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The Late Catholic Association

The following report is taken from the Edinburgh Review of early March 1829; the Review reproduced reports from other newspapers.

From the Dublin Evening Post

Upwards of fifteen thousand members, qualified to vote at its sittings, had enrolled themselves in this great National Convention, at the period of its dissolution. The qualification was cheap and simple. An annual subscription of one pound sterling, or upwards, constituted a member, after he had been proposed viva voce, at one of the weekly meetings. Amongst the members were included — Fourteen hundred non-Catholics, four Catholic Archbishops, twenty Catholic Bishops, and two thousand six hundred Catholic Clergymen.

Catholic Rent: — the voluntary contribution so called, and by some invidiously termed "an inverted military bounty," is ascertained to have been paid (in sums varying from One Penny to One Hundred Pounds) by not less than three millions of the people of Ireland!! It reached the Association through the hands of eight thousand local collectors, and apart from its usefulness as furnishing "the sinews of war," it acted as an instructive indicator of the public feeling, the periodical amount being evidently influenced by every temporary subject of excitement. Contributions to this fund were received unsolicited from Paris, Bordeaux, Harvre, Dieppe, Tours, Harfleur, Lisbon, Oporto, Rome, New York, Boston, Norfolk, Charleston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Savannah, St Louis, Quebec, Montréal, Newfoundland, and the West India Islands. The remittances were accompanied by letters, and addresses, expressing the sympathy of the contributors with the people of Ireland.

Acts of the Association. — The Association succeeded completely in producing the dissolution of the illegal combinations which previously existed among the peasantry, who, accustomed to consider the law, not as a protector, but as a tyrant, were long in the habit of avenging real or imaginary wrongs, by notable acts of recrimination. For this frightful state of feeling and practice was substituted a constitutional appeal to the laws, the Association not unfrequently advising and assisting in the proceedings, and proving itself, on numerous occasions, what Lord Strafford called "an excellent looker-on." Aided by the powerful and zealous co-operation of the Roman Catholic clergy, the Association encouraged education so extensively and successfully, and to enable us to assert that nineteen-twentieths of the rising generation in course of being instructed, at the least, to read and write. The Association set on foot a new census of the population, which, through their local influence, is being effected with an accuracy hitherto unobtainable. From the returns already received, it is ascertained that the former census was egregiously erroneous, the population far exceeding the estimate. The proportion which the Catholics bear to the non-Catholics appear, by the Association census, on an average of the total population, to be about seventeen and a half to one.

Simultaneous Meetings. — On the same day and at the same hour, (21st January 1826) the whole Catholic population of Ireland were required to assemble at their different to Catholic churches, to petition the Legislature for the removal of the disabilities affecting them, and to enforce upon Government the policy of conciliating a nation, exhibiting a state of organisation, and acting with a singleness of purpose, never before witnessed amongst as large a mass of men. In pursuance of this recommendation, meetings were held at the same moment in upwards of fifteen hundred Catholic churches; and it has been calculated, on the presumption of one thousand persons having attended each meeting, (certainly a moderate average,) that is not less than one million five hundred thousand persons were simultaneously assembled for the same object on that impressive occasion.

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