The Story of Ireland (2011) s01e04 Episode Script

The Age of Change

FERGAL KEANE: On the cusP of a new century, Ireland is a country traumatised by violence- The surface calm masks the bitter division caused by a failed rebellion in 1 7 98- The Protestant Ascendancy remains in Power, and the Catholic majority aPPear vanquished- But the coming century will witness an epic transformation.
The great issues of land, of faith and who should rule Ireland will give birth to a mass politics of a kind never seen before in Europe.
It is a story that reveals itself in the imPoverished countryside--- ---but also in the halls of Parliament- From the streets of Protestant Ulster to the most far-flung outPosts of the British EmPire- This is a story of conflict and, above all, change- It is the story of how modern Ireland was born- It lies here among 25,000 other Acts of Parliament in a small room at Westminster- A Piece of PaPer that sought to end once and for all England's Problem in Ireland, by making Ireland Part of the Union- Here is it, this Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland that binds together two nations.
You feel a real sense of excitement looking at this, touching it, because you think of the great political campaigns that were inspired by the Act of Union but also of the thousands who lost their lives in the struggle over what it represented.
The first article describes how from the ''First day of January 1 8O1 ''and forever after, Britain and Ireland shall be known as one kingdom, ''the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
'' To this very day, men are willing to kill to try and break the Union.
The Union Passed into law at a time of international crisis- Britain faced war with France, and Ireland was dangerously unstable- A Protestant Parliament ruled over a Catholic PeoPle- But bring both factions into a larger kingdom, and Ireland's claustroPhobic hatreds would evaPorate- That was the theory- And so Protestant landlords were cajoled and bribed with money and Peerages--- ---and the Catholics Promised reform of the remaining Penal laws that excluded them from Parliament and Public office- Nowhere was news of the Act of Union greeted with more anticipation than in the leadership of the Irish Catholic Church.
There was an understanding with the British Government that with Union would come the granting of Catholic emancipation - full political rights for Catholics.
At a stroke, one of the most divisive issues in Ireland would be removed.
Everything now depended on what happened next at Westminster.
The Prime Minister, William Pitt, had looked at the examPle of Scotland, safely ensconced in the Union since 1 7 46- But Pitt faced the oPPosition of anti-Catholic forces in his Cabinet, who encouraged King George III to oPPose any change- The King believed that to grant full civil rights to Catholics would violate his Coronation oath to uphold the Protestant faith.
In the middle of an assembly of MPs, he stopped and shouted, ''I will consider every man my enemy who proposes that question to me.
'' Pitt was humiliated and backed down.
Pitt resigned within the year- His failure changed the course of Irish history- Had emancipation been granted as was planned, in the 1 7 9Os or in the early 1 8OOs as part of the Act of Union deal, I do not think that Catholicism in Ireland would have taken on the shape it did and would have become so associated with politics and later on with nationalism.
It was that crucial delay that drove Catholics into an alliance with forces which were not always cooperative with the British state.
Catholic alienation would be deePened by economic decline- When the war with France ended in 1 8 1 5, agricultural Prices collaPsed, and a booming PoPulation increased Pressure on the land- This was a Perilous situation in a country already overwhelmingly dePendent on farming- The land was subdivided into ever-smaller portions.
A foreign observer described how the system worked.
A wealthy man would let out some land to four others.
They in turn would rent it to maybe 2O, and they to another 1 OO people.
They would then let it out to 1 ,OOO poor labourers.
Little wonder that the hunger for land would become one of the defining themes of the Irish story.
The Catholic Peasantry were a PeoPle without land, Political rights or a chamPion- Their liberator would be one of the most remarkable figures of the 1 9th century - Daniel O'Connell- JOHN McCARTHY: The typical 2Oth-century figure that O'Connell would have the closest parallel to would be the late Martin Luther King in America.
King was able to mobilise and politicise people who previously had been rather passive and indifferent.
O'Connell was born into the small Catholic elite that had kePt its lands after the Penal laws- He was brought uP here in County Kerry but educated in France- There he witnessed the Terror of the French Revolution, an exPerience that filled him with a lifelong dread of revolutionary violence- - How would you describe O'Connell? - O'Connell was a 1 9th-century liberal.
That is he believed in constitutionalism, in human rights.
He supported that sort of thing in other countries and wanted it in Ireland.
