"We will soon be singing an excellent 'lo triumph' over the smoking effigy of what had once been tyrranical landlordism"
(Kilnamona U.I.L. May, 1902)
The United Irish League was co-founded by William O'Brien and Michael Davitt in 1898. It was O'Brien who felt that new life needed to be put into the Home Rule movement and the League was the vehicle chosen to achieve this. The League was interested in agrarian reform and hoped that this policy would provide the basis for reuniting the national political movement . It became very popular with tenant farmers and branches of the organisation were established all over the country, including Kilnamona.
In October 1901, William Redmond sent a letter to the Clare Man newspaper calling for local branches to be set up in Clare where they did not already exist . In response to a poster calling a meeting of parishioners to form a branch, every eligible member in the parish assembled after Mass and expressed their intention of becoming members . Meetings were held fortnightly and took place in John Cahir's house. In early December 1901, the inaugural meeting was held. The officers and committee were elected as follows:
|Owen Hegarty Co.C.||President|
|Myles Keane Senior||Vice-President|
|John Forde||Michael Cahir|
|Pat Hegarty D.C.||Thomas Hegarty|
|John Power||Pat Mescall|
|Connor O'Neill||Thomas Pilkington|
|Austin Kerin||Pat O'Keefe|
|John Talty||Michael Lucas|
|Thomas Galvin||Myles Keane Senior|
|Owen Hegarty Co.C.||John Power|
|Thomas Pilkington||Denis O'Loughlin|
During one of the first of the branch meetings, two policemen watched proceedings, but remained at a respectable distance away. At the same meeting, resolutions were passed supporting the candidature of Thomas Galvin, editor of the Clare Man, for the position of returning officer. A call was also made to County Councillor Michael Leyden of Inagh to support him. Also in 1902, Michael Leyden was re-elected as county councillor for the Dysert Division at a meeting attended by branches of the United Irish league from Inagh, Kilnamona, Clooney, Inch and Dysert .
The U.I.L. was a strongly nationalist association and this is reflected in some of the resolutions passed. Thomas O'Brien proposed a resolution in relation to the three Clarecastle members of the League who were jailed under the Coercion Act. He called on the Ennis District Council to co-opt them into the council as this would
In 1902, at a branch meeting, a member of the league gave a resolution to the chairman, Owen Hegarty, to read out. The resolution condemned the recent Clare Man article as insulting to the chairman of the Ennis Urban Council P.J. Linnane. Patrick Shannon proposed the resolution and Patrick O'Keefe, Ballyknock seconded it. Thomas O'Brien, the secretary and Myles Keane Junior proposed an amendment which condemned the attack on the only nationalist newspaper in Clare. The resolution won the resulting poll. The Clare Man was not impressed with the anonymous drafter of the resolution and got its revenge when writing up the Kilnamona branch notes for the meeting, insulting the entire locality in the process:
Branch meetings were not reported after this until 1908. Rev. Meehan C.C. had taken over as president at this stage, with Frank O'Halloran acting as vice president. The committee was made up of D O'Loughlin, P Naughton, M McTigue, B O'Loughlin, John Power, M Kerin, O O'Neill, Tim McKee, A Kerin and P Mescall . In 1909, the first reference is made to the demands for land reform in the parish itself. The following resolution was unanimously passed:
The Augustine Birrell Land Purchase Act was introduced by the Liberal government in 1909. The act was watered down from its original form due to opposition from the Tory dominated House of Lords. Compulsory sale was now only limited to the most congested districts and provision for landless families was abandoned . The chairman Rev. Meehan denounced in emphatic terms the conduct of the lords in mutilating the Land Bill and called upon the people to stand behind the Irish Party in the coming crisis . Willie Redmond's letter to the branch was read out, in which he thanked the branch for their contribution to the parliamentary fund and though the Land Bill was wrecked by the Lords, the people would stand together and fight for their rights.
The officers and committee were elected as follows for 1910: (John Galvin, as outgoing secretary, was proposed, but declined the position) .
|Rev. T Meehan C.C.||President|
|F Lyons||Assistant Secretary|
|D Rynne||A Kerin|
|M O'Looney||J Lyons|
|M Keane||M Hegarty|
|T Hayes||P Commane|
|P Mescall||M Cahir|
|P McDonnell||M Talty|
|J Power||J Hegarty|
|Frank Halloran||P O'Leary|
|J Keatinge||J Galvin|
|P Mescall||Denis Rynne|
1910-1912 is sadly dominated by an often bitter dispute with the Kilnamona branch of the Land and Labour Association over the dividing of the Shallee farm. The dispute was settled, apparently amicably, by the end of 1912 and peace was again restored to the region . The League had asked Willie Redmond M.P. to look into the Shallee farm and he promised, in a letter read out at a branch meeting, to raise the matter before parliament . The following year, the same officers were in place apart from Pat Kerin who took over as secretary and Pat Commane who served as treasurer once more. 1912 is the last year where the Kilnamona branch is mentioned in the local press. The coverage ends on a poignant note as a resolution of condolence to the mother of vice-president Frank O'Halloran, who had taken part in that famous event in Clare history: the Bodyke Evictions.