The struggle of the Land League and for Home Rule as seen from London


A collection of articles from the British anarchist newpaper freedom about the home rule and land struggles in Ireland from 1887-88

Home Rule and After.

Article published in FREEDOM Vol. 2.-No. 14. (NOVEMBER, 1887)

To coerce the Irish people into the commission of legal crime seems to be the aim and object of the policy of the present administration. Law to be observed must either be the crystallised expression of the beliefs of the vast majority of those to whom it is enunciated, or be based upon the superior and sufficient physical force of the law-makers. In Ireland part of the written or paper law is ineffective because it does not command the assent of the people, and the makers of the law are unable to use sufficient physical force to overcome the passive resistance of the law-breakers.

The breakers of the law are, however, so united in their opposition to the operation of the written law, and so bound together by common interests, that by the sanction of individual conviction (the only sure and certain basis of law) and the inherent force of voluntary organisation, they are able successfully to defy and set at nought the edicts of the law-makers and administrators. On more than one occasion, during a recent visit to Ireland, I found that even some members of the constabulary were in sympathy with the aims and objects of the National League, but that their economic servitude prevented their manifesting that sympathy in any public or practical manner.

Under the shadow of the Vice-regal Lodge in Phoenix Park, I found such an one, who thorough Nationalist at heart, and fervent admirer of Mr. Gladstone, was nevertheless troubled about the economic condition of the body-guard of law and order if controlled by an Irish Parliament. He was much afraid that neither pay nor pension would in the days to come be so high as at present. Other members of the constabulary expressed the same view, but these few exceptions only served to throw into greater contrast the tone and manner of the constabulary as a body. Its members have all the vices of pampered men. In any village or small town their barrack is the largest building; and at every railway station two, three, or more members of the force are to be seen peering and prying into every railway carriage. They occasionally relieve the monotony of a comparatively luxuriously idle career by the promotion of moonlighting and other outrages, apparently by way of way of exemplifying their utility to the bureaucracy at the Castle. I

happened to be near Lisdoonvarna the day after Sergeant Whelehan had been killed, and was immediately informed by an Irish friend that the so-called "outrage" was a "put-up" or police job intended to divert the attention of the English people from the murders at Michelstown. The evidence given at the inquest on the body of Whelehan has more than justified my friend's statement, and shows that the police in Ireland are animated by the same spirit as their confreres in Russia, and I fear I must add Chicago. The contempt and detestation in which they are held in Ireland seemed summed up, in a sentence I heard uttered by an Irish Member of Parliament from ' a Tipperary platform to some four thousand of his constituents, that "no decent man should walk on the same side of the street with a policeman."

No sentiment expressed at that platform seemed more acceptable to the people to whom it was addressed, save perhaps the one which expressed thanks to the friendly English invader. The friendly English invaders of Ireland this autumn--even those who, like myself, look beyond Home Rule for national salvation--have met with such a reception as could only be accorded by a generous, forgiving, and kindly-hearted people.

Their forgiving disposition is still further evidenced by the fact that even yet the door of reconciliation is not shut irrevocably against any moderately decent landlord.

I should, however, be sorry to lead anyone to think that there are many moderately decent landlords in Ireland, but the study of economics is not more popular in Ireland than in England, and the fact that a man is a landlord counts for something with the Irish people. Many tenants would be content to pay what they consider a fair rent to an individual landlord provided they had fixity of tenure and the rent paid was spent in the country. "Indeed, we want to let the landlords down easy," said an Irish shopkeeper to me, "and so we will let them have a House of Lords to amuse themselves in, but if they won't stop in the country, devil a bit will they have any rent out of the country."

The majority of the people--or at any rate of the articulate people-- would apparently be satisfied with making the landlords annuitants on the land, or with some form of peasant proprietary but the effect of the teaching of Michael Davitt is to be traced in many a cottier's hut and small shopkeeper's house and though that teaching is not so sound economically as might be wished, it yet leads by stages to the recognition of the truth that all wealth is produced through the pressure of society, and is the joint property of the community. It is the imperfect appreciation of this idea by the Irish people which makes a tour in Ireland in some respects a sad holiday. The revolt of the workers must in due evolutionary course follow Home Rule, and as the members of the Irish Parliamentary Party are fully abreast, if not ahead, of the majority of the Irish people, in social questions, it is exceedingly desirable that the men who at present represent Ireland at Westminster should also serve her on College Green.

At present, as a nation, Ireland stands on the eve of the realisation of her hopes. The dreams which her poets have dreamed, and the visions which her younger sons have always seen, are to be dreams and visions no longer. She is to be a nation--a "United Ireland," governing herself and working out her own salvation. For seven centuries this has been her ideal and her demand. In proportion to the length and severity of the struggle has been the hope and expectation of the people, but now, on the eve of victory, the poorer people have a presentment that national parliament rule is but the dawn of their deliverance--that their daybreak is not yet.

They hunger and thirst for economic independence even more than for national independence; but whilst national independence seems to them obtainable, economic independence appears remote, and only realisable, if realisable at all, through the efforts of Irish parliamentary men. This was humourously though pathetically illustrated in the course of a conversation I had with a working woman whom I mot in a village near Queenstown, gathering for her own use the fruit which the hedgerows afford for sustenance to the poor and needy, and who told me that she was an advocate for "Home Rule and bottled porter." I elicited from her that the ability to buy bottled porter represented in her mind the power, rather than the favourite direction, of affluence, but that she doubted if a national parliament would enable her to reach that point in the scale of luxury.

Her belief in the natural poverty of Ireland is shared by most of its people, who are content to accept economic servitude as the accepted portion and lot of the vast majority. A national parliament will intensify economic discontent, and by its deeds convince the workers that the movement which shall give them class freedom, or economic independence, must emanate from themselves.


Coercion and Revolt in Ireland
Published in FREEDOM Vol. 2.-No. 14, (NOVEMBER, 1887)

The revolt of the Irish people against foreign dictatorship and land monopoly grows daily more effective. The Government attempt to put down public meeting by violence at Michelstown; the coroners jury on the shin bring in a verdict of wilful murder against the policemen who fired on the crowd. To cover their discredit, the human bloodhound of the police, the ex-convict Calligan, receives money from Head-Constable Whelehan to incite some peasant to a "moonlighting outrage" Whelehan is killed by the Moonlighters, and the infamous treachery of Calligan and his employers revealed at the inquest.

