Readings in Irish History

Each month our Historian provides a reading in Irish History.

December 2020

The Penal Laws were a series of laws that pertained to land ownership,
education and religion and were designed to oppress the Roman Catholics.

The Catholic League was founded in the mid-1700s to seek legal relief from this oppression.

December 3, 1792, a Catholic Convention was held at Tailors Hall in Dublin. The focus of the convention was to abolish all remaining penal laws still in effect in Ireland. A petition was signed on December 8th in Dublin at this convention and presented to the King on 2 Jan 1793. The 5 delegates including John Keogh were graciously received by the King

The convention was one of many ways in which the reform movement helped push for Catholic emancipation.

First, The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791 had relieved Roman Catholics of certain political, educational, and economic disabilities. It admitted Catholics to the practice of law, permitted the exercise of their religion, and the existence of their schools. On the other hand, chapels, schools, officiating priests and teachers were to be registered, assemblies with locked doors, as well as steeples and bells to chapels, were forbidden;
priests were not to wear vestments or celebrate liturgies in the open air;
children of Protestants were not to be admitted to the schools and
monastic orders and endowments of schools and colleges were prohibited.

The Irish Parliament followed up in 1793, with some local provisions such as allowing Catholics to take degrees at Trinity College Dublin.
Catholic schools had already been permitted again by the Irish Act of 1782, subject to the teachers taking the Oath of Allegiance and obtaining a license from the local Protestant Church of Ireland Bishop.