The 120 years of the Union was the longest continuous period of government in
post-medieval Irish history. Therefore the long-lived period of the Union is a feature of
some importance. The concept of the union was not necessarily inimical to Irishmen; there
was a guarded approval of the measure by the catholic church of the day. Though British
raisons d’êtat were all-important in bringing about the Union, British intentions for the better
(and fairer) government of Ireland cannot be denied. That is not to say that its birth and
implementation were not accompanied by cynicism, corruption and chicanery.

The cross-fertilisation of two revolutions
The Union was however flawed at a very early stage: catholic emancipation was not
granted quickly or willingly and the various religious divisions were not reconciled.
Moreover the 1782 system came to be viewed with a rosy nostalgia quite at variance with
its actuality. JC Beckett argued in 1967 (‘Ireland under the Union’ published in
Confrontations) that if the pre-1800 Irish Parliament had continued it would have been
unlikely that it would have initiated or sustained the various reforms that transformed
Ireland in the nineteenth century. Beckett argued that two revolutions came about in the
years of the Union. The first was in parliamentary ways and means that included the
gradual reform of the ecclesiastical and land structures (and also included the various
departures from the laissez faire norm); this made Ireland into a constitutional and
evolutionary entity, the heritage of O’Connell, Butt, Parnell and Redmond was adhered to
by the post-independence politicians. In essence that evolutionary revolution dismantled
much of the Union, even without the second revolution of 1916 to 1921. That second
revolution could trace its pedigree back to the United Irishmen and the Fenians and was a
violent one. Nevertheless it was not just violent, it was also subtle, intertwining itself with
the evolutionary revolution, goading and irritating the parliamentarians and the
establishment. The greatest Irish proponents of the parliamentary revolution sustained an
ambiguity within the framework of the Union system. This was not exclusive to the
nationalists: the unionists were prepared to consort with violence or the threat of violence,
blurring the boundaries between parliamentarianism and more extreme means to their
ends. They drew strength from the rebel tradition. Additionally O’Connell, Parnell and their
successors could not have worked without the (generally unwilling) cooperation of the
upholders of the Union. The Union framework enabled an interplay of often confrontational
British and Irish elements to dismantle much of the Union by 1914. The inability of the
Liberals to deliver home rule only then led to the resurgence of the violent revolutionary

The loss of Irish pride
Whatever the motives for Union it struck at Irish pride; at first this was the pride of
orangemen, protestant patriots and those like O’Connell. In time the Union became a mark
of shame and subordination for nearly all catholics and those protestants of a republican
persuasion such as John Mitchel and Fintan Lalor. There was no Irish Walter Scott who could
romanticise the nation and its past and yet strengthen the Union. Scotland’s subornment
and the harsh suppression of the highlands was romanticised and rationalised by Scott, but
the Scottish union was based on Scottish economic self-interest and the fact that the kirk –
the church of state and people – kept its identity and status after the 1707 union. Scotland’s
pride was not only maintained, it was enhanced. Instead the Young Ireland style of
nationalism had the opportunity to ruminate on and embellish past wrongs, there was
nothing romantic about the Union. It was only amongst the protestants of the north that the
Union came to be viewed with warmth and pride. This was not only a positive identification
with material success but it was also a negative identification of the Union with protection
against traditional and perceived enemies.

Many imaginative and innotive departures were made from the British norm in Ireland’s
social laboratory. As emphasised previously these were piecemeal and ad hoc, they were
not part of a sustained and coordinated long term policy for Ireland. The principles of
laissez faire were breached, but they were micro breaches of a still dominant philosophy. It
may be that the magnitude of the Famine was beyond the wit of any contemporary
government to solve, but the woeful Whig adherence to laissez faire was seen to be
negligent if not callous (and by those such as Mitchel and the later Fenians) as deliberate.
Whatever the sacrosanct nature of laissez faire, would the Whig administration have
tolerated death, disease and destitution on a parallel scale in England?

If there was some degree of flexibility within government with regard to the implementation
of the Union, there was inflexibility (before Gladstone’s home rule initiative) in relation to
the nature of the Union. This was O’Connell’s great failing, he believed that British
governments would concede repeal much in the same way as they had eventually
conceded catholic emancipation. Emancipation had originally however been part of the
Union package and a substantial body of British parliamentary opinion favoured (or
accepted the need for) emancipation. In the case of the alteration or dismantling of the
Union no pre-1886 government could contemplate such an assault on British pride and
empire. Even Gladstone in 1885/6 can be seen as a British aberration, few amongst his
fellow Liberals – whether or not they subscribed to the imperial ideal – had any stomach for
home rule. The eventual end of the Union was brought about by the post-1886 changes in
Irish attitudes (north and south) and the loss of a British will to sustain the Union.

