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Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1800-1914


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Noh, Dong Woo
Term Paper, AP European History Class, December 2007



Table of Contents


I. Introduction
II. The Act of Union (1800)
II.1 Overview
II.2 Reaction of the Irish People
III. Catholic Emancipation
III.1 Overview
III.2 Influence on Irish Feelings
IV. The Great Famine and Radicalism in Ireland
IV.1 Damage and Effect
IV.2 Growing Radicalism in Ireland
IV.2.1 Young Ireland and the Irish Confederation
IV.2.2 The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) - the Fenians
V. The Struggle for Home Rule
V.1 Parnell and the Home Rule Campaign
V.2 After Parnell
VI. Conclusion
VI.1 The Easter Rising and After
VI.2 The Development of Irish Political Attitudes
VII. Notes
VIII. Bbliography



I. Introduction
            Ireland had been under British influence for over 750 years from 1169 until the emergence of Irish Free State (1922) (1). From the period of the Tudor Kings, Britain started to enforce its laws and administration on Ireland. Ireland has strived to gain political autonomy through various means, and this paper will focus on those of the period between 1800 and 1914(the year in which the third Home Rule Bill was passed).
            The original topic of this paper was "Ireland and the London Parliament"; however, due to limitations, the topic of the paper had to be narrowed down to Irish discontent with British rule, attempts to gain Home Rule and proactive resistance throughout the 19th century up until 1914. This paper will discuss major events that influenced the Irish cause and sentiment, and how this entire time period had paved way toward the Irish Free State.

II. The Act of Union (1800)

II.1 Overview
            Through bribery and pressure, the Act of Union was passed in both the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland. Following Scotland, Ireland was now merged into the United Kingdom in the year 1800. Due to this act, all regional parliaments were abolished, and instead the entire United Kingdom was to be ruled from a centralized London parliament. (2) Instead of passing and discussing laws on their own, the Irish people had to rely on their representatives in the central parliament all of whom were not even Catholics.

II.2 Reaction of the Irish People
            It was originally promised that the Act of Union would put an end to the resented penal laws. This was one of the major attraction of the Act of Union for the Catholics. However, this promise never materialized because of King George III's disapproval. Such unfaithful behavior was probably enough to spread disbelief among the Irish regarding the Union and the British power.

III. Cathlic Emancipation

III.1 Overview
            The conditions of the Catholics did not improve after 1800 and groups of Catholics that demanded relief started to emerge. The most notable among those was the Catholic Association led by a prominent Irish leader Daniel O'Connell. O'Connell, with the support of Catholic masses, eventually succeeded in passing the emancipation bill in 1829.
            There were several unsuccessful attempts before the Catholic Emancipation was actually enacted. An Irish campaigner Henry Grattan introduced two bills each in 1813 and 1819, and William Plunket, MP for Dublin University, introduced another two bills in 1821 (3). They were unvariably rejected. Although supported by O'Connell himself, the 1825 emancipation bill was also defeated in the House of Lords. To avoid the risk of an uprising in Ireland, the British Parliament passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829, which granted Catholic emancipation. (4)

III.2 Influence on Irish Feelings
            Through the Catholic Emancipation campaigns, Ireland had seen Britain's unenthusiasm toward reforms for Ireland. Although the British were well aware of Ireland's ardent desire of Catholic relief acts, numerous bills were disregarded. Britain's attitude have caused uneasy feelings among Irish people. Although O'Connell's repeal campaign that was promoted later on never became much prominent, it was becoming obvious that the general discontent within some Irish people started to develop into the rejection of the Union. Discontent and desire for political autonomy were intensifying.

IV. The Great Famine and Radicalism in Ireland

IV.1 Damage and Effect
            The Irish population relied mostly on potatoes for staple food. Throughout the 1840's Phytophthora infestans, or potato blight, had caused serious potato harvest failure. The census of 1851 showed that 1 million died during the Famine (5), and it was estimated that a total of 1.5 million emigrated to other countries during the period (6).
            Because Ireland relied much on the potato crop, it was very difficult for Ireland to come up with domestic resolutions. Therefore, the British government gave Ireland direct aid such as importing corn and oatmeal from America and India. However, because of the British officials' incompetence and dysfunction between Irish tenants and the officials, the situation was not alleviated that much. And although more than 1 million people were starving during this era, people saw that the food exports from Ireland being continued.
            British support was either quite inadequate or insufficient and the degree of the damage proves it. Some people in Ireland believed that the government in London had deliberately done as little as possible to aid the people of Ireland. (7) Anti-British feelings grew throughout Ireland,

IV.2 Growing Radicalism in Ireland

IV.2.1 Young Ireland and the Irish Confederation
            After the secession of Young Ireland and O'Connell, who was strongly against violence, Young Ireland went through a shift in phase. Members of Young Ireland withdrew from the association, establishing the Irish Confederation in 1847. And unlike O'Connell and his former adherents, people were now willing to use more radical means.
            The discontentment toward the British government reached the limit during the Famine. The angry mob was willing to use militant power now, and led by Charles Duffy and William O'Brien, who were among the main figures that left the association and formed the Irish Confederation, a rebellion broke out in 1848. Although the rebellion has failed to do any significant change, it has shown that the Anti-British feelings were intensifying and the Irish were ready to use more radical methods.

