Irish National Land League

Irish National Land League

The Irish Land League was an Irish political organization of the late 19th century which sought to help poor tenant farmers. Its primary aim was to abolish "landlordism" in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land they worked on. The period of the Land League's agitation is known in Ireland as the Land War.


Following the founding meeting of the Mayo Tenants Defence Association in Castlebar, County Mayo on October 26 1878 the demand for "The Land of Ireland for the people of Ireland" was reported in the Connaught Telegraph November 2 1878.

The first of many "monster meetings" of tenant farmers was held in Irishtown near Claremorris, County Mayo on April 20 1879, with an estimated turnout of 15,000 to 20,000 people. This meeting was addressed by: James Daly (who presided), John O'Connor Power, John Ferguson, Thomas Brennan, and J. J. Louden.

The Connaught Telegraph's report of the meeting in its edition of April 26 1879 began :-

Since the days of O'Connell a larger public demonstration has not been witnessed than that of Sunday last. About 1 o'clock the monster procession started from Claremorris, headed by several thousand men on foot - the men of each district wearing a laural leaf or green ribbon in hat or coat to distinguish the several contingents. At 11 o'clock a monster contingent of tenant-farmers on horseback drew up in front of Hughes's hotel, showingdiscipline and order that a cavalry regiment might feel proud of. They were led on in sections, each having a marshal who kept his troops well in hand. Messrs. P.W. Nally, J.W. Nally, H. French, and M. Griffin, wearing green and gold sashes, led on their different sections, who rode two deep, occupying, at least, over an Irish mile of the road. Next followed a train of carriages, brakes, cares, etc. led on by Mr. Martin Hughes, the spirited hotel proprietor, driving a pair of rare black ponies to a phæton, taking Messrs. J.J. Louden and J. Daly. Next came Messrs. O'Connor, J. Ferguson, and Thomas Brennan in a covered carriage, followed by at least 500 vehicles from the neighbouring towns. On passing through Ballindine the sight was truly imposing, the endless train directing its course to Irishtown - a neat little hamlet on the boundaries of Mayo, Roscommon, and Galway.

Evolving out of this a number of local land league organisations were set up to work against the excessive rents being demanded by landlords all over Ireland, but especially in Mayo and surrounding counties.

From 1874 agricultural prices in Europe had dropped, followed by some bad harvests due to wet weather. The effect by 1878 was that many Irish farmers were unable to pay the rents that they had agreed, particularly in the poorer and wetter parts of Connacht. Unlike other parts of Europe the Irish land tenure system was unflexible in times of hardship.

League founded

The Irish National Land League was founded at the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, the County town of Mayo, on 21 October 1879. At that meeting Charles Stewart Parnell was elected president of the league. Andrew Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries. This united practically all the different strands of land agitation and tenant rights movements under a single organization.

The two aims of the Land League, as stated in the resolutions adopted in the meeting, were:

...first, to bring out a reduction of rack-rents; second, to facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the soil by the occupiers.

That the object of the League can be best attained by promoting organisation among the tenant-farmers; by defending those who may be threatened with eviction for refusing to pay unjust rents; by facilitating the working of the Bright clauses of the Irish Land Act during the winter; and by obtaining such reforms in the laws relating to land as will enable every tenant to become owner of his holding by paying a fair rent for a limited number of years.

Charles Stewart Parnell, John Dillon, Michael Davitt, and others including Cal Lynn then went to America to raise funds for the League with spectacular results. Branches were also set up in Scotland.

The government had introduced the first ineffective Land Act in 1870, then the equally inadequate Acts of 1880 and 1881 followed. Parnell together with all of his party lieutenants went into a bitter verbal offensive and were imprisoned in October 1881 under the Irish Coercion Act in Kilmainham Jail for "sabotaging the Land Act", from where the "No-Rent Manifesto" was issued calling for a national tenant farmer rent strike which was partially followed.

Although the League discouraged violence, agrarian crimes increased widely. Typically a rent strike would be followed by evictions by the police, or those tenants paying rent would be subject to a local boycott by League members. Where cases went to court, witnesses would change their stories, resulting in an unworkable legal system. This in turn led on to stronger criminal laws being passed that were described by the League as "Coercion Acts".

The bitterness that developed helped Parnell later in his Home Rule campaign. Davitt's views were much more extreme, seeking to nationalise all land, as seen in his famous slogan: "The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland".

Land war

From 1880 to 1892, the "Land War" in pursuance of the "Three Fs" (Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure and Free Sale) first demanded by the Tenant Right League in 1850, was fought in earnest. The League organized resistance to evictions, reductions in rents and aided the work of relief agencies. Landlords' attempts to evict tenants led to violence, but the Land League denounced excessive violence and destruction.

Withholding of rent led on to evictions until "Ashbourne's Act" in 1885 made it unprofitable for most landlords to evict. By then agricultural prices had made a recovery, and rents had been fixed and could be reviewed downwards, but tenants found that holding out communally was the best option. Critics noted that the poorer sub-tenants were still expected to pay their rents to tenant farmers.

