The Land Struggle Begins

The following is a list of acts "at once liberal and prudent" which the British Parliament, with "almost unanimous sanction", did bestow upon Ireland in those years :

1830 Importation of Arms Act
1831 Whiteboy Act
1831 Stanleys Arms Act
1832 Arms and Gunpowder Act
1833 Suppression of Disturbance
1833 Change of Venue Act
1834 Disturbances Amendment and Continuance
1834 Arms and Gunpowder Act
1835 Public Peace Act
1836 Another Arms Act
1838 Another Arms Act
1839 Unlawful Oaths Act
1840 Another Arms Act
1841 Outrages Act
1841 Another Arms Act
1843 Another Arms Act
1843 Act Consolidating all Previous Coercion Acts
1844 Unlawful Oaths Act
1845 Unlawful Oaths Act
1846 Constabulary Enlargement
1847 Crime and Outrage Act
1848 Treason Amendment Act
1848 Removal of Arms Act
1848 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1848 Another Oaths Act
1849 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1850 Crime and Outrage Act
1851 Unlawful Oaths Act
1853 Crime and Outrage Act
1854 Crime and Outrage Act
1855 Crime and Outrage Act
1856 Peace Preservation Act
1858 Peace Preservation Act
1860 Peace Preservation Act
1852 Peace Preservation Act
1862 Unlawful Oaths Act
1865 Peace Preservation Act
1866 Suspension of Habeas Corpus Act
1866 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1867 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1868 Suspension of Habeas Corpus
1870 Peace Preservation Act
1871 Protection of Life and Property
1871 Peace Preservation Con.
1873 Peace Preservation Act
1875 Peace Preservation Act
1875 Unlawful Oaths Act


Fall of Parnell and of Parliamentarianism

Parnell was now the man of the hour. He had triumphed over all who had crossed his path. He had broken Forster; he had humbled even Gladstone. Captain O’Shea who had given what was meant to be damaging proof against him at the Times Commission, filed a petition for divorce against his wife, naming Parnell as co-respondent. There was no defence, and no appearance for the defence. Parnell ignored the whole business as if it were of no importance, whatever. When the decree was made absolute he promptly married Mrs O’Shea. If others had taken matters as coolly as Parnell, it might have been better. But a meeting of the party was called and a resolution of confidence in Parnells leadership was passed. The Irish Party met. Parnell simply asked them not to sell him without getting his value. Envoys of the party called on Mr Gladstone and they learned the nothing which deputation’s learn of Cabinet Ministers. It was a duel between Parnell and Gladstone. The latter won. Then came the Kilkenny election and Parnell crossed over to Ireland. That night, Parnell spoke a sentence that lived for ever in the hearts of those who heard it, and ought to live in the hearts of their descendants. He said :
"I don’t pretend that I had not moments of trial and of temptation, but I do claim that never in thought, word, or deed, have I been false to the trust which Irishmen have confided in me".
Irishmen are kind to the memory of Parnell. He sinned and he was punished. No other man - not even O’Connell - always excepting men who had sealed their allegiance to Dark Rosaleen with their blood - was more dearly beloved by the Irish Catholic people than this Protestant. The people of Ireland were all Parnellite at heart. They did not wish to oppose him. If he had only bowed for a time before the storm he would have come back in triumph. But Parnell was too proud for compromise. He would lead or break the Irish Party. He tried diplomacy. But in Ireland, at least, there is a greater force, which sometimes becomes powerful. It is truth.
Parnells last meeting was at Creggs, County Galway. He was warned by his medical advisors not to go. This was on September 27th 1891. There was death in his face, as he delivered his speech. On October 6th, he died at Brighton. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, close beside O’Connell.
Shortly after Parnells death there was a General Election. Gladstone had a working majority of about forty-two. The Home Rule Bill of 1893 was passed in the House of Commons by a majority of forty-three. It was rejected by the House of Lords. Next year the "Grand Old Man" resigned and was succeeded by Lord Rosebery. John Redmonds party (the Parnellites), Dillons party, O’Briens party and Healys party, floundered rather hopelessly for years, disputing plenty, achieving little.
During the Boer war which broke out in 1899 the sympathies of the Irish people were, of course, on the side of the Boers, and no attempt was made to dissemble the delight in Ireland when the Boers scored a victory over the English. Major John MacBride held command of an Irish Brigade fighting with the Boer forces.
In 1902 on the initiative of Captain Shawe-Taylor, representatives of landlords and tenants met in conference to investigate the possibility of an agreed solution of the Land Question. An agreement was reached on the basis of long term purchase which would secure the landlords against loss, and while making the purchase money of their farms higher to the tenants would enable them to secure money at a low rate of interest, and secure them their land at a fixed annuity which would be lower than the actual rent. Mr George Wyndham, Chief Secretary, proceeded to give effect to these recommendations and the result was the Land Act of 1903.
In 1906, Mr Davitt passed away. He succeeded; and dear to Irish hearts is that grave in Mayo, which encloses the mortal remains of a man whose spirit could not be broken.
In 1914 a so-called "Home Rule" Act was passed - empowering the Irish people to play at a "Parliament" in Dublin, whose enactment’s could be vetoed by either the British Lord Lieutenant or the British Parliament. The Irish Parliamentary Party grasping at any straw that might save it from being finally engulfed, begged Ireland to believe that this was the nations "great charter of liberty". When the "Home Rule" Bill became law, it was postponed on the plea that the war was on - in reality because Sir Edward Carson forbade its application. The British Government kept postponing it period after period, till eventually it never went into force. The Irish people most of whom had at first been deceived into regarding it as a desirable step toward larger liberty, eventually disillusioned, would not in the end accept it. In the English House of Commons John Redmond in 1914, unreservedly offered the services of the manhood of Ireland in one of Englands wars. The Parliamentary leaders, Redmond, Dillon, Devlin and O’Connor, came out openly as Englands recruiting sergeants - and their followers in the country, the scales at length fallen from their eyes, began a wholesales desertion - which in startlingly short time left the leaders looking in vain to find any followers. They were to be formally wiped out in the next general election. The Parliamentary Party, having compromised Irelands every claim to nationhood, and touched the depths of disgrace, then disappeared from history. And Ireland severed itself from the bad tradition of British Parliamentarianism.