The brutal emergency men, hired to enforce the rights of property, shoot dead John Kinsella, who is preparing to defend his and his neighbours' cattle from distraint-ie. legal robbery ~ the coroner's jury bring in a verdict of wilful murder against the whole gang. The Government prociaims the meetings of the National League larger and more enthusiastic meetings of the League, and of protest against the authorities, are held all over the country; the people, taking humourous delight in their ingenuity in tricking the police (vide the torchlight meeting at midnight, in Woodford attended by the English Radicals, so closely watched by detectives, and by thousands of Irish from all the country round, while the authorities were snoring; when a few hours after all were over, police and soldiers made their appearance with beer barrels and other creature comforts for the custodians of a town in a state of siege !)

Unable to prevent meetings, the Castle attempts to muzzle the agitators in the Press and prosecutes the editors of United Ireland and The Nation for recounting the history of the said prohibited assemblies, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, editor of The Nation, attends the police court in state, and, amid the acclamations of the city, the charge against him is dismissed on the ground that there is no legal proof that the forbidden meeting ever really took place! The latest exploit of the constabulary, in forcibly dragging the Englishman, Wilfred Blunt, off the platform at a proclaimed meeting, and treating his wife, who defended him, with brutal violence, is scarcely likely to restore respect for authority.

Meanwhile the cruel evictions continue, in spite of the new Land Act; and the peasant men, women, and children, resist as bravely as ever. Those that are arrested under the Crimes Act are dragged to prison for two or four or sex months' hard labour; but they go as heroes celebrating a triumph, amid the acclamations of a crowd rendered more enthusiastic and more revolutionary by each arrest. Before long we may hope, the prisons will be attacked and the prisoners rescued.

The magistrates offered to save one young girl from "the disgrace of imprisonment" on her promise of future submission. "It is no disgrace to go to prison for Ireland," she retorted, and, amid the cheers of the listeners, indignantly declined the offered release. "You are the best little girl in Ireland," exclaimed the counsel, as the angry magistrates "cleared the court;" but Ireland is rich in brave women.

At Gweedore, one old woman of seventy, with her son and daughter and two girls, held her hut until it was actually tumbled about her ears against a squad of emergency men, backed by fifty police armed with truncheons and fifty more with firearms. No wonder that one constable, who had a human heart somewhere concealed beneath his uniform, flung sway his rifle, and refused the further disgrace of serving the Government. Even the children are inspired by their parents' courage. The other day nine boys and girls held their father's cottage for some time against the bailiff's men, and four of the boys afterwards ensconced themselves in a loft and held out, in spite of loaded guns pointed at them, until they were dragged off to prison by main force.

At Kilrush the police used their rifles against the men threatened with eviction, and were bravely attached by the crowd, who carried on the fight with stones until the evening. A pity the Irish peasants are so inadequately armed; but, as it is, their brave spirit of revolt is inspiring a glowing sympathy and emulation amongst the Kelts and English of the larger island.


The Land War
Published in FREEDOM Vol. 1 -- No. 10 (JULY, 1887)

T is a very common remark amongst the rank and file of Liberal Unionists that whilst it is only too true that the past history of English rule in Ireland is written in fire and blood, it is also a fact that the English Government has of late years devoted its best energies to promoting the welfare of the Irish people, and the said Irish people are a thankless crew not to acknowledge the blessings they have received, and therewith rest content.

It is not for an Anarchist to contest the point that the English Government has done, and is doing, its best for Ireland. When men band themselves together for the purpose of ruling their fellow men they appear to lose, in their collective capacity, both head and heart, and commit acts of folly and cruelty, of which each as a private individuals would be thoroughly ashamed. There is not a government in the civilised world, from the despotism of Russia to the democracy of America, which is not guilty every year of a series of outrages upon humanity, any one of which would consign any single individual to a prison or a lunatic asylum. The "Representatives of the English people" are neither better nor worse than the rest. The rulers, each and all, are as tyrannical and as arbitrary as the ruled will permit; and the English Government of Ireland is no exception. Let us concede that it is doing its best, and turn to the result.

It is not four months since the British public was horrified by the story of the blazing huts of Glenbeigh, of the sick child dragged out to die in a pig-sty, of the sticks of furniture, the sole possession of the peasants, destroyed in revenge for their inability to pay black mail to a person calling himself the landlord. We had, perhaps, just been reading some story of the black mail levied upon peaceful workers, by the robber barons of old, and in our smug hypocrisy were thanking God we were not as those men were, nor our days as theirs. And here before our eyes in the common'-place pages of a daily paper started out a tale of guilt and wrong, beside which the story of ancient robbers and their deeds seemed idle and pale. Here were honest, hard-working men and women, who by their labour had made a barren soil productive and habitable, a soil so barren that like that of the Scotch crofters it is some of the poorest under cultivation and yields no surplus produce, and here was a man who had done no work, nor his fathers before him, but who called himself the Lord of the land, and got the other people in a like position in Ireland and England to stand by him in his monstrous claim; they all had a fellow-feeling, for they or their ancestors had, all won their property, as they call it, by cunning or force, and one and all they feared the awakening of the people to consciousness of the theft. This landlord levied black mail on the peasants of Glenbeigh, as a price for leaving them in peace to till the soil. They could only get enough to pay it by hiring themselves out as farm labourers and domestic servants, or from the gifts of their friends in America, and when bad times came and they could not get work, they could no longer pay and live. The love of life is strong: they refused to pay, and were evicted by the aid of an armed English force.

Since then the English Government has gone on doing its best for Ireland in endeavouring to pass a Coercion Bill, the shameful provisions of which we explained in our Notes last month, and in assisting the revenge of other landlords upon those unfortunate peasants who refuse to pay black mail.

Evictions are of daily occurrence, but of late the form of the evictions of Glenbeigh has paled before that of the evictions of Bodyke. At the cost of £1,000 a day to the English workers a posse of soldiers and mounted police aids the hirelings of the landgrabber to batter down the walls of the peasants' cottages, break to pieces their poor furniture, and drive off their cattle, whilst the sick youth moans by the roadside, or the mother nurses her baby on the dung heap in the pouring rain.

