Augustan Ireland: From the Georges to the Union 1700 to 1801

A century of peace and economic development followed two violent centuries. New towns, ports and canals sprang up along with magnificent country houses. However, being ‘Anglo-Irish’ did not preclude promoting Irish interests or opposition to British ones, led by Ascendancy Patriots. American and French Revolutions had their effects in Ireland, too, and the ‘Protestant Century’ ended in national, non-sectarian rebellion.


  • R F Foster, Oxford History of Ireland, Oxford (1989)
  • R F Foster, Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, Oxford (1989)
  • T W Moody and F X Martin eds, The Course of Irish History, 3rd edn, Dublin, Mercier (2000)


  • Ireland around 1700: After the Jacobite Wars and Williamite Settlements, Protestant domination is cemented by the ‘Penal Laws’ against Catholics. Consider the nature of ‘Anglo-Irish Ascendancy’, with government and land ownership in the hands of a minority, and its impact on politics and economics. Protestants developed a strong sense of Irish nationhood, including their right to oppose British dominance of government, politics and economics.
  • Politics and Ascendancy (1700-1782): The way the Protestant State operated, its parliamentary representation and electoral arrangements, its executive and bureaucracy, illustrates several truths about the Ascendancy—its garrison character, its preference for English models for institutions, and its susceptibility to manipulation. A blossoming of Irish literature in English entertained and edified this class.
  • Economic Realities (1700-1782): Economic management was dominated by London; Irish interests subordinated to English. Peace gave the economy a chance, but it remained hamstrung in numerous ways. Capital investment in infrastructure only picked up mid-century and did not survive its end. Landed estates formed the primary basis of wealth; extravagance misapplied their riches. Manufacturing industry was contained to the north-east corner. Emigration became commonplace.
  • Grattan’s Parliament (1782-1800): Liberals like Henry Grattan agitated for greater Irish independence of English direction and won their point by 1782. Political nationalism was reinforced by the politicisation of the Ascendancy’s Volunteer Corps. However, it proved pyrrhic in the face of entrenched interests, Irish and English. Reaction against the failure to realise genuine reforms remained small and, in the event, ineffectual.
  • Reform and Rebellion (1791-1798): Outside the Irish Parliament, numerous interests vied for public attention. A Catholic Association, as well as Presbyterians, Radicals, Volunteers and vigilante groups merged in the Society of United Irishmen to posit a new approach – all-embracing, non-sectarian nationalism; and, thus, a new vision for Ireland. Suppressed, the Society promoted the Great Irish rebellion of 1798.
  • Ireland in 1800 – Review and Prospect: The backlash of revived sectarianism and political conservatism produced severe repression of all dissent. The economy faltered as population growth accelerated. Ireland suffered an identity crisis as the meaning of the term ‘Irish nation’ was debated once more.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Reconstruct the course of one century in historic Ireland.
  2. Compare and contrast various competing interests, with special reference to the ownership and occupation of the land.
  3. Focus on religion, ethnicity and economics in Ireland’s governance over 100 years.
$192 Limited / $173

<p>A century of peace and economic development followed two violent centuries. New towns, ports and canals sprang up along with magnificent country houses. However, being ‘Anglo-Irish’ did not

29 Jan
This course was originally scheduled to start in October 2019. It has been postponed until Summer 2020.

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