The widespread upheavals and extensive evictions were accompanied by several years of bad weather and poor harvests, when the tenant farmers who were unable to pay the full arrears of rents resorted to a rent strike. A renewed Land War was waged under the Plan of Campaign from 1886 up until 1892 during which the League decided on a fair rent and then encourage its members to offer this rent to the landlords. If this were refused, then the rent would be paid by tenants to the League and the landlord would not receive any money until he accepted a discount. The first target was a member of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, Canon Ulick Burke, who eventually reduced his rents by 25%. Many landlords resisted these tactics violently and there were deaths on either side of the dispute. The Royal Irish Constabulary, though largely made up of Irishmen, had to uphold the law which was on the landlord's side. Originally, the movement cut across sectarian boundaries, with many meetings being held in Orange halls in Ulster, but this ended as the landed gentry extended their influence within the Orange Order.Fact|date=July 2008

Following the Land War, Parnell disbanded the organization after having founded the Irish National League to campaign on broader issues incluning Home Rule. Many of the Scottish members formed the Scottish Land Restoration League.


Within decades of the league's foundation, through the efforts of William O'Brien and George Wyndham (a descendant of Lord Edward FitzGerald), the Land Purchase Acts of 1885 and 1903 allowed Irish tenant farmers to buy their freeholds with British government finance over 40 years through the Land Commission (an arrangement that has never been possible in Britain itself). For agricultural labourers D.D. Sheehan and the Irish Land and Labour Association secured help from the Liberal government elected in 1905 to pass the "Labourers (Ireland) Act 1906", and the , which paid to build 40,000 new cottages. By 1914 the vast majority of Irish land and rural housing was in the hands of small and middle sized farmers, not large landowners. Often the holdings were described as "uneconomic" but the overall sense of social justice was undeniable.



* Cashman, D.B. & Davitt, Michael "The Life of Michael Davitt and the Secret History of The Land League" (1881)
* Davitt, Michael "The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland" ISBN 1-59107-031-7
* Gross, David (ed.) "We Won’t Pay!: A Tax Resistance Reader" ISBN 1434898253 pp. 263-266
* Newby, Andrew G. " [ Ireland Radicalism and the Scottish Highlands, 1870-1912] "
* Hurlbert W.H. [ "Ireland under Coercion" 1888 Vol.1] [ Vol. 2] (Analysis by a Catholic Irish-American).
* Linton, E. Lynn [ "About Ireland" 1890] (Anti-League analysis by an English jounalist).

See also

*Highland Land League

External links

* [ Michael Davitt and his legacy today.]
* [ Hurlbert W. 'Ireland under Coercion' 1888]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Irish National Land League — Die Irish Land League (ILL) war eine politische Organisation des 19. Jahrhunderts in Irland, die zum Ziel hatte, die Situation armer Bauern (Pächter) zu verbessern. Der Boden im unter britischer Herrschaft stehenden Irland war damals im Besitz… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Irish National League — For the National League Party founded in 1926, see National League Party. The Irish National League (INL) was a nationalist political party in Ireland. It was founded in October 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell as the successor to the Irish… …   Wikipedia

  • James Daly (Irish Land League) — James Daly (born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1838; died in County Mayo in 1910) was an Irish nationalist activist best known for his work in support of tenant farmers rights and the formation of the Irish National Land League.BeginningsDaly was a… …   Wikipedia

  • Land League — ▪ Irish agrarian organization       Irish agrarian organization that worked for the reform of the country s landlord system under British rule. The league was founded in October 1879 by Michael Davitt (Davitt, Michael), the son of an evicted… …   Universalium

  • Thomas Brennan (Irish Land League) — Thomas Brennan (July 1853 ndash; 19 December 1912), born in Beauparc, County Meath, was a founder and joint first secretary of the Irish National Land League.Following his release from Kilkenny Gaol he left for Omaha in the United States, where… …   Wikipedia

  • Irish Parliamentary Party — The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party; in Irish Páirtí Parlaiminteach na hÉireann) was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule… …   Wikipedia

  • Irish potato famine — Hungernde irische Familie in Carraroe, County Galway Die als Große Hungersnot, (engl. Great Famine, Irish potato famine oder irisch An Gorta Mór) in die Geschichte eingegangene Hungersnot zwischen 1845 und 1849 (bzw. 1851) war die Folge mehrerer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Land War — The Land War in Irish History was a period of agrarian agitation in rural Ireland in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The agitation was led by the Irish National Land League and was dedicated to bettering the position of tenant farmers and ultimately… …   Wikipedia

  • Land War — Als Land War („Krieg um Land“) wird der Kampf der Irish National Land League für Landreformen und für die Rechte der Pächter in Irland in den 1870er, 1880er und 1890er Jahren bezeichnet. Obwohl die Bezeichnung dies suggeriert und es bisweilen zu… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • The land league — League League (l[=e]g), n. [F. ligue, LL. liga, fr. L. ligare to bind; cf. Sp. liga. Cf. {Ally} a confederate, {Ligature}.] 1. An alliance or combination of two or more nations, parties, organizations, or persons, for the accomplishment of a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”