March 2016

History Selection

Bernadette O'Farrell
Bernadette O'Farrell
Actress
Constance Smith
Constance Smith
Actress
Patricia Driscoll
Patricia Driscoll
Actress
Joyce Redman
Joyce Redman
Actress
Fionnula Flanagan
Fionnula Flanagan
Actress
Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker
Actress


Ireland in 1969


January 1st: People's Democracy civil rights march left Belfast for Derry.

January 4th: Loyalists, including off-duty B-Specials, attacked civil rights marchers in Derry.

January 10th: Protesters in Northern Ireland refused to abandon a planned march.

February 6th: The New Ulster Movement was formed.

February 24th: Election to the Stormont parliament, during whichthe Unionist party split into Official Unionist and Unofficial Unionist.

March 4th: The Lichfield Report recommended the creation of a technological University of Limerick.

March 19th: Ireland received its first loan from the World Bank.

People's Democracy March January 1969

People's Democracy March January 1969

Bernadette Devlin

Bernadette Devlin

March 25th: Ian Paisley was jailed for illegal assembly.

March 30th: Loyalists set off bombs at an electricity substation at Castlereagh. The attack was initially blamed on the IRA.

April 4th: Loyalists bombed one of Belfast's main water supply pipes.

April 17th: Bernadette Devlin, standing as a Unity candidate in Mid-Ulster, became the youngest woman ever elected as an MP.

April 19th: Serious rioting in the Bogside, after which the RUC beat Samuel Devenny so badly he later died.

April 20th: British troops arrived in Northern Ireland to back up the RUC.

April 20th: Loyalists bombed a reservoir and an electricity pylon.

April 28th: Terence O'Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, resigned.

May 1st: Major James Chichester-Clark became Northern Irish Prime Minister.

May 7th: Tax exemptions were announced in the Republic for painters, sculptors, writers and composers on earnings gained from works of cultural merit.

June 18th: President de Valera greeted President Charles de Gaulle and his wife at Áras an Uachtaráin.

July 14th: Francis McCloskey, aged 67, became the first death in the conflict after the RUC hit him on the head during street disturbances.

July 20th: Telefís Éireann broadcast its first programme late into the night to cover the Moon Landing.

July 21st: President de Valera sent President Richard Nixon a telegram of congratulations.

August 1st: A huge protest rally about events in Northern Ireland was held outside the GPO in Dublin. The crowd wanted the Irish Army to cross the border.

Terence O'Neill

Terence O'Neill

Battle of the Bogside

Battle of the Bogside

August 1st: The farthing and halfpenny coins were withdrawn from circulation.

August 3rd: The Taoiseach Jack Lynch made a state visit to the Lebanon.

August 5th: The worst sectarian rioting since 1935 took place in Belfast.

August 12th: The Battle of the Bogside broke out in Derry, marking the first major confrontation of The Troubles.

August 13th: Sectarian rioting took place in Northern Ireland. It would last for four days.

August 14th: British troops were deployed for the first time in Northern Ireland.

August 15th: Sinn Féin called for the boycott of British goods, UN intervention, and for the Irish government to protect the people of Northern Ireland.

August 15th: Six people died in sectarian riots in Belfast. Many families were forced out of their homes. British soldiers were deployed.

August 17th: Violence flared at a protest on O'Connell Street, Dublin, as a march headed for the British embassy.

August 27th: The B-Specials began to hand in their guns.

August 27th: British Home Secretary James Callaghan, visited Belfast.

August 30th: Jack Lynch ordered the preparation of a plan called Exercise Armageddon, which would allow incursions into Northern Ireland to defend Catholic communities.

September 9th: Chichester-Clark, Northern Ireland PM, announced a temporary 'peace-line' between Catholic and Protestant areas in Belfast.

September 12th: The Cameron Report into disturbances in Northern Ireland was published.

October 5th: Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

October 10th: The Hunt Committee Report recommended the abolition of the Ulster Special Constabulary.

