Home Rule

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Home Rule

The Potato Famine, religious discrimination, and land issues caused tension in the Irish community. Home Rule, a measure of an independent government for Ireland, was the inevitable solution. It took more than two centuries for Ireland to gain its independence over Great Britain. With the Act of 1800, the British abolished Ireland’s Dublin Parliament. As a result, Irish members were forced to take their seats in Westminster (Walsh 1). This left the Irish with no government representation within the country. The Irish had a desire to control domestic affairs without any British involvement. Replaced by English traditions and emigration, the nationalist movement increased opportunity for change.

By the mid 1880’s, Irish nationalism rose to great heights and Irish independence was at the forefront of politics (20). Charles Parnell became the leader of the revived Irish movement. He was named head of both the Irish Parliamentary Party and the National Land League. Parnell gained support from members of the Fenian movement, as well as newly elected British Prime Minister, William Gladstone. Gladstone was highly aware of the Irish predicament stating "My mission is to pacify Ireland" (21). His attempt at pacification started with the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. In 1885, he introduced the First Home Rule Bill. Between the years of 1886 and 1921 there were four Home Rule bills submitted to Parliament. The Home Rule Bills provided a dual-bodied legislature strictly for local matters and Irish representation at Westminster to vote on Irish taxation. According to Taylor "It threatened to frustrate those (British) completely in that it provided for a separate Irish parliament and an end to Irish representation in Westminster" (Taylor 772). This led way to views of republicans and revolutionaries after each bill was defeated. Home Rule had a huge effect on Irish society and Irish politics to which Ireland is shaped today.

The Gaelic Revival was an attempt to re-introduce old Gaelic traditions to the Irish people. The Irish were fed up with British influence. The restoration of their culture would provide themselves with a national identity. As stated in Ireland’s Independence, "The period saw the emergence of a separate series of organizations – literary, sporting, political" (Walsh 18). The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), founded by Michael Cusak, promoted national games, such as hurling, football, and handball (Walsh 18).
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