Nationalist pressure and British evolution
Nationalist militancy in itself was insufficient to dislodge Britain: United Irishmen, repealers
and Fenians had all been seen off by a determined British response. The key to the
amendment or dissolution of the union was the constant and inexorable pressure for
change by Irish nationalists (largely of the constitutional/quasi-constitutional element)
combined with evolving attitudes within Westminster. Those evolving attitudes had
facilitated reforms (admittedly belatedly) that diluted the original Union and removed a
number of the original criticisms of the system. The Ulsterman and Liberal James Bryce, an
advocate of home rule, had pointed out the inevitability of home rule and that it would not
simply be the work of Liberals but also of Conservatives. By-and-large he was correct:
Conservatives controlled the Lords; they (as Tories) had conceded catholic emancipation
and (as Unionists) had dismantled the land system. The Lloyd George coalition, largely a
Unionist body, did eventually negotiate the 1921 treaty and therefore ended the Union
(however reluctantly). The Great War had made British politicians and public opinion weary
of Ireland and the cost of maintaining the Union. If imperial integrity and strategic interests
could be maintained the Union could end – and it did.

Doc 11i
James Bryce wrote to AV Dicey in February 1905:

“You are right in thinking that a policy tending towards wider self-government must be
pursued by a Liberal government. But then it will be pursued, to judge from the past, by a
Tory government also. The last ten years have under the Tories done more than a Liberal
government with a bare majority could have done in that direction. No Liberal government
could, perhaps would, have given the land to the tenants; probably could not have given
the local government scheme. Both measures bring home rule nearer in two ways – they
give more power to the masses and they lessen the dangers feared in 1886 and 1893. The
forces of nature seem to me to be working for Home Rule; and it will come about under one
English party just as much as another if, an important if, the Irish continue to press as
strongly for it. That is perhaps not so certain. When they have the land, much of the steam
will be out of the boiler.

[Joseph] Chamberlain would of course give them anything they asked in return for support
for him. He has tacitly made offers, but they don’t trust him … a succession of
Chamberlains would be far more dangerous to England than the Irish are.

That Home Rule will come in our time seems unlikely. But under our democratic
government a resolute section is pretty sure to get sooner or later whatever does not
conflict with the direct interests or direct passions of the English masses. So I expect it to
come, if the Irish go on pressing as they have done since O’Connell.”

The unremitting pressure of Irish nationalism eventually wore away Britain’s desire to
maintain the Union. As Bryce noted there was an inevitability that the Union would be
amended/ended, the Unionist land concessions were a barometer of Britain’s will, the
Unionist establishment deluded themselves they were “killing home rule by kindness”, in
fact they were relinquishing their propertied stake in Ireland. Without doubt they fought the
“Plan of Campaign” fiercely, but the inexorable pressure of nationalist agitation over the
land issue had its effect, especially when this was combined with the mellowing and
reforming pressures that willy-nilly affected parliament and the establishment during
Britain’s nineteenth century progress towards democracy and reform. Since the 1860s an
increasingly democratic age linked to an expanding and influential press had come about.
The democratisation of local government in Britain had come about with the County
Councils Act of 1888; the Irish equivilant of 1898 updated Irish local government. The 1898
Act removed landlord influence from the counties and - just as significantly – provided the
framework through which many nationalists and Ulster Unionists cut their political teeth. In
certain quarters, there was a sense of guilt to some extent attributable to the Famine and in
some ways due to the currency of the theory that the English landowner had dispossessed
a Gaelic system of peasant land ownership. In the long term British public opinion was
becoming less likely to support the Union at any cost.

Of course this is at odds with substantial and widespread resistance to home rule in Great
Britain between 1911 and 1914. Many British Unionists would have supported Ulster
resistance to home rule. Many others would not, if it had come to civil war and outright
illegality. Those, who would have resisted, were motivated by the issue of empire and a
visceral fear of catholicism. By 1918 there was a war weariness and a marked degree of
secularism in British society. The United Kingdom had stood on the brink of civil war in
1914; it had then descended into prolonged and total world war.

