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Summary Article: Irish nationalism from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Ireland, political and cultural expression of the concept of an Irish nation. Although a sense of Irishness probably existed in the Gaelic period before the 12th-century Norman invasion, political Irish nationalism developed from the early 16th century, when Protestant government reaction to Counter-Reformation Catholicism included measures such as the Plantation of Ireland by Protestant settlers. Militant radical (revolutionary) nationalism received inspiration from the American and French revolutions in the 18th century (and has continued at varying levels of intensity into the 21st century) before a constitutional (political) approach was adopted by 19th-century reformist politicians such as Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell. At the turn of the 20th century, a literary revival promoted Irish cultural nationalism against anglicization.

See also Ireland: history to 1154, Ireland: history 1154 to 1485, Ireland: history 1485 to 1603, Ireland: history 1603 to 1782, Ireland: history 1782 to 1921, and Northern Ireland.

Opposition to British rule in Ireland An Irish nationalist believes that Ireland is one country that should be ruled as such. Irish nationalists oppose British involvement in Ireland's government, and believe that Britain should leave Ireland to run its own affairs. Irish nationalism dates back many centuries, and has been a driving force in the struggle for Irish independence from Britain. In Northern Ireland, where the nationalist movement continues its struggle for Irish independence from British government, Irish nationalism is represented politically by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

There were two strands to Irish nationalism in the 19th and early 20th centuries: revolutionary nationalism (including Irish republicanism) and parliamentary nationalism.

Revolutionary nationalists Revolutionary nationalists, also termed as militant radicals or Irish republicans, were those willing to use, or support the use of, physical force to achieve their goals. In the 18th and 19th centuries their main campaigns were the Rebellion of 1798 led by Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen, the 1848 Young Ireland rebellion, the 1867 Fenian movement's uprising, and the actions of the Land League against tenant evictions from 1879. The main organizations of the revolutionary nationalists in the early 20th century were the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and Irish Volunteers who conducted the 1916 Easter Rising, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In 1905 Sinn Fein, the political voice of the Irish republican movement, was established by Arthur Griffith.

Parliamentary nationalists The parliamentary nationalists used the peaceful constitutional method of elections and debate in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, to achieve their aims. Their first leader was Daniel O'Connell, who campaigned in the 1820s for Catholic emancipation (freedom to vote and be elected to Parliament) and repeal of the 1801 Act of Union between Britain and Ireland. He managed to achieve Catholic emancipation in 1829 after he was elected to Parliament in 1828 but debarred from taking his seat. Charles Stewart Parnell led the parliamentary nationalists in the fight for Irish home rule. He was president of the Irish Home Rule party in 1877, and helped form the Land League in 1879. John Redmond, who led the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) from 1900 to 1918, succeeded in getting a home rule bill passed by the House of Lords in 1914, although this was never implemented owing to the outbreak of World War I.

Revolutionary and parliamentary nationalists had the same basic aims, but used different methods. On some occasions, such as the Land League, they were able to work together to achieve success. At other times their actions were contradictory, with the violence of the revolutionary nationalists making it harder for the parliamentary nationalists to get concessions from the British government. However, the threat posed by the revolutionary nationalists often acted as a spur to the actions of the British government in granting the demands of the parliamentary nationalists.

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O'Connell, Daniel

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

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