Land War
The Land War in Irish history
History of Ireland
The first known settlement in Ireland began around 8000 BC, when hunter-gatherers arrived from continental Europe, probably via a land bridge. Few archaeological traces remain of this group, but their descendants and later Neolithic arrivals, particularly from the Iberian Peninsula, were...

 was a period of agrarian agitation in rural Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The agitation was led by the 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...

 and was dedicated to bettering the position of tenant farmers and ultimately to a redistribution
Redistribution (economics)
Redistribution of wealth is the transfer of income, wealth or property from some individuals to others caused by a social mechanism such as taxation, monetary policies, welfare, nationalization, charity, divorce or tort law. Most often it refers to progressive redistribution, from the rich to the...

 of land to tenants from landlords, especially absentee landlords. While there were many violent incidents and some deaths in this campaign, it was not actually a "war", but rather a prolonged period of civil unrest.


In February 1870 the Land Conference, at a public sitting, passed resolutions condemning "capricious evictions" and demanding
  • "permanent fixture of the tenant in the soil"
  • eviction
    How you doing???? Eviction is the removal of a tenant from rental property by the landlord. Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction, eviction may also be known as unlawful detainer, summary possession, summary dispossess, forcible detainer, ejectment, and repossession, among other terms...

     only on non-payment of rent
  • right of sale of interest by the tenant
  • the establishment of local land tribunals and the valuation of rent.

At this point, most Irish tenant farmers outside Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 had few rights at law. The "Ulster Custom"
Custom of Ulster
The Custom of Ulster gave tenants of this province of Ireland a reasonable expectation of security of tenure so long as they paid their rent, and also allowed them to sell the right to occupy their holding to another tenant acceptable to the landlord. It was believed to be one reason for the...

 was itself an informal extra-legal business practise designed to attract busier and richer tenants. Tenant farmers had no right to be given a written lease, and when a rental agreement (usually for 12 months) ended they could be evicted. When evicted they could not claim compensation for any improvements they had made on their farm, which was not the case in Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 or Ulster. If they had a lease
A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee to pay the lessor for use of an asset. A rental agreement is a lease in which the asset is tangible property...

 they could not sell the remaining term.

Later in 1870 James Godkin
James Godkin
James Godkin was an Irish author and journalist who was influential on ecclesiastical and land questions.-Early life and family:Godkin was born at Gorey in County Wexford, into a Roman Catholic farming family...

's influential book "The Land-War In Ireland A History For The Times" was published, listing the long-standing nature of the tenants' grievances and giving the name to the ensuing dispute.

Irish Land Act 1870

Also in February 1870 the Prime Minister Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 introduced his "Act to amend the Law relating to the Occupation and Ownership of Land in Ireland", formally titled as the Landlord & Tenant (Ireland) Act 1870. This had passed into law rapidly in August, reforming some unfair contractual aspects where a land tenancy was economically viable. Gladstone found that Irish and English tenant farmers had different rights, and the aim was to equalize them.

Unfortunately the 1870 reforms became less relevant in the worsening economics of the following decade. Farm produce prices and earnings had been strong in the 1850s and 1860s, leading Irish tenant farmers to agree to pay higher rents. This was followed by years of low world prices, bad weather and poor harvests after 1874 all over Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, known now as the "Long Depression
Long Depression
The Long Depression was a worldwide economic crisis, felt most heavily in Europe and the United States, which had been experiencing strong economic growth fueled by the Second Industrial Revolution in the decade following the American Civil War. At the time, the episode was labeled the Great...

". Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 from new sources, such as the USA and the Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and refrigerated meat from Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, were imported into Europe, keeping prices low for producers there. Many consider that the spark that set off the events in Ireland was the murder of the unpopular Earl of Leitrim
William Clements, 3rd Earl of Leitrim
William Sydney Clements, 3rd Earl of Leitrim was an Anglo-Irish nobleman and landlord.Born in Dublin, he was educated at Sandhurst and was commissioned an Ensign in the 43rd Foot in 1824...

 at Carrigart
Carraig Airt is a small Gaeltacht village in the Barony of Kilmacrenan to the north of County Donegal, Republic of Ireland.The village is on the R245 route between Letterkenny and Creeslough...

 in April 1878. The three assailants went unpunished due to a lack of evidence as no witness wanted to testify against them.

Further, the term of most Irish land tenancies had reduced from a typical 31 years or "lease for three lives" in the 18th century down to annual or 11-month tenancies after 1850. This made Gladstone's attempt to equalise them with long-term English tenancies impractical, and caused tenants a considerable degree of insecurity. English tenants could also claim for the value of improvements and fertilisers when a lease came up for renewal; this sometimes applied in Ulster (the so-called "Ulster Custom"), but not in Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

, the crucible of the Land War.

The Long Depression resulted in violence and widespread upheavals and extensive evictions when Irish tenant farmers were unable or unwilling to pay their rents and resorted to a rent strike
Rent strike
A rent strike is a method of protest commonly employed against large landlords. In a rent strike, a group of tenants come together and agree to refuse to pay their rent en masse until a specific list of demands is met by the landlord...

. This was the case particularly in Connacht where the land is poorer, weather is wetter, farmers were poorer and there were fewer Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

 on the ground. The first "monster meeting" (a huge rally) of tenant farmers was held on 20 April 1879
1879 in Ireland
-Events:*20 April - First of many "monster meetings" of tenant farmers held in Irishtown near Claremorris, County Mayo.*8 June - Charles Stewart Parnell at Westport, County Mayo meeting.*16 August - Land League of Mayo founded at Castlebar....

 near Claremorris
Claremorris , is a town in County Mayo in the west of Ireland, at the junction of the N17 and the N60 national routes. The population of Claremoris in the 2011 Census was 3,979....

 in County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

. This was followed by the localised, but worrying, 1879 famine
Irish Famine (1879)
The Irish famine of 1879 was the last main Irish famine. Unlike the earlier Great Famines of 1740-1741 and 1845-1849 the 1879 famine caused hunger rather than mass deaths, due to changes in the technology of food production, different structures of land-holding The Irish famine of 1879 was the...

 that occurred mainly in Connacht.

Land League 1879

The Land League was founded in 1879 by Michael Davitt
Michael Davitt
Michael Davitt was an Irish republican and nationalist agrarian agitator, a social campaigner, labour leader, journalist, Home Rule constitutional politician and Member of Parliament , who founded the Irish National Land League.- Early years :Michael Davitt was born in Straide, County Mayo,...

 - a former Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Republican Brotherhood
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century...

 member and radical politician. Initially it had sought reforms including the "Three Fs
Three Fs
The Three Fs were a series of demands first issued by the Tenant Right League in their campaign for land reform in Ireland from the 1850s. They were,...

" - Fair rent, Fixity of tenure and Free sale, which were conceded and then enacted by the British Government between 1870 and 1881. With Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell was an Irish landowner, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party...

, leader of mainstream Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 and the Irish Parliamentary Party
Irish Parliamentary Party
The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament elected to the House of Commons at...

 as its President, it included other agrarian agitators and activists William O'Brien
William O'Brien
William O'Brien was an Irish nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, John Dillon
John Dillon
John Dillon was an Irish land reform agitator from Dublin, an Irish Home Rule activist, a nationalist politician, a Member of Parliament for over 35 years, and the last leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party....

, Timothy Healy
Timothy Michael Healy
Timothy Michael Healy, KC , also known as Tim Healy, was an Irish nationalist politician, journalist, author, barrister and one of the most controversial Irish Members of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 and Willie Redmond. Rents were paid in full to League organizers or local parish priests, who then tried to negotiate a discount
Discounts and allowances
Discounts and allowances are reductions to a basic price of goods or services.They can occur anywhere in the distribution channel, modifying either the manufacturer's list price , the retail price , or the list price Discounts and allowances are reductions to a basic price of goods or services.They...

 with the landlord in settlement of the rents owed. Though rents were reduced judicially during 1881-82 by the new Land Commission, further discounts were sought. Agricultural labourers that were sub-tenants of tenant farmers were still expected to pay their rents.

The traditional view of the Land War in Ireland has been of the displacement of a Protestant Ascendancy
Protestant Ascendancy
The Protestant Ascendancy, usually known in Ireland simply as the Ascendancy, is a phrase used when referring to the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland by a minority of great landowners, Protestant clergy, and professionals, all members of the Established Church during the 17th...

 class and the often absentee landlord
Absentee landlord
Absentee landlord is an economic term for a person who owns and rents out a profit-earning property, but does not live within the property's local economic region. This practice is problematic for that region because absentee landlords drain local wealth into their home country, particularly that...

s. The former ascendancy had been on the decline since the Great Hunger of the late 1840s, and for them the problem was that previously agreed rents could not be paid after the slump in prices from 1874; some allowed generous rent rebates while others stuck to the agreements and enforced their property rights. Some were already owed rent and many had mortgaged
Mortgage loan
A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real property through the use of a mortgage note which evidences the existence of the loan and the encumbrance of that realty through the granting of a mortgage which secures the loan...

 their property and needed the rents to pay the mortgage costs. Many new landlords since the famine were Irish Catholics, but were still associated with the Ascendancy because of their wealth. A survey of the 4,000 largest Irish landlords in 1872 revealed that 71% lived on their estates or elsewhere in Ireland. By then, 43% of all proprietors were Roman Catholics, though the richest owners were mostly Anglicans.

Rent strikes often led to evictions. Land League members resisted the evictions en masse during the Land War, resulting in enforcement of evictions by court judgements for possession that were carried out by the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary. Murders of some landlords, their agents and policemen, as well as attacks on supportive witnesses and on their property and animals, all occurred as reprisal
In international law, a reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of international law to punish another sovereign state that has already broken them. Reprisals in the laws of war are extremely limited, as they commonly breached the rights of civilians, an action outlawed by the Geneva...

s for evictions. In response, the British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 were often deployed to back up the police, restore law and order and enforce evictions, after the Coercion Acts were passed. For protesting tenants, these Acts were a form of martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

; their opponents saw it as the only way to guarantee their legal rights.


The most effective method of the Land League was the boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

, which took its name from when an unpopular landlord's agent, Charles Boycott
Charles Boycott
Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott was a British land agent whose ostracism by his local community in Ireland as part of a campaign for agrarian tenants' rights in 1880 gave the English language the verb to boycott, meaning "to ostracise"...

, was ostracized by the local community. Boycotting was also applied to tenants who wanted to pay their rent, and to the police, as well as shops and other businesses who traded with boycotted people. The boycotts were often extremely effective, since they were unquestionably lawful under the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

, non-violent, and effectively punitive: since nobody is forced to join a boycott, it was a voluntary act, through private agreement, and consequently there was no common law remedy against it, since the right to not engage in commerce, socialization, or friendship is implicit in the right to engage in commerce, socialization, or friendship. Those who broke a boycott, and their families, however, could expect to be subject to social and informal sanctions for breaking a boycott, such as shunning, ostracism, or extension of the boycott to them. This proved an extraordinarily effective remedy against mistreatment, theoretically allowing people who believed they were being mistreated to counteract their situation purely through voluntary, non-violent, and unquestionably lawful means.

A minority also used violence on boycott-breakers and threats to ensure compliance. The fatal shooting of Peter Dempsey
Peter Dempsey (Kiltullagh)
Peter Dempsey was a tenant farmer who was murdered during the Irish Land War in 28 May, 1881. He was shot to death while walking to Mass with his two daughters across a field mass path....

 in 1881 was an example; he was a tenant farmer near Loughrea
Loughrea is a town in County Galway, Ireland. The town lies north of a range of wooded hills, the Slieve Aughty Mountains.The town expanded in recent years as it increasingly becomes a commuter town for the city of Galway.- Name :...

 who was shot while walking his two daughters to Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

, using a mass path
Mass path
A mass path is a pedestrian track or road connecting destinations frequently used by rural communities, most usually the destination of Sunday Mass. They were most common during the centuries that preceded motorised transportation in Western Europe, and in particular the British Isles; and the...

 across a boycotted farm.

The boycott was particularly effective in the communities of rural Ireland. Ostracism made it very difficult to acquire food and other necessities; compliance with a boycott or leaving a community were the stark options.

Parallel violence

Alongside the Land War small nationalist groups such as the "Invincibles
Irish National Invincibles
The Irish National Invincibles, usually known as "The Invincibles" were a radical splinter group of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and leading representatives of the Land League movement, both of Ireland and Britain...

" murdered two senior politicians in the 1882 Phoenix Park Murders
Phoenix Park Murders
The Phoenix Park Murders were the fatal stabbings on 6 May 1882 in the Phoenix Park in Dublin of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke. Cavendish was the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Burke was the Permanent Undersecretary, the most senior Irish civil servant...

, heightening tensions. In the same year the murders of bailiff
A bailiff is a governor or custodian ; a legal officer to whom some degree of authority, care or jurisdiction is committed...

s and loyalists at Lough Mask
Lough Mask
Lough Mask is a limestone lough of 22,000 acres in County Mayo, Ireland, north of Lough Corrib. Lough Mask is the upper of the two lakes, which empty into the Corrib River, through Galway, into Galway Bay. The lake is visited for its trout fishing...

, Maamtrasna
Maumtrasna is a mountain in County Mayo, Ireland.The name derives from its Irish name which is roughly translated as the "Mountain pass crossing".- References :*...

 and Castleisland
Castleisland is a town and commercial centre in County Kerry in south west Ireland. The town is renowned for the width of its main street. Castleisland has a population of 2,170....

 were widely publicised; nationalists and Land Leaguers argued that packed pro-government juries had convicted and executed the wrong men, while their opponents argued that the victims' families had to have redress. Violence used ostensibly in the name of the League also overlapped with robbery; the murder of John O'Connell Curtin in County Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

 in November 1885, when resisting a band of "moonlighters" who wanted to rob his gun shop, came to international attention. Curtin was a Catholic tenant farmer; after his burial his family were boycotted locally for naming his murderers to the police, and were therefore obliged to sell their farm lease and leave their home in April 1888. The bitterness and distrust engendered in the Land War, and the suffering on both sides, were emotive elements in the movement for Irish Home Rule and the eventual partition of Ireland
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...


Land League suppressed

After the general election of April 1880
United Kingdom general election, 1880
-Seats summary:-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987* British Electoral Facts 1832-1999, compiled and edited by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher *...

 with the land war still raging, Parnell believed then that supporting land agitation was a means to achieving his objective of self-government. Prime Minister Gladstone attempted to resolve the land question with Balfour
Arthur Balfour
Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, DL was a British Conservative politician and statesman...

’s dual ownership Second Land Act of 1881, but it failed to eliminate tenant evictions. Parnell and his party lieutenants, William O'Brien, John Dillon, Michael Davitt and Willie Redmond went into a bitter verbal offensive against the Act and were imprisoned in October 1881 in Kilmainham Jail, together with other prominent members of the League, under the Irish Coercion Act
Irish Coercion Act
The Protection of Person and Property Act 1881 was one of more than 100 Coercion Acts passed by the Parliament of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland between 1801 and 1922, in an attempt to establish law and order in Ireland. The 1881 Act was passed by parliament and introduced by...

. Together in jail it was easy to decide what action to take. The famous No Rent Manifesto was issued calling for a national tenant farmer rent strike. Finally, on 20 October the Government moved to suppress the Land League.

A genuine No Rent campaign was virtually impossible to organise, and many tenants were more interested in ‘putting the Land Act to the test’. It further seemed that the Coercion Act, instead of banishing agrarian crime, had only intensified it. Although the League discouraged violence, agrarian crimes increased widely. For the ten months before the Land Act was passed (March–December 1880), the number of "outrages" were 2,379, but in the corresponding period of 1881 with the Act in full operation the numbers were 3,821. The figures to March 1882, with Parnell in jail, showed a continued increase.

It was time for both sides to calm the situation. In April 1882 Parnell moved to make a deal with the government, seeing militancy would never win Home Rule. The settlement, known as the Kilmainham Treaty
Kilmainham Treaty
The Kilmainham Treaty was an agreement reached in May 1882 between the United Kingdom Government under William Ewart Gladstone and the Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell...

, involved withdrawing the manifesto and undertaking to move against agrarian crime. By 2 May all internees were released from jail, Davitt on the 6 May, the day of the Phoenix Park murders. With the Land League still suppressed, Parnell resurrected it with much ceremony together with Davitt on 17 October, proclaimed as a new organisation called the Irish National League.

Plan of Campaign 1886

Preceded by economic difficulties due to droughts in 1884 and 1887 as well as industrial depression in England causing shrinking markets, the 1886-91 Plan of Campaign
Plan of Campaign
The Plan of Campaign was a stratagem adopted in Ireland between 1886 and 1891, co-ordinated by Irish politicians for the benefit of tenant farmers, against mainly absentee and rack-rent landlords. It was launched to counter agricultural distress caused by the continual depression in prices of dairy...

 was a more focused version of agitation and rent strikes. Organised by Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) members such as Tim Healy, it copied Davitt's methods while disassociating the party from his more radical views. Lord Clanricarde
Hubert de Burgh-Canning, 2nd Marquess of Clanricarde
Hubert George de Burgh-Canning, 2nd Marquess of Clanricarde , was an Anglo-Irish ascendancy nobleman and politician....

 had evicted many tenants and became the main target. Given the extended franchise
Representation of the People Act 1884
In the United Kingdom, the Representation of the People Act 1884 and the Redistribution Act of the following year were laws which further extended the suffrage in Britain after the Disraeli Government's Reform Act 1867...

 allowed in 1884, the IPP had to gain credibility with the larger number of new voters, choosing the group that was most likely to support it; the low-to-middle-income rural electorate. Most IPP members were Catholic, and appealed to Rome for moral support. So did the government, and the Vatican issued "Saepe Nos" in 1888, a Papal Rescript forbidding the activities of the Land League, particularly boycotting. In 1887 the "Perpetual Crimes Act" was passed to deal with the offenses surrounding the Campaign, and it was described emotively in the nationalist press as a Coercion Act
Coercion Act
The Coercion Acts, formally Protection of Person and Property Acts were Acts of Parliament to respond with force to popular discontent and disorder.-London:...


After the 1881 and 1885 Land Reform Acts (see below), many Tory press commentators described the Plan of Campaign as an opportunistic and cynical method of revenge following the division of the Liberal Party and the rejection of the first Irish Home Rule Bill in June 1886. It was also described as cruel, as new rent strikes would inevitably result in more evictions and boycotting as before, with all the associated intimidation and violence. Other reporters saw it as a matter of justice and of continuing concern to genuine liberals.

The Campaign led on to events such as the Mitchelstown massacre in 1887 and the imprisonment of IPP MPs such as William O'Brien for their involvement. The violent aspects of the campaign were abandoned on the run-up to the debates on the Second Irish Home Rule Bill in 1893, the IPP was by then divided into the Irish National Federation
Irish National Federation
The Irish National Federation was a nationalist political party in Ireland. It was founded in March 1891 by former members of the Irish National League who had left the Irish Parliamentary Party in protest when Charles Stewart Parnell refused to resign the party leadership as a result of his...

 and the Irish National League over Parnell's divorce crisis.

The Ranch War 1906-09

Laurence Ginnell
Laurence Ginnell
Laurence Ginnell was an Irish nationalist politician, lawyer and Member of Parliament of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as member of the Irish Parliamentary Party for Westmeath North at the 1906 UK general election, from 1910 he sat as an Independent...

 led a series of cattle drives in Connacht and County Westmeath
County Westmeath
-Economy:Westmeath has a strong agricultural economy. Initially, development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, and its strategic location on the main Dublin–Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar...

, but without as much violence as in the previous conflicts, in an attempt to break up larger commercial farms. He considered that the main reform Act of 1903 had benefitted richer tenants in the wealthier eastern parts of Ireland, but not poorer tenants who needed the most help. This led to the enactment of compulsory purchase powers from 1909 (see below).

His argument was that a large grazing farm was less productive, and employed less people, than several small tillage farms which could replace it. But, because of Irish wet weather, tillage has always been quite risky, especially in the west where there is more rain. Having little capital and tillage equipment, the new smaller farms often tended to revert to grazing as the safest course.

Land Acts defuse

The land question in Ireland was ultimately defused by a series of Irish Land Acts
Irish Land Acts
The Land Acts were a series of measures to deal with the question of peasant proprietorship of land in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Five such acts were introduced by the government of the United Kingdom between 1870 and 1909...

, beginning in 1870 with rent reform, establishing the Land Commission in 1881, and providing for judicial reviews to certify fair rents. The Ashbourne Act of 1885 started a limited process of allowing tenant farmers buy their freeholds, which was greatly extended following the 1902 Land Conference
Land Conference
The Land Conference was a successful conciliatory negotiation held in the Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland between 20 December 1902 and 4 January 1903. In a short period it produced a unanimously agreed report recommending an amiable solution to the long waged land war between tenant farmers and...

, by the 1903 Wyndham Land Purchase Act. Augustine Birrell
Augustine Birrell
Augustine Birrell PC, KC was an English politician, barrister, academic and author. He was Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1907 to 1916, resigning in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising.-Early life:...

's Act of 1909 allowed for compulsory purchase, and also allowed the purchase and division of untenanted land that was being directly farmed by the owners.

These Acts allowed tenants first to attain extensive property rights on their leaseholdings and then to purchase their land off their landlords via UK government
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

loans and the Land Commission. The 1903 Act gave Irish tenant farmers a government-sponsored right to buy, which is still not available in Britain itself today.

See also

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