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Constitutional Nationalism succeeded in achieving its aims whereas revolutionary nationalism failed and cultural nationalism proved to be of little relevance

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Introduction

"Constitutional Nationalism succeeded in achieving its aims whereas revolutionary nationalism failed and cultural nationalism proved to be of little relevance." How far do you agree with this statement in reference to 19th century Ireland? In this answer I am going to discuss the successes and failures of constitutional nationalism, revolutionary nationalism and cultural nationalism in the 19th century in order to compare the impact that they had on Irish society. In particular, I will consider the constitutional nationalists Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell alongside the revolutionary nationalists Robert Emmet, John Mitchel and the Irish Confederation and John O'Mahony & James Stephens, the leaders of the Fenians. Also, with regards to cultural nationalism, I will consider Thomas Davis, the Gaelic League and the GAA. I will consider each nationalist group, specifically with regards to their aims and subsequent achievements. Firstly, I will consider the revolutionary nationalists, who were committed to extreme and violent ,methods to achieve their aims and any failures or indeed successes that these particular nationalists encountered. On of the earliest revolutionary nationalists during this period was Robert Emmet who as a previous member of the United Irishmen wanted specifically to resurrect Wolfe Tone's work, after the failed rebellion of 1798, in order to rid Ireland of British rule. More specifically, Emmet hoped to lead an armed insurrection, seizing key territory in Dublin such as the castle and to establish Irish independence. What's more, Emmet hoped to secure French military support for his uprising and hoped that his rebellion would be welcomed by the people who would rise up to help him. Thus, was Emmet successful in achieving his aims? According to R. Rees the rebellion which took place on the 23rd of July 1803, was a "confusing episode, bordering on chaotic farce." There were major communication problems on the night, for example, due to a failure of the messenger sent to Dwyer's men from Wicklow, they never arrived at all. ...read more.

Middle

O'Connell however, unlike the revolutionaries wasn't prepared to use violence and in his earlier career sought Catholic Emancipation and Catholic reform. O'Connell enjoyed many successes throughout his career such as the establishment of the associations and groups, such as the Catholic Association and the National Repeal Association as a vehicle for gaining authority, support and validity with Oliver MacDonagh referring to such associations as, "a pioneer...of mass constitutional politics and pacific popular democracy." Also, the idea of national subscription fees such as the Repeal Rent and the Catholic Rent in order to secure the support of the masses was a great success for O'Connell. The 1p a month Catholic Rent, for example, was the "transformer of sentimental support into real commitment" for O'Connell according to Oliver MacDonagh which was a success in itself when you consider the fact that between January and March 1825, � 9263 was collected as a result of the rent. What's more, the use of mass public meetings and 'Monster meetings' in order to campaign for Catholic Emancipation and repeal of the Act of Union was a huge success as O'Connell often addressed the open air meetings himself with Adelman and Pearce remarking that "his conversational style of oratory enabled him to build up a rapport with the Catholic masses." The meetings were a vehicle for mass support and it is estimated that 3-4 million attended such Monster Meetings in 1843. The most monumental success of O'Connell was his achievement of the Catholic Emancipation Bill in 1829 due to another of his successful methods, electioneering, particularly with regards to the County-Clare by-election which he won in July 1828. Also, O'Cennell managed to scure limited reforms for Ireland due to Whig-O'Connellite alliance such as the appointement of Thomas Drummond as Under Secretary in 1835 and the Constabulary Bill, the Judiciary Bill and to an extent the Tithe Rent Charge Act. However, despite O' Connell's many successes, there were also a number of failures that can be attributed to Daniel O'Connell such ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, the other cultural nationalist group whose successes and failures I wish to consider is the Gaelic Athletic Association founded by Michal Cusack. His main concern was the spread of so called 'foreign games' such as rugby and hockey at the expense of Irish games. Thus the GAA aimed to promote Irish sports and get English sports banned and maintained strong links with the Catholic Church. In their aims it would appear the GAA were very successful as there was a ban on all English games and it was decided that the GAA should not host foreign games. It was massively popular with the Irish not even allowed to watch English sports and there was an upsurge in popularity for native games. Michael Cusack himself claimed that the GAA spread across Ireland like a "Prairie Fire." However, in reference to the question, given the very limited agenda of the GAA, and the lack of political drive it would be a fair assumption to say it 'lacked relevance.' Thus, to conclude I would say that whilst there were many successes for such constitutional nationalists such as O'Connell and Parnell, there were also failures and so given that both of their ultimate aims, of 'Independence for Ireland' didn't come to fruition it would be impossible for me to say that constitutional nationalists succeeded in achieving their aims in totality. Similarly, with regards to revolutionary nationalist groups, such as Emmet, Mitchel & the Confederation, and the Fenians, despite their many failings they also enjoyed successes and so again their experiences were mixed but by no means were the revolutionary nationalists a complete failure. Also, with regards to the cultural nationalists, the GAA, the Gaelic League and Young Ireland, their successes are very apparent however given their limited appeal it might be a fair conclusion to say they lacked relevance in a wider political sense. Hence, to a certain extent I agree with the statement however in many senses there were both successes and failure for cultural, revolutionary and constitutional nationalists alike. ...read more.

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