Peace line being erected in Belfast

Peace line being erected in Belfast

Human chain across the Newtownards Road, Belfast, October 1969

Human chain across the Newtownards Road, Belfast, October 1969

October 11th: Victor Arbuckle became the first RUC member to die in the conflict. He was shot by Loyalists.

October 19th: Two UVF members were injured when their bomb exploded prematurely, one of them fatally.

November 18th: Death of Adolf Hitler's Irish sister-in-law, Bridget.

November 25th: The Commissioner for Complains Act (Northern Ireland) became law, allowing for the establishment of a Commissioner to deal with complaints against local councils. The Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) made the franchise for local government elections the same as in Britain.

December: Thin Lizzy was formed in Dublin.

December 1st: Seán Lemass stepped down from public life.

December 28th: The IRA split into Official and Provisional wings.

December 31st: The half crown coin was withdrawn from circulation.



Turn of the century Ireland

Lurgan

Lurgan

Arran Quay Dublin

Arran Quay Dublin

National Library Dublin

National Library Dublin

Irish History on Film

Sinn Fein at Liberty Hall

Footage by British Pathé





Extract from The Land-War in Ireland: A History for the Times

Published in 1870

James Godkin

Fighting during the Land War

The Land System and the Working Classes

Some resident landlords employ a considerable number of labourers, to each of whom they give an excellent cottage, an acre of land, and the grass of a cow, with work all the year round at seven shillings a week. The tenants are most comfortable and most grateful, while the praise of those landlords is in the mouths of the peasantry all round the country. But these considerate landlords are in a minority. As a rule, on the estates where the improvement system is going on, where farms are being consolidated, and grazing supersedes tillage, an iron pressure weighs upon the labouring classes, crushing them out of the country. It is a cold, hard, calculating, far-reaching system of inhumanity, which makes the peasant afraid to harbour his own flesh and blood. It compels the grandmother to shut the door in the face of the poor homeless orphan, lest the improving agent should hear of the act of sheltering him from the pitiless storm, not more pitiless than the agent himself. The system of terrorism established by the threats of eviction de-humanizes a people remarkable for their hospitality to the poor. Mr. Thomas Crosbie, of Cork, a gentleman whom I believe to be as truthful and honourable as any agent in Ireland, gives appalling illustrations of this in his account of 'The Lansdowne Estates,' published in 1858. Mr. Trench has given the English public several pretty little romances about these estates; but he omitted some realities that ought to have impressed themselves upon his memory as deeply as any of his adventures. Mr. Crosbie found that the 'rules of the estate,' which were rigidly enforced, forbid tenants to build houses for their labourers, 'the consequence of which was that men and women servants, no matter how great the number, must live under one roof.' The rules forbid marriage without the agent's permission. A young couple got married, and were chased away to America; and 'the two fathers-in-law were not merely warned; they were punished for harbouring their son and daughter, by a fine of a gale of rent.' It was a rule 'that no stranger be lodged or harboured in any house upon the estate, lest he should become sick or idle, or in some way chargeable upon the poor-rates.' 'Several were warned and punished for giving lodging to a brother-in-law, a daughter,' &c. 'A poor widow got her daughter married without the necessary permission; she was served with a notice to quit, which was withdrawn on the payment of three gales of rent.' Mr. Crosbie gives a number of cases of the kind. The following are the most remarkable. A tenant, Timothy Sullivan, of Derrynabrack, occasionally gave lodging to his sister-in-law, whilst her husband was seeking for work. He was afraid to lodge both or either; 'but the poor woman was in low fever, and approaching her confinement. Even under such circumstances his terror was so great that he removed her to a temporary shed on Jeremiah Sullivan's land, where she gave birth to a child. She remained there for some time. When "the office" heard of it, Jeremiah Sullivan was sent for and compelled to pay a gale of rent (as fine), and to throw down the shed. Thus driven out, and with every tenant on the estate afraid to afford her a refuge, the miserable woman went about two miles up the mountain, and, sick as she was, and so situated, took shelter in a dry cavern, in which she lived for several days. But her presence even there was a crime, and a mulct of another gale of rent was levied off Jeremiah Sullivan. Thus, within three weeks he was compelled to pay two gales of 3l. 2s. 6d. each. It was declared also that the mountain being the joint property of Jeremiah Sullivan, Timothy Sullivan, and Thady Sullivan, Timothy Sullivan was a participator in the crime, and should be fined a gale of rent. The third, it appears, escaped.' 'S.G.O.' narrated another horrifying case in the Times, at the period of its occurrence, in 1851. Abridged, it runs thus:—'An order had gone forth on the estate (a common order in Ireland) that no tenant was to admit any lodger into his house. This was a general order. It appears, however, that sometimes special orders were given; and one was promulgated that Denis Shea should not be harboured. This boy had no father living. He had lived with a grandmother, who had been turned out of her holding for harbouring him. He had stolen a shilling, a hen—done such things as a neglected twelve-year-old famishing child will do. One night he came to his aunt Donoghue, who lodged with Casey. The latter told the aunt and uncle not to allow him into the house, as the agent's drivers had given orders about him. The aunt beat him away with a pitchfork, the uncle tied his hands with cord behind his back. The poor child crawls to the door of a neighbour, and tries to get in. The uncle is called to take him away, and he does so. He yet returns with hands still tied behind, having been severely beaten. The child seeks refuge in other cabins; but all were forbidden to shelter him. He is brought back by some neighbours in the night, who try to force the sinking child in upon his relation. There is a struggle at the door. The child was heard asking some one to put him upright. In the morning there is blood upon the threshold. The child is stiff dead—a corpse, with its arms tied; around it every mark of a last fearful struggle for shelter—food—the common rights of humanity.' Chief Baron Pigot tried the case, and gave a statement of the facts in his charge which Mr. Trench ought to have quoted, as a faithful recorder of 'realities.'

