Political Stalemate and Celtic Revival
The Home Rule Party continued to press for a parliamentary solution, but without Parnell, it lacked the organization to push it through. The remaining members kept fighting with one another, which diffused their political power. Gladstone sponsored a second Home Rule Bill in 1893, but the same opposition from Conservatives and Ulster Unionists killed it. Ironically, the success of the very Land Acts and other liberal measures that the Home Rule Party had pushed for had taken the wind out of its sails. The state of civil rights and living conditions for the Irish people had significantly improved in recent years, so the need for home rule seemed less intense.
While political efforts at nationalism were stuck in a rut, arts and culture saw a huge surge of interest in all things Irish. The English traditionally thought of the Irish as uncouth barbarians, but a new generation of the Irish looked into their island's past and proved the English wrong.
Intellectuals like William Butler Yeats, Douglas Hyde, and Lady Augusta Gregory called for the preservation and appreciation of Irish storytelling, Celtic art, and the fast-fading Irish language. Hyde founded the Gaelic League to promote the Irish language. By 1906 there were more than 900 branches, with more than 100,000 members. In 1903 Yeats and Gregory founded the Irish National Theatre at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and promoted the production of distinctively Irish plays.
Athletics were another focus of nationalist energy. The Gaelic Athletic Association, founded in 1884, promoted the distinctively Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling.
In these expressions of Irish culture, many Irish people realized for the first time that their people had a history and culture every bit as worthy as the English. While these movements had little direct political impact, they provided Irish people with an identity and a rallying point for their nationalist feelings.
The Irish National Theatre still stages first-rate productions. You can visit the snazzy new Abbey Theatre on the banks of the Liffey River. This isn't the building frequented by Yeats and Synge, though; that one burned down in 1951.
The Founding of Sinn Féin
Although the independence movement had entered a period of contented inaction, radical Nationalism hadn't disappeared. The IRB (the people who organized the Fenian uprising) was still around, but its call for armed revolt seemed more and more like the talk of cranky old men.
The movement for an independent republic took a quiet step forward in 1905 when a publisher named Arthur Griffith founded a new political party called Sinn Féin, Irish for “ourselves alone.” Griffith promoted the Nationalist cause in a newspaper called the