In 1 8 2 3, O'Connell brought the Catholic Church directly into Irish Politics- His Catholic Association used Church networks to mobilise the PeoPle to camPaign for emanciPation- JOHN McCARTHY: They started collections outside the church where the peasants could give a farthing a week, a penny a month, a shilling a year, and they could have a badge saying they were a member of the Catholic Association.
And his marshals in this, his precinct captains, were the clergy.
A Protestant bishoP observed, ''There is what we have never before witnessed, ''a comPlete union of the Roman Catholics- '' O'Connell decided to Provoke a crisis- He would challenge the law banning Catholics from Parliament unless they renounced their faith- In 1 8 28, in County Clare, Daniel O'Connell became the first Catholic in Britain or Ireland to stand for Parliament in more than 1 00 years- O'Connell won easily, but he also had suPPort in Government- The crisis Presented Pragmatists in the British Cabinet with the oPPortunity to rePeal the remaining laws against Roman Catholics- ROY FOSTER: Catholic emancipation enables and empowers a whole world of Irish Catholics who previously, over the traumatic first 2O years of the Union, have not seen any element of power open to them.
It enables them to feel, I think, they have a stake.
But there is a Part of Ireland where the rise of O'Connell is greeted with fear- In Ulster, there were more than a million Protestants, descendants of the settlers who'd come in the 1 7th century- They ranged from landed gentry to farm labourers, to factory workers- Many had ProsPered, creating thriving industry- Although some Protestant dissenters had led the rebellion of 1 7 98, sectarian conflict with Catholics had helPed to create a siege mentality among the growing Protestant working class- It's hard to think when you look at a shell like this that it once symbolised immense prosperity.
To Ulster Protestants, the world that they knew, the world that they felt secure in, was dependent on the link with Britain.
It was that which guaranteed their jobs, their education, their special place in society and, of course, their religious identity.
When they looked around the rest of the island and they saw the rise of somebody like Daniel O'Connell, the growth in the power of the Catholic Church, they felt panicked.
O'Connell's suPPorters attemPted a Political invasion of Ulster- It failed, but sectarian fear escalated- PAUL BEW: Once you get clashes between large groups of people, then you get these general fears that actually, quite simply, they want to wipe us out.
They've come here with a large group of people, we're defending this piece of space with our group of people.
It becomes a very elemental, very simple conflict.
O'Connell failed to understand the Power of Protestant fear- It was a failure Irish nationalists and British governments would continually rePeat- And if Protestants were alarmed by the emanciPation camPaign, what O'Connell Planned to do next would strike directly at the heart of the British Constitution- He was about to move from the Politics of religion to those of union- Daniel O'Connell now set out on his most daunting campaign of all - to repeal the Act of Union which joined Britain and Ireland together as one nation and under which this country was ruled from London.
Now, O'Connell wasn't a revolutionary, he didn't want Ireland to leave the wider British Empire.
What his repeal campaign demanded was an Irish Parliament, where Catholics would hold power.
The majority of Catholic bishoPs and Priests suPPorted the camPaign, and clerics went back into action to rally the PeoPle- O'Connell held some of the largest Political meetings in EuroPean history- The greatest gathering was at Tara, seat of the old high kings--- ---where O'Connell's carriage took two hours to Pass through the crowd- O'Connell stood here at Tara, reaching back into a mythic past to inspire his people.
Reports from his supporters describe a crowd of a million people.
Whatever the exact numbers, it was certainly the largest gathering the country had ever seen.
And it rattled the Government.
Within three months, O'Connell had been arrested and he would be jailed.
The movement disintegrated- Mass demonstrations on their own could not win rePeal- O'Connell needed Political suPPort at Westminster, and he had none- Within three years he would be dead, taken mortally ill on a Pilgrimage to Rome- But the tumult of O'Connell's era had created a generation of more radical nationalists- InsPired the Gaelic Past, these Young Irelanders sought an identity that was Politically and culturally seParate to Britain- Their leader, Thomas Davis, a Protestant writer and thinker, echoed an earlier generation of Irish Protestants who'd led rebellion against Britain- ''Righteous men, ''he wrote, ''must make our land a nation once again- '' That determination will be immeasurably deePened by the events that unfold in the fields of Ireland- Here the rural Poor subsisted on overcrowded land and dePended almost entirely on Potatoes for their food- In 1 845, disease attacked the croP- PhytoPhthora infestans would quickly become known as ''the blight''- How did the blight work? What did it do to potatoes? Well, basically, it rotted the potatoes.