Scenes to make a man's blood boil; and after witnessing them Michael Davitt has spoken out words of weight and truth for the ears of all men oppressed and enslaved, whether by landlords or capitalists.
"The chief criminals in Ireland are landlords and the only crime the crime of eviction . . . . . I was disagreeably surprised at the little resistance that was offered by those turned out . . . . . I have no doubt more determination could have been shown in defence of their rights and their hearthstones if it were not for the way in which men like myself--for I accuse myself and others in this movement--have been preaching to our people for the last seven or eight
years: Don't commit any outrage, don't be guilty of any violence, don't break the law . . . . . I am heartily ashamed of ever having given such advice to the Irish people . . . . . Just look at the example that has been set us now by the farmers of North Wales. They are defending their rights-aye, as men with hearts in their bosoms which claim to have the courage in their manhood ought to stand by such rights . . . . ."

All honour to the man who, after soul wearying years of imprisonment, dares thus to own himself in the wrong for his misplaced moderation, and speak the truth that may once more consign him to a convict's cell. All honour to the brave Irish peasantry, men and women, who, disregarding the councils of politicians, resist the tyranny of the evictors by all means at their disposal, who barricade their homes, and greet the crow-bar brigade with boiling water and boiling meal, with swarms of bees, and deluges of whitewash. All honour to kindly neighbours who lend all hands to the task of re-instating the evicted, so that the last of the red-coats has scarcely disappeared over the hill before the smoke is rising again from the dismantled hut. All honour to the energetic Welsh farmers, too, who have driven the tithe collectors from their valleys, and defied the crack college of Oxford and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to exact a penny from the produce of their labour. All honour to the heroic Kelts of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, who are leading the land war, and setting at naught that bogey of law which is the formulated injustice of Society.

Let us leave the government of the property owners to do its best to hold us peasants, labourers, and workmen alike beneath the heel of our masters; and let us boldly recognise, with Michael Davitt, that it is only by direct revolutionary action that the despoiled can meet the violence, masked and unmasked, of the monopolists.


The Struggle for Freedom: Ireland
Published in FREEDOM Vol. 2 -- No. 17 (FEBRUARY, 1888)

The new feature in the Irish persecution is that of the landlords or their emergency men, accompanied by a police escort, going into the shops of men, known to be leading Nationalists, and demanding, in as offensive terms as may be, some article or other which the shopkeeper mayor may not have to sell. The refusal to famish the required ware, on no matter what grounds, serves as an excuse for summoning before a "Pair of Patent Convictors " the objectionable Nationalist, who is forthwith clapped into jail for a month, with hard labour. Unfortunately for Balfour and Co., the wife and children, thanks to the National League, do not starve while the breadwinner is in quod; and aggravatingly, too, the prison doors never fail to reopen for a hero, however obscure a man the good Nationalist went in. But it no doubt serves some Governmental purpose to put out of the way, for a time even. the most active spirits in the village communities, and then what a balm it must be to the outraged feelings of the landlords.

The horrible story of Greally, his wife and three young children, has no doubt been read by many in all its heartrending details in the pages of the "Star" or "United Ireland." But for those who may not have seen those papers we may recapitulate it briefly. Thrust out from his little holding, although a kind priest offered to pay a year's rack-rent and to guarantee future payments, the unfortunate man built a hut to shelter his little ones from the wintry blasts. For this crime he was imprisoned, with an arm broken by a blow from the bastard son of the landlord, who undertook the extermination of the family. Naturally when Greally got out of jail he again constructed a shelter of some kind, which the bastard fired over the heads of these unfortunate creatures, and the father was again dragged to prison. Next time they sought shelter under the arch of a bridge, where every tide drenched their poor bodies with cold slush.

One child here sickened and died of a loathesome disease, contracted from exposure and want, her little throat actually rotting away. To reach the shelter of the bridge a portion of the landlord's ground had to be crossed, and Greally was arrested and imprisoned for trespassing. He was once more freed, only to again seized for trespass, this time with his wife. Their two helpless little ones attracted by their cries the attention of a priest, who with some neighbours undertook to take; them from their fearful asylum and to build them a hut on a bit of common land. For this charitable act these Good Samaritans were threatened with an action, but the Government withdrew the prosecution, on condition of the but's being removed to another site and the people's refraining from making any demonstration of joy over the saving of the poor children.


FREEDOM Vol. 2-- No.18 (MARCH, 1888)

The struggle in Ireland has been victorious in several instances during the past month, Landlords, magistrates and Chief Secretary have yielded to the steady pressure of combination.

O'Callaghan, of Bodyke infamy, who a few months back refused his tenants an abatement of twenty per cent, has surrendered nearly fifty per cent, and has moreover reinstated the thirty-one evicted families. On the Kingston estate (Mitchelstowm) a truce has been proclaimed too. Twenty per cent is to be allowed off all rents, evicted tenants are to be reinstated, all law costs to be home by the landlord and half a year's rent to be taken in lieu of arrears. All over the country abatements are being offered, some acceptable, others the reverse. Even Clanricarde has offered terms. In the Land Courts the tenants' appeals for the fixing of fair rents have been met with some extraordinary reductions, e.g., from L72 to L22.

So much for what the people have done for themselves. On the other hand let us see what has been done for them by our paternal Government. Within four weeks 274 men, women, and children, have been imprisoned, viz.:--For welcoming released prisoners, 132 (fifty-five in honour of Win. O'Brien alone) ; for speech making, " ; unlawful assembly, 22 ; boycotting, , 60 ; stopping a hunt, 16 ; resisting bailiffs, 19 ; booting Anti-nationalists, 12 (four of these boys, one only ten years old) ; laughing at a. policeman, 2.

The number actually prosecuted was much greater, but in many cases the "Patent Convictors " could not find a shred of excuse for conviction, In some cases the prosecutions were withdrawn, as in that of the two newsvendors ; and what is the more noteworthy is that the withdrawal took place on the very day that Balfour was protesting in the Talking-house he would and should have newsvendors punished it they vended matter be did not approve. Sullivan, the black. smith, who had been sentenced to a month for refusing to work for a Mrs. Curtin, appealed to a higher court, where the Lord Chief Baron declared there was not a tittle of evidence for conviction and forthwith ordered Sullivan's release. At the conclusion of Mr. Blunt'action for assault against Mr. Byrne, R.M., this same Chief Baron gave the Government another facer by using these memorable words in his charge to the jury, "The public have a right to advocate even remedies which others might deem unreasonable or revolutionary." These words might well be taken to heart this aide of St. George's Channel.


