Catholic emancipation, Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) and the Catholic Association in print: Satirical Printmaking in Dublin in the late 1820s
In the early nineteenth century, Catholic emancipation was prominent in visual, material, literary and pamphlet cultures on both sides of the Irish Channel. Never before within living memory had debates about toleration and the relationship between temporal and spiritual authority taken place on such a wide-reaching scale. By 13 April 1829 an Act of Parliament to grant Roman Catholics civil liberty was given Royal Assent, revoking centuries-old laws that had prevented non-Anglicans from holding public office following the Glorious Revolution (1688). This paper will analyse a hitherto overlooked corpus of satirical prints on the topic of Catholic relief published in Dublin in 1828-9 by the prolific Holbrooke and Son (based at 15 Anglesea Street). In the prints, the Catholic Association (which Daniel O’Connell had co-founded in Ireland in 1823 with Richard Lalor Sheil (1791-1851) to campaign for Catholic relief) is constructed negatively as an alternative government in Ireland, exerting unprecedented influence over the large number of its peasant followers in the wake of O’Connell’s by-election victory at County Clare in July 1828 which had meant he, a Roman Catholic, had been elected as a Member of Parliament. Other prints depict the resultant fears of civil war in Ireland if O’Connell was denied his Parliamentary seat. This paper will establish that the prints under consideration were published in Dublin for an audience in the city and beyond, and were informed by news at home in the metropolis, from the provinces, and in London as a result of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary activity, and that the same metropolitan elite were producing and purchasing prints in Dublin as they were in London.