Movements for reform 1870-1914 chapter 1 landlords and tenants

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The Leaders

Redmond liked the House of Commons. He was a good speaker.

Dillon stayed in Ireland and kept Redmond in touch. Good team.

Joseph Devlin (Belfast Catholic) controlled the branches.

The Liberals

Got into government in 1906 with a big majority.

They did not need the Home Rule party but also saw it a waste of time as long as the Conservatives controlled the House of Lords.

They offered Redmond an Irish Council (like the Central Board Scheme or the Devolution Scheme) but he rejected it.

Liberal Reforms

  • Old Age Pension. 5 shillings for over 70s. Very welcome.

  • Birrell Land Act 1909

    1. More money to Wyndham

    2. Restored 3000 tenants who had been evicted in the Plan of Campaign.

  • 1908 Birrell brought in the Irish Universities Act which set up the NUI and gave Catholic bishops what they had wanted.

1909 Lloyd George’s Budget

In order to pay for OAPs and the Naval Race direct and indirect taxes were raised.

The Lords rejected it. Uproar.

Herbert Asquith called a general election in 1910.

The Home Rule party won the balance of power.

1911 The Parliament Act

  • Any bill which passed the Commons in 3 successive years would become law.

  • MPs to be paid

  • Elections every 5 years.

1912 Third Home Rule Bill

Drawn up by Asquith, Birrell and other leading Liberals. Similar to 1893 bill.


  • Elected Irish parliament to deal with limited internal affairs

  • Foreign policy, trade, taxation and the police dealt with by Westminster

  • 40 MPs elected to British parliament

Should become law in 1914

8.2 Unionist Opposition

1910 Edward Carson became leader of the Unionist Party. A Dublin barrister, he became an MP for Trinity College, and served as a minister in the Conservative government from 1900 to1905.

Carson was a Southern Unionist and was against partition.

James Craig organised meetings and demonstrations. He set up the UVF. He would accept partition.

Southern Unionists were small in number but rich and powerful. Many sat in the House of Lords and some got elected to British constituencies. Some held high positions in the Conservative Party. Some held high positions in the army (Field Marshall Lord Kitchener)

The Solemn League and Covenant

September 1912 Belfast City Hall. Religious element. 400000 men and 250000 women. Blood.

The Ulster Volunteer Force

Separate volunteer groups started all over Ulster.

The Ulster Unionist Council wanted to control them so Craig set up the UVF.

The army veteran, Sir George Richardson commanded them.

They raised a million pounds and brought guns through Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee in 1914

The Conservatives supported this illegal activity because:

  • Bitter. They had lost 3 elections and the veto in the Lords.

  • This common cause would unite them

  • Many Conservatives had trade links with Ireland

  • Their leader Andrew Bonar Law had Ulster ancestors.

8.3 Seeking a Solution

For a long time the Unionists were not taken seriously because:

  • In 1912 and 1913 the UVF were still training with wooden rifles.

  • Only 25% were Unionist.

  • Police had no informers on Unionists

By late 1913 it was clear the Unionists were serious and that some form of partition would have to be used. In order to do this, 3 questions had to be answered.

    • What was Ulster?

Even in 1913 Carson agreed with Redmond that Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan would stay with the South. The problem was with Tyrone and Derry which were evenly divided.

    • What special treatment should the excluded area get?

Redmond offered a ‘Home Rule within Home Rule’. This was a Belfast parliament under Dublin control. It was rejected.

Unionists wanted direct rule from Westminster.

    • How long was the exclusion to last?

Redmond offered 6 years but Carson wanted permanence.
8.4 The Irish National Volunteers and the Threat of Civil War

Nationalists were angry when rumours concerning Redmond’s agreement to partition circulated.

They did not understand Unionist fears concerning discrimination and trade. Nor, did they understand that they felt British.
The North Began’

Eoin MacNeill, professor of Early Irish History at UCD.

‘An Claidheamh Soluis’ suggested an Irish National Volunteer force.

This suited Bulmer Hobson and Sean MacDiarmada, the leaders of the revived IRB

November 1913 the Irish National Volunteers were set up at the Rotunda.

12 members of the committee were in the IRB.

Women were not allowed join so they set up Cumann na mBan as fundraisers, nurses and messengers.
The Curragh Mutiny

Asquith could try to disarm the UVF in order to avoid civil war.

March 1914 58 officers offered to resign and the government assured them there was no such plan.
April 1914 the Larne Gunrunning

Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee. 35000 rifles whisked away by motor car.

The police were taken by surprise or turned a blind eye.
Redmond takes over the Volunteers

He demanded control as he was afraid of what the IRB would do.

MacNeill reluctantly agreed because Redmond would start up his own.
July 1914 Howth Gunrunning

Childers. The Asgard. 1500 rifles.