The impact of the Great War
Imperial certainties had taken a battering (as they had in the Boer War); the Union could
end provided imperial safeguards were maintained. It was on the issue of empire that the
Treaty negotiations were thrashed out in London and debated in the Dail. Mere membership
of the empire (significantly also referred to as “the commonwealth” in the Treaty document)
was the prerequisite for settlement. Before 1917 only the Liberals and the embryo Labour
party had been prepared to grant home rule. Unionists had not: they had then believed any
concession on home rule would be a dangerous precedent to the empire at large. If the war
mellowed British attitudes towards Ireland it polarised Irish attitudes. The Sinn Fein front
had been sustained by the prolonged nature of the war and the conscription issue. The
intensity of their certainties therefore increased just as British conviction wavered. What
had sustained Britain in the nineteenth century had been its protestant whiggish confidence
that was dying by the turn of the century and was completely dead by 1918.

Frequent reference has been made to the nationalist inability to take into account the Ulster
dimension and the frustration of British and Irish politicians to reach a simple settlement
without having to account for the Ulster joker. This was perhaps best summarised by
Winston Churchill in the aftermath of the First World War.

“The whole map of Europe has been changed, the mode and thought of men, the whole
outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous
changes in the deluge of the world, but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall we see
the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their
quarrel is one of the few institutions that have been left unaltered in the cataclysm that has
swept the world.” (The World Crisis)

The religious divide
The Union therefore survived in Northern Ireland, a state for the protestant Ulsterman.
Craig had struggled to maintain for the Union the most viable and secure protestant area,
he had sacrificed three counties to preserve the other six. The religious divide was not
however just a protestant device to maintain hegemony. It was an ideological and cultural
institution with sixteenth and seventeenth century roots. The failure of Pitt to bring about
emancipation meant that the Union could never prosper, it could only survive. O’Connell’s
championing of the catholic cause though espoused as a matter of natural justice was
articulated in a manner likely to encourage sectarian tensions. It might be argued that
there were protestant interests which needed no encouragement, if O’Connell had not
existed some protestant would have needed to invent him. O’Connell’s manner and
methods undermined the Union but failed to bring about its demise. Half a century later
Parnell, the protestant, had grasped the essential need to bring the catholic church behind
the home rule party. Parnell’s bitter critic from within the movement, Tim Healy was to
advocate “a narrow chauvinistic nationalism” (Frank Callanan) that was largely built on
Catholicism. This was to be the main feature of nationalism throughout most of the
twentieth century both before and after independence, Ironically the development of the
northern protestant economy weakened the Union as well as underpinning it. The growing
gulf between the worlds of catholic and protestant were not only built on belief, culture and
identity, they were developing as economic differences. In the circumstances any chance of
creating a homogenous society was doomed. Religious polarisation therefore undermined
the Union and ensured that any governmental ameliorative measures would antagonise one
interest or the other.

The parliamentary tradition
The Union did however foster an Irish tradition of parliamentarianism. This of course
predated the Union but both O’Connell and Parnell worked within the Westminster system in
order to create Irish parliaments. They, by an adroit mixture of both constitutionalism and
quasi-extremism, educated the Irish masses in parliamentary ways. Moreover at the end of
the Union the generation that had been repelled by the “betrayal” of Parnell by the
parliamentarians for the most part put away their guns and adopted parliamentary
democracy. In part Ireland had benefited from the parliamentary and institutional
experience of the Union even if its structures only occasionally catered specifically for Irish

For the Union to have succeeded it would have needed to evolve towards a devolved
parliament responsible to an undivided people. As it was, when home rule was eventually
offered it was not offered to a united people by a united people. Moreover the workings of
the Gladstonian home rule settlements were unwieldy and impractical; they raised both
expectations and fears. The Union was broken by war, international war rather than a war
of independence. The war of independence merely determined the manner of the Union’s

The survival of the Union for 120 years was not due to its inherent strength it was due to
the respective strength and weakness of Britain and Ireland. Its failure either to evolve
sufficiently or whole-heartedly adapt meant it could only fossilise and then break. It was
born at a time of European war; it died following the next great war, collapsing due to its
tensions and contradictions.


