State of Ireland during the Eighteenth Century
...continued

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (Chapter V.) by Edgar Sanderson (1898)

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The national life of Ireland, deprived of an outlet in Parliament, sought relief in various forms of secret and open organization. The "Whiteboys" and other violent men who met in dark places and wrought corresponding deeds, had long been at work against the payment of rent and tithe. As the end of the century drew near, the revolutionary spirit of France produced its effect in Ireland, and in July, 1790, the "Society of United Irishmen", organized by Wolfe Tone and Hamilton Rowan, was formed at Belfast. This body included men of both religions, and proclaimed "an identity of interests and a communion of rights" for all Irishmen.

The successes of the French republicans so far alarmed the British government that, in 1793, the Irish Catholics, besides receiving the electoral franchise, were allowed to become barristers, attorneys, freemen of corporations, grand jurors, and magistrates, and to attain the rank of colonel in the army. The country was in a welter of confusion and trouble. The intelligent and leading Catholics were conciliated by the policy of concession, but bigots on both sides had formed hostile associations, and in 1795 open war was being waged in pitched battle between the Catholic "Defenders" and the Protestant "Peep-of-day Boys" of Ulster. Then came the formation of "Orange" lodges by the Protestants, in strong opposition to Catholic claims.

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