Talk:Society of United Irishmen

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Aughavey 29 June 2005 21:37 (UTC)


Whilst the United Irishmen were primarily founded by Ulster Presbyterians due to the harsh penal laws (which had led many to either eturn to Scotland or flee to America) and were non-sectarian the movement eventually merged with the sectarian Defenders who were a devout Catholic organisation.

Come 1798 people had had enough and the Presbyterians were instrumental in leading the United Irishmen rebellion, which ultimately failed. Henry Joy McCracken the famous United Irishman, relatives founded the News Letter in 1737 which is still published to this day and is a staunchly Unionist newspaper. Shortly after the United Irishmen rebellion in 1798 the act of Union between Great Britian and Ireland occured.

Samuel Neilson, a Scots-Irish contemporary of Thompson and a founding father of the United Irishmen, remarked just prior to the Act of Union, "I see a union is determined on between Great Britain and Ireland. I am glad of it." Neilson accepted the Act of Union without shedding his sense of Irishness. He, like many other members of the Society of United Irishmen, became Irish Unionists because they saw in the union an end to the corrupt Ascendancy-based Dublin Government. Indeed this was the position of Sir Edward Carson, who was at heart an Irish Unionist. It is significant that at that time the Orange Order (which I think only accepted Anglican at that time) and the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy were bitterly anti-unionist.

Samuel Thompson, the Bard of Carngranny, expressed the position of eighteenth century Irish Presbyterians in the following verse: - "I love my native land, no doubt, Attach'd to her thro' thick and thin Yet tho' I'm Irish all without I'm every item Scotch within.".

With regards to "The Defenders" here are a few quotes from an Irish history site:-

"and burning the homes of the peaceable Protestant inhabitants of the counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan and Meath, and even in the county of Dublin, making public declarations that they will not suffer any Protestant to reside within these counties, or in the kingdom" and

"In May Defenders descended upon a fair in County Cavan declaring that "they would destroy every Scotsman or Presbyterian they should find".

Defenderism represented many things to many men, among them Catholic sectarianism. The experience of John Tuite – ‘Captain Fearnought’ of Meath – illustrates the consequent United Irish dilemma. Tuite was ‘sworn to both acts’ in 1795, that is he took first the Defender and then the United Irish oaths, but the Defender oath pledged him ‘to quell the nation of heresy’ as well as to ‘dethrone all kings, and plant the tree of liberty’. The second part of the oath indicates how interaction with the United Irishmen accelerated and strengthened the politicising impact of ‘French principles’; the first part shows how much more the secular radical gospel had still to do. Putting the best gloss possible on a coalition fraught with internal tensions, Emmet later asserted that the United Irishmen had infused Defenderism with ‘tolerance and republicanism’. Presumably Tuite’s trial report had escaped his notice.


The Defenders could hardly be described as "a devout Catholic organisation", this is an excerpt from the link Aughavey provided;

"But the relationship between church and people was never under greater strain than in the summer of 1793, when priests involved in compiling lists for ballot attracted the popular wrath. Chapel doors were ‘nailed-up’ in Connaught, Cork and Kerry. At Athlone a priest was hanged almost to death and one newspaper reported ‘attacks on the persons of the clergy in many parts"

The Orange Order was founded in 1795, following the so-called "battle of the diamond" which was really a massacre of about 80 half-armed Defenders by the guns of Protestant extremists. The massacre was the culmination of a wave of ethnic cleansing of Catholics from mid-Ulster, and the Defenders activities stemmed from defence, hence the name "Defenders".

Orangemen were only anti-Unionist in the sense that they wanted to maintain Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland and feared it's dilution by direct rule (much in the same way that Stormont was beloved by "Unionists" in 20th century northern Ireland.

There are many examples of supposed blood-curdling oaths in circulation among the Defenders, most were complete fabrications by loyalists to encourage sectarian division. 20:45, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

Was it or was it not part of the oath to "quell the nation of heresy"? John Tuite?


According to one source:

Test of the Orangmen: "I do hereby swear, that I will be true to the king and government, and that I will EXTERMINATE, as far as I am able, the Catholics of Ireland."

Declarations and Tests of United Irishmen: ""We pledge ourselves to endeavor, by all due means, to obtain a complete and radical reform of the representation of the people in Parliament, including Irishmen of every religious persuasion."

The source was a United Irishman, William Sampson (attorney)

rewinn 06:29, 6 May 2006 (UTC)rewinn


English Propaganda increased sectarism[edit]

According to Sean Duffy's "The Concise History Or Ireland", the increase in sectarian tensions between Protestants and Catholics lies more with the English government spreading propaganda trying to turn nationalist Protestants into the oppisite and to split up the growing co-operation between them (the United Irishmen) and the Defenders.

There was no "English" government in 1798! Just as there is no English government now.

Dont let Tony Blair here you say that. Or any other member of the english parliament. Perhaps you could sign your stupid statement so we know who to laugh at?Squad'nLeedah 01:48, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Our unsigned friend above is quite correct Squadnleedah - there is no English government. There hasn't been an English government since at least 1705 or so. --Mal 19:27, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

IRA Project..?[edit]

The Society of United Irishmen is part of the IRA WikiProject..? Didn't the IRA form in the early part of the 20th century, while the United Irishmen formed in the latter part of the 18th century..? That's at least a full century betwixt one and t'other.

Reading the banner of the WikiProject seems to inform me that Irish Nationalism and Irish Republicanism are both descendants of the IRA when, in fact, both Irish Nationalism and Irish Republicanism existed before the IRA and the IRA is therefore a descendant of those two ideologies. --Mal 19:27, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Correct and right! Removed. Jdorney 13:42, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

French war 1793[edit]

I've added the outbreak of war in Feb 1793. That changed things enormously; a lot of moderate support fell away. Those still in the UI had to contend with the military, and that is why UI leaders like Tone had to emigrate for a time. The army's coercion after 1796 were not just against the UI itself, but against the UI as France's local ally on the ground. The Defenders had been busy since 1791 in Louth and Armagh and tended to merge with the UI from 1796.Red Hurley 11:40, 25 March 2007 (UTC)


I shall take it upon myself to clean up this article as it is in a dire state needing citations, expansion, de-biasing and many other things. I've got a plethora of sources on the United Irishmen so shouldn't be tooooo hard... Mabuska (talk) 12:05, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

should there be a mention of the influence of freemaosnry on their ideals? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:22, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

I don't see why not, though maybe more applicable to his own article. Mabuska (talk) 09:59, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Right, I've finally managed to get a lot of work done on this article expanding a lot of information on the organisation that has been left omitted whilst whoever previously worked on it seemed to focus solely on the Catholic equality aspect, which was only one aspect of the society. Some far I've used one main source, however once I'm done with it, I will use the others I have to further bolster the references. Mabuska (talk) 15:30, 28 January 2014 (UTC)