The Catholic Question in 18th and 19th Century Ireland
A study of the emergence and interaction of Penal Law, Middle Class, Nationalism,and Political Clergy in 18th and 19th century Ireland.
The paper shows that, not unlike the rest of Europe at the time, nineteenth century Ireland was host to a strange new period of politics. The growth and empowerment of a new merchant class that had had its foundations in the later half of the eighteenth century changed politics and strengthened or re-forged alliances. The paper examines one of the results of this which was the gradual re-empowerment of Catholics in the country during a moral and political battle between classes, parties, and English and Irish parliaments.
“Amidst the fear of French revolution and liberal republicanism, a period of oppression set in during the final decade of the 18th century. The rising sectarianism and agitation was a result of many factors not limited to events in France, but the resultant militarization of the government only helped to inflame the situation. By the close of the century the final results of this campaign were anything but apparent. The political force of the catholic middle class had largely been silenced through the 1797 Act banning public conventions, but this did not quell the need for communication between the Catholic underclass and Protestant minority.”