The Irish Land War seen through rare photographs, 1880-1900

When Irish people talk of "land wars", they have in mind either the three phases of the anti-landlord movement of the late nineteenth century, or more narrowly, the first of these, which lasted from 1879 to 1882. walked.

The movement emerged during a severe agricultural depression caused by crop failure and a sluggish market for agricultural produce. The economic condition of the peasantry declined in 1877, partially improving in 1878, but worsening again in 1879.

Small-scale unrest began in late 1878, increased gradually during the early months of 1879, and then intensified in the spring of 1879 when a series of public meetings were held in the western province of Connaught. A "Land League" was formed in County Mayo in August 1879 with the help of Nationalist politicians, and the "Irish National Land League" was established in October.

The movement remained strongest in the western regions, but at times it intensified in almost all parts of the country, with the notable exception of the Northeast. Tenant farmers protested the eviction, refusing to pay their usual rent, and demanded that Parliament make sweeping changes to the laws governing the ownership and possession of agricultural land in Ireland.

The disparity in land ownership in the late 19th century is best expressed by the figure that 800 households owned 50% of the land. The total population of Ireland in 1879 was approximately 5,000,000, most of whom lived as tenants on small plots rented from landowners in the country.

Poor tenant farmers were often exploited by landowners, especially by "absentee landlords", by landowners who lived outside Ireland, who did not care what the farmer could pay or what the land could bear. can.

From the summer of 1879 the Land League and its supporters carried out various activities aimed at preventing evictions while furthering the tenants' cause.

This ranged from protests over the sale of leases to evicted tenants, to protest gatherings, some 10,000 of which were strong, to militant riots and even killings. The league itself did not officially sanction any illegal activity, although some organizers advocated more militant methods.

Perhaps the league's most famous and successful strategy was the Boycott. Initially called social boycott, boycott saw landlords or those who opposed the league abandoned by their community.

Wherever he went, he hissed while no one spoke to him. People also refused to work for the outcasts or sell their produce.

A massive wave of repression in 1881 saw nearly all Land League leaders, both radicals and conservatives, imprisoned, although this served to make the situation in Ireland worse, with violent incidents increasing in late 1881.

At the same time however, British Prime Minister Gladstone introduced the 1881 Land Act which gave certain rights to tenants. The Land Act of 1881 allowed severe rent reductions to many tenants and it reduced the need for tenants to engage in activism around rent and tenancy rights.

Although the power of landlords would only break down by the 20th century, the 1881 Land Act made life almost unbearable for landlords in Ireland. This Act and another amendment in 1887 that broadened the scope of the bill meant that it would only be a matter of time before landlordism was abolished in rural Ireland.

William Henry Hurlbert, Account of the Tully Eviction, 1888: Two constables were burned by a red-hot bike, the other's gun was smashed to pieces by a massive stone, and a fourth slightly wounded by a thorn happened.

Frank O'Halloran's Account of the Eviction of His Family, 1887: On the morning of the eviction we were at the break of the day and laid out our plans, each to defend a certain point and to give no exemption, whatever may come.

We boiled plenty of water and food, and when everything was ready, we kept an eye on the bailiffs and the rest. All this time I was home from America for a few months, and during my absence, I might add, I didn't learn to love Irish landownership or English rule.

The Clare Journal, June 6, 1887: Counted as one of the most formidable items in the Program of Defense and Disobedience, the bees left the hive, but flew down the chimney. One of McNamara's sons, who attempted to put him down, was stung very severely.

Frank O'Halloran's account of his family's expulsion, 1887: I found a great pillar: at the top of the ladder was a policeman; I hooked him to his chest, pushing him into an upright position.

The policeman behind him put pressure on him, while the crowd erupted in joy. I pushed hard and he fell to the ground amidst the noise and screaming. Others pressed on to meet the same fate.

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