Irish Nationalism: The Fight for Self-Government
Since the late twentieth century, Ireland has been subject to varying types of English rule. There has been much debate on the degree of English rule in Ireland, but the call for a united Ireland was very popular among many Irishmen. Nationalistic feelings in Ireland saw a steady growth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with many different movements looking to achieve Irish self-government. These nationalistic movements can be categorized into three groups: constitutional, revolutionary, and cultural nationalism. Whether by politics, violence, or education, Irish nationalistic groups each had their own ideas on how to achieve independence from English rule. Each group had its strengths, as well as its weaknesses that contributed to the overall success of the nationalistic movements. Constitutional nationalism, which encompassed nationalism through political forces, mainly involved the vision of Home Rule. Home Rule was the idea of having an Irish parliament to control domestic matters while Britain controlled external Irish affairs. The face for the Home Rule movement was Charles Stewart Parnell, a political leader and Irish landlord. Parnell is most commonly known as the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. He turned the Home Rule movement into a major political force dominating legislation, and proving it to be a vast encompassing party by gaining the widest possible support. Parnell was deemed the “Uncrowned King of Ireland”, possessing enormous political skills leading him to be extremely successful in the field of practical politics. However, political scandals led his leadership to be called into question and put his whole political career on the line. Charles Parnell’s skills led him to many accomplishments in politics. Parnell was elected president of the Irish National Land League in 1879 which campaigned for land reform, including the reduction of tenants' rents during a time of economic disaster. He not only raised an enormous amount of funding for famine relief during a trip to America, but Parnell also used his position as president to gain the support of tenant farmers in his fight for Home Rule. The support that came from the Land Movement and its mass appeal aided Parnell in bringing the Home Rule party under the wing of the movement. One of Parnell’s greatest accomplishments was the conversion of William Gladstone and the Liberals to Home Rule. During the election of 1885 the Conservative party used Parnell in order to gain an electoral advantage. This tactic succeeded giving them the majority of seats in Parliament and ultimately leading to the Liberals under Gladstone coming to power with Home Rule party. Although Parnell enjoyed great success as the leader of the Home Rule party and as a notable force in the fight for domestic Irish self-government, his weaknesses limited the extent to which his political skills could carry him. Parnell accomplished a great amount in the fight for Home Rule, but ultimately he failed to achieve it. The reason he was unsuccessful was due to his greatest weakness, the scandal with Katherine O’Shea. During the time Parnell was elected leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party he began a relationship with Katherine O’Shea, wife of Captain William O’Shea. His fall from power occurred when Captain O’Shea filed for a divorce naming Parnell as the guilty party. “It was therefore Captain O’Shea and the divorce case which brought down Parnell”. Although many leading politicians had known about Parnell and O’Shea’s affair for some time, it was when Parnell did not challenge Captain O’Shea’s allegations that shocked the public. This caused Parnell to be revealed as an adulterer and discredited him as a leader. Gladstone was forced to distance himself from Parnell due to the fact that the Liberals had no chance of winning the next election with ties to Parnell. Without the support of Gladstone,...
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