It's a travel Spores that travel in the air, and it comes in and it gets onto the stalk, onto the leaf of the stalk, and it travels down through the stalk, down into the potato and basically rots the potato.
The blight swePt west across EuroPe, killing 50,000 in Belgium, an even greater number in Germany- In Scotland, tens of thousands emigrated to escaPe the hunger- But none of this comPared to what would haPPen in Ireland- The first deaths occurred in 1 846, and the Tory Government of Sir Robert Peel resPonded by imPorting grain to keeP food Prices down, and by Putting the hungry to work building roads and bridges so they could earn money to buy food- By the beginning of the following year, more than 750,000 PeoPle were dePending on Public works- FERGAL: What is the prevailing mentality at that time towards a famine? Their initial response to a situation, which isn't at all as bad as what it would become, is, I think, fairly generous and positive.
As the crisis developed, I think attitudes in London became less sympathetic.
There's more exasperation and, in certain quarters, actually hostility and frustration and a sense that the Irish are not grateful, that they must do more to help themselves.
By June 1 846, there was a new Whig Government led by Lord John Russell- The Whigs believed in the Prevailing doctrine of laissez faire - minimal state intervention- Saving the starving was not the Government's job but that of local landlords and of charities- (BELL TOLLS) And so, as the crisis deePened, Government suPPort for Public works was removed- Some landlords were generous and were bankruPted by the cost of relief- Others had no inclination to helP and evicted the starving- Priests were heavily involved in helPing the PeoPle- In Clare, one rePorted how half of his 1,000 Parishioners were dead- ''Scores were thrown beside the nearest ditch, ''he wrote, ''and left to the mercy of dogs, which had nothing to feed on- '' Food Prices soared far beyond the wages of those still emPloyed on Public works, and Government souP kitchens were closed after being oPen for just six months- Famine diseases like tyPhoid and cholera swePt through the PoPulation- The workhouses Paid for by the landlords' rates were besieged by starving PeoPle- Overcrowding became endemic in many of these places.
Workhouses would become mansions of the dead.
A visitor to the Fermoy workhouse wrote of how ''a pestilential fever was raging through the place, ''and all the horrors of disease were aggravated by the foul air''.
On the day of that visit, 3O sick children were found crammed into just three beds.
With croPs failing, the Poor fell behind in their rents- Tens of thousands were evicted- Skibbereen in West Cork was one of the hardest hit areas- In 1 84 7, Lord George Bentinck told Parliament of news he'd received from a local clergyman- ''I have at this moment in my pocket, ''a letter from the Protestant clergyman of Skibbereen, ''the Reverend Richard Boyle Townsend, ''in which he says that in the Poor Law Union of Skibbereen ''1 0,000 Persons have Perished from the famine- '' The Reverend Townsend became what we would nowadays call a humanitarian campaigner.
From the rectory here at Skibbereen he wrote to newspapers and to powerful political figures.
This son of the landed Protestant gentry took the full horror of the Irish famine to the heart of the British establishment.
Townsend even travelled to London to lobby the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, Charles Trevelyan- Relief schemes were failing, he said- Emergency food suPPlies were needed- But Trevelyan saw the calamity in starkly different terms- God had sent the famine to teach the Irish a lesson, he wrote- That calamity must not be too much mitigated- The real evil was the PeoPle's ''selfish, Perverse and turbulent character''- To Irish nationalists, Trevelyan's callous words rePresented the true voice of the union with Britain- What is it that motivates Charles Trevelyan? He articulated ideas, which I think were pervasive at the time.
Things like self-reliance, market forces, small government, the dangers of over-population.
The danger also of what economists would call moral hazard in the context of famine relief - the sense that if you relieved the Irish too generously, they wouldn't learn a lesson and the same thing was going to happen in ain a few decades again.
Reverend Townsend's lobbying brought newsPaPermen and a number of influential Public figures to West Cork- He showed them the cabins of the dying and the mass graves- Reverend Townsend brought his visitors to this graveyard.
Here they saw the horse-drawn carts pull up with corpses.
They saw them being emptied into the ground, layer upon layer, without coffins.
In this one mass grave lie the remains of 9,OOO people.