The various documents and quotations have in the main been taken been taken from
secondary works including textbook collections of documents. Direct use has been made of
Volumes II and IV of the Ancillary Publications of the New History of Ireland dealing with
population and electoral statistics respectively. I have also consulted the most useful
newspapers of the time: Belfast Newsletter; Freeman’s Journal; The Irish Times; The
Nation, The Times and Pall Mall Gazette. I have also found the following historical journals
of value: History Ireland; Irish Historical Studies; History; History Today and Past and

Abbott, BH, Gladstone and Disraeli (London 1972)
Adelman, Paul & Pearce, Robert, Great Britain & the Irish Question 1798-1922 (London
Aikin, KWW, The Last Years of Liberal England (London 1972)
Bardon, Jonathan, A History of Ulster (Belfast 1992)
Beckett, JC, Confrontations, Studies in Irish History (London 1972)
Beckett, JC, The Making of Modern Ireland 1603-1923 (London 1966)
Bew, Paul, CS Parnell (Dublin 1978)
Bew, Paul, Ideology and the Irish Question: Ulster Unionism and Irish Nationalism,
1912-1916 (Oxford 1994)
Bew, Paul, Land and the National Question in Ireland (Dublin 1978)
Bew, Paul, John Redmond (Dublin 1996)
Boyce, DG, Nationalism in Ireland (London 1982)
Boyce, DG, Nineteenth Century Ireland, The Search for Stability (Dublin 1990)
Boyce, DG (ed), The Revolution in Ireland 1879-1923 (London 1988)
Boyce, DG, The Irish Question and British Politics, 1886-1996 (London 1996)
Boyce, DG & O’Day, Alan (ed), The Ulster Crisis (Basingstoke & New York 2006)
Brown, TN, Irish American Nationalism 1870-1890 ((Philadelphia & New York 1966)
Buckland, Patrick, The Factory of Grievances: Devolved Government in Northern Ireland
1921-1939 (Dublin 1979)
Buckland, Patrick, James Craig (Dublin 1980)
Buckland, Patrick, Irish Unionism 1885-1923, A Documentary History (Belfast 1973)
Buckland, Patrick, Irish Unionism I, The Anglo-Irish and the New Ireland (Dublin 1972)
Buckland, Patrick, Irish Unionism II, Ulster Unionism and the Origins of Northern Ireland
1886-1922 (Dublin 1973)
Buckland, Patrick, Ulster Unionism (London 1973)
Bull, Philip, Land, Politics and Nationalism: A Study of the Irish Land Question (Dublin 1996)
Callanan, Frank, The Parnell Split, 1890-91 (Cork 1992)
Clark, Samuel, Social Origins of the Irish Land War (Princeton 1979)
Cook, AB & Vincent, John, The Governing Passion: Cabinet Government and Party Politics
in Britain 1885-86 (Brighton 1974)
Connolly, SJ, The Oxford Companion to Irish History (Oxford 1998)
Cosgrove, Art & McCartney, Donal, (Ed) Studies in Irish History, Presented to R Dudley
Edwards (Dublin 1979)
Cullen, LM, An Economic History of Ireland since 1660 (London 1972)
Davis, Richard, Arthur Griffith (Dundalk 1976)
Dangerfield, G A, The Damnable Question, A Study in Anglo-Irish Relations (London 1979)
Donnelly, JS, The Great Irish Potato Famine (Stroud 2002)
Donnelly, JS, The Land and People of Nineteenth Century Cork: The Rural Economy and the
Land Question (London 1975)
Dudley Edwards, R & Williams TW (Ed), The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History, 1845-52
(Dublin 1956)
Dudley Edwards, Ruth, Patrick Pearse: The Triumph of Failure (London 1977)
Ervine, St John, Craigavon: Ulsterman (London 1979)
Fanning, Ronan, Independent Ireland (Dublin 1983)
Foster, RF, Charles Stuart Parnell: The Man and his Family (Hassocks 1976)
Foster, RF, Modern Ireland 1660-1972 (London 1988)
Foster, RF, Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and British History (London 1993)
Foster, RF (Ed), The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland (Oxford 1989)
Gash, Norman, Peel (London 1976)
Gibbons, SR (Ed), Ireland 1780-1914 (Glasgow & London 1978)
Hammond, JL, Gladstone and the Irish Nation (London 1964)
Hepburn, AC (Ed), The Conflict of Nationality in Modern Ireland (London 1980)
Hodge, Tim, Parnell and the Irish Question (London n.d.)
