The Irish Rebellion of 1798

8 Dec, 2022 940 History of Europe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the momentum behind rebellion in Ireland in 1798, the people behind the rebellion and the impact over the next few years and after. Amid wider unrest, the United Irishmen set the rebellion on its way, inspired by the French and American revolutionaries and their pursuit of liberty. When it broke out in May the United Irishmen had an estimated two hundred thousand members, Catholic and Protestant, and the prospect of a French invasion fleet to back them. Crucially for the prospects of success, some of those members were British spies who exposed the plans and the military were largely ready - though not in Wexford where the scale of rebellion was much greater. The fighting was initially fierce and brutal and marked with sectarianism but had largely been suppressed by the time the French arrived in August to declare a short-lived republic. The consequences of the rebellion were to be far reaching, not least in the passing of Acts of Union in 1800.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Ian McBride 2 episodes
    Foster Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, University of Oxford
  • Catriona Kennedy 2 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York
  • Liam Chambers No other episodes
    Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in History at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Reading list

  • 1798: A Bicentenary Perspective
    Thomas Bartlett, David Dickson, Daire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (eds) (Four Courts Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster
    Guy Beiner (Oxford University Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • Remembering the Year of the French: Irish Folk History and Social Memory
    Guy Beiner (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • The United Irishmen: Popular Politics in Ulster and Dublin 1701-1798
    Nancy J. Curtin (Clarendon Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • The United Irishmen: Republicanism, Radicalism and Rebellion
    David Dickson, Daire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (eds) (Lilliput Press, 1993) Google Books →
  • Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798
    Tom Dunne (Lilliput Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence
    Marianne Elliot (Liverpool University Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France
    Marianne Elliot (Yale University Press, 1982) Google Books →
  • The Year of the French
    Thomas Flanagan (NYRB Classics, 2004) Google Books →
  • The People's Rising: Wexford, 1798
    Daniel Gahan (Gill & Macmillan, 1995)
  • The Cambridge History of Ireland, vol 3, 1730-1880
    James Kelly, Thomas Bartlett (Cambridge University Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Women of 1798
    Daire Keogh and Nicholas Furlong (eds) (Four Courts Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves
    Ian McBride (Gill & Macmillan, 2009) Google Books →
  • Scripture Politics: Ulster Presbyterians and Irish Radicalism in the Late Eighteen-Century
    Ian McBride (Oxford University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Rebellion in Wicklow, 1798
    Ruan O'Donnell (Irish Academic Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Year of Liberty: The Great Irish Rebellion of 1798
    Thomas Pakenham (Abacus, 2000) Google Books →
  • Political Thought in Ireland, 1776-1798: Republicanism, Patriotism and Radicalism
    Stephen Small (Oxford University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Men of No Property: Irish Radicals and Popular Politics in the Late Eighteenth-Century
    Jim Smyth (Macmillan, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Summer Soldiers: The 1798 Rebellion in Antrim and Down
    A.T.Q. Stewart (Blackstaff Press, 1995) Google Books →
  • The Tree of Liberty: Radicalism, Catholicism and the Construction of Irish Identity, 1760-1830
    Kevin Whelan (Cork University Press, 1996) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 941.5 (Ireland - 18th and 19th centuries)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1798 in Ireland, the momentum behind rebellion was so great that it was a question of when it would happen, not if.