By the time the famine was over, it was estimated more than a million had died of starvation and disease- Among them was the Reverend Richard Boyle Townsend- He died from tyPhus contracted from those he had been helPing- CORMAC O'GRADA: You're talking about a crisis, which, by world standards, it's a big famine, but by 1 9th-century European standards, it's absolutely unique.
At that time, Britain was capable of doing much more than it did.
I think one has to say that.
An entire class of small tenants and farm labourers vanished- Some landlords who had been forced by the Government to Pay for relief went bankruPt- And there was a new Phenomenon - better-off Catholics who bought land on bankruPt estates- More than a million of the Poor took to the emigrant boats- MAN: # Farewell to you, old Ireland Since I must go away I now shake hands and bid goodbye And can no longer stay Our big shiP lies in deeP Lough Foyle Bound for the New York shore And I must go from all I know And lovely Moneymore--- For many emigrants, this was their last sight of the Irish mainland.
Ahead of them lay the Atlantic with all its hardships.
In one two-month period in 1 84 7, nearly 5,OOO people perished on the crossing.
This mass migration wouldn't just change the story of Ireland but of America too.
The story of Irish Catholics in America is a mix of romantic fable, Phenomenal social advancement and hard politics.
A million and a half Irish left their own country for America during the years of the famine.
By the middle of the 1 85Os, there were more Irish living in New York City than there were in Dublin.
When they arrived here in their boats at the East River, they were the poorest of the poor, fanning out into the city.
America was absorbing millions of refugees from hunger and Political crisis from across the world- The Irish flooded into the cities of the American East Coast.
This is now part of Chinatown, but back then, it was called the Five Points district.
Here the Irish jostled and competed with Germans, Scandinavians, Dutch, with blacks who'd fled slavery in the South.
Charles Dickens visiting here described it as a place that ''reeked of filth and dirt, ''where even the houses seemed old from debauchery''.
It was a place where only the toughest and the canniest survived.
The Irish come off boats down on the East River here in the 1 84Os, the lowest in terms of social status.
And yet within a decade that's changed.
How do they do it? Well, they do it because they bring with them something intangible, and that is a capacity for political organisation, which they've acquired under the tutorship, in a way, of Daniel O'Connell over the previous 3O years.
No other people were able to organise themselves at so low a social level.
And within a decade of arriving, they had become the driving force in New York politics.
Many would find their Political outlet in the salons of the American Democratic Party- But others among the Irish, embittered by the cruelties of the famine, were looking back towards home- The Fenian Brotherhood, founded in 1 858, was rooted in the Young Ireland movement, which had launched a failed rebellion a decade before- They set about raising Political suPPort and funds for a new revolution- By 1 86 3, they were Powerful enough to command large audiences at meetings in the Prestigious CooPer Union, one of the great theatres of American Political rhetoric, where Abraham Lincoln had once sPoken- (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) Tell me, in essence, what were the Fenians? The Fenians were essentially the cry for revenge for the famine, that's what they were.
And they were able to mobilise over here in America, because they were beyond British jurisdiction.
The driving force is getting money out of people - that's the ultimate test of organisational capacity - to send back to Ireland, and enormous amounts were collected.
MAN: # The minstrel boy to the war is gone In the ranks of death you will find him--- FERGAL: But it wasn't simPly a question of money- Irishmen had also gained military exPerience fighting in the American Civil War- They would now try to strike at British Power wherever they could find it- They hope in 1 866, immediately after the end of the Civil War, that if they can invade Canada, as the closest British - Invade Canada? - Invade Canada.
How many of them were going to do that? Well, it wasn't all that well planned, you have to put it like that.
How many men? Just over 1 ,OOO tried to get into Canada.
They won some skirmishes on the border, but it didn't work out successfully.
And there was a second attempt, which worked out even less successfully.
But the Fenians understood the Power of revolutionary gesture - the ProPaganda of the deed- In 1 86 7, they carried out the first acts of Irish terrorism in Britain- When the accused were executed, they became martyrs whose deaths and ideas would insPire future revolutionaries- ROY FOSTER: The idea that a self-elected elite will form a shock troop of the Irish nationalist advance, this idea is, I think, influenced by certain movements on the Continent in the 1 83Os, '4Os, '5Os.
Thethe, erm, anarchist movements.
There are elements of all this in their structure of cells, in their belief that you have to work by conspiracy.