FREEDOM Vol. 2 -- No. 19 (APRIL, 1888)

The gains and losses during the past four weeks in Ireland have been pretty equally balanced. For although there are. fifty landlords making terms with their tenants to every five still holding out for their old spoils, it must be always remembered that the " good " landlords are "imply the shrewder ones, who know that half a loaf is better than no bread. When Clanricarde's agent sends forth peremptory orders to pay up, and site at the receipt of custom the whole of an appointed day, but goes home at evensong with an empty cash-box under his arm, his master, the usurer, can only vent his spleen by turning out on the bleak road-side some miserable fellow-creature, but that puts nothing in his pockets. Pousonby when he cannot get his plunder, gains little by incurring heavy liabilities for law costs, gangs of bailiffs and a battering-ram. What did it profit Dr. Roberts of Carnarvon, that dragging-out of a poor witless invalid, to lie naked, save for a sheet, in the keen March wind, whilst the walls that bad sheltered him for many years were being levelled to the ground? Ross Mahon, of Ballinasloe, refused to take 16s. in the pound in '86, but nowhe makes haste to secure the 10s. 8d. allowed by the Commissioners who have judged between him and his oppressed tenantry. Sir Henry Burke, wise too in his generation, finds it to his advantage not only to take what is offered him, but to also pay all lam -costs and E160 down toward defraying the cost of maintenance of those whom be wrongfully and stupidly evicted some months ago.

The Ulster Protestant farmers, having vainly trusted themselves to the tender mercies of their landleeches, now decide that there is no other salvation than the Plan of Campaign. At a recent meeting in Armagh held in anticipation of a visit from the Sherriff and his merry men, a large number pledged themselves to sell everything as fast as they could and to put the proceeds into their own pockets.

At most of the County Sessions the judges have been presented with white gloves to betoken absence of grave crime but the the Patent Convictors have dispatched 141 criminals too jail. Of these 47 where convicted of unlawful assembly (a convenient charge covering a multitude of doings: it applied, for instance, to the procession of generous peasants who collected 250 cart loads of food and fuel for the starving families of the MiltownMalbay prisoners.) For declining business transactions with the police 22 got term of from two to four months with hard labour. For boycotting and inciting to resistance, 23 came within reach of the law; for speech-making, 22; carrying arms, 6; lighting bonfires and shouting " Down with Salisbury and Balfour 6; granting out-door relief to evicted tenants, 3 (Poor Law Guardians sentenced to refund sums expended or go to jail); laughing at the police, 5 (this crime seems on the increase); selling United Ireland, only I (but he got three months for it); for conduct not approved by a Head Constable, 2; alleged assault, I; intimidation, 3; taking repossetion, 1; refusing to report or misreport a priest's speech, 1 (a constable).

The Miltown-Malbay prisoners, thirteen in number, have been put to a severe test in Limerick jail. They were separately tempted to sign a promise to supply the wants of the police (a refusal to do so had been their offence) instant liberation to be the reward of this denial of their cause. But these poor tradesmen one and all stoutly declined to so purchase freedom, holding firm when taken into the presence of Colonel Turner, who rated them soundly for their obstinacy.

Chief Baron Palles persists in administering justice. He has quashed the sentence of two months on Edward Walsh, editor of Wexford People, pronouncing it to be utterly illegal and ruling that the Crown should pay all costs.

The scandalous attempts of the Government to back up the rack-renters in their desire to render the Land Act perfectly useless to the tenants is manifested in the prohibition of all meetings called by the leaders of the people. Balfour and Co. know full well that Win. O'Brien and his confreres will do again what was done so successfully at Mitchelstown, i.e., advise the people to hold out against eviction, and to force their wrongs before the Land Commissioners. The prohibition at Youghal had for net results three meetings instead of one for the people, and a broken head for Captain Plunkett of " Don't-hesitate-to-shoot notoriety.


FREEDOM Vol. 2 -- No. 21 (JUNE, 1888)

Since Mr. Balfour's Parliamentary statement to the effect that the National League was a thing of the past, owing to his spirited policy of windy proclamations and gaol cramming, there have been held more than twenty public meetings of the defunct League, most of them "monster demonstrations.' The weekly business meetings, too, of the various branches have by no means fallen off, on the contrary fresh numbers are added every day. It would appear that there is still enough vitality in the combination to bring tumbling down that exceedingly rotten structure, English Government in Ireland.

The lying boast of Balfour's is backed every other day in Irish Courts of Justice by the evidence of policemen, who, in swearing against prisoners as having attended League meetings, are careful to add time lesson they have learned by rote, that, "by law," there is no such thing as the aforesaid League. This extraordinary kind of testimony suffices for "Patent Convictors," who have only to reel off sentences dictated beforehand from the Castle.

The Times, however, cannot help confessing that "the machinery has been put together with infinite skill by past masters in conspiracy, and that to undo it will yet require mouth patience and labour, for the work of civilisation in Ireland has not been successfully completed." Surely this is a printers error Instead of civilisation one ought to read "extermination." What else can be meant when six thousand families having been served with writs, are but awaiting their landlords or time Governments convenience to be evicted; when every time the awaiting steamers touch at Queenstown they take on board their vast contingents of exiles from Erin, when those who dare to stay in the old country, and to join hands in a righteous resistance to fraud and violence, are hunted down, fined, imprisoned, bludgeoned, and bayoneted? If these be English means of civilisation, one can scarcely wonder that Irishmen prefer to be their own civilising agents. Which is the better index of the advance of civilisation, a mediaeval war-engine battering down the walls of some humble home, or neighbours gathering from eight miles round to till the fields belonging to that plucky Campaigner Keating of Ballydavid. Look at that picture and on this, taken from United Ireland, 5th May: Three hundred men and lads voluntarily engaged in erecting a substantial cottage for Michael O'Donnell at Camp, within sight of the one from which he had been evicted. At Coolnarisky, Queen's County, Major Fitzmaurice stands by to see Michael Brennan, aged 78. and his four children, stricken with measles, turned out on the road-ride. The unfortunate tenant vainly prays for respite until his little ones are at least convalescent. They are not even permitted time to dress. The father is arrested after the eviction under a Chancery Court warrant, while the children lie huddled together, undressed, in the yard. Fitzmaurice shows his compassion by advising their uncle to "gather them up and send them to the union."

