March 06, 2016

Ireland's social revolution



John Stuart Mill wrote in ‘Chapters and speeches on the Irish land question’ that while Britain ruled cruelly in Ireland, today's generation cannot be held responsible or atone for past misconduct. He wrote in his publication from 1870:
"The Irish were taught that feeling [disaffection] by Englishmen. England has only even professed to treat the Irish people as part of the same nation with ourselves, since 1800. How did we treat them before that time? I will not go into the subject of the penal laws, because it may be said that those laws affected the Irish not as Irish but as Catholics. I will only mention the manner in which they were treated merely as Irish. I grant that, for these things, no man now living has any share of the blame; we are all ashamed of them; but “the evil that men do lives after them”."

Edmund Burke in his January 1 1792 letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, Bart. M.P. 'On the subject of Roman Catholics of Ireland and the propriety of admitting them to the elective franchise consistently with the principles of the constitution as established at the revolution’ called the penal laws "that unparalleled code of oppression." John Stuart Mill also argued that reforms were made for Ireland from London. He also argued for peasant proprietorship. He wrote:
"This was not, I think, a brotherly course, or at all like treating Ireland as a part of the same nation. If we had been determined to impress upon Ireland in the strongest manner that she was regarded as a totally different and hostile nation, that was exactly the course to pursue. In fact, Ireland was treated in that thoroughly heathenish manner in 
which it was then customary for nations to treat other nations whom they had conquered — with the feeling that the dependent nation had no rights which the superior nation was bound to respect. 
From the year 1800, these things began to change; but down to 1829 it may be said that though in some sense we treated Ireland as a sister, it was as sister Cinderella. Dust and ashes were good enough for her; purple and fine linen were reserved for her sisters.
From 1829, however, we ceased to govern Ireland in that way. From that time there has been no feeling in this country with respect to Ireland, but 
a continuance of the really sisterly feeling which then commenced.  
Since that time it has been the sincere desire of all parties in England to govern Ireland for her good; but we have grievously faIled in knowing how to set about it.
Let me take a brief review of the things done for Ireland during that time. They may be easily counted."
Read about "the things done" here. He then wrote:
"These, then, are the things that we have done, since we began to do the best we could, the best we knew how to do, for Ireland; and I do not think they are well calculated to remove from the minds of the Irish people the bitterness which had been produced by our previous mode of government. If you say that there was nothing better to be done, you confess your incompetency to 
govern Ireland."
When introducing his 1870 Land Bill, Gladstone said, "each successive act of justice develops feelings of content and loyalty, and narrows the circle of disaffection." Roy Foster wrote:
"The real revolution [in Ireland] was the incremental destruction of the landlords under British legislation that altered their terms of ownership and, by a developing policy of legal coercion and financial inducement, created a property-owning peasantry. Looking back in the 1920s, Arthur Balfour, a Tory chief secretary for Ireland in the 1880s, would say that independent Ireland was ‘the Ireland we made’. He was not far wrong."
"If ever there was an United Ireland it was that which at one stroke and for ever put an end to the Land War — an infinitely deeper dividing-line between Irishmen than Home Rule, because it was a question of their very existence for tenants and landlords alike — and put an end to it by the co-operation of the warring classes themselves, and upon terms which have stood the test of satisfying both sides equally well. The Protestant and Presbyterian farmers who form the bulk of the Unionist inhabitants of Ulster — at all times as determined foes of Landlordism as the Catholics of the South — found themselves the owners in fee of their own lands and homesteads, and that through the direct agency of those whom they had been brought up to regard as the most extreme of the Nationalist leaders. The Unionist landlords themselves — again, thanks to that co-operation of the fiercest of their old Nationalist antagonists “ which alone made the Act of 1903 possible ” — became the happy possessors of an income as safe as the Bank of England, in lieu of one that had to be every year fought for by hateful and costly eviction campaigns, when it was not being hacked to pieces by Judicial Rent Commissioners or legislators at Westminster."
John Redmond on August 4 1914 said in the Commons:
"The sympathy of the Nationalists of Ireland, for reasons to be found deep down in centuries of history, has been estranged from this country. But allow me to say that what has occurred in recent years has altered the situation completely."
John Redmond on the state of Ireland in Britain (1915). Speaking in Dublin on July 1 1915, John Redmond gave a description of Ireland then, which provides a striking contrast to the narrative that describes the Catholic Irish as downtrodden by a harsh and unsympathetic system of government:
"Today the people, broadly speaking, own the soil. To-day the labourers live in decent habitations. To-day there is absolute freedom in local government and local taxation of the country. To-day we have the widest parliamentary and municipal franchise. The congested districts, the scene of some of the most awful horrors of the old famine days, have been transformed. The farms have been enlarged, decent dwellings have been provided, and a new spirit of hope and independence is to-day among the people. In towns legislation has been passed facilitating the housing of the working classes—a piece of legislation far in advance of anything obtained for the town tenants of England. We have a system of old-age pensions in Ireland whereby every old man and woman over seventy is safe from the workhouse and free to spend their last days in comparative comfort."
John Redmond said:
"[Ireland has] its feet firmly planted in the groundwork and foundation of a free nation."
Willie Redmond explained why he joined the British Army:
"I am firmly and absolutely convinced that the future freedom, welfare and happiness of the Irish people depend on the part Ireland plays in the war - There may be a few who think that the Germans would not injure Ireland, and that they would even benefit her. I hope the Clare people will rely on no such statements. If the Germans come here ― and they will if they reach Great Britain ― they will be our masters and we shall be at their mercy. What that mercy is likely to be, judge by the treatment given to Belgium. The Belgians never did the Germans any harm, and yet Belgium was invaded and the Belgian people massacred, and their homes and churches destroyed. A niece of my own, a nun, has been a victim ― driven from her convent home by shot and shell."
Willie Redmond wrote a letter from the front line, September 13 1916, read that here.

