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Michael Davitt and the Iriah National Land League

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					Michael Davitt and the Iriah National Land League
Michael Davitt was born in Straide, County Mayo in 1846 at the height of
the Great Famine. He was the second of five children born to peasant
parents. When Michael was only four years old his family was evicted and
they were forced to emigrate to Lancashire in England. He began working
in the cotton mills at the age of nine, tragically losing his arm after
it got entangled in a cogwheel. When he was fifteen he enrolled in night
classes at the local Mechanics Institute where he was granted access to
the library. He began to read about Irish history and the Irish social
situation becoming more radical with regard to land nationalisation and
Irish independence.
In 1865 he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, rising quickly
through the ranks becoming organising secretary for Northern England and
Scotland. He was arrested in 1870 for arms smuggling and sentenced to
fifteen years penal servitude. He was released after seven years
following persistent agitation seeking amnesty for Fenian prisoners,
rejoined the IRB and became a member of its Supreme Council.
In 1878 Davitt travelled to America, embarking on a lecture tour
organised by John Devoy, whom in collaboration with Davitt formulated a
new policy for the national movement, the essence of which was an
alliance of constitutional and revolutionary nationalists on both self-
government and the land issue. However, both the Supreme Council of the
IRB and Parnell both refused to accept the new policy.
But Davitt launched a 'new departure' with huge success in 1879 in
response to an economic crisis that threatened the rural populations with
famine. Davitt planned a huge campaign of agitation to reduce rents,
founding the Irish National Land League to provide the agitation with a
nationwide organisation, Charles Stuart Parnell became its president. The
league practically united all nationalists and land agitators under a
single organisation. In part the League served as a relief agency but
it's main task was to organise resistance to the landlords, preventing
evictions and securing reductions in rents and for the main goal of
turning tenant farmers into owners of their land holdings. Davitt was
arrested for his outspoken speeches and he was sent to Portland prison.
The Land War convinced the authorities in Britain that the landlord
system in Ireland needed change. A series of land acts eventually
transformed Ireland into a land of owner-occupiers. However, Davitt
declared that the slogan of the Land League of 'The land for the people',
had meant national ownership to him, he envisioned this as the only real
solution to the land problem.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading
specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours
and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source:
http://www.exploringireland.net
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posted:10/15/2010
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