AGORA

A Community of Revolutionaries? The Land War in Ballydehob 1879-1882

Frank RYNNE

In 1879 Ireland had suffered 3 years of poor harvests and communities had genuine fear that famine might be close. In early 1880 in the village of Ballydehob in West Cork, Ireland, the community seemed to be cohesive and united in their efforts to get government relief for the poorest in their community. Landlords, magistrates, farmers all co-operated suggesting and agreeing on proposals and the approach to take in response to the government's offer of financial aid. However, the government awarded a fraction of the funds requested. In the absence of government help and with the formation of local branches of the Irish National Land League, the apparent communal spirit evidenced in early 1880 fell apart. Under the control of the Irish revolutionary organization the Irish Republican Brotherhood and directed from the US branch of the Fenian movement, Clan-na-Gael, a revolutionary land movement emerged pitting farmers against their landlords and government officials. This led to a new community emerging that was militant, nationalist and organised. This paper examines the end of one communal order and the emergence of another which was nationalist, revolutionary and which targeted those who lived among them who represented the British state and landlordism.

Keywords: landlords and tenants, Fenianism, Ireland, The Irish Land War, revolution, County Cork, Irish Republican Brotherhood, Land League, Irish nationalism.

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