'On the western estate, that of Cahirciveen, there was some difference in the rules. If a son or daughter married, the father was obliged to retire with an allowance of 'a cow's grass' or grazing for his support. 'Only the newly married person will be left on the land, or any portion of it, even though the farm should contain 100 acres, or even though there should be two farms. This arbitrary regulation operates injuriously in point of morality, and keeps the land uncultivated. The people have to go to Nedeen, a distance of forty or fifty miles, to get leave to marry.'

The Kenmare tenantry have recovered from the fearful shock of the famine, after thousands of deaths from hunger, and thousands shipped off to America at 4l. 10s. a head. Mr. Trench's son, Mr. Townshend Trench, the pictorial illustrator of his father's book, is the acting agent, and an eloquent propagandist of his father's principles. The young marquis paid a visit to his tenantry in 1868, and he was almost worshipped. It is gratifying to know that in a speech on that occasion he promised to see and judge for himself.

'I feel,' he said, 'that my visit to Kenmare has taught me a valuable lesson. As you all know, I was called to my present position at a very young age, and I felt when I came in for my property that I had much to learn; and that is the reason why I was so anxious to travel through the country, and study the desires and comfort of the people. That will afford me occupation for many a year to come, and it will afford me an occupation not only interesting but pleasing. Nothing will do me a more hearty pleasure than to see the marks of civilisation and progress in Kenmare—and not alone in Kenmare, but in the whole country; and I shall hail every manifestation of improvement with delight.'

