Dungannon Convention, The
DESCRIPTION: "The church of Dungannon is full to the door" with Volunteer warriors. In spite of "English oppression" the volunteers stood ready to protect England from a foreign fleet. At Dungannon the delegates swore "We've suffered too long, we'll suffer no more"
EARLIEST DATE: 2000 (Moylan)
KEYWORDS: England Ireland patriotic political
September 8, 1783 - Irish Volunteer Society Convention in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone (Source: Moylan) (but see the NOTES)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Moylan 5, "The Dungannon Convention" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [469 words]: Moylan p. 1: "On St Patrick's Day, 1778, the first company of Belfast Volunteers was formed in response to the danger of a possible war between Britain and France. The movement spread like wildfire and soon there were companies in all parts of Ireland. At their height they numbered 100,000 members. By the following year they had become politicized and swung their weight behind the so-called Patriot Party, those in favour of legislative independence from the British parliament and the removal of impediments to Irish commerce." - BS
According to Fry/Fry, p. 187, "In February 1782 [Henry] Grattan arranged a convention of some 250 delegates from the Volunteers, who met in the parish church of Dungannon." The result was, in effect, a declaration of parliamentary independence.
Kee, p. 32, relates that "In 1780 Grattan for the first time tried to get the Irish House of Commons to vote an Irish Declaration of Independence. He was then unsuccessful, owing to the Crown's effective control of the majority in Parliament, through the system of patronage. By the end of the following year, however, the Volunteers outside Parliament had become much stronger. They were now said to number eighty thousand men, and in 1782 a convention of democratically elected Volunteer delegates was held at Dungannon, a sort of parliament outside Parliament, backed by potential physical force for the first but by no means the last time in Irish history."
Moody/Martin/Keogh/Kiely, p. 208, describes it this way: "How did the United Irishmen hope to secure reform? Apparently at first they still trusted to persuasion, to the pressure of public opinion. Volunteer corps and political clubs passed resolutions in favour of reform, and early in 1793 Ulster reformers held a representative convention at Dungannon, the delegates pledging their support to parliamentary reform. It was hoped that later a national convention could be held at Athlone. To radicals parliamentary reform was the first step toward a just and efficient administration of Ireland. They looked forward to the abolition of tithes, a reduction in government expenditure, lower taxation, the encouragement of trade[,] and help for parliamentary education."
The pressure was enough that, later that year, the Irish parliament gave in and voted independence unanimously (Kee, p. 33). Under that pressure, the British granted the parliament most of what it asked -- repealing even the infamous Poyning's Law that said the British parliament could override the Irish. (For further details, see the notes to "Ireland's Glory.") There would be more Dungannon Conventions in 1783 and 1793, and eventually in 1905 Bulmer Bobson and Denis McCullough founded the nationalist "Dungannon clubs" (OxfordCompanion, p. 165), but the 1782 edition was the Really Big Deal. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
- Fry/Fry: Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, A History of Ireland, 1988 (I use the 1993 Barnes & Noble edition)
- Kee: Robert Kee, The Most Distressful Country, being volume I of The Green Flag (covering the period prior to 1848), Penguin, 1972
- Moody/Martin/Keogh/Kiely: T. W. Moody, F. X. Martin, and Dermot Keough, with Patrick Kiely, The Course of Irish History, fifth edition, 2011 (page references are to the 2012 paperback edition)
- OxfordCompanion: S. J. Connolly, editor, The Oxford Companion to Irish History, Oxford, 1998
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