IV.2.2 The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) - the Fenians
            The IRB was the main figures of the Irish resistance in the later part of the 19th century. The members of the IRB often regarded themselves as the Fenians, and this term included the Irish Nationalists abroad. The nationalists who had emigrated before, especially those in the USA, played a major role in the IRB movements. They supported the IRB mostly my monetary means, and this pattern of collaboration was also effectively adopted by the nationalists who achieved the Irish Free State later on.
            The Fenians were willing to execute frontal assault (8) on British power. Led by William Roberts, the Fenians decided to invade British Canada, expecting French Catholic residents to back their effort. (9) So, in the spring of 1866 they made an unsuccessful attempt of taking over British Canada. Also, making use of some nationalists' experience in the American Civil War, the Fenians planned for another series of rebellions. Although the British government had discovered beforehand, some Irish republicans executed their plans anyway and rebellions broke out in many places including, Dublin, Cork, Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare. However the uprisings were easily suppressed by British power. Although the Fenians had no significant influence after 1867, they were have shown their willingness of militant actions. Later on, they were the ones responsible for the significant Easter Rising (1916).

V. The Struggle for Home Rule
            By the end of the 1870's, the Land League (1879) started to ask for improved tenants' rights. Along with the demand for proper rights, self-government was also included in their objectives (10). The issue of the 'Home Rule' soon became the main issue of this era.

V.1 Parnell and the Home Rule Campaign
            Charles Stewart Parnell was the successor of William Shaw, the former Member of Parliament and the chairman of the Home Rule League. In the earlier periods, Irish problems were not much considered within the parliament. Parnell felt the need to end this ignorance and used a method of obstructionism. He would talk for hours to disturb the House of Commons and draw its attention.
            Parnell was also a significant figure within the Home Rule League. Under his leadership, the organization went through a thorough reform. Before Parnell's emergence, the meetings were rather a mere gathering, and the members' collaboration and participation were poor. Parnell strived to form a more organized league. He changed its name to the Irish Parliamentary Party and asked the members for a more strict participation. He was a leading figure in the movement, but was soon involved in a divorce scandal and had to resign. Nevertheless, Parnell was a great leader who introduced the modern form of a political party, and his absence stagnated the Home Rule movement.

V.2 Parnell and the Home Rule Campaign
            V.2 After Parnell
            The Home Rule campaign continued with the absence of Parnell. And in 1914, the Third Irish Home Rule Bill passed to the statute books allowing the creation of Irish Parliament. (11) The Home Rule movement was carried on further later creating the Government of Ireland (1920).
            During the latest parts of the 1800's, partly due to the popular indifference to the radical Fenian movement, Ireland gained political stability. (12) There was no notable desire or indications of drastic actions. It seems that the growing desire for independence appeared in a less radical way around this era.

VI. Conclusion

VI.1 The Easter Rising and Afterward
            In 1916, during the Easter week, an armed force rebelled led by the IRB. Although the rebellion was suppressed by British powers within six days, it had reignited Irish Nationalism. The Irish Nationalists carried on their struggle toward independence and eventually achieved in establishing the Irish Free State (1922).

VI.2. The Development of Irish Political Attitudes
            As shown above, the British government was often not very successful in appeasing Ireland. Its incompetence evoked discontent among Irish people which became a chronic one. Discontent and minor rebellions were always existing throughout history, and so was Ireland's desire for independence.
            This paper studied the growth of Irish uneasiness toward British rule along with the feeling of Irish Nationalism through investigating some major historical events. These events during the era from 1800 to 1914 have significantly influenced Ireland's desire for autonomy and played the role as the basis of independence.


Notes

(1)      Park 2000 p.31
(2)      The Act of Union, from History of Ireland
(3)      Hollis 2001 p.88
(4)      Catholic Emancipation, from Spartacus Schoolnet
(5)      Hollis 2001 p.98
(6)      ibid.
(7)      The Fenian Movement, from the History Learning Site
(8)      Hollis 2001 p.103
(9)      ibid.
(10)      Foster 1992 p.180
(11)      Article: Home Rule, from Wikipedia
(12)      Foster 1992 p.174


Bibliography

Note : websites quoted below were visited in December 2007.
1.      R. F. Foster. The Oxford History of Ireland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
2.      D. W. Hollis III. The History of Ireland. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001.
3.      M. M. O'Brien. Ireland: A Concise History. London: Thames and Hudson, 1994.
4.      Park Ji Hyang. Sad Ireland. Seoul, 2002. (in Korean)
5.      Article : History of Ireland, from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ireland
6.      Article : Act of Union 1800 from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Union_1800
7.      Article : Catholic Emancipation from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Emancipation
8.      Article : Young Ireland from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Ireland
9.      Article : Irish Republican Brotherhood from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Republican_Brotherhood
10.      Article : Great Irish Famine from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Irish_Famine
11.      History of Ireland from : World History at KMLA, posted by Alexander Ganse, http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/britain/xireland.htm
12.      Chapter : The Act of Union, Emancipation and the Great Famine, 1800-1877, from : History of Ireland, http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/history/18001877.html
13.      Chapter : Catholic Emancipation from : Spartacus Schoolnet, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRcatholic.htm
14.      Chapter : The Fenian Movement from : History Learning Site, http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/fenian_movement.htm
15.      Chapter : Home Rule and Ireland from : History Learning Site, http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/home_rule_and_ireland.htm
16.      Article : Home Rule Act 1914, from : Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Rule_Act_1914


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