Racist Irish Cartoon 1889

Timeline of Irish History 1695-1850

Between 1695-1728 a series of acts is passed by the Irish parliament against Catholics. These: Prevent Catholics from bearing arms and owning horses worth more than £5. Restrict their rights to education. Stop them buying land and on death, Catholic property has to be divided among all sons. Ban Catholics from serving in the army, holding public office, entering the legal profession, becoming MPs or voting.

From 1719 Protestant emigration from Ulster to America begins to gather pace, mainly due to poverty.

The American colonies rebel against British rule in 1776. The American John Paul Jones raids Belfast Lough in 1778. With the British unable to respond, thousands join the mainly-Protestant Volunteers to defend Ireland against possible French invasion.

Volunteer influence Henry Grattan’s Patriot party wins nominal independence for the Irish parliament from Westminster in 1782, following resolutions passed by a convention of Volunteer companies.

Catholic Relief From 1782-93, several Catholic Relief Acts restore some rights – inheritance, to practise law, to vote.

Wolfe ToneUnited Irishmen Wolfe Tone founds the Society of United Irishmen in Belfast in 1791, with the aim of parliamentary reform and religious equality.

Orange Order formed. A skirmish between Protestant Volunteers and Catholic groups at Loughgall in County Armagh in 1795 leads to the formation by the victors of the Orange Order.

French invasion A French invasion fleet, accompanied by Wolfe Tone, tries to land in Bantry Bay in 1796, but with little sign of any military opposition, is beaten back by storms.

Failed revolt Rebellion breaks out in Wexford and after initial success is defeated at the Battle of Vinegar Hill on June 21, 1798. Two French expeditions land, with Tone in the second. Both fail and Tone is captured and commits suicide.

Pitt the Younger: resigned on principleAct of Union A Bill joining Ireland and England comes into force in 1801.

Prime Minister William Pitt, who had promised Catholic emancipation after Union, resigns when it is vetoed by George III.

A disastrous revolt by Robert Emmet is crushed with ease in Dublin in 1803. Before being executed, he is immortalised among Irish nationalists by his speech from the dock:

“Let no man write my epitaph … When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then let my epitaph be written.”

The United IrishmenO’Connell emerges Catholic political leader Daniel O’Connell forms the Catholic Association in 1823.

Banned Unlawful Societies Act of 1825 bans groups such as the Catholic Association and also the Orange Order.

Elected Daniel O’Connell elected MP for County Clare in 1828 despite not being allowed to take his seat as a Catholic.

Emancipation Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 allows Catholics to become MPs and the franchise is reformed.

A ‘Monster’ Meeting’Monster meetings’ O’Connell organises “monster” meetings of many thousands of supporters in 1843 to campaign for repeal of the Act of Union and a separate Dublin parliament. The Clontarf meeting is banned and O’Connell backs down.

The English were seen as uncaring about Ireland’s plight when the Great Famine Disaster strikes in 1845-49 because the potato harvest, on which millions of the poor are dependent, failed. Westminster organised limited corn imports and public works schemes, but failed to halt mass starvation and disease, with people dying where they fell. Some 1.5m people emigrate but about 1m are believed to have died out of a population of 8m. The memory of that time is seared deep into the nation’s consciousness.

BBC News Thursday, March 18, 1999


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