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).
The Act of Union in 1801 became a catalyst for the political reform which would consume political thought in Ireland over the next 120 years. Throughout this essay I will critically assess the political movements and reforms in Ireland from the political movement and leadership of Daniel O Connell in the early years of the 1800s until the fall of Parnell at the conclusion of the century. The act of union in 1801 was considered a defence against the radical ideas that were simmering in Ireland in the late eighteenth century . The repeal of the Penal laws in the late eighteenth century invoked fears of Catholic uprisings in the minds of the Protestant ascendency . The Act of Union abolished the home parliament in Dublin in return for 100 Irish elected MP's in Westminster.
Historical and Social Significance The turn of the 17th century saw the complete conquest of Ireland by Britain, resulting in a mainland-colonial government, dispossession and oppression of the Irish people, and the ever-growing struggle between Catholics and Protestants (Brendan Kane, UCONN Today). Problems between the English and Irish started after the battle of the Boyne (1690), when the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy was firmly established as the ruling class of Ireland. The enactment of a set of Anti-Catholic Penal Laws, (1695) aimed at excluding Catholics from any office of state, from the Parliament, from the army, navy, voting and, of course, from the educational system. Therefore, Hedge Schools were the Irish answer-illegal, fee-paying educational institutions for the Irish peasants although, initially, tuition was through Gaelic, this language, even in the Hedge Schools, started to decline. Irish people, indeed, became increasingly aware of the importance and power of the English language, which, at that time, was undoubtedly the dominant one in the areas of commerce, politics and law (Mazzara, F., & Philippopoulou, D).
Liberation of Ireland The 1916 Easter Rising The Easter Rebellion, was an armed uprising of Irish nationalists against the rule of Great Britain in Ireland. The uprising occurred on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, and centred mainly in Dublin. The chief objectives were the attainment of political freedom and the establishment of an Irish republic. Centuries of discontent, marked by numerous rebellions, preceded the uprising. The new crisis began to develop in September 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, when the British government suspended the recently enacted Home Rule Bill, which guaranteed a measure of political autonomy to Ireland.
“The result was the Act of Union of 1801: the Irish parliament voted itself out of existence and England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were formally politically unified for the first time” (Hegarty 2). Around the time of the First World War, Ireland began the fight for the Home Rule to be enacted. But this kind of rule was quickly overturned with the start of the Easter Rising in 1916; two years after World War I broke out in Europe. The pull of the Home Rule Act led to the formation of the Citizen Army which was a major cause of the Easter Rising. James Connolly used the Citizen Army to protect his newspaper “The Workers’ Republic” to call for an armed revolt (Green 5).
Protestants in Ulster bought into the idea of being Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic and laid claim to the virtues of thrift, hard work and respect for the law. Towards the end of the 19th century the Gladstone government responded to demands in southern Ireland for Home Rule. Unionists believed a Home Rule parliament in Dublin run by Catholic farmers would be bad for Protestant businesses and by 1886 began to lobby for the predominantly Protestant northern counties. They believed Catholicism was an oppressive, backward religion and feared that Home Rule would result in Rome Rule. The House of Lords began to introduce Home Rule Bills, one in 1886 and the other in 1893.
The 1916 Irish Easter Uprising Ever since the occupation of Ireland by the English began in 1169, Irish patriots have fought back against British rule, and the many Irish rebellions and civil wars had always been defeated. To quash further rebellion, the Act of Union was imposed in 1800, tying Ireland to the United Kingdom of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Laws discriminating against Catholics and the handling of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-50 led to increased tension and the proposal of introducing Home Rule gained support. In 1913 there was a general strike of workers in Dublin led by James Connolly of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (I.T.G.W.U.). This action was followed by the 1913 Lock-Out during which employers literally locked workers out of their factories.
Irish citizens took upon themselves the responsibility of overthrowing the British Government in Ireland during the “Easter Rising of 1916”, which was the result of centuries of rights violations against the Irish by the British. Oppression of the Irish began in A.D. 1367 with the Statute of Kilkenny, which restricted the traditions of the Irish and placed them under the authority of the English in Ireland. (Hardiman) Oppression of the Irish was expanded in the late 1600s and early 1700s with a series of penal laws. These laws were directed at “Papists” or Irish Catholics, and restricted everything from education to the right to own weapons. (umn.edu) The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) was formed in the mid 1800s to press the British out of Ireland.
Saint Patrick (c.389-461), the patron of Ireland, came from England to Ireland to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. At the time, the only Christian religion was Catholicism. He came to educate the people and succeeded beyond any rational expectation, as Ireland eventually became almost exclusively Christian, as well as a center of scholarship and culture. Even when the Protestant Reformation swept through Europe and England in the 16th Century, Ireland remained staunchly Catholic, thereby triggering the Catholic versus Protestant conflict that plagues Northern Ireland today. The five monarchs of the 118 year Tudor Dynasty in England (1486-1603) particularly Henry VIII (r.1509-47) and his daughter Elizabeth I (r.1558-1603) -- had an enormous impact on Ireland and its people.
A British and Spanish alliance was able to put to rest all of the major uprisings. The English began to settle areas of Ireland with Protestants, beginning in the early 1600’s. The northern regions of Ireland became one of the more heavily immigrated areas. The all-island Kingdom of Ireland (1541-1801) was incorporated into the United Kingdom in 1801 under the terms of the Act of Union, under which the kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain merged under a central parliament, government and monarchy based in London. In the early 20th century Unionists, led by Sir Edward Carson, opposed the introduction of Home Rule in Ireland.