Irish Conservative Party

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Irish Conservative Party
Páirtí Coimeádach na hÉireann
Ideology Conservatism
Political position Centre-right
Colours Blue
Politics of Ireland
Political parties

The Irish Conservative Party, often called the Irish Tories, was one of the dominant Irish political parties in Ireland in the 19th century. Throughout much of the century it and the Irish Liberal Party battled for electoral dominance among Ireland's small electorate within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with various parties such as the movements of Daniel O'Connell and later the Independent Irish Party relegated into third place.

As late as 1859, the Irish Conservative Party still won the greatest number of Irish seats in Westminster, in that year's general election winning a majority of the seats on offer. In the 1840s, the party supported Daniel O'Connell's call for repeal of the Act of Union, believing that a resurrected Irish parliament would offer the best chance to defend Protestant interests. Many saw themselves as the successors of William Molyneux and his 1698 pamphlet, The Case of Ireland's being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England, in which he made an argument disputing the right of the English Parliament to legislate for Ireland, as the kingdom had its own parliament.

Though aligned with the Conservative Party in Great Britain, the Irish Conservatives took independent stances on many issues, a fact made easier by the lack of rigid party voting in the British House of Commons.

Its main rival, the Liberals, lost out to Isaac Butt's Home Government Association in the early 1870s, ironically, considering that the HGA was, to a significant extent, made up of Irish Tories such as Butt himself.

Franchise reform, notably the Representation of the People (Ireland) Act 1868, the Ballot Act 1872 and the Representation of the People Act 1884 which increased the number of Catholic Nationalist electors, the electoral triumph of the Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell, and the appearance of the Liberal Unionist Party and the Irish Unionist Party, all ate into the Irish Conservative Party support and by the late 19th century it was no longer a major electoral force.

Organisations associated with the Irish Conservative Party included the Irish Metropolitan Conservative Society in Dublin, later the Irish Reform Association, and the Kildare Street Club, a gentleman's club in Kildare Street, Dublin.

Prominent members included Isaac Butt and the Reverend Charles Boyton. It was strongly associated with the Dublin University Magazine founded by Butt and associates in 1833, and had a strong Trinity College Dublin academic input.


  • Alvin Jackson, Home Rule: An Irish History 1800–2000 (Phoenix, 2004)
  • Andrew Shields, Irish Conservative Party, 1852–1868: Land, Politics and Religion (Dublin, 2007)