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Ireland 1790 – 1921 Assignment

Revolutionary Nationalists believe that in having Ireland as one individual country, could be gained by using violent methods, thus their history of failures. They have a record of many failed revolt’s, the first of which was led by a man named Wolfe Tone in 1798, which was shortly after the Great Famine which devastated most of Ireland. The Great Famine altogether killed between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people. Many Catholics died or fled to the USA which automatically lost supporters or followers of the party itself. Again in 1848 and 1858 there were another two failed uprisings. In 1880 The Fenian’s and the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) helped form the Land League, which was devoted to the Land Rights. In 1905 Sinn Fein were established.

In 1913 the Nationalist Party, Fenian’s formed a private army of 75,000 which were made up of ‘Irish Volunteers’. This was shortly followed by the “Easter Rising”, which was organised by the Fenian’s as another attempt to claim independence for Ireland. The leaders of the Easter Rising were executed without trial; this infuriated normal Catholics and gained support for the Revolutionary Nationalists. Sinn Fein won seats in parliament but refused to send MP’s to Westminster and instead set up their own Parliament in Dublin. The Irish Volunteer’s became the IRA; this then started a two year Guerrilla war against the British Forces (The Irish War Of Independence.)

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Parliamentary Nationalists

Parliamentary Nationalists believe that they are able to gain Ireland as a united country by using peaceful methods, as such. Their peaceful methods campaign began in the early 19th century and has been used ever since to win over the Catholics of Ireland. In 1829 Daniel O’Conner persuaded the British Government to allow Catholics to become MP’s which was a big step forward for the Parliamentary Nationalists.

In 1885 Charles Stewart Parnell led the Nationalist Party of MP’s to Westminster and then in 1886 the Home Rule Bill was debated for the first time, shortly after the Home Rule was abandoned. In 1914 the Home Rule was debated a second and was finally passed by Parliament. However, the Home Rule was postponed until the end of WW1, When indeed most people thought the war would be over by Christmas of that year when infact it lasted for 4 years. After the war a settlement was agreed and Ireland was separated in two, two individual counties so to speak they became known as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


The Unionist party want to stay a part of the UK. Looking back, they have had a much more successful history. In 1793 the Orange Order was established, the orange order is still around today and is most famous for its marches and parades through the streets or Ireland. The Industrial Revolution brought wealth and power to the unionists which towards the end of it became very, very rich. In 1912 a solemn covenant was signed by 400,000 people, which was a promise made in order to refuse the Home Rule. They also set up the Ulster Volunteers which had a total of more than 100,000 men.

British Government

The British Government’s view on Northern Ireland changed whenever a different person or party was in power of Britain or Parliament. Usually when a Liberal Government was in power the people were more likely to side with the Nationalists (Catholics). However if the ‘Whigs’ were in power they were likely to side with the unionists (Protestants). After the war ended a general election took place and the Liberals came into power. The British lost control of the South but Protestants in the North enabled them to their hold on the North.

In 1921, Ireland was finally divided into two; Northern Ireland which was ruled/or part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which was ruled by themselves and has a completely different Government system to Britain.

Both Nationalist party’s wouldn’t have been happy or disappointed with the divide, although they weren’t able to join Ireland as one and be an independent country; it was the closest thing they were going to get as to what they wanted or thought was best for Ireland and the people that lived there. The Unionist party’s would have been very angry and disappointed by the loss of the south; they did everything they could to keep the whole of Ireland part of the UK. However, living in Northern Ireland, which was now a separate country, they were no longer the minority but were the majority.

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