A gestural act of violence, often against a symbolic target.
This kind of revolutionary politics is part of the essence of Fenianism.
A brief Fenian rebellion in Ireland was quickly crushed, but they would be hugely influential in a social revolution, a movement rooted, as with so much of the history of the Irish 1 9th century, in the land- These farmers in County Kerry are the descendants of men who were tenants on the estates of landlords- Even the largest tenant farmers couldn't claim to be secure from high rent increases or eviction- And when the Potato blight struck again and threatened another famine in 1 8 78, a movement emerged determined to Protect the farmers from eviction- The great movement for change would be built around the forefathers of men like these.
The rural poor would be mobilised into a force that sparked phenomenal social change and created a political legend.
It would be led by two men as different from each other as it was possible to be, in background and personality.
In 1 8 7 9, a 3 1-year-old activist, Michael Davitt, returned to his native County Mayo after sPending seven years in British Prisons for his Part in a Fenian Plot- Davitt had come back to Mayo to rally farmers threatened with eviction and because he saw in the rural crisis the chance to Put his own socialist ideas into Practice- LAURENCE MARLEY: Davitt was born in 1 846, at the height of the famine.
At the age of four, Davitt, his three sisters and his parents were evicted from their homestead in County Mayo.
The family were forced in 1 85O to emigrate to England.
And all throughout his childhood, Davitt was brought up with these images.
FERGAL: And isn't the key thing that he grows up profoundly shaped by radical ideas of English socialism? LAURENCE MARLEY: Yes, that's true.
In fact, his experiences would have been more into tune with the industrial working class of Lancashire.
For him, that relationship between them and their landlord was no different from a relationship between the industrial boss and the industrial worker.
Davitt was a child of the Industrial Revolution and, at the age of 1 1, had lost his right arm in a mill accident- Yet this class warrior would form an alliance with an aristocrat- Charles Stewart Parnell came from a Protestant land-owning family whose fortunes had declined after the famine- From his American mother, he'd inherited a strong anti-British sentiment and he would become a nationalist icon- ROY FOSTER: Parnell and Davitt are a fascinating contrast, in almost every way you can think.
Parnell, an aristocrat, a dictator, as he was well known as.
He even called one of his horses Dictator.
Davitt, a socialist, who becomes increasingly socialist with the years.
But out of those differences came, I think, a great deal of the strength of that astonishing decade of roughly 1 88O to 1 89O when such political success seemed to be within the grasp of the Irish nationalist movement.
Davitt admired Parnell's willingness to confront the Government- The vehicle that would bring both men to the forefront of nationalist Politics was the Irish Land League, which began, from October 1 8 7 9, to organise civil disobedience against increased rents and evictions- One of the first cases taken uP by the League was that of a tenant farmer in Loona More, County Mayo- Anthony DemPsey had fallen behind on his rent and faced eviction- These are relatives of Anthony DemPsey, visiting his old cottage- JOHN DEMPSEY: Thousands of people gathered here to prevent the eviction of the Dempsey family.
The biggest significance of it was that Charles Stewart Parnell came to this scene.
So he would have come up the road, down over that way, - and come up with thousands of people.
- Yeah.
We're led to believe that Parnell came up the hill there on a white horse.
Is that kind of (LAUGHS) the Irish gift for romantic romanticising things, or did it really happen? I don't know, but itit would have added to the whole occasion if it did happen.
Because that's how people saw him, wasn't it? I mean, there's truth in that.
They saw him as the knight riding to rescue.
JOHN DEMPSEY: When the police realised, the major in charge called off the eviction at that particular time.
Vast sums of money were raised through the Fenian networks in America and used to subsidise evicted families- The League was both rural trade union and nationalist movement- A rent strike was declared- The League taPPed into rural traditions of coercion against those it called ''the PeoPle's enemies''- LAURENCE MARLEY: The Land League develops a new tactic called Boycotting, or social ostracism.
One of the other aspects of this was what became known as moonlighting, where those who went against the unwritten law would be visited or would receive letters or warnings about their conduct, and even to have mock funerals that symbolised the end of them as members of the community.
