In ‘normal’ years the Penal Laws were only loosely enforced. Only when the State seemed threatened – notably after the ’15 and ’45 Risings – were they applied with full rigour. Thus the most dangerous times for the College were the first dozen years after it opened, when it was attacked several times, and the decade following Culloden when it was burned down by Government forces and its community scattered.
It shared the other hardships of the Church also. In particular, it shared its poverty. The bishops were rarely able to give it the financial support that it needed and merited. Its resources were always meagre, and in the early days it got by on a shoe-string. Inevitably, these constraints set limits on what it could achieve.