Home Rule and Unionism: to 1912
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Ireland entered the twentieth century as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the second island, an area of some 32,595 square miles, with a population, according to the 1901 census, of 4,458,775. Joined, on 1 January 1801, to Britain by the Act of Union, Ireland as a whole had not prospered in the nineteenth century, despite being hitched to the world’s leading industrial and imperial power. As communications increased, literacy expanded and democratic institutions advanced, the discontents of a largely rural, Catholic people within an urban, Protestant kingdom steadily found their voice.
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