harles Stewart Parnell (1846-91), the ‘uncrowned king of Ireland’ stood, unsuccessfully, for the Home Rule League in 1874 but won the Meath seat in 1876. He joined the obstructionists in the Westminster parliament and became the leader of the ‘new departure’ in 1879. He was president of the Land League and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party between 1880 and 1890. He introduced boycotting in 1880. 

    In a speech given at Ennis on September 19th in that year, Parnell asked his audience, 'What are you to do with a tenant who bids for a farm from which another has been evicted?' Several voices replied, 'shoot him!' Parnell answered: 'I wish to point out a better way, a more Christian way which will give the lost man an opportunity of repenting. When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted, you must shun him on the roadside, on the streets, in the shop and even in the place of worship by putting him in a "moral Coventry." You must show him your detestation of the crime he has committed.' 

    Five days later, on September 24 1880, a Mayo agent, Captain Charles Boycott, was sent to a 'moral Coventry.' He described his plight in a letter to The Times: '... people collect in crowds upon my farm and order off all my workmen. The shopkeepers have been warned to stop all supplies to my house ... My farm is public property, I can get no workmen to do anything, and my ruin is openly avowed as the object of the Land League unless I throw up everything and leave the country.' 

    With the suppression of the Land League, Parnell was imprisoned in October 1881. In that year, he founded the newspaper United Ireland, which became the official organ of the Land League and the IPP. It ceased publication in 1889. He was released in May 1882.

    He founded the Irish National League, or National League, in 1882. This was built on the framework of the Land League which it replaced after that organisation was suppressed. In was the constituency organisation of the IPP. In 1884, Catholic priests were made ex-officio delegates to the League’s conventions. The League’s principal functions were to organise conventions at which candidates for general elections were chosen and to provide financial support for the IPP. Local branches of the League prosecuted the ‘plan of campaign’ that was published on October 23, 1886. This was a plan to force landlords to accept a reduction in rent at a time of depression in the prices of dairy produce and cattle, which left many tenants in arrears with rent. It signalled the second phase of the land war. The first phase, lasting from 1879 to 1882, had been a violent struggle between tenants, led by the Land League, and landlords. The more conciliatory third phase (1891-1003) involved the transfer of land to tenants through various acts of parliament. The League split during 1890 as a result of the division within the IPP over Parnell being cited as co-respondent in the divorce of captain O'Shea from his wife Katherine who had been Parnell's mistress since 1880. The Parnellites, led by John Redmond after Parnell’s death in 1891, held control of the League, while the anti-Parnellites founded the Irish National Federation. The rise of the United Irish League brought about the re-unification of the IPP in 1900 and the UIL replaced the INL as the constituency organisation. 


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