Henry Gratton (1746-1820)

Born a Protestant in 1746, Gratton grew up in Dublin to become M.P. for Charlemount in the Irish Parliament of 1772. By 1775 he was leader of the opposition party. The American Revolution (1776-82) sparked a resurgence of Irish national feeling, the cause of American indepenence echoing in the hearts of Irish Patriots.

Lead by Gratton Irish polititicians demanded reform and formed a ‘Patriot Party’ for an Irish parliament independent of Westminster. Countrywide over one hundred thousand Irishmen pledged their support.

The English government responded by removing restrictions on Irish trade and allowing Catholics to buy land freely for the first time in nearly a century. Finally, in 1782 Westminister renounced its claim to legislate for Ireland directly and Gratton claimed his greatest political victory. "Ireland is now a nation. In that new character I hail her!" he proclaimed.