The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Irish Parliament from mediæval times to 1800. The upper house was known as the House of Lords. The Irish parliament merged with its British counterpart in 1801 under the Act of Union.
The Irish House of Commons
This first Commons chamber was destroyed by fire. The rebuilt chamber was opened in 1796, only four years before parliament was abolished.
The Irish Parliament operated under a series of severe restrictions, the most infamous of which was Poynings Law of 1492, which required that all Irish legislation first be approved by the English (later British) Privy Council before submission to the Irish parliament. In 1782, following major Irish agitation, these restrictions were removed, producing a period of legislative independence known as Grattan's Parliament, named after one of the leaders of the agitation, Henry Grattan. The reforms of 1782 are sometimes known as the Constitution of 1782.
Following the crises caused by the mental illness of King George III, when both the Irish Parliament and the Parliament of Great Britain possessed the right to name a regent for their respective kingdoms, without the requirement that they name the same regent (though in reality they did) it was decided to fundamentally reform the governmental system by merging both parliaments. Part of the deal involved the concession of Catholic Emancipation, which meant the removal of all remaining discriminatory laws against Catholics and faiths other than the established Church of Ireland. However, following the Union, King George III blocked emancipation, arguing that it conflicted with his coronation oath to uphold the protestant faith. Emancipation was finally granted in 1829.
The Irish House of Commons entrance to the Parliament House
The Parliament House in Dublin was the world's first purpose-built two chamber parliament building.
The facade of the British Museum in London is modelled on it. The building is now a bank.
Famous members of the Irish House of Commons included:
- Henry Grattan, who went on to serve as an Irish member of the House of Commons of the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland;
- Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington who defeated Emperor Napoleon I of France at the Battle of Waterloo and later became British Prime Minister. It was he as prime minister who conceded Catholic Emancipation in 1829.