Sinn Fein

The world is witnessing in Ireland an extraordinary national renaissance which expresses itself in literature, art, industry, social idealism, religious fervour and personal self-sacrifice. Deprived of the means of learning, impoverished and ground down, the Irish people for 200 years have not known culture or freedom, and their history for that period is gloomy reading. In the closing years of the 19th century the untilled field was ploughed up and sown in by the Gaelic League. From this educational movement which began in 1893 the whole revival of Irish Ireland may be dated. Recovering some measure of strength at last after the exhaustion of the famine years, but disheartened and confused by the collapse of the Parnell movement, Ireland welcomed the Gaelic League as a new and hopeful means of exerting her national energies. The League spread like fire. The centre of gravity in national life changed from the anglicised towns to the rural population, sturdy, unspoilt, patriotic, virile, the offspring and living representatives of the traditional Gael. Hence Irish politics began forthwith to reflect the mind of the real Irish race. Extraordinary little newspapers and magazines began to appear. The most important was the United Irishman edited by Mr Arthur Griffith. In 1905 Mr Griffith and his friends put before the nation a new political movement. In a newly founded weekly, Sinn Fein (succeeding the United Irishman) Mr Griffith proceeded to show how the nation could thus conduct its won affairs even while the national parliament was denied recognition by outside powers. Thus, through the Harbour Boards, difficulties could be imposed in the "dumping" of foreign goods, which would amount to a system of protection for Irish industries. The public could be organised for the support of native industry, and capital could be encouraged by the offer of rate-free sites etc. Arbitration Courts could be set up everywhere, superseding the British courts in civil matters. National insurance could be undertaken. National banks could divert from foreign field the Irish money which could so much more profitably be invested in buying up Irish land, financing Irish developments and extending Irish control of home resources. A national mercantile marine could be co-operatively bought and set to carrying Irish produce to those Continental markets which offered so much better prices than the English markets to which English ships carried Irish cattle and manufactured goods. Irish commercial agents - consuls - could be sent to the great foreign trade centre. Though he alone could not have made Sinn Fein the power in Ireland that it is, yet those brilliant minds, those fighters and doers, who brought his movement to its present position, would without him have been disunited and perhaps conflicting forces. When Easter Week was over, and the insurgents were crushed, the country was not broken as after ’98 or ’48 or ’67, because the large fabric of the comprehensive Sinn Fein policy remained, and the sacrifice of Pearse and his comrades served but as a stimulus to the masses to carry on the work of industrial revival, language-restoration etc. When in 1910 Mr Redmond secured the Balance of Power in the British Parliament, Mr Griffith suspended the organising of Sinn Fein as a political party, giving the Parliamentary leader a free hand to achieve whatever he could achieve for Ireland with the parliamentary weapon. Unhappily Redmond allowed himself to be coerced by the threats of Sir Edward Carson, and early in 1914, accepted the principle of Partition. In Ireland, there was horror and almost despair. Meanwhile, Nationalists had organised a Volunteer force numbering up to 200,00 to repel the threat of Sir Edward Carson’s Volunteers, who were armed with the connivance of English military authorities and at the expense of the English Unionists. But the Great War found the Irish situation under the influence of another element than Unionism, Parliamentarianism and Sinn Fein - Fenianism or Republicanism. A Physical Force party, aiming at an independent Irish Republic exerted an influence on public opinion that was far from being negligible. The Fenians adopted from Fontana Lalor the motto : "Repeal not the Union, but the Conquest". These were lean years for Sinn Fein, but these two small parties of enthusiasts worked side by side without acrimony. Each was equally devoted to the full Irish-Ireland program of a Gaelicised nation. The Fenians were the active element in the Volunteers when that extraordinary armed movement came into being: but they did not at fist control the new development. Such, then, were the factors in the Irish situation on which the Great War descended in August 1914.

  Irish History