, it will focus on two themes which figured prominently in the separate, but in this instance similar, communal reactions of the Gaelic Irish and the New English settlers to their respective political and social environments.