The American and French Revolutions were important catalysts in late 18th century Ireland. The Anglo-Protestant Ascendancy which ruled in Ireland effectively excluded both Catholics and non-Anglican Protestants from representation. The Defenders, a rural Catholic insurgent movement was active from the 1780s, but the formation (1791) of the Society of United Irishmen (SUI), a largely middle class Protestant group would spur a more organized liberation movement. Wolfe Tone, a SUI leader managed to persuade France to send an invasion force of 14,000 in 1796: bad weather prevented its landing. The uprising began in May 1798: despite some early successes, it was brutally suppressed, and a second French invading force repulsed at Ballinamuck. The most intense fighting took place in Wexford in the south, and Antrim in the north. A third French invasion force was intercepted off Donegal in October, and the rebellion was effectively at an end, although guerrilla warfare persisted.
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