Is civilisation ini Ireland to show itself in time shape of the O'Grady, who reigns in solitary grandeur over his 1,800 acres, from which he has just cleared off the last batch of tenants?

In addition to what we Anarchists must call barbarity, pigheadedness is not an infrequent characteristic of time civilised class in Ireland. Take, for example, the case of a tenant who grew faint-hearted, and backed out of the protection of the League, offering to pay the rent demanded. He was rewarded by being served with a bill of costs amounting to £130, including such items as £66 lOs. for the Property Defence Association, and £4 lOs. for police refreshments.

A fine way to encourage others to keep their necks out of the noose! Let it be remembered when Crown Prosecutor Ronan, or any other, says, "It is a melancholy thing that the Irish farmers should be so silly and foolish as to persevere in attending meetings with apparently no other object than that of getting put in gaol." Luckily falterers are few amid far between. The people, for ti:e most part, are of time same metal as those of Collon, Tullyallen, who were actually ashamed that their huge League meeting was allowed to pass without being proclaimed.

To be sure it is not every day that the Government can catch time Leaguers in a death-trap, as they did on 7th April at Ennis. The bold front of the peasantry and their leaders then, umarmed save for here and there a blackthorn, must have since made the Government pause about attempting to bludgeon a meeting in more open ground. Especially so, as sympathy with the Nationalists is decidedly on time increase among the soldiers, witness their joining over and over again in the cheers for popular leaders. At Clare, 19th May. the artillery militia stoutly refused to serve uimder Colonel O'Callaghan, of Bodyke infamy, and greeted their would-be commander with three groans, supplemented by as many cheers for O'Brien. Prior to this a large number of militiamen had been stripped of their uniforms and disbanded at Roscommnon for having shown sympathy with political prisoners.

For the past two months the word of order has been "increased severity." The magistrates, in their zeal to curry favour, rather overdid it, and so brought a hornets nest about the ears of their chief in the House of Commons.

In the Appeal Courts, instead of remission, reduction, or at the worst, confirmation of the sentences, the Castle hacks doubled them, as in the cases of the priests, M'Fadden and Stephens, and Mr. Blaine, M.P., and added hard labour where it had not been already given.

From the 8th April up to the present time 229 men, women, and children have been put through the mockery of a trial, and sentenced to terms ranging from six months to a week. The offences were mostly of the usual character.

For unlawful assemnbly 83 were tried and imprisoned ; assualting the police, 26 boycotting, or inciting to same, 10 ; resisting bailiffs, 12 ; re-taking possession, 6 ; taking shelter in outhouse of their former home, 2 (a man, of eighty and his wife) selling United Ireland, 2 (one of them going to prison for the fifth, time); exhibiting notice of meeting in his window, I (six weeks for this crime) groaning the police, 15 ; laughing at them, 1 ; stone-throwing, 8 (one an imbecile, another a boy of nine years); using unpeacefui langumage, 2; intimidation, 12; wearing League cards in hat, 4; refusing evidence, 3; trespass and rescuing cattle, 20; shouting, "Down with evictions," etc., 2; cheering Canon Doyle, 1 ; playing on a tin whistle, 1 (aged thirteen) ; rioting 9; carrying bullets 2 (three months each); demeanour not being what it should be, 1 (a month); preventing a land-grabber from carrying a coffin, 1 (five weeks). Finally, it has been decreed that that all children are to be sent to reformatories if allowed by their parents to hoot or cheer.
It is not needful to dwell upon time arrests of Dillon and O'Brien, their mock trials and sentences. The Government may be likened to a blacksmith, who, in striking hard at the good metal beneath his hammer, is welding it to the right shape, and making it all the more durable with every blow.

The Vatican thunder, conjured up to start the people from their stronghold, has roiled harmlessly by. Nowadays a Papal Rescript is not even "a bug to fright a babe withal.'


FREEDOM Vol. 2.-No. 23. AUGUST, (1888)

July has been an exciting month. The most striking incident is the death of John Mandeville, who for the crime of having helped Wm. O'Brien to save the Kingston tenantry from ruin was imprisoned in Tullamore Jail during Nov, and December last year. He died on the 8th ult., and a coroner's jury has returned a verdict of "Killed through the brutal and unjustifiable treatment received while in Tullamore Jail." The inquest brought to light many shameful things which the Government no doubt intended to have kept dark, and the horror of it all was accentuated by the suicide of one of the prison doctors who had been suspended as a witness. Dr. Ridley shrank from the judgment of his fellow-men for reasons best known to himself and to Mr. Balfour with whom he had had interview a few days previous to the cutting of his throat.

One thing poor Mandeville's death has already done is to render the authorities of the jail, wherein John Dillon lies, doubly circumspect in the treatment of their precious charge, Balfour it is reported, was "considerably annoyed" by the receipt of a telegram during a debate in the House of Commons, from the men of Wexford, saying that "such was the solicitude of the entire Irish race for the health and circumstance of John Dillon, that he would have to render a strict account of that valuable life," and praying that before the expiration of Dillon's imprisonment that he (Balfour) and his party might be hurled from power. So say all of us!

Week after week discloses something more infamous and more ridiculous on the part of the Administration in Ireland. The exposure of the attempts at bribe in the Secret Inquiry Courts has caused such consternation that it has not been found convenient to produce notes of the evidence when demanded by the counsel for the accused, and repeated adjournments are applied for by the Crown.

In the superior Courts, where sit Judges who have some claim to education and legal training, contempt for Balfour's Removable Magistrates is openly expressed, their judgments causing much wonder and some merriment. On hearing the appeal concerning the lost depositions of William O'Brien's recent trial, Baron Dowse suggested that the Removables should bear in mind that even "men brought up under Balfour's Coercion Act have rights" and proposed that when one of these gentlemen who knew how to do his business could be found, he should be sent to the British Museum.

