Ireland 1800-1826

In 1800 the ACT OF UNION, accepted both by the British and Irish Parliaments, created what was refered to as the UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND. Prime minister William Pitt the Younger proposed also a bill granting CATHOLIC EMANCIPATION; however it did not materialize; as a consequence, Pitt resigned in 1801.
The Act of Union lead to the dissolution of the Irish Parliament (1782-1800), which used to assemble in Dublin; as Catholics were still barred from holding a seat in parliament, it had been an institution of Irish protestantism. A number of Irish administrative positions, such as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, were continued. ROBERT STEWART, COUNT CASTLEREAGH is credited as the architect of the Act of Union; he later rose to prominence as the head of the British delegation at the Vienna Congress. Irish representatives, all protestants, took 100 seats in Parliament.
The religious divide within the Irish population still was a major issue. The (Anglican) CHURCH OF IRELAND still was state church, thus entitled to collect the tithe from every Irish subject. Among Catholics, resentment of institutions seen as protestant or state institutions, went so far that many parents refused to send their children to non-Catholic schools, prefering no schooling at all if no Catholic school was available.
In the early 19th century, several attempts were made to enact Catholic emancipation, failing only narrowly (1813, 1819, 1821). In 1824 DANIEL O'CONNELL founded the CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION. Another Catholic emancipation bill rejected by parliament in 1825, O'Connell's Catholic Association successfully supported protestant pro-emancipation candidates in elections (1826).
In 1826, the currencies of Britain and Ireland were unified; A customs union of Britain and Ireland was established, the protective tariff of 10 % on British industrial products being abolished. Ireland was predominantly agricultural; with little coal and a lack of educated/trained workers, Ireland did not experience the foundation and growth of factories and industries as neighbouring England, Scotland and Wales did. Yet rising agricultural exports, over considerable periods at high prices, resulted in a sustained population growth. In 1800 the population of Ireland numbered c. 5 million; by 1821 it had risen to 7 million, due to high fertility and a low death rate. The population was sustained by the potato, which had replaced grain as staple crop.

DOCUMENTS List of Irish statesmen, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Back Home in Derry, Irish folksong on an Irishman who was deported to Australia in 1803, from The Christy Moore Pages
REFERENCE Daniel Webster Hollis, The History of Ireland, Westport : Greenwood 2001, 232 pp.
David Fitzpatrick, Ireland and the Empire, pp.495-521, in : Andrew Porter (ed.), The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol.III : The Nineteenth Century, Oxford : UP 1999, KMLA Lib.Sign. 909.0971241 O98o v.3

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on April 25th 2002, last revised on May 19th 2006

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