The success of revolutionary nationalism is most evident during the period of 1900, largely as a result of Sinn Fein; an independent Irish republic which initially avoided the use of violence but were later significant in changing the aim of the public from one of home rule to the hope of independence.
A vital aspect that led to 1900 being dominated by revolutionary success would be the effects of the first world war which resulted in the third home rule bill (introduced by John Redmond) in 1914 to be postponed, further enhancing nationalist disappointment towards the English government. The slow disintegration of the constitutional movement is emphasized by the split of the Irish volunteers which led to two groups; the nationalist volunteers who remained under the leadership of John Redmond and continued to fight in the first world war whereas the ‘Irish volunteers’ (under the leadership of Mac Neill) aimed to proclaim an Irish republic through an armed insurrection like Tone’s and refused to fight in the war. Notably, the Easter rising in 1916 which consisted of members from the Irish republican brotherhood, the Irish volunteers and the Irish citizen army led by schoolteacher and poet James Conolly was a major success in radicalizing mainstream Irish opinion despite the initial failure of a futile strategy, hostile attitude and lack of support. The extent of change in public opinion is seen in source C (in appendix 1) which is a letter written by George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright and critic who is clearly denouncing the reaction of the British government.
The source is extracted from a letter written to the daily times within the year of the rising, and therefore is very valuable as it offers an insight into the emotional state of Ireland through the constant criticism of methods employed by the British government, thus potentially stimulating the personal involvement of the Irish audience who may be reading his opinion in the news. By using evocative language such as ‘martyr’ and ‘hero’, Shaw is clearly adopting a resentful and critical tone towards the British response whilst portraying the rebels as victims. Therefore, despite opposing Irish independence and revolutionary tactics, the attitude displayed by Shaw who is a supporter of constitutional change is highly valuable as it provides a useful insight into the overturn of public opinion and the gradual distrust and dislike towards the brutal response of the British government.