“The Dungannon Convention”


"The church of Dungannon is full to the door" with Volunteer warriors. In spite of "English oppression" the volunteers stood ready to protect England from a foreign fleet. At Dungannon the delegates swore "We've suffered too long, we'll suffer no more"


Moylan p. 1: "On St Patrick's Day, 1778, the first company of Belfast Volunteers was formed in response to the danger of a possible war between Britain and France. The movement spread like wildfire and soon there were companies in all parts of Ireland. At their height they numbered 100,000 members. By the following year they had become politicized and swung their weight behind the so-called Patriot Party, those in favour of legislative independence from the British parliament and the removal of impediments to Irish commerce." - BS

According to Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, _A History of Ireland_, p. 187, "In February 1782 [Henry] Grattan arranged a convention of some 250 delegates from the Volunteers, who met in the parish church of Dungannon." The result was, in effect, a declaration of parliamentary independence.

Robert Kee, on p. 32 of _The Most Distressful Country_ (being Volume I of _The Green Flag_) relates that "In 1780 Grattan for the first time tried to get the Irish House of Commons to vote an Irish Declaration of Independence. He was then unsuccessful, owing to the Crown's effective control of the majority in Parliament, through the system of patronage. By the end of the following year, however, the Volunteers outside Parliament had become much stronger. They were now said to number eighty thousand men, and in 1782 a convention of democratically elected Volunteer delegates was held at Dungannon, a sort of parliament outside Parliament, backed by potential physical force for the first but by no means the last time in Irish history."

The pressure was enough that, later that year, the Irish parliament gave in and voted independence unanimously (Kee, p. 33). Under that pressure, the British granted the parliament most of what it asked -- repealing even the infamous Poyning's Law that said the British parliament could override the Irish. (For further details, see the notes to "Ireland's Glory.") There would be more Dungannon Conventions, but the 1782 edition was the Really Big Deal. - RBW

Historical references

  • September 8, 1783 - Irish Volunteer Society Convention in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone (Source: Moylan) (but see the NOTES)


  1. Moylan 5, "The Dungannon Convention" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Moyl005


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 2000 (Moylan)
Found in: England Ireland patriotic political