Meaning of the Act of Union and its Effect, 1800

32. At the time the loss seemed considerable. Yet the Irish nation had never regarded that parliament with interest or concern. All that had happened was that once again England struck down those whom she had placed in the position of jailers of the Irish nation. The keepers of the gate being now stricken down, in the year 1800, the nation came through that gate into the new century to occupy that century in reclaiming, one after another, its lost rights, and in stating in each generation its demand for Sovereign Independence by the offer of blood. Moreover, that reclamation was to proceed in a significant order. In the past the nation had been submerged thus: first, its Sovereign Independence had been overthrown; secondly, its language, culture, and customs had been outlawed by the Statutes of Kilkenny and their subsequent enforcement over the whole country; thirdly, by the seizure of its land, and the disruption of its polity; and fourthly, by the penalising of its faith and the denial of civil rights. In the nineteenth century the nation, in marching forward, inevitably retraced its steps. Its progress took it back along the road it had come. The inverse process now operated, and the nation won back its losses in the following order: first, it won back its freedom of faith and its civil liberty; secondly, it won back its land; thirdly, it reclaimed its language, culture and distinctive mind by an organised effort; and finally it re-asserted its Sovereign Independence.