Past Questions


(i) Mention two causes of the American War of Independence. (2)
(ii) Give two reasons why the Americans defeated the British during the War of Independence. (2)
(iii) Explain the influence of the American Revolution on events in France during the late
eighteenth century. (6)
(iv) Write an account of two of the following:
(a) The “Reign of Terror” during the French Revolution.
(b) The consequences of the French Revolution.
(c) The main events during the 1798 Rebellion.
(d) The results of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland.      (2×10)


History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 12:26 am Comments (0)
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Past Questions



The execution of French king Louis XVI (London Times, 25th January, 1793)
About half past nine, the king arrived at the place of execution. Louis mounted the scaffold calmly, the trumpets sounding and drums beating during the whole time. He made a sign of wishing to speak to the multitude, the drums ceased, and Louis spoke these few words. I die innocent; I pardon my enemies. His executioners then laid hold of him and, an instant after, his head was separated from his body.
Since the king’s execution, a general consternation has prevailed throughout Paris; the Sans Culottes are the only persons that rejoice. The honest citizens, safe within their houses, could not suppress their heartfelt grief, and mourned in private with their families the murder of their much loved Sovereign. The Republican tyrants of France have murdered their king without even the shadow of justice, and of course they cannot expect friendship with any civilised part of the world. The vengeance of Europe will now rapidly fall on them.

Wolfe Tone and the French attempt to land at Bantry Bay, December 1796.

Extract from a speech by Wolfe Tone, 1798:
From my earliest youth, I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain, as the curse of the Irish nation; felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free or happy. I determined to apply all the powers, which my individual efforts could move, in order to separate the two countries. That Ireland was not able, of herself, to throw off the yoke, I knew. I therefore sought for aid, wherever it was to be found. Under the flag of the French Republic, I sought to save and liberate my own country.

A. Source D
(i) ‘The king met his death bravely’
Give one piece of evidence from the newspaper article to support this view. (2)
(ii) According to the article, who were the only persons to rejoice following the king’s
execution? (2)
(iii) Was the writer a supporter or an opponent of the king’s execution?
Give one piece of evidence from the source to explain your answer. (5)
B. Source E and Source F
(i) Why did the fleet sent by the French in 1796, shown in Source E, fail to land? (2)
(ii) In source F, what does Wolfe Tone consider to be the ‘curse of the Irish Nation’? (3)
(iii) Give two reasons why Wolfe Tone sought military help from the French. (4)

C. Write an account of one of the following topics:
(i) Causes of the American War of Independence.
(ii) The Reign of Terror in France, September 1793 to July 1794.
(iii) Reasons for the failure of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland.           (12)



Source D
A picture of the Boston Massacre 1770 (engraving by Paul Revere).

Source E
A political cartoon from 1789 called “The Third Estate Awakens.”

An extract from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
“Therefore the National Assembly recognises and proclaims the following rights of man and
of the citizen:
Men are born free and equal in rights.
The purpose of all political associations is the preservation of the natural rights of man. These rights are: liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression. Liberty consists in being able to do whatever does not harm others. No man ought to be uneasy about his opinions, even his religious beliefs, provided that this actions do not interfere with the public order established by law. The free communication of thought and opinion is one of the most precious rights of man: every citizen can therefore talk, write and publish freely.”

A. Study source D which is an engraving by Paul Revere of the Boston Massacre.
(i) Do you think that the artist was a supporter or an opponent of British rule in America?
Give one reason to support your answer. (2)
(ii) Apart from the Boston Massacre, give two reasons why the American colonies
revolted against British rule in 1775. (4)
B. Source E is a political cartoon from France at the time of the French Revolution called “the
Third Estate Awakens.”

Source F is an extract from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was
passed by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789.
(i) In the cartoon, why do you think the nobleman and the priest look afraid? (2)
(ii) In Source F, what are the “natural rights of man”? (2)
(iii) From the Declaration, identify two freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of France? (2)
(iv) The Declaration was influenced by the ideas of Enlightenment writers. Name one famous Enlightenment writer. (4)

C. (i) Write an account of one of the following:
(a) The impact of the American War of Independence on France.
(b) The influence of the French Revolution on Ireland.
(c) The consequences of the unsuccessful rebellion of 1798, in Ireland.      (14)


History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.


