1700-1800 Between Two Revolutions

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1700-1800 Between Two Revolutions

James II, defeated by William of Orange’s armies, fled Kinsale in 1690. William of Orange was secure on the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the longest period of peace in modern Irish history followed. With political stability came rising prosperity, an enriched cultural life, and an appetite for new ideas.

The artefacts in National Museums NI collection from this era reflect this growing wealth. Silverware, pottery, and jewellery speak to a new opulence. Pieces of regalia of the Order of St. Patrick, a dormant order of chivalry once as exalted as the Order of the Garter, are part of this collection.

Growing wealth was accompanied by growing inequality. New laws were passed to suppress the Catholic population, and subtle forms of resistance emerged. One such was the production of ‘penal crosses’, made at the pilgrimage site of Lough Derg, County Donegal, and there are several in our collection. Beggar’s badges, worn by beggars to show where they could ask for alms, was one way that the authorities tried to manage the poor population.

The 18th century was also the Age of Sail. European powers vied for control of the sea lanes, distant colonies, and the spoils of empire. The collection includes items representing the influence of international expansion, trade, and exploration. We hold artefacts from Captain Cook’s voyages to the South Pacific.

Eventually the calm that had prevailed over the Irish political scene broke. The late 18th century witnessed the American and French Revolutions, encouraging radical thought. Many in Ireland demanded reform, while other stoked sectarian resentment. This tinderbox exploded with the United Irishman’s rebellion in 1798. It was eventually crushed, and the Act of Union was passed in its aftermath, tying Ireland ever more tightly to Great Britain.

Our collection includes military uniforms, weapons, and personal belongings of significant figures involved in this struggle. The sword and coat of Henry Joy McCracken, industrialist and revolutionary, are on display, as is the death mask of agitator and organiser, James Hope.

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James Hope's death mask (plaster copy)

James Hope's death mask (plaster copy)

James Hope's death mask. James Hope (1765-1831), a Presbyterian weaver from Templepatrick, Co. Antrim, was a notable member of the United Irishmen. De...

Badge : beggar's

Badge : beggar's

design : Parish of Keady Co. Armagh. Lead, Shield, on which 'Keady / No 17 / 1772'. 1 eye for suspension....

Badge : beggar's

Badge : beggar's

design : Saintfield, Co. Down. Oval, 4 pairs of holes for attachment. Inscribed 'A2 / St. Field'....

Shot pouch

Shot pouch

Military shot pouche, divided metal tray, large flap. Late 18th or early 19th century...

Badge : beggar's

Badge : beggar's

design : Parish of Drumaragh (Dromara) Co. Down. Circular, loop for suspension. Inscribed 'Drumaragh / Parish / 1774 / No 22'....

Badge : beggar's

Badge : beggar's

design : Parish of Dromore, Co. Down. Oval, on a belt 'The Poore of Dromore 1709', in the centre a sun under which 'No. 36'. 6 eyelets for sewing to c...

Jennings Cup

Jennings Cup

Silver cup and cover, presented by the inhabitants of Belfast to Capt. Jennings for his efforts in repelling the French attack on Carrickfergus in 176...

Aghnahoe Infantry (Yeomanry)

Aghnahoe Infantry (Yeomanry)

Aughnahoe Infantry. Wooden. On the front, a crowned shield, bearing the cypher `GIIIR', on a trophy of flags & arms. Across the bottom of the shield a...

DRUM; [Side] Drum

DRUM; [Side] Drum

Wooden shell, on a painted front. A gold crown with red cap of maintenance, separating cypher `GR' in gilt, under this a red shield with gold border o...

Badge : beggar's

Badge : beggar's

Parish of Hillsborough oval badge, 4 pairs of holes for fastening. Obverse:- 'The Parish of Hillsborough', in the centre a church, under which "No". R...

Badge : beggar's

Badge : beggar's

design : Shankill, Lurgan. Circular, inscribed "SHANKILL / POOR / 1699". 3 rosettes above, 3, X, down each side. No means of suspension....

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