Irish Rebellion of 1798 Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Corrie Boone

Corrie holds master's in elementary education, taught elementary ESL in the public schools for 5 years, and recently was teaching EFL abroad.

After watching the American and French revolutions, the Irish decided they wanted freedom too. However, freedom never comes easy. Let's learn about the Rebellion of 1798, their first attempt at freedom.

The Rebellion of 1798

The 1700s was a time a revolution for many around the world. The Americans had fought for and gained independence from English rule. The French had overthrown their king, demanding fairer treatment of their citizens. Their revolution went so well they even offered to help other countries wanting to do the same.

Ireland, however, was still ruled and controlled by the King of England. Ireland had its own parliament (their form of government), but they could only pass laws the king agreed with. This also led to religious discrimination against the Irish.

A large portion of the Irish population was Catholic, as they still are today, but the king was Protestant. Because of this, Catholics were discriminated against by the English monarchy. They weren't allowed to attend university or hold a seat in Parliament.

The revolutions and demands for freedom in other countries, combined with the ongoing, intense religious discrimination, gave the Irish the idea and the confidence to attempt their own revolution. Let's learn more about the specific events leading up to and during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

One of the many battles of the rebellion of 1798.

The United Irishmen

In 1791, a group called the United Irishmen was formed. They were a peaceful group seeking equality for the citizens of Ireland. At first, they sought parliamentary changes, but later wanted a separate government from England. They sought help from the French, but after a war started between England and France in 1793, it was illegal to accept France's help. The British government banned the United Irishmen and arrested many of them the next year.

A few years later, the British army began to fear the United Irishmen were forming an uprising again. They again imprisoned many of the leaders. To further break them down, more soldiers were brought in from Germany, and regular citizens were forced to join militia groups fighting against the United Irishmen. They tortured people, burned houses, and stole property from people suspected of supporting the rebellion. This awful treatment led more and more people to join the rebellion.

The official seal, like a symbol, of the United Irishmen.

The Rebellion

The rebellion officially began in May 1798. In March that year, sixteen leaders of the United Irishmen had been arrested. Then in May, another important leader of the rebellion was attacked and died. The rebels had a weapon called a pike (a sharp, long stick) to fight with, but it was no match for the guns the British army had. This put them at a severe disadvantage.

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