Hunt, JW, Reaction and Reform 1815-1841 (London 1972)
Jackson, Alvin, Home Rule; An Irish History 1800-2000 (London 2004)
Jackson, Alvin, Ireland: Politics and War 1798-1998 (Oxford 1999)
Jelland, Patricia, The Liberals and Ireland (Brighton 1980)
Kiberd, Declan, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (London 1996)
Lee, Joseph, The Modernisation of Irish Society 1848-1918 (Dublin 1973)
Lyons, FSL, Charles Stuart Parnell (London 1977)
Lyons, FSL, Culture and Anarchy in Ireland (Oxford 1979)
Lyons, FSL, Ireland Since the Famine (London 1973)
Lyons, FSL, John Dillon: A Biography (London 1968)
Lyons, FSL, Parnell (Dundalk 1963)
Lyons, FSL & Hawkins, RAJ, (Ed) Ireland Under the Union: Varieties of Tension, Essays in
Honour of TW Moody (Oxford 1980)
MacDonagh, Oliver, Ireland the Union and its Aftermath (London 1968)
MacDonagh, Oliver, O’Connell: The Life of Daniel O’Connell, 1775-1847 (London 1991)
MacDowell, RB, The Irish Convention, 1917-18 (London 1970)
Mansergh, Nicholas, The Irish Question: 1840-1921 (London 1965)
Moody, TW, Davitt and Irish Revolution (Oxford 1981)
Moody, TW & Martin, FX, (Ed) The Course of Irish History (Cork 1994)
Moody, TW, (Ed) The Fenian Movement (Cork 1968)
Moody, TW & Vaughan, WE, (Ed) A New History of Ireland iv The Eighteenth Century
1691-1800 (Oxford 1986)
Morton, Grenfell, Home Rule and the Irish Question (London 1980)
Murphy, Derrick; Stanton, Richard; Walsh-Atkins & Whiskerd, Britain 1815-1918 (London
Murphy, Derrick (Ed) Britain 1914-2000 (London 2000)
O’Brien, CC, Parnell and his Party: 1880-1890 (Oxford 1968)
O’Brien, (Ed) The Shaping of Modern Ireland (London 1970)
O’Brien, CC, States of Ireland (London 1972)
O’Day, Alan, Irish Home Rule, 1867-1921 (Manchester 1998)
O’Day, Alan. Charles Stewart Parnell (Dublin 1998)
O’Farrell, Fergus, Daniel O’Connell (Dublin 1981)
O’Farrell, Patrick, England and Ireland Since 1800 (Oxford 1975)
O’Hegarty, PS, A History of Ireland Under The Union: 1800-1921 (London 1952)
O’Tuathaigh, Gearoid, Ireland Before the Famine; 1798-1848 (Dublin 1972)
Packenham (Longford), Frank, Peace by Ordeal (London 1972)
Packenham, Thomas, The Year of Liberty: The Story of the Great Irish Rebellion of 1798
(London 1972)
PRONI Education Facsimilies 41-46, The Act of Union, (Belfast 1973)
Randell, KH, Politics and the People 1835-1850 (London 1972)
Shannon, Richard, Gladstone: Heroic Minister, 1865-1898 (London 1999)
Solow, Barbara, The Land Question and the Irish Economy, 1870-1903 (Cambridge, Mass
Steele, ED, Irish Land and British Politics: Tenant Right and Nationality, 1865-70
(Cambridge 1974)
Stewart, ATQ, Edward Carson (Dublin 1981)
Stewart, ATQ, The Narrow Ground: Aspects of Ulster, 1609-1969 (London 1977)
Stewart, ATQ, The Ulster Crisis: Resistance to Home Rule, 1912-14 (London 1967)
Thompson, DI, The Imagination of an Insurrection: Dublin, Easter 1916 (New York 1967)
Thornley, David, Isaac Butt and Home Rule (London 1964)
Townshend, Charles, The British Campaign in Ireland, 1919-1921: The Development of
Political and Military Policies (Oxford 1975)
Trench, WS, Realities of Irish Life (London 1868)
Vaughan, WE, Landlords and Tenants in Ireland 1848-1904 (Dundalk 1984)
Vaughan, WE (Ed), A New History of Ireland v: Ireland Under the Union I: 1801-1870
(Oxford 1989)
Vaughan, WE (Ed), A New History of Ireland vi: Ireland Under the Union II: 1870-1921
(Oxford 1996)
Vaughan, WE & Fitzpatrick, AJ, (Ed), Irish Historical Statistics: Population 1821-1971 (Dublin
Vincent, John, Gladstone and Ireland (London 1978)
Walker, BM (Ed), Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801-1922 (Dublin 1978)
Whyte, JH, The Tenant League and Irish Politics in the eighteen-fifties (Dundalk 1963)
Winstanley, MJ, Ireland and the Land Question: 1800-1922 (London 1984)
Woodham-Smith, Cecil, The Great Hunger: Ireland, 1845-49 (London 1962)
Yeats, WB, The Poems (Ed Daniel Albright) (London 1990)


