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enactment of land reforms, and created a disciplined and

independent Irish party which brought the Home Rule issue to

the center of British politics, thus winning tremendous

popularity with the overwhelming majority of the Irish people.

With the dream of Home Rule nearly realized, Parnell became

mired in scandal with a married woman, Kitty O’Shea, which

brought his political downfall and ultimately resulted in his

untimely death; he was known thereafter as “the uncrowned

king of Ireland” (Connolly, 1998: 431; Ruckenstein &

O’Malley, 2003: 332-333). Parnell’s popularity, before his

downfall, was described by Prime Minister Gladstone as “an

intellectual phenomenon,” an account James Joyce endorsed as

he saw him as “another Moses” leading “a turbulent and

unstable people from the house of shame to the verge of the

Promised Land” (1989: 225-226).

Following Parnell’s downfall, a disillusioned and

embittered nation turned away from parliamentary politics and

instead invested its energies in culture. The spirit of the Irish

cultural resurrection was greatly magnified by the foundation

in 1893 of the Gaelic League, whose first president was the

academic Douglas Hyde, a professor of Irish at University

College, Dublin, and strong advocate of De-Anglicization.

Other major literary figures also came to the forefront of this

movement during this period: for instance, W. B. Yeats, Lady

Gregory, and others (all from middle- and upper-class

Protestant backgrounds) began to formulate plans for a

national theater, which led to the creation of the Irish Literary

Theatre in 1899, succeeded by the Abbey Theatre in 1904.

These writers looked for inspiration to Irish mythology,

folklore, and popular culture, seeing Gaelic material as the

basis of a revitalized Irish literature; their works epitomized

the quest for an Irish identity and spearheaded the Celtic

Revival (Connolly, 1998: 319-320; Gibson, 2006: 28;

Ruckenstein & O’Malley, 2003: 206-207).