United Irishmen Rebellion ('98 Rising)

Event
Thursday, 24 May, 1798 - Monday, 24 September, 1798

The Society of United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group much influenced by the American and French revolutions, was founded in 1791 and was the main force behind the rising movement against British rule in Ireland. The Society pursued democratic reforms and Catholic emancipation. A founding member, Wolfe Tone (exiled in America), travelled to France and sought an invasion of Ireland to support a rising. The fleet sailed with General Hoche's 14,000 strong invasion force but was defeated not by the Royal Navy, but by the Atlantic's storms off Bantry Bay in December 1796.

The United Irishmen crossed the religious divisions as their members included Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and other Protestant dissenters as well as some from the traditionally ruling Protestant Ascendancy. They were joined in a common cause by the Catholic 'Defenders' - an agrarian resistance movement - even though the government had succeeded in securing the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to rebellion. The rising began in May 1798 and spread across Ireland including to the north east where Presbyterian rebels led by Henry Joy McCracken rose in revolt, but were defeated at the Battle of Ballynahinch. The final defeat for the rebels was the Battle of Vinegar Hill on 21 June 1798.