Eoin MacNeill wrote in February 1916 on the pros and cons of a rebellion:
"I do not know at this moment whether the time and the circumstances will yet justify distinct revolutionary action, but of this I am certain, that the only possible basis for successful revolutionary action is deep and widespread popular discontent. We have only to look around us in the streets to realise that no such condition exists in Ireland. A few of us, a small proportion, who think about the evils of English government in Ireland, are always discontented. We should be downright fools if we were to measure many others by the standards of our own thought."
Diarmaid Ferriter wrote:
"There is huge irony in the fact that the Irish social revolution of the late nineteenth century, in which the political and social power of the landed elite was broken by the tenanted, was succeeded a hundred years later by a class of landowners and speculators who were to exercise their domination of land in an even more invidious way than some of the most wretched nineteenth century land lords."
Conor Cruise O'Brien said that there had been a "social" and "political" revolution. He said during a speech delivered at New York University, November 30 1978, 'Ireland, Britain and America'
"In modern times, the interaction between Ireland and America has hinges on an interaction of Catholics - Irish Catholics at home in Ireland and descendants of Irish Catholics in the United States. That interaction, during the past 100 years, has had momentous effects. From the 1880s on, it played a major part in the destruction of the Irish landlord system, and its replacement by a system of small farmers among their own land. That was the major social revolution to occur in Ireland in modern times: more fundamental and more significant in human terms than the purely political revolution of the twentieth century. But that nineteenth-century social revolution was also implicitly and proleptically a political revolution."
Carson said in 1912:
"County councils have been set up in Ireland. I am not prepared to join in the panegyric which the right hon. Gentleman has pronounced about them. I think that if he knew a little more about them he would not have been so lavish with his praises of them. The University question has been settled. Primary education has been enormously improved. Above all, land purchase has been brought not to completion—because you for your political purposes have checked it—but a sum of some £115,000,000 raised upon British credit has been either paid over or agreed to be paid over under the land purchase system. Where would all that have come from if Home Rule had been granted in 1893? 
Bill was rejected. Take a speech made by Lord MacDonnell on 29th November. He said:— Within the last eight years he had seen marvellous improvements in the state of Ireland. He had seen confidence growing up. Men looked them in the face. Men were no longer afraid of the future. He put that down not to taxation of this or that; he put it down to land purchase, the first great remedial measure that had been introduced He himself was a Liberal; but counting the measures that had been introduced into Ireland in the last twenty years, the great majority had been introduced by the Conservative party. They would give them credit for that. From Mr. Balfour’s time in 1891 up to the present day there had been a succession of great things. Consequently they must admit that however Ireland might have suffered in the past, the day of her regeneration had already dawned. The Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture a short time ago said:— People talk about poor Ireland, but I have the opinion that relatively Ireland is doing quite as well as any part of the Empire. I will not trouble the House by going into figures to show that prosperity. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted it. But if anybody likes to go into the matter they will find that, whereas we were always being taunted in the old Home Rule discussions about the illiberality of this country towards Ireland, about the want of development in Ireland and the poverty of her citizens, the one boast of every Irishman now, whatever his political creed may be, is the advancing prosperity of his country and the progress that her citizens have made. It is that moment, when Ireland was progressing—to use the words of the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture—as fast and as greatly as any other portion of the Empire, when confidence was largely restored, when great differences were dying down, when men of all creeds were meeting each other in a spirit that, I think, has never existed there before—it is that moment that you select, before even these measures of which I have been speaking have reached their full fruition, to pack Ireland into the melting pot of discussion and the melting pot of all those political and religious passions which have in the past so distracted her from true economic progress and co-operation. I was surprised at the Prime Minister’s claim to-day about the cost of Ireland to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom."
Carson also said:
"The experience of a century of social and economic progress under the legislative Union with Great Britain has convinced [Ulstermen] that under no other system of government could more complete liberty be enjoyed by the Irish people."
Niall ferguson explained that by 1913 Irish wages were rapidly closing the Anglo-Irish gap - a Dublin building worker was earning around 90% of his London counterpart's pay. He said:
"Thanks to `Anglobalisation' -- that extraordinary integration of global markets for commodities, labour and capital that occurred under British leadership after 1850 -- Ireland experienced its first economic boom. It was Catholic peasants, not Anglo-Irish landlords, who benefited. The combination of falling grain prices and Liberal legislation to improve the lot of tenants meant that inequality within Ireland was significantly reduced."
The old physical force fenian O'Meagher Condon came to accept the parliamentaryism of Redmond and his party.Enda McKay said what happened in Ireland through the land reforms was "nothing short of a social revolution" (via Dermot Meleady). O’Meagher Condon, an original Fenian of Manchester infamy, returned from America to tour Ireland. John Redmond of the IPP took him in his car around the countryside and O’Meagher was most impressed by the notable improvement in affairs and the administration. Dermot said he said:
"If they had seen with their own eyes the improvements made over the country, and they were especially impressed by the restoration of the evicted tennants."
And he continued:
"He never expected to see that affected without recourse to force and he was glad and proud to admit that he was mistaken and that the Irish [Parliamentary] Party had been able to achieve results which they who believed in force had not been able to accomplish."
Thomas William Rolleston wrote in his paper ‘Ireland and Poland: A Comparison’:
"Irish had been permitted and paid for, though not markedly encouraged, since 1879. It was now placed on a list of subjects which might be taught in school hours, and extra fees were allotted for teaching it at the rate of ten shillings per pupil—twice the amount allowed for French, Latin, or music. Grants are also made to certain colleges where teachers of the language can be trained. All this began in 1901, and since that time over £12,000 a year has been paid for Irish teaching directly from Imperial funds—about twice the amount collected in the same period by voluntary contributions from Ireland and the rest of the world. Nor is this the limit of the grant; it is limited only by the willingness of school managers and parents to make use of it. Indirectly, the State is paying much more, for the various professorships and lectureships in Irish subjects—language history, archaeology, and economies—established under the National University account for well over £3,500 a year. Taking the direct expenditure on elementary education alone, the State has paid for Irish teaching since 1879 a sum of no less than £209,000. It may therefore be claimed that in cultivating her ancient language and native traditions, Ireland enjoys the fairest and most liberal treatment ever accorded to a small nationality incorporated in a great Empire."