But transformation in Ireland is dePendent on a Parallel but very different revolution in Britain- It is the age of mass industrialisation and raPid social change- In this evolving United Kingdom dominated by the forces of industry, the old Ireland of landlords seems out of steP with the sPirit of the age- Politics, too, was changing- The vote had been extended to factory and farm workers- Parnell's Irish Party benefited from a new secret ballot, which undermined the Power of landlords to coerce their tenants into voting for them- Irish nationalists were a force in Parliament- The struggle for land rights now moved to the Houses of Parliament, and it would take the energy and vision of a British Prime Minister to introduce legislation that would have a more far-reaching practical impact on the lives of rural communities than any other statute in the past century.
William Ewart Gladstone was a combination of moralist and canny Politician- In 1 88 1, he introduced a Land Act, which offered Irish tenants security from eviction and a means of controlling their rent- After further agitation, Gladstone moved closer to meeting the key demand of Davitt and Parnell - the right of Irish tenants to buy their own land- ROY FOSTER: I think there's a strong argument for saying that the hinge on which modern Irish history turns is the Land War of 1 8 7 9 to 1 882.
From 1 881 , through to the Land Acts of the early 2Oth century, you have the British state enabling Irish tenants to buy out their holdings from the landlords and become small ''peasant proprietors'', as the phrase of the day would have it.
This has immense implications for the creation of a conservative - with a small C - rural petite bourgeoisie.
The social revolution that begins with the Land War isn't the creation of a socialist state as Davitt would have wanted, but it turned out to be a conservative revolution, which is exactly what Charles Stewart Parnell would have liked.
There has been a long social revolution- The laws which forced Catholics and Presbyterians to Pay for the uPkeeP of the Anglican Church have already been overturned- It was now no longer the state Church- The Protestant Ascendancy was being dismantled not by violent revolution but by Acts of a British Parliament- The Catholic bourgeoisie of farmers, merchants and Professionals were the rising force- And their Church, already Powerful, would come to dominate Irish life well into the modern age- In the new, confident Church, Cardinal Paul Cullen had emerged as a Princely figure- He was ordained the same year that Catholic emanciPation was granted and rose to become ArchbishoP of Dublin and Ireland's first Cardinal- Cullen set a mark on Irish Catholicism which was there until very, very recently.
He set up an institutional framework - the orphanages, the schools, the churches, the confraternities.
All the paraphernalia, if you like, of Catholic life.
His era was also hugely influential in shaping the personal and public piety of the Irish.
FERGAL: There's a pretty fierce attempt to control the Catholic population on the part of Cullen and the kind of men who came along with him.
His interest is the security, the rights and the position of the Church, and he will be as tough as he needs to be to secure those Catholic interests.
FERGAL: The story of the 1 9th century in Ireland is one in which power shifts decisively.
The great issues of religious freedom, of land, have now been confronted, but there remains the most divisive question of all - Home Rule.
Up to now, Ireland has been ruled from London, but the campaign to change that will lead to the division that persists in Ireland to this very day.
The new camPaign will be led by the hero of the Land League, Charles Stewart Parnell- Under Home Rule, Ireland would stay in the EmPire, but it would be ruled not from London but Dublin, and by a nationalist-dominated Parliament- By 1 885, Parnell was in a strong bargaining Position- His Party now held the balance of Power in Parliament, and he found Gladstone a willing Partner- This deeply religious man was beginning to see Ireland as a divine mission, and Home Rule as a means of repaying the Irish for the cruelties of the past.
And there was a pragmatic consideration.
Gladstone needed the support of Parnell's MPs to keep his Government in power.
For moral and political reasons, Ireland mattered as never before.
By 1 886, Gladstone was ready to Put a Home Rule Bill before the House of Commons- Parnell and his MPs listened intently as Gladstone declared that this was a golden moment, which rarely returns.
The British Prime Minister had placed his political prestige and the formidable weight of his oratory behind self-rule for the Irish.
But it wouldn't be enough.
(JEERING) The Bill was defeated by 30 votes- Many of Gladstone's own Liberal suPPorters, fearful that Home Rule could lead to the break-uP of the EmPire, voted against him- In Ireland, the Bill raised sectarian tension- Many Ulster Protestants saw Home Rule as simPle Rome Rule- On the day the Bill was defeated, there were riots in Belfast- Here at Alexandra Dock, a rumour spread that Catholics had attacked an Orangeman.
Soon hundreds of shipyard workers were streaming across the road.
They set about the Catholics, beating them with whatever came to hand.
The Catholic workers, some of them jumped into the water, trying to swim across the river.
One man was drowned.