‘Batchelors Walk massacre’ 3 killed.

King George V called a conference to avoid a civil war.

Carson and Bonar Law V Asquith and Redmond.

Ended in failure after a few days and on the same day that it ended, World War 1 began.

Home Rule postponed as everyone thought the war would last 6 month.

First Carson and then Redmond (Woodenbridge) called on respective volunteers to join the British Army

9.1 Anglicisation of Ireland

Cultural nationalism is concerned with race, identity and culture.

To many, the Anglicisation of Ireland diluted our claim for self-government.

By 1900 the Irish language and culture had almost disappeared.

Reasons for Anglicisation of Ireland

  • Famine =emigration to US

  • Lack of industry = emigration to England

  • Railways had brought English culture to most parts

9.2 The Gaelic Athletic Association (Case Study ,Part 1)

Sport, with competitions, rules and records did not exist before 1860.

During the Industrial Revolution, rowdy games were impossible in crowded streets.

Sports were needed to keep young men away from drink and trouble.

Employers encouraged this.

Between 1850 and 1880 cricket, rugby, soccer and athletics all had national bodies which extended to Ireland.

1874 the IRFU was set up

1880 the Irish Football Association.

Rugby, Cricket, soccer and athletics took over from hurling and football as it had been.

Competitions run under the rules of the English based Amateur Athletics Association. Its counterpart was the Irish Championship Athletic Club.

Only ‘gentlemen’ could compete. These were men who had never competed for money and had never worked as a ‘mechanic, artisan or labourer’.

Also, games on Sunday were forbidden.

These rules excluded industrial workers and farmers.

Dublin based clubs accepted these rules but country clubs objected.

This, combined with the rise in nationalist feeling led to the GAA.
The Start of the GAA

‘United Ireland’ the newspaper of the Irish National League published two articles calling for an Irish athletics association. The writers were Michael Cusack and Maurice Davin.

The 3 Davin brothers were top class athletes in the 1870s and 1880s.

1884 Hayes hotel in Thurles.

Davin was President and Cusack secretary

Parnell, Davitt and Archbishop Croke became patrons.

The Second Meeting

Held in Cork the following was decided:

  • Basic rules were drawn up and were to be circulated.

  • One club per parish (involved priests)

  • GAA members banned from other athletic bodies but this was dropped on Croke’s insistence.

Within 2 years the GAA had over 600 clubs and in 1887 the first inter-county matches were held

There was a lot of poor organisation and quarrels about the rules.

9.3 The GAA and the IRB

The Special Branch of the RIC had spies and informers in the GAA and their reports are our best sources.

At least 2 of the 7 founder members were IRB

The IRB proceeded to take over the GAA as it was an ideal recruiting ground.

2 men did a lot of recruiting using their jobs as commercial travellers as cover. They were Patrick Hoctor and P.N. Fitzgerald.

Cusack was a moderate nationalist and a poor administrator.

1886 Cusack was accused of ‘administrative neglect’ and was asked to resign. He was replaced with and IRB man.
November 1886 the GAA’s Second Convention.

Also in Thurles

Packed with IRB. All the members of the new Central Council, apart from Davin (President) were IRB.

The Central Council took decisions against GAA rules in Davin’s absence.

Two of these were:

  • RIC banned

  • The Central Council were automatically members of County Committees.

Now the entire organisation, at national and county level was under IRB control.

The clergy and most ordinary members were appalled.

Showdown at the November 1887 Convention

IRB again packed the meeting but so did priests.

The meeting descended into chaos and many led by Father Scanlon walked out.

An IRB man was elected President.

The next day Croke resigned.

By Nov 1887 250 clubs had left the GAA.

November 1988 Convention. IRB back down.

Davin was re-elected President and the IRB reduced to a minority in Central Council.

However the IRB worked away at local level.

Money problems.

Money and America.

Cusack, who was not rich, loaned £400 to the GAA.

Davin organised 50 players to go to America to play exhibition matches.

A failure. Small attendances. 28 of the players stayed there.

Davin retired.


The IRB backed Parnell during the Split and therefore so did the GAA.

The GAA went into rapid decline.

At the 1891 Convention only 6 counties were represented.

The GAA Survives

The IRB still controlled the organisation in 1893 but knew they had gone too far.

The GAA was declared to be a non-political and non sectarian organisation.

The ban on RIC was lifted.

In the mid 1890s rule changes made the game more exciting and crowds turned up.

Croke Park was purchased and it grew again.

In 1905 the ban on ‘foreign games’ and on the police and army was reintroduced.

Influenced by the Gaelic League, Irish became important.

Remained a training ground for the IRB.

9.4 The Gaelic League

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