In other cases where the Removables had refused to state a case for appeal, the judges of the Queen's Bench over-ruled their decision, Judge Morris sending word to the Solicitor General that he declined to be a party to_any "hugger-mugger," and Baron Dowse proposing that that functionary's nickname should be changed from "Pether the Packer" to "Pether the Plausible."

Balfour himself has been rapped over the knuckles in a lower court and by one of his Removables, inadvertently of course. Judge Kelly anent the Ennis meeting reproved Colonel Turner for having arrested the poor and obscure and allowed the leaders to escape. Turner humbly replied he would know what to do next time.

The Hibernian Bank still declines to submit its books for inspection to the Secret Commissioners, so Balfour has not yet laid fingers on the rents banked under the Plan of Campaign.

Meanwhile some more of the generation of vipers warned of the wrath to come have made terms with their tenants. One of them going so far as to admit, when undergoing an examination as to the working of the Plan on his estate, that he had received his rent in bulk on his tenants' terms, and considered himself indebted to their priest for having brought about the settlement. Here was a piece of testimony which the Commissioners might have wished unspoken!

The majority of those dragged before this tribunal preserve an exasperating silence, or when they do speak they do not always "give evidence to please the magistrates," as was the case with an old man of 75, who went to prison for eight days for no other offence.

On the other hand the voluntary evidence for the most part reads like extracts from 'Nupkins Awakened.' Fancy a sub-sheriff solemnly deposing that he had been asked by a rude Nationalist "Was the sun up?" and another of official characterising as "horrible" resolutions passed at a meeting of the Curras tenantry such as, "Stick to the Plan in spite of Balfour and the Peelers," and " In the event of more evictions be prepared to give the sheriff and bailiffs a hearty reception."

Horrible as the bitter sentiment may be it is being very generally carried into effect. At the Vandeleur evictions (Kilrush) each homestead has been desolated with considerable difficulty, and only by means of a huge battering-ram backed by an unusually large host of bailiffs, police and military. To the threatening rifles, tumbling walls, the rush of armed men and the dragging forth of struggling wounded peasants has been added the newer feature of bailiffs scrambling on to the roofs and blocking the chimneys with lumps of thatching or big stones so as to smoke the inmates out.

Another feature at the recent evictions has been the strict exclusion of all sympathisers whether priests, M.P.'s or reporters. Balfour is not going to be bothered any more by those awkward questions put to him in the House apropos of too truthful newspaper paragraphs concerning dying men and women and helpless babes.

His prison list has been a tolerably full one since June, 117 locked up, 17 allowed bail, 69 or so remanded, against 46 dismissed for lack of evidence. For unlawful assembly 30 went to jail (13 were sowing seed for a neighbour), rioting, 27; refusing evidence, 17; helping to barricade, 12 (four of them being hired carpenters); posting threatening notices, 2; refusing goods to emergency-men, 3 cheering, 2; assault and intimidation, 6 (one a boy of 16 who struck another aged 11 during a game of marbles, not sent to prison this time but bound over to keep the peace under a section of the Coercion Act), allowing cattle to trespass, 1 (3 months hard labour); inciting unknown persons to assemble unlawfully by wearing League card in hat-band, 1; inciting to same by other means, 5, speechmaking, 5, resisting bailiffs or police, 6; groaning police, 4; reproaching a neighbour for associating with members of the R.I.C., 1(14 days h. l.), retaking possession of hovels, 2 (one an old woman over a hundred, kindly permitted by police to take her shroud into prison), carrying arms, 1.

The cost of collecting the Whelehan blood-tax in Co. Clare has absorbed the whole amount, and the collection round about Mitchelstown for Constable Leaby is, we are glad to say, faring no better.


FREEDOM Vol. 2.-No. 24. (SEPTEMBER, 1888)

Before leaving London to enjoy his unearned repose, Salisbury delivered an address, in the usual self-gratulatory style peculiar to Prime Ministers, at a Mansion House banquet to an audience of over-fed city fathers, wherein he made the following surprising assertion: "In respect to Ireland I may confidently claim that we have made great progress and achieved great results. I claim that the present Government has been successful in this that it has diminished the tyranny which illegal associations exercised over their neighbours, that it has increased the sanctity which contracts possessed in their country.... From 1st July last year to 1st July of the present year, the number of those w ho were subjected to that atrocious system, which has been named boycotting, was diminished from 4,800 to 1,300." He shall say nothing of Government statistics, that like a dickey can always be clapped at the shortest notice over the dirtiest shirt, but go on to the Irish eviction and prison record for the month of August and let them speak for themselves.

Evictions have been carried on with the greatest vigour in Clare and Wexford. In the former country they are distinguished for the extreme brutality on the part of the evictors, in the latter they are notable for the determined resistance of the evicted. Not that the Vandeleur tenants have not shown vigour in the defence of their homes for with such simple means as copious discharges of boiling water the fixing of the ram was made in many cases the work of hours. We note with pleasure that Colonel Turner and Cecil Roche got some of the hot water whilst urging on their miserable tools to the work of desolation. These gentlemen have instructed the police under their command to baton freely on effecting an entrance wherever the slightest resistance is shown, and the manner in which such instructions have been carried out evokes comment from even the Government newspapers in Dublin. The Daily Express describes the eviction of an old man named Simon Connell thus: when the police got in they used their batons to such effect that "the resisting party was soon laid prostrate. When brought out old Connell presented an awful appearance; he was unconscious, his head covered with blood, and his young son was in a condition almost as bad. Both lay on the ground prostrate for half an hour." Finally the father was conveyed to Kilrush hospital, where he lies in a very dangerous state. The son, after rallying, was conveyed to prison under a strong escort of military.

Cecil Roche during such scenes as this sits on an adjacent wall waiting for the wounded struggling peasant to be dragged handcuffed before him that he may give the order for his committal to jail, whilst Colonel Turner in his capacity of generalissimo of the Clare evictors, gives orders for the workers of the battering ram to stand at ease for amateur photographers to take impressions of the cabin walls as they crumble into picturesqueness.