These are some of the short answer questions that have come up over the last few years:

Ordinary Level

  1. Explain one of the following terms from the Age of Revolution: Boston Tea Party; Guillotine; United Irishmen.
  2. In relation to one of the revolutions in America or France or Ireland in the eighteenth century, name a leader of that revolution and an event associated with that revolution.
  3. In relation to one of the revolutions in America or France or Ireland in the eighteenth century, name a leader of that revolution and one of his aims.
  4. Put the following events in the correct order. Please start with the earliest: The French Revolution; The 1798 Rebellion; The American War of Independence.

Higher Level

  1. Give two causes of the American Revolution
  2. What change came about as a result of the Act of Union 1801?
  3. Choose one of the revolutions (America or France or Ireland) and give two causes of that revolution.
  4. Which county was the scene of the most intense rebel activity during the 1798 rising?
  5. What was the Reign of Terror in France in the 1790s?
  6. Name two effects of the American War of Independence on either Ireland or France.
  7. Give two reasons why the Americans revolted against Britain in 1775.
  8. Give two reasons why there was a rebellion in Ireland in 1798.


History@ Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Fr. John Murphy

This content was created/compiled by Niamh McDonald.

In Brief:

Fr. John Murphy was a Catholic priest, born in Tincurry, Co. Wexford, who went on to become one of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion in his native county. Not long after the rebels were defeated at the battle of Vinegar Hill, he was captured by  British forces. Both he and fellow rebel leader Bagenal Harvey were hanged and then beheaded, before their heads were put on spikes in Wexford town.


More Information:

Before the Rising

Father John Murphy was born in Tincurry, Co.Wexford and was the youngest son of Thomas and Johanna Murphy. He was described as handsome, well built, extremely intelligent and having great strength and agility. He played handball and was called one of the greatest players. He spoke Irish, English, Spanish, Latin and Greek

He was inspired by the local parish priest Dr. Andrew Cassin. In 1772 he was ordained, then went to study further in Spain, as seminaries were still prohibited by Penal laws.

Fr.Murphy returned home to Boolavogue (also known as Kilcormac). He stayed in the house of a tenant farmers family, the Donohues.

Donohue House on left

Bishop Sweetfield (who ordained him) was succeeded by Bishop Caulfield who was known as a government man and ordered the people of his diocese to surrender their weapons and pledge loyalty to George the third. Fr.Murphy originally was against rebellion and urged his parishioners to follow his orders and he with 756 other people took an oath that they weren’t part of the United Irishmen.

How it started

When parishioners saw Yeomen (militia who supported the British crown) light the cabin of a suspect rebel on fire and say they were going to raid Boolavogue, they were outraged. Armed with one gun and a few pikes, Fr.Murphy and thirty local men ambushed the yeomen, while the Lieutenant was setting more houses on fire. When the rebels killed the lieutenant and another yeoman, the rest of Fr.Murphy’s army fled.

The Wexford Rising had begun.

Terror and Oulart Hill

On the 27 May 1798, while Fr. Murphy and some local men robbed a close by arms depot, the redcoats burned down Fr. Murphy’s chapel. The British militia began to burn houses and kill suspects. People fled in terror and headed to high ground, and that is why a crowd had gathered on Oulart Hill. Fr.Murphy spotted a military column and planned an ambush. He ordered his troops to put their hats on their pikes and raise them above cover to draw British gun fire, then attacked the British while they were reloading their guns. The militia were defeated and the rebels stole 100 guns.

Battle and Bagenal Harvey

The next day the rebels captured Enniscorthy in a four-hour battle. Two days later, they captured nearby Wexford town and released Bagenal Harvey from jail; he was a rich Protestant and leader of the Wexford United Irishmen. He was made commander-in-chief of the rebel army.

Battle of Enniscorthy

The army was divided into three groups to attack:

1) New Ross and Waterford


3) Gorey and Arklow,

after which all rebels would join in Co. Wicklow.

At Tubberneering Fr. Murphy’s men defeated a strong force and captured Gorey. When besieging towns, he would create a cattle stampede, creating a diversion while rebels attacked from behind. But they failed to take Arklow, where they were badly beaten.

Meanwhile, Harvey’s force was defeated in New Ross. This was the bloodiest battle of the Rebellion.  The battle was followed by a rampage by the red coats. More than 3,000 rebels were killed during and after the battle. Bagenal Harvey resigned as commander-in-chief

Massacre on Vinegar Hill

Bagenal Harvey was replaced by Fr. Philip Roche, who told Fr. Murphy to retreat to the main camp, Vinegar Hill. With reinforcements rushed from England, General Lake, commander of the British forces, launched a fierce attack on the rebels here. His 20,000 soldiers, defeated the poorly armed rebels in this last big battle of the Rising, at Vinegar Hill on 21 June. About 500 rebels, among them Fr. Murphy’s brother, were killed. Lake took no prisoners and shot every wounded rebel captured.  The Enniscorthy courthouse, used as a hospital, was burned down with 80 wounded rebels inside.