By nightfall, rioting had spread across Belfast.
ROY FOSTER: Gladstone took an extremely myopic view, I think it has to be said, of Ulster resistance, in which he was accompanied by Parnell, who simply took the line that Ulster had played a grand part in the 1 7 98 rising and platonically was part of nationalist Ireland, and these deluded Unionists would come and see this in time.
As news of the defeat of Home Rule spread through the streets of Belfast, Protestants in working-class areas came out to celebrate.
They marched behind Orange bands and they lit bonfires.
As the smoke curled up into the sky, it could have been read as a warning of an age of violence and division that was to come.
Parnell and Gladstone were to make one more attemPt at bringing about Home Rule- In December 1 889, Parnell travelled to Hawarden Castle in Flintshire, Gladstone's country home- The Irish party leader came here to meet Gladstone as the year ended, and the possibility of a great new campaign for Home Rule bubbled in the air.
Until calamity descended.
It was the biggest sex scandal of its time- Parnell's nearly decade-long liaison with a married woman, Katherine O'Shea, became Public when her husband, from whom she was seParated, sued for divorce- Her husband was one of Parnell's MPs- Victorian oPinion was scandalised by false stories about Parnell donning disguises and fleeing down a fire escaPe- His Party would now be confronted with a stark choice by the Prime Minister- Gladstone realised that the forces ranged against Parnell were simply too powerful, and within his own party, the voices of the morally affronted were growing louder.
He wrote to the Irish Parliamentary Party that if Parnell were to remain as its leader, his own position as leader of the Liberals would become impossible.
In this way, Gladstone cut Parnell loose.
But Parnell would not steP down, even after his former allies, the Catholic bishoPs, denounced him- At a bitter meeting in Westminster, he faced his MPs- (JEERING) Parnell Placed his leadershiP before the unity of the Party, and it sPlit- The majority deserted him- He returned to Ireland to camPaign, facing often hostile crowds- His health worsened, and he was dead within a year- ROY FOSTER: Parnell's fall and destruction was a kind of classic tale of hubris.
He was a titanic figure, but the flaws in his personality were part of that titanic image, that kingly hauteur.
When he fought his last campaigns, one of his tactics was to pour scorn on the very thing that he himself had accomplished.
He was now saying, ''Look, it would never have happened.
Never trust the British.
'' He is reverting to an older Fenian-style kind of rhetoric, where Britain represents the infamous thing that you can never trust, that will always do down Ireland.
He's saying, ''Now they've done down me.
'' He had done himself down.
Vast crowds attended Parnell's Dublin funeral- 'A star has been laid low, '' wrote the Poet WB Yeats- The age of the Political titans was over - O'Connell and Parnell- But the Promise of Home Rule had PromPted many nationalists to re-examine Irish identity- They reached back into the mythical Past for insPiration- These cultural nationalists sought an Irish Ireland, an identity utterly seParate from Britain- Gaelic sPorts were revived- The Gaelic Athletic Association rePudiated English games in favour of sPorts like hurling- As James Joyce wrote, the ''racy of the soil'' were ''building uP a nation once again''- The movement became one of the most imPortant organisations in Irish history- It also attracted radical nationalists- Several of the GAA 's founding members belonged to the Fenian Irish RePublican Brotherhood- The GAA would also become central to the first great camPaign of cultural nationalism - reviving the Irish language- (WOMAN SINGS IN GAELIC) Stretching back century over century, the Irish language had been the dominant tongue on this island.
But by the late 1 9th century, that had changed.
English was now widely spoken.
(SINGS IN GAELIC) (TRANSLATION FROM GAELIC) The attemPt to revitalise the language led Douglas Hyde, a southern Protestant, to co-found the Gaelic League- Hyde was no revolutionary, but the movement attracted a growing number of militant nationalists- ROY FOSTER: People like Douglas Hyde want to keep politics out of the Gaelic League.
But politics are never going to be kept out of a movement, part of whose rhetoric depends on the constant reiteration of Englishness as contamination.
But this cultural renaissance isn't simPly an attemPt to create a nationalist myth of Ireland- The Poet William Butler Yeats is an Irishman rooted in the Protestant world but committed to nationalism- He writes in English but is insPired by eastern mysticism, EuroPean modernism and Celtic mythology- Yeats and his colleagues are imbued with the Past but oPen to the world- It comes from the kind of interest in Irish literary origins, which has been going on since the 1 83Os and '4Os, with translations of old sagas and with an interest in the literary content ofof the Irish language.
