Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 17:09 GMT

1695-1850: A time of revolution and the Great Famine

The consequences of famine

Penal Laws 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.

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

    American Revolution 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.

    [ image: Wolfe Tone]
    Wolfe Tone
    United 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.

    [ image: Pitt  the Younger: resigned on principle]
    Pitt the Younger: resigned on principle
    Act 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.

    Let no man write my epitaph... 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."

    [ image: The United Irishmen]
    The United Irishmen
    O'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.

    [ image: A 'Monster' Meeting]
    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.

    [ image: The English were seen as uncaring about Ireland's plight]
    The English were seen as uncaring about Ireland's plight
    The Great Famine Disaster strikes in 1845-49 when the potato harvest, on which millions of the poor are dependent, fails.

    Westminster organises limited corn imports and public works schemes, but fails 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.

    Advanced options | Search tips

    Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |








    In this section

    1997-98: Second IRA ceasefire to the Nobel Peace Prize

    1995-96: Clinton's visit and the end of the IRA ceasefire

    1993-94 The Downing Street Declaration and the IRA ceasefire

    1990-92: Start of the talks process

    1988-89: Gibraltar killings and release of the Guildford Four

    1985-87: The Anglo-Irish Agreement

    1981-84: Hunger strikes and the Brighton bomb

    1976-80: The violence continues

    1972-75: The failure of Sunningdale

    1970-72: Internment and Bloody Sunday

    1968-69: The troops are sent in

    1939-67: Relative calm before the storm

    1923-38: The fixing of the Irish border

    1921-22: The Irish Free State and civil war

    1917-20: The road to partition

    1910-16: The 'winning' of Home Rule to the Easter Rebellion

    1850-1909: Parnell, Gladstone and the battle for Home Rule

    1695-1850: A time of revolution and the Great Famine

    1170-1691: From Strongbow to the establishment of Protestant ascendancy