Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Georgian Houses, Irish Pride

Speer-Sims, Taylor
August 21, 2011

Georgian Houses,

Irish Pride


Ireland certainly has seen a tumultuous last couple of centuries. The last few decades have been a time of prosperity that has brought out the best in Irish nationalism. This includes celebrating the best, and worst, times that the nation has lived through. The worst times, according to many, was the 18th century when the visibility of the British oppression was the most grand. The hatred of the British and their oppressiveness not only lived and breathed during that century, it also continued through most of the 20th century. The fuel that fed the fire of every Irishman through these times of oppression was very essence that had brought the Georgian mansion in Dublin to the brink of extinction then to be reinvented and cherished as an Irish accomplishment. The country decided that it was the Irish craftsman that did the building. So therefore, Irish buildings they are! The oppressive British aristocrats moved in and built the large 18th century mansions in Dublin, Ireland. The current value and preservation of the elite Georgian manors is a direct result of the Irish Nationalism.

            William the Conqueror was not only the conqueror of England, he and his Norman knights conquered Ireland as well (Wood, 39). This set off a chain of events of national pride in the Irish. The Irish aristocracy was told to either follow King William I, or to die. Many decided that it would be better to live than to not follow such a strong king. Those that did not follow William, The Bastard, did find that someone who was true to the king easily replaced their position in society. They also found that their lives were indeed in peril (Gravett, chapter 3, page 1). Those that were of average, or slave stock, did not have to worry about their positions in society. They were the ones that openly opposed the British monarchy.

            The general population continued to fight against the tyranny of the English. The blood of the Irish elite had become intermingled with that of England’s nobility due to intermarriage, so they thought themselves more English than Irish. Because of this, the nobility created an edict in 1361 banning anyone of pure Irish heritage from having positions of office including church, military or political positions. It also included a ban on having a full blood Irishman as a servant to an Englishman. The British fervor continued to charge the elite into issuing an additional edict five years later that forbade intermingled marriages as well as using the Irish language, custom or law a crime (Ancestry.com).

            The separation of class and of nationality continued as Henry the VIII came to the throne and created the Anglican Church in the 16th century (Phillips 104-105). The Nobility wanted to stay in the good graces of the king and so most changed religions. The general population remained true to their Catholic religion. This separated the ordinary person from the aristocrats even further. Religious warfare began, and it continued to fuel the fire of Irish nationalism (Hunt et al. 475-486 ).

            As the war of religion fermented and grew, the separation of those British and the Irish grew as well. For over a hundred years the Catholic Irish fought the Protestant British in mind, body and spirit. In 1649, Oliver Cromwell entered Ireland with a flourish. He confiscated land and divided it all amongst his English soldiers. Catholic landowners were exiled, and over 60,000 Catholic Irish were sent to Barbados as slaves (Ancestry.com).

            The Irish people were decimated, but it only fueled their hatred for the English and enlarged their Irish pride. By the early 18th century, Catholics held only 7% of Irish land (Ancestry.com). The English Revolution did not help the Irish in the least. The new King, William of Orange, was a foreigner who had little to do with England, much less Ireland (Phillips, 164-167). He allowed the Parliament to run things most of the time, letting the wolf rule the sheep. They put their power in full effect and created a law that disallowed anyone of the Catholic faith to either rule the kingdom as sovereign, or to be a Member of Parliament (Hamilton, 8).

            As more British moved into Ireland, especially Dublin, they started building their own types of housing. The Brits brought their fashions from London with them to their new land, this included housing which consisted of floor plans, exterior and interior design as well as fa├žade style. The most popular housing style in London at the time was the Georgian (Baker, 33). These mansions were built using the architects of England, but the labor of the locals (Lewin, 2008). The Irish were allowed to build the houses, just not own them (Ancestry.com).

            The Irish were fed up with the self-righteous attitude of the English and created their own Parliament in 1782. This led to a rebellion in 1798 where the British monarchy thrashed the Irish patriots. The uprising was a direct result of the century of oppression that the British held over the Irish (1798 Rebellion). Even though this rebellion ended, others continued until 1998 (Ancestry.com). The Irish believed that they had the right to be self-governing and continued throughout the centuries by showing their nationalism to the world by using the IRA as their voice against the oppressive British rule (Irish Republican Army).

            Finally, a peace treaty was signed after hundreds of years of Irish-British war. The Irish used their voices loudly and were finally heard, but they were now on their own to find their own way. Dublin was their capital and they wanted to make sure that it looked like it was a governmental city worthy of a great nation. The locals began tearing down everything that reminded them of British rule. Many of the huge Georgian mansions were destroyed to make way for modern buildings. People from all over the world moved to Dublin to make use of their great tax system. Foreigners decided to rent in the old Georgian houses, instead of the new office buildings. Local people noticed how the newcomers flocked to the Georgian areas and it became a fad for the fashionable to move there. The Doctors and Lawyers wanted to impress their clients with their address, so they were now moving their offices into the mansions (Georgians). Many Irish were now trying to save the old Georgians instead of tearing them down using the argument that even though a Brit owned them, an Irishman built them! (Joyce, 2009)

                       Some may say that the new fad of saving the Georgian houses is because of pure economics. They are now fashionable, and so they are worth more. When more people move to an area, they bring money with them, which increases the income of the locals. Saving a popular location has nothing to do with nationalism, but everything to do with the almighty dollar, or in this case the euro. This could certainly be partially true; however, why would Irish people move into the area? They moved into the Georgian mansions because they are proud of their address! Pride and nationalism has been the soul of every Irishmen for centuries, and it did not stop with an influx of foreigners.

It is obvious to everyone throughout the world that the Irish people have a strong sense of nationality. Until recently, there were conflicts aired on television showing exactly how much effort the Irish have put into their insistence that they will be heard as a people. There have been many centuries of British overlords not allowing any type of Irish Nationalism. Because of that, anything English has been destroyed. Now, that same sense of Irish pride has kept the Georgian houses in Dublin from being destroyed, and have become a popular place for doctors and lawyers to house their offices. These mansions are now a public cause. The Georgian houses in Ireland are protected; indeed they are popular because the Irish national pride has decided that they are actually an Irish treasure.

Originally written for class at American Military University.

Works Cited:

“A Timeline of Irish History”. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fianna/history/

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“The 1798 Rebellion”. http://struggle.ws/rbr/rbr4_1798.html. 2000. Web.

August 20, 2011

Wood, Harriet. The Battle of Hastings: The Fall of Anglo-Saxon England. London:

Atlantic Books, 2008. Print.

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