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A Revolutionary Atlantic? Irish Volunteers and American Patriots

A Revolutionary Atlantic? Irish Volunteers and American Patriots

A Revolutionary Atlantic? Irish Volunteers and American Patriots

By Annie Morrisette

On November 4, 1779, Irish men and women gathered at College Green in Dublin to celebrate the birthday of King William III.  The event was traditionally commemorated with parades, illuminations, speeches, and toasts; this year, the celebration featured a demonstration by the newly formed Irish Volunteer militia. The Volunteers, raised to take the place of British forces engaged with colonial rebels in North America, marched, fired weapons, and hung signs expressing radical political demands on William’s statue at College Green.  The demonstrations of November fourth represented the beginning of the Irish Volunteers’ significant role in the struggle for Irish political rights within the British Empire between 1779 and 1785. During this period, Volunteers supported radical Irish politicians to win trade concessions, as well as a degree of legislative independence, from the British Parliament and King George III. The Irish revolutionary struggle must be understood within the context of the American Revolution. As many historians have documented, the Irish revolutionaries were certainly influenced by the example of the Americans, and the interest was not one-sided. The portrayal of the Irish Volunteer movement in Massachusetts newspapers from 1780 to 1785 illuminates the unity of purpose revolutionaries across the Atlantic felt as free citizens of the world. Read More.

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