Dates or events printed in bold type can be considered as crucial in terms of the evolution
of the Union and its demise.

1798 United Irish Rebellion
1800 Act of Union
1801 Act of Union becomes operative
1823 Catholic Association founded
1828 O’Connell elected as MP for County Clare
1829 Catholic Relief Act (Catholic Emancipation)
1832 Great Reform Bill becomes law
1833 Irish Church Temporalities Act
1835 Lichfield House Compact
1840 Repeal Association founded
1842 Nation first published
1843 Clontarf meeting banned
1845 Maynooth endowment increased
Arrival of potato blight – start of Great Famine
1848 Young Ireland rebellion
1850 Reform Act increases county electorate
1858 IRB founded
1867 Fenian rising
1869 Irish Disestablishment & Disendowment
1870 Home Government Association founded (becomes Home Rule League 1874)
Gladstone’s first Land Act
1879 Land League formed
1881 Gladstone’s second Land Act
Arrest of Parnell
1882 Kilmainham Treaty & Phoenix Park murders
1884 GAA founded
1885 Rejection of Central Board scheme
‘Harwarden kite’ – Gladstone’s conversion to home rule revealed
1886 First Home Rule bill rejected by the House of Commons; realignment of British politics
1887 The Times publishes letter implicating Parnell with Phoenix Park murders; Special
commission appointed
1890 Parnell-O’Shea divorce case, INL splits
1891 Death of Parnell
1893 Second Home Rule bill defeated in the House of Lords
1900 Redmond becomes leader of a re-united Irish nationalist party
1902 Yeats’s Cathleen ni Houlihan performed
1903 Wyndham’s Land Act
1904 ‘Devolution crisis’; Ulster Unionist Council follows in 1905
1907 Sinn Fein League founded
1908 Irish Universities Act sets up the National University of Ireland and Queen’s University
1909 ‘People’s budget’ & Asquith’s Albert Hall speech
1910 Carson becomes leader of the Ulster Unionists
Liberals loose their overall majority
1912 Bonar Law pledges total support of Unionists to Ulster
Third Home Rule bill introduced
Ulster Covenant signed
1913 UVF formed
ITGWU strike in Dublin
Irish Volunteers formed
1914 Curragh incident
UVF gun-running
Abortive Buckingham Palace conference
Implementation of home rule delayed by outbreak of Great War
Redmond’s Woodenbridge speech pledges Irish Volunteers to the war
1916 Easter Rising followed by executions and the Lloyd George proposals
Battle of the Somme
1917 Abortive Irish Convention
deValera becomes president of Sinn Fein, Sinn Fein pledges itself to a republic
1918 Military Service Act is passed but never implemented
Sinn Fein virtually eliminate the old nationalist party in the general election
1919 First Dail meets
Anglo-Irish war starts
1920 Bloody Sunday in Dublin
Government of Ireland Act implements partition
1921 George V’s speech at the opening of the Northern Ireland parliament
The Truce followed by Anglo-Irish negotiations
The Treaty
Start of Treaty debate
1922 The Treaty ratified: Irish Free State comes into being
Start of Civil War
Death of Griffith; Collins killed
1923 Free State government wins Civil WarAPPENDIX II PRIME MINISTERS OF GREAT

Dec 1783 William Pitt Tory
March 1801 Henry Addington Tory
May 1804 William Pitt Tory
Feb 1806 Lord Grenville Whig
March 1807 Duke of Portland Largely Whig
Oct 1809 Spencer Percival Largely Whig
June 1812 Lord Liverpool Tory
April 1827 George Canning Tory
Aug 1827 Lord Goderich Tory
Jan 1828 Duke of Wellington Tory
Nov 1830 Lord Grey Whig
July 1834 Lord Melbourne Whig
Nov 1834 Duke of Wellington Tory
Dec 1834 Sir Robert Peel Tory
April 1835 Lord Melbourne Whig
Aug 1841 Sir Robert Peel Tory (Conservative)
June 1846 Lord John Russell Whig
Feb 1852 Lord Stanley Conservative
Dec 1852 Lord Aberdeen Whig/Peelite/Radical
Feb 1855 Lord Palmerston Whig
Feb 1858 Lord Derby Conservative
June 1859 Lord Palmerston Whig/Liberal
Oct 1865 Lord Russell Whig/Liberal
June 1866 Lord Derby Conservative
Feb 1868 Benjamin Disraeli Conservative
Dec 1868 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal
Feb 1874 Benjamin Disraeli Conservative
(Lord Beaconsfield 1876)
April 1880 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal
June 1885 Lord Salisbury Conservative
Feb 1886 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal
July 1886 Lord Salisbury Unionist
Aug 1892 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal
March 1894 Lord Rosebery Liberal
June 1895 Lord Salisbury Unionist
July 1902 Arthur Balfour Unionist
Dec 1905 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman Liberal
April 1908 Herbert Henry Asquith Liberal; Coalition from May 1915
Dec1916 David Lloyd George All party coalition
Oct 1922 Andrew Bonar Law Conservative