Lord Lansdowne's system is beautiful, but it is unfinished. Let him 'crown the edifice with liberty.' He possesses a giant's power, and he uses it like an angel. When he comes to trouble the waters, the multitude gathers around the fountain to be healed. But his visits are, like angels' visits, few and far between. Many of the sick and impotent folk, after long waiting, are not able to get near till the miracle-worker has departed. An absentee landlord, be he ever so good, must delegate his power to an agent. Agents have good memories, and their servants, the bailiffs, are good lookers-on. There is a hierarchy in the heaven of landlordism—the under-bailiff, the head-bailiff, the chief-clerk in the office, the sub-agent, the head-agent. All these must be submissively approached and anxiously propitiated before the petitioner's prayers can reach the ears of Jove himself, seated aloft on his remote Olympian throne. He may be, and for the most part really is—if he belongs to the old stock of aristocratic divinities—generous and gracious, incapable of meanness, baseness, or cruelty. But the tenant has to do, not with the absentee divinity, but with his priest—not with the good spirit, but his medium; and this go-between is not always noble, or disinterested, or unexacting. To him power may be new—a small portion of it may intoxicate him, like alcohol on an empty stomach. He was not born to an inheritance of sycophancy; it comes like an afflatus upon him, and it turns his head. It creates an appetite, like strong drink, which grows into a disease. This appetite is as capricious as it is insatiable. Hence, the chief characteristic of landlord power, as felt by the tenant, is arbitrariness. The agent may make any rule he pleases, and as many exceptions to every rule as he pleases. He may allow rents to run in arrear; he may suddenly come down upon the defaulter with 'a fell swoop;' he may require the rents to be paid up to the day; he may, without reason assigned, call in 'the hanging gale;' he may abate or increase the rents at will; he may inflict fines for delay or give notices to quit for the sole purpose of bringing in fees to his friend or relative, the solicitor. But whatever he may choose to do, the tenant has nothing for it but to submit; and he must submit with a good grace. Woe to him if the agony of his spirit is revealed in the working of his features, or in an audible groan! Most of the poor fellows do submit, till their hearts are broken—till the hot iron has entered their souls and seared their consciences. When the slave is thus finished, the agent and his journeymen are satisfied with their handiwork; their 'honours' can then count on any sort of services they may choose to exact—may bid defiance to the priest and the agitator, and boast of an orderly and deserving tenantry devoted to the best of landlords, who is their natural protector. It would be wicked to interfere with these amicable persons. Why talk about leases? The tenants will not have them; they don't want security or independence by contract. So most of the agents report—but not all. There are noble exceptions which relieve the gloomy picture.

There is certainly one disadvantage connected with a settlement of the land question which would abolish the arbitrary power of proprietors and their agents—it would put an end to the romance of Irish landlordism. The Edgeworths, the Morgans, the Banims, the Carletons, and the Levers would then be deprived of the best materials for their fictions. The fine old family, over-reached and ruined by a dishonest agent; the cruelly evicted farmer, with his wife and children fever-stricken, and his bedridden mother cast out on the roadside on Christmas Eve, exposed to the pelting of the hailstorm, while their home was unroofed and its walls levelled by the crowbar brigade; the once comfortable but now homeless father making his way to London, and trying day after day to present a petition in person to his landlord, repulsed from the gate of the great house, and laughed at for his frieze and brogue by pampered flunkeys. Then he travels on foot to his lordship's country-seat, scores or hundreds of miles—is taken up, and brought before the magistrates as 'an Irish rogue and vagabond.' At length he meets his lordship accidentally, and reveals to him the system of iniquity that prevails on his Irish estate at Castle Squander: Next we have the sudden and unexpected appearance of the god of the soil at his agent's office, sternly demanding an account of his stewardship. He gives ready audience to his tenants, and fires with indignation at bitter complaints from the parents of ruined daughters. Investigation is followed by the ignominious eviction of the tyrannical and roguish agent and his accomplices, a disgorging of their ill-gotten wealth, compensation to plundered and outraged tenants, the liberal distribution of poetical justice right and left.

Many other agents have followed Mr. Trench's example in forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from hospitality and charity. An ejectment was lately obtained at the quarter sessions in a southern county against a widow who had married without leave, or married a different person from the one the agent selected. But it is supposed that the threat of assassination prevented a recourse to extremities in this and other cases. For the people seem with one consent to have made a desperate stand against this cruel tyranny. A landlord said to me, 'No one in this part of the country would presume to evict a tenant now from fear of assassination. That is the tenant's security.'

The wretched outcasts, whom 'improvement' has swept off the estates, are crowded into cities and towns, without employment, without food. Feeling bitterly their degradation and misery, and taught to blame the Government, they become demoralized and desperately disaffected. From these fermenting masses issues the avenging scourge of Fenianism—'the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and slayeth at noonday.'