Fr. Murphy’s Final Efforts

The rebels tried to branch out of Wexford and crossed the border at Scullabogues Gap. On the 24 June they captured Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, though at the loss of 100 men. On June 26th, at the battle of Kilcummney hill in County Carlow, they were tricked and defeated. Fr.Murphy and his bodyguard, James Gallagher, were separated from the main group and stayed in a friend’s house in Tullow.

A Bitter Outcome

On the 2nd of July, Fr. Murphy and James Gallagher were captured and brought to Tullow before a military tribunal. Both were sentenced to death and were tortured to try and get more information from them. They were both hanged in Market Square, Tullow,  as well as that Fr Murphy was stripped, flogged, decapitated, his corpse burnt in a barrel of tar and his head impaled on a spike. This final gesture was to set an example to

Statue of Fr. Murphy in Tullow, Co. Carlow.

any other suspect rebels. The five week Wexford Rising was one of the bloodiest periods in Irish history. It is estimated that more than 30,000 people died in that short time, during which the British forces confiscated 79,630 pikes and 48,109 guns.


The Boys of Wexford



Useful Links:

Catholic Ireland Father John Murphy – http://www.catholicireland.net/church-a-bible/church/history/479-father-murphy-of-boolavogue

Wikipedia Father John Murphy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_John_Murphy

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 9 – http://www.aohplymouth.com/Division%209%20History.htm

National 1798 Centre – http://www.iol.ie/~98com/leaders.htm


History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 8:42 pm Comments (1)
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1798 Rebellion

“From the blood of every one of the martyrs of the liberty of Ireland, will spring, I hope, thousands to revenge his fall.”

-Wolfe Tone’s diary, June 1798.

After the failure of General Hoche and Wolfe Tone to land a Fench fleet at Bantry Bay in 1796, the British – shocked by their lucky escape – decided to clamp down on the ‘United Irishmen’. General Lake was sent to Ulster and given a free reign to torture and even execute, anybody found to be involved with the secret group. Some of the  tactics used to stamp out the United Irishmen included:

  • Floggings (whippings)
  • Half-hangings (hanging a person until they were almost dead to extract information)
  • Pitch-capping (pouring hot tar on a person’s head before setting it on fire)
  • The newspaper of the United Irishmen, the Northern Star was banned.
  • Spies and informers were used to identify the leaders.

The results of this harsh treatment were that many of the United Irishmen’s leaders were arrested (including Lord Edward Fitzgerald) and thousands of weapons were found. Despite this, plans continued to launch a rebellion; with the date 23 May 1798 finally agreed on.

  • In March 1798, British soldiers, yeomen and the North Cork militia entered Wexford. Their violent treatment of the locals created a determination to resist that led to a Catholic priest, Fr. John Murphy leading a revolt. They had victories at Oulart Hill, Eniscorthy and Wexford (where United Irishman Bagenal Harvey was freed from jail) before their growing army of 15,000 was defeated at the Battle of New Ross and finally routed at Vinegar Hill on 21 June. Some days later, both Bagenal Harvey and Fr. John Murphy were captured and executed.
  • Although Ulster had been a United Irishmen stronghold, after the intimidation, torture, jailings and executions in the province, support for the secret group weakened. Because of this, the rebellion that took place there (mainly consisting of Presbyterians) was small in comparison to Wexford. In June 1798, a rebellion led by Henry Joy McCracken succeeded in capturing Larne, Randalstown and Ballymena before being defeated after a fierce battle at Antrim town. In Down, Henry Munro led 7,000 rebels could not match the army’s cannons at Ballynahinch. Both McCracken and Munro were later separately captured and hanged.
  • Connacht: In August 1798, the French General Humbert arrived in Killala, Co. Mayo. Despite not getting as much local support as he would have liked, he completely routed General Lake’s men in what became known as the Races of Castlebar because the soldiers fled so quickly, leaving many of their weapons behind. Humbert was eventually defeated near Dublin by a reinforced British army led by General Lake and General Cornwallis. Although the captured French troops were allowed to return home, the captured Irish rebels were hanged.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • Not realising that Humbert’s force had been defeated, another French force of 3,000 men landed in Lough Swilly with Wolfe Tone on board. They too were defeated; Wolfe Tone was captured and died a week after cutting his own throat with a penknife.

