The First Phase of the Land War and Beyond, 1879–1885



The formalisation of protest was a form of social disciplining and the emergence of the Land League was the culmination of several years’ growth in political engagement amongst the lower classes. Grassroots social radicals advocated land reforms as the most pressing social and political concern. Parnell realised this and by April 1879, ‘land for the people’ became a rallying call. The Land War gave this activity a greater sophistication and focus and the Land League tried to direct violence into peaceful protests and mass meetings. The success of this could be seen when the law of the league superseded the ordinary law in bringing stability to the countryside. This chapter pays particular attention to intra-tenant conflict while juxtaposing it with anti-landlord rhetoric.



    Dublin Diocesan Archive

    1. Cardinal McCabe papers.Google Scholar

    National Archives of Ireland

    1. Registered Papers of the Chief Secretary’s Office.Google Scholar
    2. Protection of Persons and Property Act, Box 1 and Box 2.Google Scholar
    3. Irish Land League and Irish National League. Reports of speeches A-L, 1879–1888.Google Scholar

    National Library of Ireland

    1. Clonbrock papers, Mss 19,678, 35,771.Google Scholar


  1. Connaught People.Google Scholar
  2. Western News.Google Scholar
  3. Official Publications

    1. Report of Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Inquiry into the working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland), 1870, and the acts amending the same, H.C. 1881, xviii, (2779-iii).Google Scholar
    2. Reports of her majesty’s commissioners into the depressed condition of agricultural interests, preliminary report H.C., 1881 [2778-i].Google Scholar
    3. Return of the names of one hundred of the largest ratepayers in each county in Ireland, distinguishing whether in the Commission of the Peace 1884–85, H.C. Papers; accounts and papers. Paper number [219] lxvii.477.Google Scholar

    Contemporary Publications

    1. Davitt, Michael, The fall of feudalism in Ireland, or the story of the Land League Revolution (London, 1904).Google Scholar
    2. Harris, Matthew, Land Reform, a letter to the council of the Irish National Land League (Dublin, 1881).Google Scholar

