Ireland during Age of Revolution

Ireland during Age of Revolution
George III
Protestant Ascendancy
Penal Laws
Grattan’s Parliament
France and America
United Irishmen 1791
– Wolfe Tone
– McCracken
• Catholic Emancipation
18th Century Ireland
• Revolutions in France and
America inspired Theobald
Wolfe Tone
• 18th Century Ireland religion
very important
• Catholics, Presbyterians and
Anglicans (Church of Ireland)
• 75% of Irish
• Lost their land during
• New Protestant settlers
brought in the Penal Laws to
stop Catholics regaining land
and power
• Penal Laws:
– Hard to buy land
– Engage in trade
– Get educated
– No vote
– No government jobs
10% of Irish
Many descended from Scots who came during Plantations in Ulster
Mostly farmers and businessmen from Ulster
English government didn’t trust them as not in official church
Also could not sit in parliament or get government jobs
Anglicans (Church of Ireland)
15% Anglicans
Descended from English planters
Official church
Special Privileges
Trinity College only allowed Anglicans
Only Anglicans could get government jobs and sit in parliament
But divided:
– Protestant Ascendancy owned all land and controlled all the
– Most Anglicans had little wealth or power. Wolfe Tone belonged
to this group.
Ireland in 1780s
• Like America it was a British
• King George III ruled
• Also an Irish parliament whose
members were chosen by the
Protestant Ascendancy
• Poynings Law:
– All laws had to be
approved by the King and
his ministers
The Volunteers and Grattan’s Parliament
• When France went to war on the side of the Americans the
Ascendancy feared French might invade Ireland
• They set up groups of armed Protestants called the Volunteers to
defend the country
• After the American Revolution ended in 1782 Henry Grattan used
the Volunteers to demand an end to Poynings’ Law and more
power for the Irish parliament
• Rather than another war King George gave in
• So from 1782 to 1800 the Irish Parliament could make any laws it
• But when Grattan suggested sharing power with the Presbyterians
and Catholics the Ascendancy refused
Theobald Wolfe Tone
• Tone belonged to the Church
of Ireland but his family were
not rich enough to be part of
the Protestant Ascendancy
• Studied Law in Trinity but
interested in politics#
• When revolution in France
broke out Tone welcomed it,
hoping for Liberty, Equality
and Fraternity in Ireland
• In 1791 Presbyterians in
Belfast set up a club to work
for these ideas
• Tone suggested they campaign
against the Penal Laws
An Argument on behalf of the Catholics of Ireland
• Tone wrote this short book to
convince Presbyterians to
campaign against the Penal
• Says religious divisions bad for
• Wanted to substitute the
common name of Irishman in
place of Protestant, Catholic
and Presbyterian
United Irishmen
• Many people impressed by
what Tone wrote
• Catholics asked him to be
Secretary of a Catholic
Committee working to remove
Penal Laws
• Belfast Presbyterians asked
him to help them set up the
Society of United Irishman
The United Irishmen
• Aims:
– Unite Irish people of all religions
– Reform the Irish Parliament
– Reduce British power in Ireland
• At first peaceful but in 1793 Britain went to war with France
• The British thought that anyone who sympathised with French were
• When they found Tone talking to a French spy they forced him to
leave for America and outlawed the United Irishmen
Qs page 214
New leaders plan a revolution
• Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Thomas Russell
• Turned United Irishmen into a secret society and planned a
rebellion to set up an Irish republic
• Tone went to France to persuade the French to send an army to
• The French appointed General Hoche to lead an army of 15,000
• December 1796 the army set out but hit storms
• Hoche’s ship went back to France
• Tone’s ship reached Bantry Bay but couldn’t land due to weather
• The expedition was abandoned
British reign of terror in 1797
• This frightened British and
• They decided to destroy
United Irishmen
• Used spies to uncover plans
• Introduced a reign of terror in
Leinster and Ulster where
United Irishmen strongest
• Soldiers tortured people to
make them show where
weapons were
• Burned houses, destroyed
crops, flogged and hanged
people, guilty and innocent
Plans for a rebellion
• Lord Edward Fitzgerald and
others drew up plans for a
rebellion in May 1798
• But government spies
reported the plans and the
leaders were arrested
• Lord Edward Fitzgerald was
killed resisting arrest
Read page 216-217 Lord Ed Fitz
Rebellion in Leinster
• 23 May groups of United
Irishmen attacked British
soldiers in Dublin, Meath,
Carlow, Wicklow and Kildare
• But poorly armed and poorly
• British easily defeated them
and treated prisoners with
Rebellion in Wexford
United Irishmen gathered at Oulart Hill
Government troops attacked them but rebels won
Then marched to Enniscorthy and set up camp at Vinegar Hill
By now rebels had 16,000 men
Led by local Protestant landlord Bagenal Harvey, they controlled
But poorly armed and leaders couldn’t control them
British poured thousands of troops into Wexford
They were much better armed
They defeated the rebels when they attacked New Ross
After battle they killed many rebels
• In retaliation the rebels set fire
to a barn full of Protestant
prisoners at Scullabogue
• The final battle was at Vinegar
Hill on 21 July
• After the rebels were defeated
the government troops
executed many of them
• Others were transported as
convicts to Australia
The rebellion in Ulster
• This rebellion was limited due to:
– The British terror of 1797
weakened the United
– Reports that Catholic rebels
had massacred Protestants in
Wexford discouraged many
• In Antrim, a small group led by
Henry Joy McCracken captured
Ballymena, but were defeated
soon after. McCraken was hanged
• In Down, Henry Munroe and his
followers were defeated at
Ballinahinch. Munroe was
hanged, but most of his followers
were not punished
The French land in Connacht
• In Paris, Wolfe Tone at last persuaded the French to send more
troops but they came too late to help the rebels
• On 22 August, 1100 men landed in Killala in Co. Mayo. Thousands of
local people joined them
• They defeated a small British army at Castlebar, but lost to a much
larger force at Ballinamuck on 8 September
• Captured French soldiers were well treated but the Irish were
• A little later a small French
fleet arrived in Lough Swilly in
Donegal. Wolfe Tone was on
• The British navy captured
them. Tone was sent to Dublin
where he was tried and
sentenced to hang
• He asked to be shot like a
soldier and when that was
refused he committed suicide
Results of the 1798 rebellion
1. Nobody knows the death toll but it was probably higher than in
the French reign of terror
2. The rebellion scared the British and the Ascendancy. To protect
themselves they passed the Act of Union in 1800
– Made Ireland part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland. This lasted until 1920
– Abolished the separate Irish parliament. From 1800 to 1920 all
laws for Ireland were made in London by the Westminster
3. As part of the Union, the British promised to give Catholic
Emancipation (remove Penal Laws), but they broke their promise
4. Therefore Catholics opposed the Union with Britain
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