What went wrong?

  1. A combination of informers and brutal tactics against the native population routed out and weakened the United Irishmen.
  2. A lack of decent weapons meant that the rebels struggled when faced with the muskets and cannons of the British army.
  3. A combination of inconsistent French support and bad luck meant that the rebels never got the strong international help that would have been necessary if they were going to be successful.

There is little doubt that the United Irishmen rebellion had been a failure. It led to the Act of Union (1801) that brought Ireland even closer to Britain by abolishing the parliament in Dublin and ruling Ireland directly from Westminister. Despite this, the sacrifices made by the men and women involved inspired many future generations including those involved in the 1916 Easter Rising and those who finally gained freedom for Ireland in the Irish War of Independence.

Robert Emmet

Edward Fitzgerald

Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm Comments (1)
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The United Irishmen

The emblem of the United Irishmen

In Brief:

A number of people across Ireland had been hugely impressed by the achievements of both the American and French Revolutions. Both had revolted against unfair systems of monarchy and attempted to replace them with the principles of fairness and equality. With the promise of French help to any nation that sought to create a republican system of government, some Irish people felt that now was the time to take action action against the unfair and oppressive British rule. Some of these men met in Belfast on 18 October 1791. Present at this meeting were:

  • Theobald Wolfe Tone
  • Henry Joy McCracken
  • Samuel Nielson
  • Thomas Russell
  • William Sinclair
  • Henry Haslett
  • Gilbert McIlveen
  • William Simms
  • Robert Simms
  • Thomas McCabe
  • Thomas Pearce

These men swore ‘that I will use all my abilities and influence in the attainment of an impartial and adequate representation of the Irish people in parliament…..to forward a brotherhood of affection, an identity of interests, a communion of rights, and a union of power among Irishmen of all religious persuasions.”

Henry Joy McCracken


Thomas Russell


Samuel Neilson


United Irishmen


The immediate origins of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland can be traced to the setting up of the Society of United Irishmen in Belfast in October 1791. Inspired by the French Revolution, and with great admiration for the new democracy of the United States, the United Irishmen were led by Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, Henry Joy McCracken and William Drennan. They came together to secure a reform of the Irish parliament; and they sought to achieve this goal by uniting Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter in Ireland into a single movement.

From the beginning, Dublin Castle, the seat of government in Ireland, viewed the new organisation with the gravest suspicion, and with the outbreak of war between Britain (and Ireland) and France in February 1793, suspicion hardened to naked hostility. The unabashed admiration of the United Irishmen for the French seemed akin to treason. The discovery of negotiations between certain United Irishmen, notably Theobald Wolfe Tone, and the French government confirmed suspicions and led to the suppression of the society in May 1794.

Driven underground, the Society re-constituted itself as a secret, oath-bound, organisation, dedicated to the pursuit of a republican form of government in a separate and independent Ireland. This was to be achieved primarily by direct French military intervention. The plan came closest to success following the arrival of a French invasion fleet, carrying some 14,000 soldiers, off the southern coast of Ireland in December 1796. Adverse weather conditions, however, prevented the French from landing, and the fleet was forced to make its way back to France. From this date on, Dublin Castle stepped up its war against the United Irishmen, infiltrating their ranks with spies and informers, invoking draconian legislation against subversives, turning a blind eye to military excesses, and to those of the resolutely loyalist Orange Order, and building up its defence forces lest the French should return in strength.

By the spring of 1798, it appeared that Dublin Castle had been successful in its determined efforts to destroy the Society’s capacity for insurrection: many of its leaders were in prison, its organisation was in disarray, and there seemed no possibility of French assistance. Despite these difficulties, on the night of the 23rd/24th May, as planned, the mail coaches leaving Dublin were seized – as a signal to those United Irishmen outside the capital that the time of the uprising had arrived.

However, as a result of the failure of Dublin to rise, the Rebellion when it came was distinguished everywhere by a lack of concert and by a lack of focus. The uprisings outside the capital had been intended by the United Irishmen as supporting acts – sideshows – to the main event in Dublin, but as Dublin did not perform as planned, rebels in outlying areas now found themselves promoted to centre-stage. In the lack of co-ordination between the rebel theatres of war lay the salvation of Dublin Castle and British rule in Ireland.

(Thomas Bartlett, Professor of Modern Irish History, UCD )




History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.