Works of Reference

  1. Walker, B.M., Parliamentary election results in Ireland, 1801–1922 (Dublin, 1978).Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Ball, Stephen, ‘Policing the Irish Land War: Official responses to political protest and agrarian crime in Ireland, 1879–91’ (PhD thesis, University of London, 2000).Google Scholar
  2. Bew, Paul, Land and the national question in Ireland, 1858–1882 (Dublin, 1978).Google Scholar
  3. Biagini, E.F., British democracy and Irish nationalism, 1876–1906 (Cambridge, 2007).Google Scholar
  4. Boyle, John W., ‘A marginal figure: The Irish rural labourer’, in Samuel Clark and James S. Donnelly Jr. (eds.), Irish peasants: Violence and political unrest, 1780–1914 (Dublin, 1983), pp. 311–38.Google Scholar
  5. Brody, Hugh, Iniskillane: Change and decline in the west of Ireland (London, 1973, 1982).Google Scholar
  6. Buckley, K., ‘The fixing of rents by agreement in Co. Galway, 1881–85’, Irish Historical Studies vii, no. 27, (1951), pp. 149–79.Google Scholar
  7. Burchardt, Jeremy, The allotment movement in England, 1793–1873 (London, 2002).Google Scholar
  8. Burchardt, Jeremy, ‘Agricultural history, rural history, or countryside history?’, The Historical Journal 50, no. 2 (June 2007), pp. 465–81.Google Scholar
  9. Campbell, Fergus, The Irish Establishment, 1879–1914 (Oxford, 2009).Google Scholar
  10. Cannadine, David, The decline and fall of the British Aristocracy (New Haven, CT, 1990).Google Scholar
  11. Clark, Samuel, Social Origins of the Irish War (Princeton, 1979).Google Scholar
  12. Collins, J., ‘The beginning of county administration’, located at [date accessed 21 Apr. 2011].
  13. Comerford, R.V., ‘The Land War and the politics of distress, 1877–82’, in W.E. Vaughan (ed.), A new history of Ireland, vi: Ireland under the Union, II, 1870–1921 (Oxford, 1995), pp. 26–52.Google Scholar
  14. Comerford, R.V., The Fenians in context: Irish politics and society, 1848–1882 (Dublin, 1998).Google Scholar
  15. Crossman, Virginia, Politics, pauperism and power in late nineteenth-century Ireland (Manchester, 2006).Google Scholar
  16. Cullen, Frank, Cleansing rural Dublin: Public health and housing initiatives in the South Dublin Poor Law Union, 1880–1920 (Dublin, 2001).Google Scholar
  17. Curtis, L.P. Jr., ‘On class and class conflict in the Land War’, Irish Economic and Social History viii (1981), pp. 86–94.Google Scholar
  18. Curtis, L.P. Jr., ‘Landlord responses to the Irish Land War, 1879–87’, Eire-Ireland: Journal of Irish Studies (Fall–Winter 2003), pp. 134–88.Google Scholar
  19. Cusack, Danny, ‘Can’t pay, won’t pay: Applications for rent abatements on the Gormanston estate in 1874’, in Brian Casey (ed.), Lords, land and labourers: The Big Houses and landed estates of Royal Meath (Dublin, 2016), pp. 155–70.Google Scholar
  20. Donnelly, J.S. Jr., The land and the people of nineteenth-century Cork: The rural economy and the Irish land question (London and Boston, 1975).Google Scholar
  21. Dooley, Terence, ‘Landlords and the land question, 1879–1909’, in Carla King (ed.), Famine, land and culture in Ireland (Dublin, 2000), pp. 116–39.Google Scholar
  22. Dooley, Terence, The decline of the Big House in Ireland: A study of Irish landed families, 1860–1960 (Dublin, 2001).Google Scholar
  23. Egan, P.K., The Parish of Ballinasloe: Its history from the earliest time to the present century (Dublin, 1960).Google Scholar
  24. Feingold, W.L., The tenant’s movement to capture the Irish poor law boards, 1877–1886’, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies 7, no. 3 (1975), pp. 216–31.Google Scholar
  25. Feingold, W.L., The revolt of the tenantry, the transformation of local government in Ireland, 1872–86 (Boston, 1984).Google Scholar
  26. Finnegan, A.B., ‘The Land War in south-east Galway’ (MA thesis, NUI Galway, 1974).Google Scholar
  27. Finnegan, Pat, Loughrea: That den of infamy: The land war in county Galway, 1879–82 (Dublin, 2014).Google Scholar
  28. Fitzpatrick, David, ‘The disappearance of the Irish agricultural labourer, 1841–1912’, Irish Economic and Social History vii (1980), pp. 66–92.Google Scholar
  29. Fitzpatrick, David, ‘Class, family and rural unrest in nineteenth century Ireland’, in P.J. Drudy (ed.), Ireland, land, politics and people (Cambridge, 1982), pp. 37–75.Google Scholar
  30. Geary, Laurence, The Plan of Campaign, 1886–1891 (Cork, 1986).Google Scholar
  31. Graham, Brian and Susan Hood, ‘“Every creed and party”: Town tenant protest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ireland’, Journal of Historical Geography xxiv, no. 2, (Apr. 1998), pp. 170–87.Google Scholar
  32. Hoppen, K.T., ‘Landlords, society and electoral politics in mid-nineteenth century Ireland’, in C.H.E. Philpin (ed.), Nationalism and popular protest in Ireland (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 284–310.Google Scholar
  33. Hynes, Eugene, Knock: The Virgin’s apparition in nineteenth-century Ireland (Cork, 2009).Google Scholar
  34. Jordan, Donald, ‘The Irish National League and the “Unwritten Law”: Rural protest and nation-building in Ireland, 1882–1890’, Past and Present 158 (Feb. 1998), pp. 146–71.Google Scholar
  35. Keyes, Michael, Funding the nation: Money and nationalist politics in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin, 2011).Google Scholar
  36. Lane, P.G., ‘Agricultural labourers and the land question’, in Carla King (ed.), Famine, land and culture in Ireland (Dublin, 2000), pp. 101–16.Google Scholar
  37. Lee, J.J., The modernisation of Irish society, 1848–1918 (Dublin, 1972).Google Scholar
  38. Lucey, D.S., The Irish National League in Dingle, Co Kerry (Dublin, 2003).Google Scholar
  39. Lyons, Martyn, The writing culture of ordinary people in Europe, c. 1860–1920 (Cambridge, 2013).Google Scholar
  40. McGee, Owen, The IRB., The Irish Republican Brotherhood: From the Land League to Sinn Fein (Dublin, 2007).Google Scholar
  41. McWilliams, Rohan, Popular politics in nineteenth century England (London, 1998).Google Scholar
  42. Melvin, Patrick, ‘The landed gentry of Galway, 1820–1880’ (PhD thesis, Trinity College Dublin, 1991).Google Scholar
  43. Molloy, Joe (ed.), The parish of Clontuskert, glimpses into its past (Galway, 2009).Google Scholar
  44. Moran, Gerard, ‘The Land War, urban destitution and town tenant protest, 1879–1882’, Saothar 20 (1995), pp. 17–32.Google Scholar
  45. Moran, Gerard, ‘“Near famine”: The Roman Catholic Church and the subsistence crisis of 1879–82’, Studia Hibernica no. 32 (2004), pp. 155–77.Google Scholar
  46. Solow, B.L., The land question and the Irish economy, 1870–1903 (Cambridge, MA, 1971).Google Scholar
  47. Vaughan, W.E., Landlords and tenants in mid-Victorian Ireland (Oxford, 1994).Google Scholar
  48. Vaughan, W.E., ‘Landlord and tenant relations in Ireland between the famine and the Land War, 1850–1875’, in L.M. Cullen and Thomas Smout (eds.), Comparative perspectives of Scottish and Irish economic and social history 1600–1900 (Edinburgh, 1977), pp. 216–26.Google Scholar
  49. Weber, Eugene, Peasants into Frenchmen: The modernisation of rural France, 1870–1914 (Stanford, 1976).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations