Topic: Research the politics of Joyce's Ireland and compare and contrast them to our political system today. Compare and contrast the colonial America's relations with Great Britain to Ireland's relationship with England. How is Ireland's current political state similar to that described in Dubliners? How is Ireland's current relationship with England related to the political climate of Joyce's Dublin?

The Irish Question**

Ms. Cartwright, periods 2 and 4

The Irish Question was posed by the British in terms of how to best control Ireland, their colony. The Irish engaged in several bloody uprisings lead by the Fenians after the famine from 1845-1851, which resulted in the deaths of 2 million Irish people. The British responded to this violence with a legislative move to placate the Irish people: the Land Act in 1868, which partially restored power to land owners. However, this legislation only enhanced Irish nationalism and lead to the founding of the Home Rule movement by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1870. The Home Rule movement demanded that Ireland be ruled by the Irish people and not treated as a colony of Britain.


In large part, the relationship between the British and their Irish colony and the American colonies were similar: in both cases, the British enforced laws that favored them and sought to maintain their control. Their primary interets in both colonies was financial and ignored the best interests of the colonists. In both Ireland and the American colonies, the British legislation served as a catalyst to action: the Tea tax in Boston and the Land Act in Ireland spurred political movements.

In Joyce's Dubliners, the Irish people look to their long-dead heores and the dashed hopes of Home Rule: a dead and embarassed Charles Stewart Parnell, their pride in their Gaelic culture, and familial and community cultures with regrads to the question of Home Rule and unionists.

Unionists, however, maintainted that Ireland was best served by remaining part of the United Kingdom. Both sides of the Home Rule Movement: the Protestants' Ulster Volunteer Force and the nationalists' Irish Volunteers, built private armies, much like the private armies amassed in the American colonies prior to the Revoluntionary War. Due to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, civil war in Ireland was avoided.

In 1921, the six predominately Protestant counties of Ireland were sectioned off into Northern Ireland and remained a part of England; the rest of Ireland existed as an Irish Free State and had dominion over itself, but not Commonwealth status. Violence errupted in Northern Ireland as lead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Today, Northern Ireland still exists as a separate entity: it remains part under the jurisdiciton of the United Kingdom. As described in Joyce's Dubliners, there still exists a strong Irish Nationalist movement and a strong pride in Irish heritage and past Irish heroes. In the 1990s, violence again became a central part of the Irish demand for independence as lead by the IRA and Sein Fein movements. Since the signing of the Good Friday agreement in 1998, most of the armed conflict in Ireland has come to a halt.

For further information on the history leading up to violence in Northern Ireland, see this BBC link. ***