1870s 1880s 1890s 1900s 1910s
HOME RULE Home Govt Assn (1870)
Home Rule League (1873) Irish National League (1882) INL (Parnellite (MacCarthy/ Dillon))
Irish National Fed (1891)
(Anti Parnellite) United Irish League (1900) Reunited. [Irish Nat Vols] (1913)

[Nat Vols]
LAND ISSUE AND LAND ORIENTED HOME RULE Land League (1879) Ladies’ Land League
(1881-2) United Irish League (O’Brien) (1898) All for Ireland League
(O’Brien) (1910)
HOME RULE Peoples Rights Assn (Healy 1897)
ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS (Origins in USA 1835) AOH (support for UIL)
(ENGLISH) Anglo-Irish Lit Revival
Irish Lit Theatre (1899) ® Irish Theatre Soc (1903)

Abbey Theatre (1904)
CULTURAL (IRISH) Soc for Pres of Irish language (1876) Gaelic League (1893) D P Moran
and The Leader (1900)
Cumann na Gaedhal
(Gaelic Soc) (1900)
SEPARATIST Sinn Fein (1906) Sinn Fein Front 1917 [Irish Vols/IRA]
SOCIALIST Irish Soc Rep Party (1896) ITGWU (1908) [Citizen Army]
BOY’S MOVEMENT Fianna Eireann (1902)
Gaelic Athletic Ass (1884)
PHYSICAL FORCE ® IRB Relatively moribund Revival started 1907 Irish Nat Vols (1913)
Irish Vols (1914)
Nat Vols (1914)
IRA (1919)


Opposition to the Union Ascendancy & support for the Union Attitudes of British political
parties Economic developments
1798-1803 United Irish & Emmet’s Rebellions Act of Union & failure to implement Catholic
Emancipation. Both parties divided on Catholic Emancipation but both support the Union.
Agriculture prospers in wartime; growth of Belfast economy (including shipbuilding).
1804-1829 O’Connell campaigns for CE & mobilises the peasantry Peel opposes CE but
introduces a measure of enlightened reform to the Irish administration. Virtually all
protestants come to identify with the Union. Commons majority obtained for CE, Tories in
Lords reluctantly allow CE bill through. Wartime agricultural markets, but increased rural
population pressure. Decline of Belfast cotton, but domestic linen became urbanised &
industrialised. Bank of Ireland’s monopoly ended; Belfast, Northern & Ulster banks provide
capital for industrial development. Outside NE manufacturing industry in decline from 1820,
Dublin in relative social & economic decline.
1830-1841 Little progress in Repeal movement until ’forties; much of O’C’s energies
devoted to reform with Whigs. O’C’s rhetoric helps develop a national consciousness.
Protestant hostility to attempts of Whigs to curb protestant excesses & to admit RCs to the
administration. Orange Order banned. Church Temporalities Act & Tithe Reform change
Anglican ascendancy. Lichfield House Compact, but both parties totally hostile to Repeal.
Growth in Belfast industry (& sectarianism); continued land pressure but possible signs of
slowing of population increase. Start of railways.

Opposition to the Union Ascendancy & support for the Union Attitudes of British political
parties Economic developments

1842-1851 Repeal movement mobilises the masses; Davis & The Nation develop national
consciousness. Post O’C militants turn to rebellion (1848 - first since 1803); diaspora takes
Irish militants to USA. Anglicans feel threatened by Peel’s attempts to woo RC hierarchy;
many of landed classes weakened & sell out with the Famine. Peel smashes Repeal, but
repeals the Corn Laws; doctrinaire & unimaginative Whig policy towards the Famine. Great
Famine reverses population trend & accelerates Irish diaspora. Continued growth of Belfast,
its docks & the railways.
1852-1861 Fenians founded; growth in RC militancy & confidence, this & activities of Tenant
Right movement disguise a lack of real political activity. Evangelical revival helps deminish
gap between Anglicans & Presbyterians. Reduction in land pressure & post Corn Law
prosperity lead to improved agricultural conditions (except in 1859-64). Arterial railway
network completed. Iron ships built in Belfast.
1862-1873 Fenian Rising, widespread public support for Fenian martyrs & Amnesty Assn;
Home Rule movement founded in response to WEG’s actions. Disestablisment causes
Presbyterians & Anglicans to come closer, also some Anglicans join HGA: Disestablishment
& 1870 Land Act cause asendancy disquiet. Land Act alienates some Whigs from WEG;
many Irish Liberals join HR bandwagon. All sectors affronted by WEG’s university bill.
Foundation of Harland & Wolff (1861). Transition to powerlooms completed in linen industry.