In this district a piteous story unfolded itself at an inquest held on the body of an old woman, who literally died of grief after the eviction of her family. They had defended themselves as best they could and one son was carried off to jail afterwards. The poor mother distracted with excitement and sorrow took it into her head that her boy had been killed during the attack on their home, and so fretted herself out of this hard world. At the inquest a legal personage was sent down from the Castle to cross-examine the witnesses. However the coroner promptly refused to permit any such impertinence.

All rascaldom, it seems, cannot crush the spirit of these Clare men. Here is Matt Kelly, who has been spending some days in Limerick Jail for daring to help some of the Vandeleur tenants barricade their homes, no sooner out of prison than the folk of Kilduane assemble to do him honour by drawing home a good store of turf and building a fine stone outhouse for him.

The Wexford men have in the matter of scientific defence set an example to all their countrymen. At Coolroe a man named Somers having vainly tried to come to terms with his landlord, a curmudgeon of eighty, prepared to receive bailiffs, etc., in this wise. He and eleven neighbours dug trenches four feet deep about the house and threw up high earthworks. When the attacking-party arrived and tried to set up the ram it was caught from within by strong grappling-irons which rendered it perfectly useless. Emergency-men advanced with scaling ladders, which were no sooner reared than they were shoved down by stout poles and stouter arms. An American gentleman at this crisis came forward and offered to pay down half the rent, but was curtly told by the landlord that he did not permit strangers to interfere with his business. Magistrate Considine then ordered fifty police to charge, with their batons, up the earthworks. This they did repeatedly only to be driven back, most of them wounded. Twenty were then ordered to fix bayonets and charge, and these succeeded in getting upon the roof, through which they plunged their bayonets in order to reach the inmates, but vigorous thrusts from within sent them toppling to the ground one by one. A similar charge by twenty more was also routed. The landlord again asked to come to terms, again declined, saying he wanted his land. At last about 6 p.m. a corner of the house was seen to be on fire and the Redmonds, M.P.s, and Canon Doyle fearing for the safety of Somers and his friends, entreated the inmates to yield, which they did marching out honourably with loud cheers for the Plan of Campaign. Of course they were speedily handcuffed and despatched to jail, bail being refused. But as William O'Brien pointed out, "every hour's delay at an eviction is an hour gained for a hundred neighbours", for it must be remembered there are scores of landlords only waiting for the loan of the Government forces to turn out of house and home honester men than themselves.

And not only in fighting, but also in fraternity are the Wexford men well to the fore. On Sunday, Aug. 19th a large meeting assembled at Arklow, in spite of the balfourian weather, to protest against the Carysfort and other evictions going on in their county, and to inaugurate a fund, headed by a cheque for £100, for the evicted.

Whether it is that the jails are at present full, or the Government is trying some new mean dodge, cannot be clearly made out, but the number imprisoned was very small last month. Eleven cases were dismissed, 18 adjourned, 17 admitted to bail, and 2 sent for appeal. Those more honoured in being sentenced were: 4 for intimidation (3 of them boys), retaining possession, 2: obstructing bailiffs, 7; unlawful assembly, 12; assaulting bailiffs and police in home defence, 2; "moral obstruction" of blood tax, 6: trying to prevent collision between police and people at a seizure for blood-tax, 1 (6 months); taking and keeping forcible possession, 1. Thirty-four in all.

Twelve men of Meelin on offering to surrender their bails found that no one was prepared or seemed at all desirous of taking them into custody.

The trial of the Loughrea prisoners has been postponed for another month owing to the quashing of the jury panel, reluctantly done by Judge O'Brien, but the packing was so shameful that even he had to admit the objection of the prisoners' counsel.

"Constabulary duty" includes the offering of bribes to witnesses, so said Removable Beckett on the hearing of the oft-deferred Castlerea conspiracy case. This Removable remands Coercion prisoners for a month because he happens not to be in the vein to hear cases after 12 o'clock mid-day.

Balfour has actually addressed an open-air meeting in Ireland. It took place within the walls of the Constabulary Depot, Phoenix Park, Dublin, his auditors being 400 policemen, mostly recruits, the theme for his eloquence being vague hints of rewards for brutalities past and to come, but no cheering is reported as having followed his remarks. Poor Balfour! He complains bitterly of the criticisms of the press on every little fiddle-faddle of his administration, whilst his predecessors in office did quite as bad if not worse and were unnoticed.

The Lord Chief Baron has been "at it again." This time he actually gave judgment against the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and in favour of one of his tenants. Londonderry claimed £93 rent and the Chief Baron made an order for the payment of £61 odd, which he thought, "fully met the justice of the case."


FREEDOM Vol. 3 -- No. 25 (OCTOBER, 1888)

The battering-ram has been idle on the Vandeleur estates because the police and military have been on duty for the Marquis Clanricarde at Woodford during September. The Woodford men and women have shown good fight and in more than one instance the defence fully equalled in determination and gallantry that made by the Somers household at Coolroe. At Tully's house emergency-men, battering-ram, police with naked swords and gleaming bayonets, were hours before effecting an entrance. The garrison, fifteen in number, two of them women, were all more or less seriously wounded. Tully himself had to be carried out, having received severe internal injuries from the butt ends of muskets. He states that but for the intervention of the inspector, the police would have finished him as he lay on the ground. His sister had her teeth smashed in by a gallant "peeler" because she objected to his maltreating a calf.

Another of the Woodford homes was defended by a Mrs. Page, her three daughters and a boy of fourteen. It was declared by an officer present, experienced in such matters, to be the pluckiest defence he had ever witnessed. Here, also, the police distinguished themselves. One (we recommend him to Balfour for promotion) who received a dash of cold water when forcing his way in after a breach had been made, knocked down Mrs. Page, half strangled her and bit her arm severely.

To Balfour's death-list has been added the name of John Fahy, a young man in delicate health. whose parents had vainly prayed the Clanricarde agent for a delay in their eviction on account of his precarious condition. The shock of being carried from his sick-bed to be propped up against an outside wall while the work of devastation was carried out proved the finishing-stroke. A coroner's inquiry was refused by the authorities, but the verdict "Dead by the visitation of the landlord" is recorded all the same.

Lansdowne has cleared another hundred acres of land; Leader of Curras has turned out five families, while Sir Richard Wallace has only had courage to evict an old man of 70 and his daughter.

