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The 1798 Rebellion

by Michael Kenny

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The rebellion of 1798 was one of the bloodiest and most dramatic events in Irish history. Brought about by a combination of French-inspired republicanism, government brutality and the sufferings of a brutalised peasantry, it ran its bloody course in one summer, ending in the utter defeat of those who had sought to overthrow the existing social and political order. The immediate results included wholesale murder, destruction and deportation. The chief political consequence was the abolition of the Irish parliament and an enforced union with Britain. That union, although achieved by thoroughly unsavoury methods, might have succeeded, had the British government kept its promise to grant emancipation to the country's Catholic majority. The commitment was not kept, and the twin legacy of a brutally suppressed rebellion and broken promises was to colour and influence Anglo-Irish relations into the twentieth century. The rebellion and its aftermath also had a profound effect on religious and political loyalties in Ireland itself. In this way it exerted a major influence on the course of modern Irish history.… (more)

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