United Irish Society,Irish political organization. It was founded at Belfast in 1791 by Theobald Wolfe ToneTone, Theobald Wolfe,
1763–98, Irish revolutionary. He was called to the bar in 1789 but soon turned his attention to politics. Inspired by the example of the French Revolution, he helped found (1791) the United Irish Society (see United Irishmen), which worked to unite
..... Click the link for more information. . Disgruntled by the use of English patronage to control Irish politics, the organization aimed at legislative reform "founded on the principles of civil, political, and religious liberty." Yet there was, from the outset, an undercurrent of revolutionary striving toward independence that was encouraged by the progress of the French Revolution. Tone, with James Napper TandyTandy, James Napper,
1740–1803, Irish revolutionary. Originally a small tradesman in Dublin, he gained attention by his attacks on municipal corruption and his proposal to boycott English goods as a reprisal for the restrictions placed on Irish commerce.
..... Click the link for more information. , started a branch at Dublin; this became the center of the movement, which spread rapidly throughout Ireland. The society was suppressed in 1794 and became a secret revolutionary organization. Tone was exiled and went to France to request aid. A French force did attempt an invasion in 1796, but it was wrecked off the southwest coast of Ireland. The British government waged a campaign of brutal repression in Ulster in an attempt, largely successful, to break up the cohesive center of the movement. In Mar., 1798, several southern leaders were arrested, and when rebellion did break out in May, it was in isolated, sporadic bursts. The only appreciable success was in Co. Wexford, but the rebels there were defeated in the battle of Vinegar Hill, June 21. Two months later a small French force landed, but it received almost no support and surrendered. A larger invasion force, led by Tone, was intercepted by the British navy, and Tone was captured. The force of the movement was spent, and it was not revived.
See studies by R. R. Madden (1858–60), R. Jacob (1937), and T. Pakenham (1969).
a society of Irish bourgeois revolutionaries that existed from 1791 to 1798. Founded in Belfast.
Republican-democrats, such as T. Wolfe Tone, E. Fitzgerald, and T. Emmet, were the strongest element in the United Irishmen. They set forth a program of struggle for an independent Irish republic and for the abolition of the class and feudal privileges of the landlords and the Anglican Church. In 1794, as the result of repression, the organization went underground. It soon became the underground center for the preparation of an armed uprising against English domination. However, not long before the rebellion of 1798 the leaders of the United Irishmen were arrested. This deprived the insurgents of a centralized leadership.