Why Did the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland Fail? Essay Sample

9 September 2017

To understand the failure of the 1798 rebellion we need to see the nature of Irish society prior to the rebellion. The turbulences of the 1600s resulted in the arrogation of about all land owned by Catholics. [ 1. 2 ] The Penal Laws aimed at the Catholic bulk and the dissidents meant that Ireland in the eighteenth century was dominated by a Church of Ireland elite ( Protestant Ascendancy ) who owned most of the land and monopolised political relations. [ 3 ] Dissenters. including Presbyterians. who constituted the bulk of Ulster Protestants. were second-class citizens while Catholics were third-class citizens.

Ireland underwent a period of economic growing in the 1700’s with the outgrowth of a dissident and Catholic urban in-between category which became progressively irritated at the limitations on Irish trade imposed by the British parliament. The huge bulk of Catholics and many dissidents lived an destitute being on the land and was bound to do subsequently unrest. [ 4 ]

The American Revolution of 1776 appealed to dissidents because of the cardinal function played by emigrant Ulster dissidents.

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It besides caused the demand to retreat British military personnels from Ireland and direct them to America. The Protestant Ascendancy established the Irish Volunteers in 1778 to support Ireland from invasion. [ 5 ] The Volunteers came under the influence of the broad nationalist resistance in the Irish parliament who sought political reform. The Irish Government was based on a thoroughly undemocratic franchise controlled by single blue bloods and by the British authorities through the backing system. They were unwilling to allow Catholic emancipation while the more broad members of the opinion category sought to better the the rights of Dissenters and Catholics. [ 5 ]

In 1791 the United Irishmen were established to advance parliamentary reform in Ireland. Their leading consisted of knowing broad members of the Protestant Ascendency. landed Catholic aristocracy and affluent Presbyterians and demanded Irish independency and Catholic and dissident rights. [ 5. 6 ] Besides Catholic and dissident in-between category support. the United Irishmen developed a base among urban workers in the Belfast country who wanted a democracy based on cosmopolitan franchise and a societal plan for the hapless. [ 6 ]

The United Irishmen were strongly aligned with the Gallic and were proclaimed illegal in May 1794 shortly after the declaration of war by Britain against France. They went belowground and decided that an rebellion was necessary in order to set up an Irish Republic and reorganized themselves. They set up a cell construction in order to ease readyings for an rebellion. They sent envoies across Ireland. Scotland and into the British naval forces. Crucially. they absorbed the Defenders. the chief Catholic rural organisation. [ 5. 6 ]

United Irishmen Numberss were estimated at 280. 000 work forces before the rebellion. [ 5 ] They sent Wolfe Tone to seek Gallic military aid. In December 1796. 14. 000 military personnels were sent to Ireland but holds. violent storms. indecision and hapless seamanship prevented a landing and the Gallic fleet were forced to return place. [ 7 ]

The formation of the Orange Order in 1795 in Ulster provided the Government with Alliess who had local cognition of the activities of their enemies. The barbarous disarmament of Ulster in 1797. where the United Irishmen had successfully radicalised both Protestants and Catholics. saw 1000s of Catholics driven from counties Antrim. Down and Armagh and the slaying. anguish and imprisonment of 100s of Protestants suspected of being United Irishmen sympathizers. [ 5 ]

Sectarianism was encouraged in Ulster where the United Irishmen were particularly strong in the hope that the Presbyterian republicans would non arise. The arrangement of sources within the United Irishmen enabled the Government to transport out foraies and confiscate arms and arrest several leaders in Dublin in March 1798. [ 5 ]

Argument among the United Irishmen leading about waiting for another Gallic landing caused undue hold before the more extremist cabal recommending an immediate rise won the statement and the day of the month was set for May 23. 1798. The program was to arise in Dublin foremost and so rapidly distribute to the environing counties. [ 5 ] However. sources provided last-minute intelligence to the Government of the Rebel assembly points and the presence of immense military forces at these points deterred the Rebels who dispersed and dumped their weaponries. Efficaciously. the armed uprising karyon had imploded in Dublin but the rebellion spread to the environing countries. In the terminal. the lifting was isolated to certain countries. most stunningly in the sou’-east and Wexford in peculiar.

