The Avancement of the Cause of Irish Catholics and Nationalist Leaders in the Years 1801 - 1921

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The Avancement of the Cause of Irish Catholics and Nationalist Leaders in the Years 1801 - 1921

In 1801, the Act of Union between Britain and Ireland saw the closing of Irish Parliament and was therefore routinely denounced by all manner of Irish nationalists. Much of Ireland was owned by absentee protestant ascendancy landlords, which caused a lot of bad feeling among the ordinary Irish people who worked on the land and had to pay extortionate rents for the land they worked on, often to be thrown off without compensation.

The first major Irish Nationalist leader was Daniel O’Connell, who was born into the Roman Catholic Gentry and had Gaelic roots, and practiced as a barrister in Dublin. He
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In addition to this, the clergy were generally persecuted: bishops were banned from the country and ordinary priests were forced to register and allowed to practise only in limited areas.

In 1824 the association introduced the Catholic rent of a penny a month to finance its work. The leaders were professionals, but the rent made all the members feel a part of it. This provided the basis for mass support and the feeling of a crusade rather than just a pressure group. O’Connell regarded the Catholic Church as important, because priests could collect rent and they could spread the message in an effective way. Twenty thousand pounds was collected in the first nine months and another thirty-five thousand pounds over the next three years.

By 1928, there were clear signs that Wellington, the British Prime Minister, was moving reluctantly towards the conclusion that emancipation was inevitable.

O’Connell’s moment arrived when the Conservative Vesey Fitzgerald, sitting member for County Clare, was promoted to the Cabinet. This necessitated a by-election and O’Connell decided to stand, which wasn’t illegal

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