“In Considering The Process Of Change In Relations Between Ireland And Great Britain In The Years 1815 1922, How Far Can The Irish Potato Famine (1845 1851) Be Seen As A Key Turning Point?”

2068 words - 9 pages

Over the years 1815-1922, the process of change in relation between Ireland and Great Britain can be due to a variety of events. One could argue the Irish Potato Famine was the key turning point which was brought on by a blight which destroyed the potatoes and crops which were Ireland’s main source of food. However, over the period of time, other events also influenced the change in relations, including: Catholic Emancipation, Home Rule Bill and the Easter Rising. All four, including the Potato Famine, directly changed Britain and Ireland’s broken relationship, starting from Wolfe Tone’s rising in 1798; but one could argue Catholic Emancipation was the key turning point. As, although the ...view middle of the document...

Under Peel, “Historians have generally credited Peel’s government with reacting promptly to the partial potato failure of 1845.” However, people argue “that its scheme of public works were failing.” The problem Peel faced was people in Britain believed that they were doing too much for Ireland, and the general view of Westminster was that Ireland was not worth helping. Although Peel did try to help, he did not truly understand the country he was trying to help; the food he exported into Ireland, they could not even grind it down to flour as they lacked the equipment needed and “although Peel’s policies were generally praised, from the outset they contained flaws which became more critical as the famine persisted and intensified.” In 1846, Peel was replaced by Lord John Russell and under this Whig government they believed in the ideology of laissez-faire hence why people could not even afford to pay for the imported food in Ireland. After a report about roadside bodies being found, Russell adapted a direct approach under the Destitute Poor Act which provided free soup kitchens; and it was probably the most effective measure taken to help Ireland during the famine. Although Ireland blame Britain for the deaths and emigration of nearly 2 million people, Britain themselves blamed the landlords in Ireland. With the population decrease during the famine, and even after the famine people continued to leave the country; landlords rationalised their estates and evicted more people after the famine. Due to the famine, more radical approaches were employed; including Young Ireland, who blamed the British government for the famine itself. They organised the armed rebellion of 1848; however this failed massively. The Famine is also a key turning point as it created a more anti-Anglo feeling from the Irish; amongst mainly the lower-class Irish Catholic population. The famine also led to mass emigration which approximately two million immigrating to the USA, which sparked abandonment towards the British government, as Ireland felt that the famine: “ Was genocide: it could have been prevented by the British.“ The anti-British sentiment spread to the USA due to this and this saw the emergence of the Fenians. The Fenians outrages in 1867, for instance; the incident in Manchester which became known as the “Manchester Martyrs”, sparked Gladstone’s mission to pacify Ireland.
Arguably the key turning point in the years 1815-1922 was the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, Daniel O’Connell called it “One of the greatest triumphs in recorded history – a bloodless revolution.” Beforehand, even though Catholics made up 80% of Ireland, Catholics were denied full political rights as many British politicians believed their loyaties lied between the pope and the crown, something Catholics could not swear upon. This proved a direct link in Britishness and Protestants identitiy, discrimination against the Roman Catholics had been practised ever since the Reformation, but...

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