The island of Achill is preyed upon by a land-thief named "Pike" and a Protestant body calling itself the "Achill Mission." Between the two the islanders are reduced to actual starvation and have been for the past two months existing on scanty subscriptions raised by their priest.

Col. O'Callaghan, who learned a lesson at Bodyke, has come to terms with his other tenants on the Miltown and Fortane estate. One year's rent and £7,632 have been wiped out thanks to the Plan of Campaign, that "unmitigated curse" to the peasants of Ireland.

The first anniversary of the Mitchelstown massacre did not pass unobserved, Sept. 19. The police at an early hour took possession of the fatal square and tore away the black flags which had been placed over the spots where Shinnick, Casey and Lonergan fell, but the people assembled in crowds around the groves of Casey and John Mandeville, who lie buried not far from Mitchelstown, to listen to stirring speeches and renew their vows of allegiance to the cause of liberty. The disappointed police attacked them in the prescribed brutal fashion as they retired quietly to their homes.

More revelations as to the heavy bribes given to the black-coated gentry who rule the roost in Ireland appeared in the "little bill" sent in to the Cork Corporation by Inspector Hayes. The items included increased pay to various policemen who had given evidence in the prosecution of Alderman Hooper. The Mayor declined to pay and begged to inform Mr. Balfour that he considered the demand insolent, and the imprisonment of Alderman Hooper a gross infringement of public liberty.

Balfour's police-nets made a haul of 67 during September. But of these 6 have been discharged. the Removables finding "No Rule," i.e., Balfour had forgotten to provide for their offences in his Crimes Bill; 36 have been remanded, and 2 fined. The remaining 23 have gone to jail: for intimidation, 4; taking repossession, 2; knocking down an emergency-man, 1 (3 months); boycotting police, 1; for declaring he "would shout as long as God gave him lungs," 1; defending Somers' home at Coolroe, 11 (1 to 10 months' bard labour; 7 to 6 months'; 2, 4 months'; 1, 3 months); for crying out "Bravo boys!" to the aforesaid, W. K. Redmond, M.P., 3 months (refused to appeal); conspiring against a landlord, J. Redmond, M.P. (admitted to bail); publishing reports of suppressed League, Edward Walsh. of Wexford People, 3 months (granted time to undergo serious operation to his eyes); attending meeting of suppressed League. Father Kennedy (2 months; rearrested after failure of his appeal in Exchequer Court).

John Dillon. Alex. Blane and Mr. Halpin have been released before completion of their sentences, The reports of their health have been very unsatisfactory and Balfour no doubt thought it best to avoid more cases of "Mandevilling " for the present.

The three Miltown-Malbay shopmen having done four of their six months in Limerick Jail, have been offered immediate release if they would sign a pledge to abstain from future boycotting of land-thieves, but have declined the tempting bait.

Constable Cooper in the Cork police court produced a prisoner just turned fire, one of "a disorderly crowd " who had called his constableship "Balfour's bloodhound." Case refused a hearing.


IRISH PLUCK-A Wexford boy who has just done his six months in jail, and is very likely going to do another term, on being interviewed by Canon Doyle as to how he got on in jail replied, "Begor, your riverence, it's right fun to be smiling across at a fellow you know when you were going round the ring." "And what did you when you were locked up in solitary confinement? Begor, Canon, I was laughing to myself and passing resolutions."


FREEDOM Vol. 3 -- No. 26 (NOVEMBER, 1888)

Yes-tear down our homes! leave the hearthstone cold
As the hearts of you who have laid it bare;
And stone from stone let the walls be rolled,
And our home be one with the outer air,
Heap wrong on wrong! We have had to bear
More wrongs than ever our tongues can tell;
One right is left us-we still forbear,
0 England, to use it-the right to rebel!

We have borne so much that a little more,
You think, may be borne by us unrepaid?
And our backs must bow as they bowed before,
While on quivering flesh are the lashes laid?
0 England, are you never afraid
Of us you have tortured so long and so well?
Do you never doubt which the Fates would aid-
Of us or you-if we rose to rebel?

Do you never dream of a dark, wild hour,
When, goaded to madness by you, we may
Turn and repay what your alien power
Forced on us many a bitter day?
You sow your seed in your old bad way,
And the bloody harvest do not foretell;
Yet, what shall your harvest be, who shall say,
When our patience withers, and we rebel?

For all things end. We have patient been;
And a black, black record behind you lies
Of moans we have heard, of tears we have seen,
Of the dumb despair in our children's eyes.
Our sisters' sobbing, our mothers' sighs--
These ring our quiescence its funeral knell;
Our patience is over and gone. Be wise,
Ere wisdom be vain, and your thralls rebel.


FREEDOM Vol. 5 -- No. 53 (April, 1891)

The Dublin Socialist Union held all anniversary meeting in commemoration of the Commune of Paris on Thursday, March 19th, at 87, Marlboro' Street. Addresses ,it the work of the Commune, its sacrifices, the reasons of its failure, were delivered by T. Fitzpatrick, 0. Gorman, Hamilton, Wechsleder, and Nordbohm. Tile speech of Wechsleder was very impressive.


The illustrated London News, Nov. 12, 1881

Our special artist, Mr A O'Kelly contributes a sketch of the deplorable affray which took place on Friday 28th at Grawhill near Belmullet in the county Mayo on the north west coast of Ireland. The hamlet of Grawhill, perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the Atlantic, with the entrance to Broadhaven Bay and Blind harbor, the bold cliffs of Erris Head and the distant islands, consists of about a dozen houses of the meanest and poorest class. It appears that the police, about sixty in number, were accompanying a process-server who was about to serve summonses for the rates. The people of the neighbourhood, seeing the police approaching gathered to the number of three hundred. When the police were ascending the mountain path that leads to the village they were assailed by the crowd from the heights above with a shower of stones. The police charged them up the hill several times but they returned to the assault. The sub inspector in command at length gave the order to fire which was obeyed and some of the shots took effect, but even after some of the rioters were wounded they did not retire. Twenty four shots were fired. An elderly woman who received a wound in the throat and a charge of buckshot in the chest, is dead, and a young woman who received a bullet in the left side. Many others were less seriously wounded. Several of the police were injured. More than twenty persons were arrested and sent to Castlebar jail.