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Catholic Association

Catholic Association, 1823–9. Daniel O'Connell's Catholic Association, founded in Ireland in 1823, was one of the most successful pressure groups of the 19th cent. Its object was to persuade or force the British government to grant catholic emancipation, allowing catholics to sit in Parliament. It organized petitions, held monster meetings, collected the ‘catholic rent’ of a penny a month, and was accused of drilling and intimidation. Attempts to suppress the association in 1825 failed, since it merely reconstituted itself. When O'Connell (unable as a catholic to take the oath) was returned to Parliament at the Co. Clare by-election in July 1828, Wellington gave way rather than risk civil war. As a sop to the die-hards, the grant of catholic emancipation was preceded by an Act suppressing the association, but it had already voluntarily dissolved itself, its work done.

J. A. Cannon

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