Colm Tóibín said:
"I have always had a problem with the idea that our state was founded as a result of 1916. The rise of the Catholic middle classes throughout the nineteenth century made the emergence of some sort of state a certainty; and the civil war was fought not about the North but, in many instances, between the settled middle class and the men of no property. To glorify the Rising as a cataclysmic event in Irish history to the detriment of more abiding forces seemed to me to distort grossly what happened in the past."
Terence de Vere White wrote:
"[Arthur Griffiths] shows how the population [of Ireland] had halved since the Famine, without pointing out that it had doubled in the period between Union and the Famine." (Graph here.)
Philip Collins wrote:
"In 'The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine', Robert Conquest points out “that in the actions here recorded about twenty human lives were lost, not for every word, but every letter, in this book”. As Martin Amis adds, “that sentence represents 3,040 lives. The book is 411 pages long … guileless prepositions like ‘at’ and ‘to’ each represent the murder of six or seven large families”."
"In those days the Irish question, which now seems in incredibly small, soon absorbed nine-tents of the political field and was destined for forty years to remain the principle theme of British and Imperial politics. It divided Great Britain; it excited the United States; the nations of Europe followed the controversy with rapt attention. Foreign politics, social politics, defence, and Parliamentary procedure - all were continuously involved. Above all, it became the main process by which parties gained or lost the majorities indispensable to their power."
Professor Liam Kennedy wrote:
"Far from being a colony, Ireland was an integral part of the British polity and was overrepresented relative to its size of population at the Westminster parliament. It was this status and its fractious but intimate relationships with British society which facilitated the outcome. The impressive organisational achievements of Sinn Fein in creating the structures of an alternative state in Ireland and the force of the I.R.A.’s argument must be acknowledged. But it was liberal opinion in Britain, disdaining to use the massive coercive force available to it, which was the key element in securing political independence for (most) Irish nationalists. Had Ireland been a colonial possession the nature of the fighting would have been very different, the ratio between guerrilla and security forces’ deaths would have been much higher, and the overall casualties immeasurably higher. Ironically, the decisive element in the drive for secession and the realisation of an Irish free state was not the flying column but British public opinion."
Evelyn Morton from Co Cavan said in an interview for ‘The Forgotten People of Ulster - Stories of Orangeisn South of the Border’:
"I would considered myself Irish though I have respect for the British. I respect British rule for the part it played in our country. We owe a lot to Britain."
Professor Michael Laffan wrote:
"By the outbreak of the First World War the Land Acts had transferred the ownership of most of the land of Ireland from a largely Protestant aristocracy or gentry to (mainly) Catholic tenant farmers. The Irish social revolution was effectively over before the political and military revolution began. In 1912 the establishment of a home rule government and parliament in Dublin seemed imminent, although it was expected that special arrangements would be made for unionist Ulster. For most Irish nationalists the future seemed both promising and secure."
Myrtle Hill and John Lynch (with contributions by Fidelma Maguire) wrote:
"The period 1870 to 1914 is critical in the development of modern Ireland. Social and economic change, already at work and greatly accelerated by the Great Famine, moved rapidly during these decades. People have argued that, as a result, late nineteenth-century Ireland became one of the most politically modernised societies in Europe."
Professor Liam Kennedy wrote:
"Perhaps at base the tumultous events ["The violence-torn decade of 1913-23"] in Ireland during the revolutionary decade constituted a social revolution. Certainly there were agrarian agitations involving cattle drives, seizures of grazing farms, and demands for the redistribution of land in favour of local, land-hungry farmers. In 1917 there were spontaneous outbursts of small-farmer militancy in several districts in Ireland, especially in the West of Ireland. In some places the Irish Volunteers intervened on the side of the smallholders but by 1919 expressions of rural class interest were perceived by Sinn Fein and the I.R.A. as selfish distrations from the national struggle, and therefore to be discouraged. According to Peadar O’Donnell, ‘All the leadership wanted was a change from British to Irish government: they wanted no change in the basis of society. It was a political not a social revolution.’ 
The truth was these localised land agitations were largely side-shows, confined in the main to parts of the West of Ireland and patches of the midland counties. The problem for agrarian radicals was that the social revolution in land ownership had already taken place. The landed ascendancy had been relieved of its ownership of the farm land of Ireland by virtue of a series of reforms stretching back into the later nineteenth century, and culminating in the Wyndham Land Act of 1903 and the Birrell amendment to this act in 1909. A largely peaceful social transformation in the countryside had been concluded, and farmers took the full benefit of the boom in agricultural prices and farm incomes between 1914 and 1920. 
There was more scope for conflict farther down the social hierarchy, between farmers and labourers, as had been common in pre-Famine Irish society. By the early twentieth century rural labourers were less numerous than farmers in the countryside, but there were still significant numbers in the tillage counties of the south east and in the rich dairying lands of Cork and Limerick."
He continued:
"Class tensions were never very far beneath the social surface, adding to the complexity of the period. But however one might conceptualise what happened in Ireland in the decade before 1923, it certainly did not eventuate in a social revolution. Ironically, the social reforms which redistributed income and wealth most effectively had been initiated by the Westminster parliament some time earlier: the land acts, the measures to improve the housing of labourers, the introduction of state pensions to combat poverty in old age, and forms of social insurance for selected categories of workers from 1911."
John Dorney wrote:
"The 1903 Wyndham Act had subsidised Irish tenants with British government loans, repayable over 70 years, to buy out their landlords. Whereas in 1870, 97% of land was owned by landlords and 50% by just 750 families, by 1916, 70% of Irish farmers owned their own land. These reforms, which amounted to a peaceful revolution in land-holding in Ireland, took the sting out of the land question and largely explain why there was so little violence against the persons, as opposed to the property of the old landed class in 1919-1923."

John Morley wrote in 'The Life of Gladstone', published in 1907:
"A social revolution with the land league for its organ in Ireland, and Mr. Parnell and his party for its organ in parliament, now, in Mr. Gladstone’s words, rushed upon him and his government like a flood. The mind of the country was violently drawn from Dulcigno and Thessaly, from Batoum and Erzeroum, from the wild squalor of Macedonia and Armenia to squalor not less wild in Connaught and Munster, in Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Kerry. Agrarian agitation on the one hand, parliamentary violence on the other, were the two potent weapons by which the Irish revolutionary leader assailed the misrule of the British garrison as the agents of the British parliament in the country. This formidable movement slowly unmasked itself."
Ronnie O'Gorman wrote:
"Between 1869 and 1909 a revolution took place in land ownership in Ireland. A succession of Land Acts gradually reduced the powers of the landlord, and gave their former tenants the means and the opportunity to buy out their tenancy, and to own their own farms. Generous terms were given to tenants by the Wyndham Act of 1903."
Niall Ferguson wrote:
"Yet from 1850 onwards, things dramatically changed. There was a huge outflow of people from Ireland -- mainly to the United States, but also in large numbers to other parts of the empire: Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 
Their journeys were dangerous and uncomfortable, no doubt. But the work of economic historians such as Kevin O'Rourke has shown conclusively that the net effect of the Irish exodus was positive -- not only for the emigrants, whose living standards in the New World rapidly overtook those in the British Isles, but also for those who stayed behind, whose wages rose as the population declined. 
The dogmatic nationalists may not like to hear this, but the rate of growth of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in Ireland was around a third higher than it was in Britain. 
By 1913 Irish wages were rapidly closing the Anglo-Irish gap: a Dublin building worker was earning around 90 per cent of his London counterpart's pay. 
Thanks to 'Anglobalisation' -- that extraordinary integration of global markets for commodities, labour and capital that occurred under British leadership after 1850 -- Ireland experienced its first economic boom. It was Catholic peasants, not Anglo-Irish landlords, who benefited. The combination of falling grain prices and Liberal legislation to improve the lot of tenants meant that inequality within Ireland was significantly reduced. 
So Ireland went from being little India to being little Canada -- part of a thriving Atlantic economy. The tragedy was that this economic convergence between Ireland and Britain was not accompanied by a simple political concession."
Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin responded to the Easter Rising in 'Lessons of the Events in Dublin' and 'The Irish Rebellion of 1916' respectively. Trotsky wrote at one point:
"The historical basis for a national revolution has disappeared even in backward Ireland. Insofar as the Irish movements in the last century were popular in character, they always drew their strength from the social antagonism between the rightless and starving pauper-farmers and their all-powerful British landlords. But whereas for the latter Ireland was merely an object of exploitation by agrarian plundering, for British imperialism it was a necessary guarantee of domination of the seas... 
It was Gladstone who first set the military and imperial interests of Britain quite clearly higher than the interests of the Anglo-Irish landlords, and inaugurated a broad scheme of agrarian legislation whereby the landlords' estates were transformed, through the instrumentality of the state, to the farmers of Ireland--with of course generous compensation to the landlords. Anyhow, after the land reforms of 1881-1903 the farmers were transformed into conservative petty proprietors, whose attention the green flag of nationalism could no longer distract from their small holdings...

1916 WAS A POLITICAL, NOT A SOCIAL, REVOLUTION


Peadar O’Donnell said:
"All the leadership wanted was a change from British to Irish government: they wanted no change in the basis of society. It was a political not a social revolution."


THE RECALL OF THE REFORMING WHIG, EARL FITZWILLIAM (1795)



Earl Fitzwilliam, a whig favouring Catholic emcipation, was in 1795 installed then recalled as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He arrived in the January and departed Dublin in the March of 1795. On his arrival in Ireland, he found the carrying those stipulated measures was so pressing that it admitted of no delay. He dismissed Beresford, however, with the load upon the nation of a pension of £3,000 for him.

On 9 January Fitzwilliam informed John Beresford, First Commissioner of the Revenue and the leading supporter of Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland, that he was relieved of office with a pension of the same amount as his salary.

The Spectator wrote in September 1863:
"The Earl was at heart a strong friend of Catholic emancipation, but he seems to have agreed not to bring in any bill on the subject into the Irish Parliament, while Pitt, for his part, promised if Grattan introduced it that it should have full" consideration." This arrange- ment, however, was not made public, and the Earl and the Premier were alike in a false position. On the landing cf the new Lord- Lieutenant Catholics and Dissenters hurried to him with addresses full of anticipated sympathy on his part with their views. He did sympathize with them heartily, and was not the man to disguise his sympathy. The rumour of his friendly feelings soon spread, the agitation for emancipation gained fresh strength, petitions poured into the Irish Parliament, and Mr. Grattan was compelled—whatever he may have wished to do out of deference to Pitt—to introduce his bill at once. Then the ultra-Protestants of Ireland burst forth into violent expressions of indignation and alarm. Pitt wrote to Lord Fitzwilliam stating plainly, though courteously, that the Government could not approve of the bill. Lord Fitzwilliam, with the proud honour of a true Whig, at once summoned the Chancellor to his presence, and announced his intention to lay down his government and return to England within a very few days. On the 25th of March, 1795, he quitted Dublin, having only held the office since the preceding January. "The day of his departure was one of general gloom, the shops were shut, no business of any kind was transacted, and the greater part of the citizens put on mourning, while some of the most respectable among them drew his coach down to the wharf-side," and his departure and the arrival of his successor were followed by riots, particularly directed, as the mob said, " to extinguish " Mr. Beresford."
Edward Hay explained in his 1850 publication, “History of the Irish insurrection of 1798: giving an authentic account”, that at meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the county of Wexford, on March 23 1795, passed the following resolutions unanimously :
"Resolved That Earl Fitzwilliam, by the wisdom of his measures, and by calling to his councils those men who have at all times promoted the union and supported the interests of the people, and proved themselves the true friends of their king, the constitution, and their country, has deservedly obtained the confidence and merited the gratitude of Irishmen. 
Resolved That we have good reason to be convinced that the sudden recall of so PATRIOTIC a nobleman, at that moment when those friends of Ireland who had obtained his confidence were bringing for ward measures that would have promoted the UNION of the people, and increased the strength of the empire, could have no other source than in the malignant schemes and interference of a late administration, (supported by the influence of certain members of the British cabinet,) who knew that while his lordship remained in the government they could no longer pursue a detested system of measures which seemed more calculated for the purposes of corruption, oppression, and persecution, than the prosperity of the state."
Richard Robert Madden wrote in 'The United Irishmen, their lives and times' (1858) wrote:
"When the parliament met in 1793, the mandate came from the British ministry to accede to a partial emancipation of the Catholics. This was not all: in the session the House of Commons resolved that the national representation stood in need of reform ; they raised the hopes of the Irish but to blast them afterwards. This most impolitic conduct brought the Irish government into the utmost disrepute, and was followed by a declaration on the part of the Catholics in 1793, to stand or fall with their countrymen on the great question of obtaining a national representation. From this time the Irish government seemed to abandon all idea of conciliating the Catholics, and to think only of punishing them for what they thought ingratitude. In pursuance of this plan, all idea of Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform was scouted; British troops were poured into Ireland, and prosecutions commenced against some of the Catholic and Presbyterian leaders in 1794, on such evidence as clearly demonstrated they were undertaken from vindictive motives of resentment. These measures were calculated to eradicate the inveterate predilection for monarchv from the hearts of the Irish Catholics. 
In 1795, the British ministry appeared sensible of the consequences which had resulted from the measures which had been pursued hitherto in Ireland; and an attempt was entered on to regain the Catholics, by sending Lord Fitzwilliam, with powers to choose his own councils. The hopes of the national mind were raised, particularly of the Catholics; but the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam, the abandonment of the projected political changes, the renewal of the reign of terror and coercion, totally alienated the minds of the Catholics from their confirmed propensity to monarchy. No doubt, the French Revolution had a great and powerful effect in exciting the Catholics of Ireland to attain their long lost liberty; but it was the measures of the British ministry and the Irish government, which hurried them into their present violent detestation of monarchy and their present ardent love of representative democracy, which was confirmed in the minds of the very lowest orders, by being familiarized with the organization of the Union, and by observing its good effects."
William James MacNeven wrote in 'Pieces of Irish history : illustrative of the condition of the Catholics of Ireland', published in 1807:
"Mr. Grattan and his colleagues were scarcely arrived, when, finding that public expectation, particularly on the catholic question, had been awakened by the negociations in England, and by lord Fitzwilliam's appointment, they determined to begin without delay the system of conciliation, for which, as they conceived, they had received sufficient authority. It was therefore communicated so early as the 15th of December to some of the most active members of the late catholic committee, that lord Fitzwilliam had full powers to consent to the removal of all remaining disabilities ; but that, as opposition to that measure was naturally to be expected from the protestant ascendency, it behoved the catholics to be active in their own cause, and to be prepared with petitions from ail quarters." 
He continued:
"Lord Fitzwilliam had scarcely assumed the rein; of government, when he perceived the irresistible propriety of conceding all the rights, peculiarly withheld from the catholics."
He further continued:
"The press, however, was subsequently reduced almost to silence; and the recent coercive statutes had nearly annihilated all public efforts by united, or even liberal Irishmen, on any subject of general politics, except during the transitory administration of Lord Fitzwilliam."
In his examination before the secret committee of the House of Commons, William James Mac Nevin said, August 8 1798:
"When Lord Fitzwilliam was here, I considered the measure [Catholic Emancipation] a good one, as it would have removed the pretexts of those feuds and animosities which have desolated Ireland for two centuries, and have been lately so unhappily exacerbated ; but now that those evils have occurred, which the stay of that nobleman would have prevented, they are not little measures which can remedy the grievances of this country."
Thomas Cloney wrote in 'A personal narrative of those transactions in the county Wexford, in which the author was engaged, during the awful period of 1798' (1832):
"The arrival of Earl Fitzwilliam, in the year 1794, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, invested with full powers to emancipate the Catholics, was hailed by every good Christian, of whatsoever sect, and by every friend to humanity, as the opening of a new and auspicious era for this country. The great landed proprietors, the eminent mercantile men, the leading gentlemen in the different professions, the most active and esteemed members of the old Whig Club, and hast, but not leastin ardour and sincerity, the Catholics of every grade, pressed forward with professions of unalterable devotion and inviolable attachment to the family on the throne and to the British Constitution. Almost every class and sect in Ireland contended in the fiell of generous rivalry, in bestowing honours on the name, and pouring out blessings on the person of that Sovereign, who had manifested a desire to heal the bleeding wounds of a long-suffering and distracted people. 
There was, however, a party in Ireland, whose conduct formed an exception to that of those who indulged in this national jubilee and exultation. This was the Ascendancy party, which had been for some time closely linked with the British Tories, by ties of Congenial feeling."
He continued:
"It seems the commentary went to prove, that no British Sovereign could emancipate his Catholic subjects, according to the Coronation Oath, without being guilty of actual perjury. George the third, whose religious conceptions were as luminous as his political wisdom, was known to be profound, because, horror struck at the construction put upon his oath by the wily Commissioner, and his clerical friends, and from the day that he had heard the Protestant commentary on the Coronation Oath read by old John Beresford, to the day that he finally lost all power of reasoning, nothing excited his choler so much as to hear one word spoken about Catholics, or Catholic Emancipation. To the hasty and contumelious dismissal of Earl Fitzwilliam from the Government of Ireland, is justly attributed much to the calamities which were consequent on the Insurrection of 1798, and those who are aware of the mercurial temperament of the Irish people, were only astonished that they remained in a sullen torpor for three years after the departure of that nobleman. 
Shortly after his ill-omened removal, every engine which the demoniac malice of the leading Ascendancy factions could employ, was put into requisition to goad the people into resistance to the constituted authorities."
Thomas Davis wrote in 'The speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran' (1845)
"Another glimmer of conciliation broke in. Lord Fitzwilliam came here early in 1795, with, ’twas said, a carte-blanche to carry Emancipation and Reform, and expel the undertakers and ascendancy party from office. Curran was to have been Solicitor-General. Had this policy been carried out, we would have been saved the horrors of 1798, and the conquest of 1800. Perchance the United Irish party would have continued their labours, and a war would have followed ; but it would have been a national, not a civil war, and its result would have been separation, not provincialism. Lord Fitzwilliam was not rapid enough; he allowed the Beresfords to rally their friends, and when he came to dismiss one of them, whom he could not retain consistently with his policy, he was met by a Court opposition, having the bigot and lunatic King at its head. Beresford was kept in, — Fitzwilliam recalled — Emancipation and Reform spurned, and coercion resumed. 
This was a triumph for the separation party. An Irish Republic now became the only object of the United Irish ; and such being the case, the bulk of the Presbyterians of Down, Antrim, and Tyrone joined, as did multitudes of Protestants and Catholics in Leinster. At this time the Catholics of the North were Defenders or Ribbonmen."
Henry Sheares said before the Special Commission in Dublin held on the 4th and 12th July 1798:
"I noticed the formation of the United Irish Society, in 1791, for the achievement of Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform, and its increase, in 1792-3, retaining its original objects. In 1794, the views of Tone and Neilson, who both desired an independent republic, spread ; but the formal objects were unchanged, when, on the 10th of May, 1795,* the organization of Ulster was completed. The recal of Lord Fitzwilliam, and the consequent disappointment of the Roman Catholics — the accumulation of coercive laws — the prospect of French alliance, and the natural progress of a quarrel, rapidly spread the influence, and altered the whole character of the Society."