In Ulster. the working category were the anchor of the lifting in which 27. 000 turned out but the in-between category elements in the leading in Antrim and Down delayed puting a day of the month for rebellion4. On June 7. the United Irishmen in Antrim and Down eventually rebelled briefly busying Antrim town. Ballymena. Kells and other towns before authorities military personnels forced a retreat. In Down 7. 000 Rebels fought stanchly before being defeated on June 14. The undue hold in get downing the rebellion in Ulster was to turn out dearly-won. The 1798 rebellion basically consisted of a series of uncoordinated rebellions throughout Ireland and in many instances they were based on local grudges instead than on an overall military scheme. However. in the sou’-east the Rebels had a figure of noteworthy successes but eventually were defeated. Finally little Gallic fleets arrived in Mayo and Donegal in August and October 1798 but it was a affair of excessively small excessively tardily for it to be effectual since the rebellion was virtually over. [ 5.

While it is obvious that the rise was a failure. the causes are complex and intertwined. Lending factors include the incursion of the United Irishmen by authorities undercover agents ; holds in puting the day of the month for rebellion which sapped moral ; the fierceness of repression. particularly in Ulster where the United Irishmen were strongest ; and the barbarous disarmament of Rebels in Ulster in 1797 badly weakened the impact of Ulster in the rebellion. . The changeless foraies on Rebels places and weaponries mopess deprived the Rebels of indispensable weaponries and thereby weakened their military strength. In Dublin the prostration and decomposition of the leading meant that they were unable to enforce any decently organised control of the rebellion. It could be argued that the United Irishmen over planned for the rebellion and as such were unable to rapidly accommodate and alter programs when suited chances arose. The extremely democratic construction of the United Irishmen besides meant that determinations were slow to be made and so strong leading was absent. 5. 6 ]

The Government forces outnumbered the Rebels and were better armed and trained while Rebels were no lucifer for the British forces which besides had cannons. The late reaching of the Gallic forces was besides a conducive factor. The failure of the Dublin rise was really important and showed the deficiency of planning. co-ordination and concentrate that became obvious as the rebellion spread to other countries. Even the deficiency of co-ordination between the Ulster and Dublin Rebels was really hapless. The United Irishmen leading lacked military experience and tactics and the officers chosen by the leading to take Rebels had no cognition or experience of warfare. [ 5 ]

Despite these defects the Rebels has successes due to the hapless subject and certitude of the Irish ground forces and local reserves ; chiefly in Wexford where the Rebels were much better equipped and organised. The presence of a big figure of non-rebel Catholic tagalong seeking safety at the Rebel cantonments hindered the rebels’ motions. The British commanding officer Cornwallis’ proposal of a general amnesty was widely welcomed and many Rebels returned to their places. [ 5 ]

Rebel officers repeatedly made strategic errors. non merely during conflict. but besides in make up one’s minding where and when to prosecute in conflicts. In a figure of instances the Rebel leaders engaged in revenging local grudges instead than press forward their advantage in the civil war.

The failed Gallic invasion with 10. 000 military personnels in late 1796 had a profound consequence on the 1798 rebellion for a figure of grounds. First. it alerted the Irish authorities to the danger of rebellion by the United Irishmen. This led to to their activities being more closely monitored and scrutinised and the arrangement of authorities undercover agents in their administration. Second. it showed the Gallic that the promised 100. 000 Rebels did non happen and this undermined any opportunity of future big Gallic support. Finally. it convinced the United Irishmen that they needed Gallic military support prior to get downing a rebellion.

The United Irishmen lacked strong military officers and cardinal planning to win Irish independency ; alternatively they were isolated. foolhardy and uncoordinated. The rebels’ deficiency of practical cognition and experience badly prevented them from fixing decently for the rebellion. If the Rebel forces had been under much more capable military leading the rebellion may good hold had a different result.


Simms. J. G. ( 1956 ) The Williamite arrogation in Ireland 1687-1703. London. Faber & A ; Faber. Foster. R. F. ( 1990 ) Modern Ireland 1600-1972. London. Penguin Books. Simms. J. G. Chapter 13. pp. 204-216 in The Course of Irish History. Edited by Moody. T. W. and Martin. F. X. Revised and enlarged edition 1994. Dublin. Mercier Press. Wall. M. Chapter 14. pp. 217-231 in The Course of Irish History. Edited by Moody. T. W. and Martin. F. X. Revised and enlarged edition 1994. Dublin. Mercier Press. Johnston-Liik. E. M ; Johnston. E. M. ( 1994 ) Ireland in the 18th century. Dublin. Gill and Macmillan. McDowell. R. B. Chapter 15. pp. 232-247 in The Course of Irish History. Edited by Moody. T. W. and Martin. F. X. Revised and enlarged edition 1994. Dublin. Mercier Press. Rosamund. J. ( 1937 ) The rise of the United Irishmen. 1791-94. London. Harrap.

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