Opposition to the Union Ascendancy & support for the Union Attitudes of British political
parties Economic developments
1873-1885 Rise of obstructionism & formation of Land League lead to New Departure & rise
of Parnell. Peasantry mobilised, 1881 Land Act conceded during Land War, Kilmainham
Treaty indicated possibility of WEG/CSP cooperation. INL founded; also GAA. Landed
ascendency undermined by 1881 Land & Ashbourne Acts. Landed asendancy form ILPU in
view of HR threat. WEG prepared to work with CSP (1882), Salisbury gave same
impression (1885); Ashbourne Act indicated Conservative conciliation. “Hawarden Kite.”
European agricultural depression compounded in Ireland by potato failure: Land War.
Railway network virtually complete.
1886-1892 Failure of 1st HR bill, but INL inspired by Gladstonian alliance. CSP benefits from
Special Commission on Crime but falls following O’Shea scandal. Split in INL leads to
subsequent alienation of many from parliamentry politics. 2nd HR bill fails in Lords.
Beginnings of effective Ulster Unionism, especially at the time of 2nd HR bill. Landed classes
undermined by Unionist reforms. R Churchill “plays orange card”. Liberal split, formation of
Liberal Unionists. Salisbury & Balfour provide “resolute government” but attempt to kill
home rule by kindness. Growth in peasant proprietorship & rural industries (CDB).
Continued growth of shipbuilding, textiles and engineering in Ulster.

Opposition to the Union Ascendancy & support for the Union Attitudes of British political
parties Economic developments
1893-1903 Continued splits in IPP until 1900 & growth in activities of non-parliamentary
nationalism, Gaelic League founded & Cathleen ni Houlihan produced. Boer War stimulates
nationalist sentiments. Wyndham’s Land Purchase Act effectively ends Irish landlordism.
Democratisation of local govt. (1898 County Councils Act) leads to INL & Ulster Unionist
control of local councils; CC & Wyndham’s Acts lead to terminal decline in landlord
influence. Unionist governments continue reforms. Slump in linen industry followed by
successful revitalisation.
1904-1913 Formation of Sinn Fein & revival of IRB. Redmond ties Liberals to a further HR
bill. Formation of Ulster Unionist Council; UVF & Provisional Government formed to oppose
3rd HR bill. Anti-HR fight virtually lost outside Ulster. Post-1909 Liberal readoption of HR,
Bonar Law pledges resistance to HR by any means. Completion of Titanic, Belfast industry
at its zenith. Dublin & Belfast experience labour unrest.
1914-1922 Prolonged nature of WW1 & failure to implement HR lead to decline of United
Irish League & demise of Remond. Sinn Fein benefits from Easter Rising & reorganises as a
republican front. Independence & Dominion status follow Anglo-Irish War. Southern Irish
Unionists concede defeat & seek to secure their interests; northern Unionists preserve the
Union with Partition through Government of Ireland Act. Liberal demise, LG the only Liberal
to engage himself energetically with Irish affairs; WW1 & A-I War cool Conservative
enthusiasm for Unionism. Wartime demand creates prosperity for Irish industry, agriculture
& employment. Postwar slump hits Ulster industry.


AOH: Ancient Order of Hibernians
GAA: Gaelic Athletic Association
GOC: General Officer Commanding
HGA: Home Government Association
ILPU: Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union
INL: Irish National League
IPP: Irish Parliamentary Party
IRA: Irish Republican Army
IRB: Irish Republican (or Revolutionary) Brotherhood
ITGWU: Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union
IUA: Irish Unionist Alliance
KC: King’s Counsel
RIC: Royal Irish Constabulary
SDF: Social Democratic Federation
UIL: United Irish League
ULARU: Ulster Loyal Anti-Repeal Union
UUC: Ulster Unionist Council
UVF: Ulster Volunteer Force