Beresford and the King were too much for Pitt and Fitzwilliam.



MICHAEL DAVITT



Michael Davitt explained in his 1904 publication ‘The fall of feudalism in Ireland: Or The story of the Land League revolution’ that his combined programme of constitutional-and-revolutionary agitation had “dethroned land-lordism and shaken Dublin-Castle rule to its foundations”.

His campaign was “The struggle for the soil of Ireland” and a struggle for “the soil and rule of the Celtic fatherland”. The goal was articulated:
"The purpose of the Land League, to destroy landlordism and to demoralize Dublin-Castle rule so as to force a settlement of the agrarian and national problems on radical but rational lines."
Ireland saw the Tory party come to advocate land purchase on the lines of the Land-League programme. By 1910 Ireland saw the near complete expropriation of the land lords. Davitt wrote in the preface to 'The story of the Land League revolution’ (1904):
"In the following pages I tell the story of an Irish movement which sprang without leaders from the peasantry of the country a movement which, despite the mistakes and quarrels of some subsequent political guides, has achieved for Ireland the following among other results: 
The Land Act of 1881, completely revolutionizing the system of land tenure upheld in Ireland for over two centuries by English rule. 
An Arrears Act, under which the British Legislature sanctioned a breach of contract in rent oppressive to agricultural tenants in its conditions. 
Laborers’ Dwellings Acts, embodying a rational principle of state socialism. 
The conversion of Mr. Gladstone and the English Liberal party from the rule of Ireland by Dublin Castle and coercion to the framing of a constitution which would confer a Home Rule government upon the Irish people. 
The conversion of the English Tory party to the Land League plan of land reform of 1880 that the only true solution of the Irish agrarian question was to be found in the purchase of the landlords’ interest in the land by the tenant, through the means of a state credit loaned at low interest. 
The passing of the Ashbourne Purchase Act of 1885 (supplemented in 1888), and the loan of £10,000,000 of such credit as a means to this end. 
The temporary adhesion of noted Tory leaders to the Home Rule idea, in 1885-86
The introduction by Mr. Gladstone and his party of a Home Rule bill into Parliament in 1886
The enactment in 1887 by Lord Salisbury’s ministry of a land bill which nullified leases, statutory and otherwise, revised more land court rents, and carried other Land League principles into law. 
The enactment of the Land Act of 1891, by the Unionist government, which provided 33,000,000 more, in additional state credit, for the further buying out of Irish landlords. 
The creation of the Congested Districts Board of Ireland, with large powers for the application of the principles of state socialism, as a remedy for industrial conditions begotten of the worst evils of landlordism, in the West of Ireland. 
The passage of a bill through the House of Commons, in 1893, proposing to confer a Home Rule legislature upon Ireland, by a vote of 347 members against an opposing vote of 304. The bill was defeated in the House of Lords. 
The enactment of a law in 1896, under a Unionist government, which aided still more the elimination of the English rent system from the tenure of land in Ireland. 
The enactment of a measure in 1898, also under an anti-Home Rule ministry, conferring a limited "Home Rule” upon each county in Ireland, in the form of Elective Councils, for the management of rural affairs; a measure deemed to be a “half-way house” towards a Central National Assembly for the whole country; and The passing into law, in 1903, also under a Unionist government, of a bill by means of which 112, 000, 000 more of further state credit is to be employed in buying out what previous purchase acts have left of the English landlord system in Ireland. 
The book will narrate the ways and means by which a revolution, more or less on the lines of a passive resistance, accomplished these reforms."
In 1865, Davitt joined the IRB. The Fenians aimed to establish a democratic, secular republic by revolutionary means. It had links with Marx’s International Workingmen’s Association, the First International.

After the failed revolution of 1867, Davitt and others continued their struggle. Arrested in London in 1870 and jailed until 1877, he then emigrated to America. His time in jail led to the New Departure. Davitt explained the New Departure here. He came to advocate social change and came into the fold of Parnell. He returned from America in 1879.

Under the threat of famine and weight of rent mass resistance was organised until fair rents were agreed. Davitt and the agrarian radicals saw their chance.

On 16th August 1879, the National Land League of Mayo was formed, as explained by Davitt here.

On on October 21st the Irish National Land League was founded in Dublin, as explained by Davitt here, Parnell was President

The creation of the Land League in 1879 for the first time brings the rural masses onto the historical stage.

The ensuring Land War of the 1880s broke the power of the landlords in Ireland. Michael Davitt was central to this process that led to the transfer of the ownership of the land of Ireland to the people. It aimed at and gained security for tenant farmers and later the transfer of land ownership from landlord to tenant.

Their programme included a national campaign of withholding rents, social and political agitation, and Parliamentary action. Davitt himself was elected to Westminster.

During the three years of the Land War, despite the jailing of Davitt and others, the Land League secured the “Three F’s” – Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure (the right not to be easily evicted), and Free Sale.

The Land Leaguers had demonstrated the power of the united action of the poor to achieve real change that improved their lives.


OVERVIEW


The Wyndham Land Purchase Act of 1903 brought an end to contentious land wars waged between landlords and tenants in Ireland starting with the poor yields of the 1877 harvest. It was finally Wyndham's legislation that led to Ireland's most important land reforms that allowed farmers to purchase their lands en masse from their landlords with government loans modeled to split the difference between what the farmers were willing to pay and what the landlords were willing to accept. 

In 1795 the British government established a college at Maynooth for the education of priests.

The 1800s saw wave after war of incoming legislation aimed at long due reform.

The repeal of the Test Act in 1828. The economic reforms of the 1820s. Catholic Emancipation came in 1829. The 1832 Reform Act. Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1848 and the extension of the franchise in 1867.

Irish Church Act disestablished the Church of Ireland in 1869, the special position of the Anglican Communion having been a cause for annoyance to Presbyterians and Roman Catholics, who had to pay taxes to a church they did not attend or wish to attend. Edmund Burke had written in his 1792 letter:
"This oath as effectually prevents the King from doing any thing to the prejudice of the church in favour of Secretaries, Jews, Mahometans, or plain avowed Infidels; just as if he should do the same thing in favour of the Catholics. You will fee, that it is the same Protestant Church so described, which the King is to maintain and communicate with, according to the act of settlement of the 12th and 13th of William III. The act of the 5th of Ann, made in prospect of the union, is entitled, “An act for securing the “Church of England as by law established.” It meant to guard the Church implicitly against any other mode of Protestant religion which might creep in by means of the union. It proves beyond all doubt, that the Iesgislature did not mean to guard the church on one part only, and to leave it defenceless and exposed upon every other. This church, in that act, is declared to be “fundamental and essential” for ever, in the constitution of the united kingdom, so far as England is concerned; and I suppose as the law frauds, even since the independence, it is so in Ireland."
Lloyd George social reforms - notably the five shillings a week old-age pension for those over 70.

Ireland was far ahead of Britain in education because of the national system of education, introduced in 1831. Though there was some regional variation, overall levels of illiteracy (a standard measure of the development of any society) fell rapidly, from 53% in 1841 to 18% in 1891.

The Education Act of 1870, then later the 1947 education act which granted education to many more Catholics from Northern Ireland.

The Butler Education Act of 1944 in Northern Ireland finally allowed many Catholic children the same access to grammar school education as their Protestant counterparts.

We can argue that the land acts of the late 1800s were deigned to reverse dispossession. Ireland became a land of peasant proprietors, insecure tenants no more.



Alarmed at the large number of evictions on the Clanricarde estate the British parliament set up the Evicted Tenants Commission in the autumn of 1892.

