Illustration of a Political Campaign: Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook

Printed card with illustrations of a crowned harp, wolfhound, round tower, and shamrocks, and the words 'God save the Queen,' and 'Erin go Bragh,' 'The man who commits a crime gives strength to the enemy.' and'Peace, Law, Order. Temperance, Firmness, Unity.'
Symbols and slogans on a Loyal National Repeal Association membership card, 1847-1848, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 1, folder 3.

The Loyal National Repeal Association was founded in 1841 by Irish politician Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), the leader of the movement for the repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. O’Connell fostered mass participation in the association at local and national levels through meetings, speeches, establishment of Repeal “reading rooms,” and fundraising and mobilization of the electorate.

A poster with an illustration of the former Parliament House in Dublin with the words 'It was and shall be' under a sunburst with the year 1782, and the phrase 'God Save the Queen,' A detailed list of rules follows
Detail of broadside “Rules for the Establishment of Repeal Reading Rooms,” undated, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 2, folder 1.

O’Connell declared 1843 “Repeal Year” and began a series of large-scale public demonstrations, popularly referred to as “monster meetings.” The British Government banned a critical meeting at Clontarf, near Dublin, in October 1843, and later arrested and imprisoned O’Connell and colleagues for sedition. Upon release the following year, O’Connell tried to revive the Repeal campaign, claiming he would achieve repeal in only six months. When this promise was not kept, his power began to diminish. By 1846 the organization had lost political influence.

Printed card with illustrations of a harp in a sunburst over a crown, shield, and sword on the ground
Membership card, Volunteers of 1782 Revived, 1844, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 1, folder 4.

Many items in the collection include the name of Thomas Mathew Ray (1801-1881), the engineer of the grass roots repeal campaign. Assembled as a scrapbook, the Association’s ephemeral documents (tickets, certificates, and membership cards) are now keepsakes. Through their chronological placement, the material can be viewed as one timeline of the Loyal National Repeal Association. The scrapbook was disassembled for conservation reasons, but copies of its pages were made and are included in the collection.

Printed certificate with illustrations of a seated queen and king, a child standing next to them, facing a seated bard with a harp, and a wolfhound, with the phrase 'Erin go Bragh'
Detail of a Repeal Warden certificate, 1843, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 2, folder 1

The material illustrates the symbols of Ireland and Irish nationalism that were utilized by the Repeal movement: the shamrock, crowned harp, sunburst, wolfhound, round tower, and others. The loyalty of the organization to Great Britain is represented with the inclusion of the statement “God save the Queen.” 

Printed in green ink, illustrations on the card include a shamrocks with the words 'Disenter' 'Catholic' and 'Protestant' and the motto 'Quis Seperabit', the former Parliament Building in Dublin under a sunburst with the year '1782' and the phrases 'It was and shall be,' 'God save the Queen'
Using the former Parliament House in Dublin as a symbol of future success, Loyal National Repeal Association membership card, 1847/1848, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 1, folder 3.

Those interested in political movements or Irish history, events or figures can see the whole collection by visiting Burns Library, or contacting us for information.

—Shelley Barber, ​Reference & Archives Specialist, John J. Burns Library

Sources: 

Boase, Frederic. Modern English Biography, Vol. 3. London: Frank Cass, 1965. 

Connolly, S.J., ed. Oxford Companion to Irish History, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 

Crone, John S., ed. Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography. Dublin: The Talbot Press, 1937.

Davis, Richard P. “Ray, Thomas Mathew (1801–1881), political organizer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 10 Nov. 2020. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-23205.

Geoghegan, Patrick M. Liberator: The Life and Death of Daniel O’Connell, 1830-1847. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2010.

Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty, eds. A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800, 2nd edition. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 2003.

Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS.2007.019, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Morris, Ewan. Our Own Devices: National Symbols And Political Conflict In Twentieth-century Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 2005.

For a closer look at Burns Library resources which aid in the study of the Irish historical events mentioned here, we recommend Sadie Sunderland-Rhoads’ series of Burns Blog posts: “The Act of Union, 1800” and “Catholic Emancipation.”

This entry was posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Irish Studies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s