And they're very alive to a European tradition, and I would say that one of the great inheritances they give to the Irish cultural tradition is that broadness, that sophistication, that European-ness.
The cultural ferment encomPassed revolutionaries and moderates, mystics and scholars, and more than one literary giant- Yet for many Irish PeoPle, it was not the imagined Ireland of the cultural nationalists that framed their world view but a British EmPire that, in the late 1 9th century, had never seemed so Powerful- The Dublin of the revival was an imPerial city- From Queen Victoria's Civil Service to the traders and the military, the Irish were embedded in the imPerial Project- Ireland was Part of the largest emPire in history, covering nearly a quarter of the earth's land mass, and it offered endless oPPortunity to the willing and the adventurous- In the East India ComPany, a sixth of the administration was Irish, more than any other grouP- Nor was Irish imPerial involvement confined to the Protestant Ascendancy class- Civil servants, like the Cork-born John PoPe-Hennessy, from a Catholic family, rose to become a reforming governor of Hong Kong- Soldiers like Luke O'Connor, from Roscommon, joined the Army as a Private, won the first ever Victoria Cross and retired as a Major General- In 1 89 7, here in London, the EmPire celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria- Victoria could contemplate her vast dominions with confidence.
Even in Ireland, so long so troubled, the Pax Britannica seemed secure.
It would be shattered by events many thousands of miles away, and they would resonate loudly in Ireland.
At the southern tiP of Africa, the Boer RePublics of the Free State and Transvaal had risen in revolt against the encroaching British EmPire- Irishmen working on the mines joined the Boers in this white man's war- Militant nationalists watching from Ireland would soon rally to the Boer cause- The man who would found Sinn Fein, Arthur Griffith, came here, as did the great land campaigner, Michael Davitt, who witnessed the British and the Boer fighting hand to hand.
And the shopkeeper's son from County Mayo, John MacBride, led a brigade on the Boer side.
As MacBride himself put it, fighting the British here in South Africa was the next best thing to fighting them in Ireland itself.
Among those who flocked to the Boer cause was an Irish-American brigade drawn from the ranks of the old Fenians- They joined the hundreds who were now fighting for the Boer President, Oom Paul Kruger- Reg, tell me about the Irish.
How did the Boers view the Irish, how did they see them? Yeah, theythey didn't take to discipline very easily.
The Boers actually thought them a bit rough.
They were a bit scared of them.
Of course, anybody who who had a dislike for the British and a mistrust of the British were very welcome to the Boer cause.
My father, who during the war met quite a few of them, said he rather got the idea, or the impression, that they were fighting against the British and not so much for the Boer cause.
Back in Dublin, the tenement children sang, ''Sound the bugle, sound the drum, and give three cheers for Kruger- '' FERGAL: Give me a sense of the passions unleashed in Ireland by this conflict.
In Dublin, which was the core of the pro-Boer movement, the Irish pro-Boer movement, there were the worst riots that had been seen on the streets of Dublin.
The heroes of the Transvaal became for a season the heroes of Irish nationalists.
But there was another Irish reality in South Africa- Far more Irishmen - some 40,000 - fought on the British side- The conflict between different Irish allegiances would be exPosed brutally in December 1 899, at the Battle of Colenso--- ---one of the worst defeats suffered by the British- John MacBride was Present on the Boer side as they oPened fire on the British Positions- British troops were pinned down here in the long grass.
Every time a soldier tried to raise his head, he ran the risk of being shot by a sniper from the hills above.
By the end of the battle, 5OO men were dead, 5OO more were wounded, and by that stage, MacBride would have known that many of those lying here were fellow Irishmen.
DONAL McCRACKEN: These men were loyal to their regiments.
You only have to count the number of VCs that were won in these fields around us.
There are more Irish people, more Irish men buried in this valley than anywhere else on the African continent.
The Boers lost the war, but they had, in the words of Rudyard KiPling, taught the EmPire ''no end of a lesson''- The Boer War had proved that there was a dedicated minority of Irish committed to breaking the link with Empire, and although in South Africa they were vastly outnumbered by those loyal to the Crown, it was the enemies of Britain who would dictate events in the new century and propel Ireland into an age of violent revolution.