The 1898 local government act saw directly elected councils introduced to Wales in 1888 and Scotland in 1889. It was Delayed in Ireland due to civil unrest.

Chief Secretary George Wyndham who oversaw many of the reforms was the grandson of the aristocratical revolutionary Lord Edward Fitzgerald.


FURTHER READING


Niall Ferguson wrote on the debit and credit of British involvement in Ireland:
"In 1500 the average Briton's income had probably been about 45 per cent higher than the average Irishman's. By 1820 that gap had become a gulf: British incomes were nearly two-and-a-half times those in Ireland. 
Instead of being Massachusetts, Ireland was fast becoming India. 
Yet from 1850 onwards, things dramatically changed. There was a huge outflow of people from Ireland -- mainly to the United States, but also in large numbers to other parts of the empire: Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 
Their journeys were dangerous and uncomfortable, no doubt. But the work of economic historians such as Kevin O'Rourke has shown conclusively that the net effect of the Irish exodus was positive -- not only for the emigrants, whose living standards in the New World rapidly overtook those in the British Isles, but also for those who stayed behind, whose wages rose as the population declined. 
The dogmatic nationalists may not like to hear this, but the rate of growth of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in Ireland was around a third higher than it was in Britain. 
By 1913 Irish wages were rapidly closing the Anglo-Irish gap: a Dublin building worker was earning around 90 per cent of his London counterpart's pay. 
Thanks to 'Anglobalisation' -- that extraordinary integration of global markets for commodities, labour and capital that occurred under British leadership after 1850 -- Ireland experienced its first economic boom. It was Catholic peasants, not Anglo-Irish landlords, who benefited. The combination of falling grain prices and Liberal legislation to improve the lot of tenants meant that inequality within Ireland was significantly reduced. 
So Ireland went from being little India to being little Canada -- part of a thriving Atlantic economy. The tragedy was that this economic convergence between Ireland and Britain was not accompanied by a simple political concession. 
'Home Rule' had effectively been granted to Canada, Australia and New Zealand by the time Gladstone proposed restoring Dublin's own parliament and granting the Irish a degree of political autonomy. Yet unionists in Westminster and the north-east of Ireland doggedly opposed the idea. Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudices combined to sabotage the only viable non-violent solution to the Irish question. 
"But wait a minute," comes the nationalist response. "Look how well southern Ireland has done since gaining its independence from the Brits." 
The latest figures from the OECD suggest that Ireland's per capita GDP is now higher than Britain's. Far from Ireland being a failed Scotland, Scotland now looks distinctly like -- I hate to admit it -- a failed Ireland. And how could the Celtic tiger ever have emerged as long as it was being sat on by the British lion? 
The trouble with this argument is that Ireland's prosperity is the fruit of barely ten years of economic success. For most of the period after partition the Free State/Republic performed dismally: growth was 20 per cent lower in Ireland between 1913 and 1950 than it was in Britain. 
Only when the Irish re-embraced globalisation in the 1990s -- in other words, only when they reverted to the economically liberal policies the British had pioneered a century ago -- did they achieve their economic miracle. 
It goes without saying that Ireland's recent riches are the fruit as much of economic dependence as of political independence: dependence, above all, on American capital and European subsidies. 
Drawing up historical balance sheets is never easy. When it comes to British Ireland, it is especially hard. Even today, four centuries after the first plantations, the `Brits' are a long way from being forgiven for their sins. 
Yet the Irish were not only victims of empire. As emigrants (and indeed as soldiers) they were also among the beneficiaries of Anglobalisation."
George Bernard Shaw wrote a review of J.A. Partridge’s ‘The Making of the Irish Nation’, September 18 1886 and noted that “the mass of the English people are not only guiltless of her wrongs, but have themselves borne a heavier yoke.” Here’s the best of the review:
"The unpolicied reviewer, writing without editorial responsibility, may perhaps be permitted to opine that neither history from the Nationalist nor sociology from the Imperialist point of view will assuage Ireland longing for separation. History so written is a sensational tale of an atrocious wrong done by England: sociology so considered is a plea for leaving matters as they are until the Imperial project is ripe for execution. The one makes the Irishman grind his teeth and hide a pike under his straw mattress; the other tempts Englishmen to postpone a question that will not wait. Why does not some Democratic Internationalist declare the fact, unseen by the indignant Nationalist and over-looked by the future-dreaming Imperialist, that the people of England have done the people of Ireland no wrong whatever? What voice in the councils of the younger Pitt has the English yoke-fellows of the '98 rebels? What were the sufferings against which the Irish then rose compared with those which led to the first abortive Factory Act of 1802? Surely the English people, in factory, mine, an sweater’s workshop, had reason to envy the Irish peasant, who at the worst starved on the open hillside instead of rotting in a fetid tenement rookery. Irish landlords may have shewn themselves "vultures with bowels of iron”; but are they not extant in factory inspectors’ reports, Royal Commissioners’ reports, philanthropic protests, “Butter Cries,” and utterances of our Shaftsburys and Oastlers (not to mention Mrs Reaney), records of rapacious and cruel English capitalists while little fingers were thicker than the loins of the real masters of Ireland? Allusions to these matters are suppressed in polite society, and they are consequently seldom made except by the orators of the street corner; but when book after book from the press, and speech after speech from the platform, lay upon all England the odium of misdeeds that no Irishman can contemplate without intense bitterness - that too many cannot think if without bloodthirsty rage - it is surely expedient to point out that most distressful country that she has borne no more than her share of the growing pains of human society, and that the mass of the English people are not only guiltless of her wrongs, but have themselves borne a heavier yoke."
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