Robert Kee – A Television History of Ireland – Episode 3 `Two Nations 1700-1845`

Nora Connolly 

© Image The Library of Congress photostream

Tis the most distressful country that ever yet was seen (John McCormack)

In a broad sweep Kee examines Irish nationalist development up to the Act of Union (1801) the episode concludes with the famine. The two nations described are identifiable by religious affiliation, the largest Catholic and by virtue of the Penal Laws a discriminated group. While religious observance for Catholics was difficult, it was grudgingly accepted by the authorities (though in reduced circumstances). The quid pro quo at the heart of this tacit arrangement was recognition that Catholic civil rights were completely curtailed. Catholics were not permitted to hold political office, disqualified from voting and as episode three illustrates, severe limitations were imposed on land ownership including the transfer of land through inheritance. The Presbyterian Protestant dissenter`s in the North (not identified as a separate group by Kee), were also penalised, e.g. the requirement of paying tithes to the Anglican Church. These grievances would be a unifying factor, in the formation of an embryonic Irish Republican movement. Read more of this post

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