Politics and Land

Politics and the land question became inextricably linked in Ireland in the second half of the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century. Several sources refer to Kilnamona during this period. Local branches of national movements were set up in Kilnamona. These included the Land League, Irish National League, the United Irish League and the Land and Labour Association.

The first mention of Kilnamona in 19th century politics I could find was in 1843. Catholic Emancipation had been won by Daniel O'Connell ("The Liberator") in 1829. The next big national question was the repeal of the 1801 Act of Union with Britain. The question of national independence was advanced by the Loyal National Repeal Association. The return of "repeal rent" in 1843 showed that the parish of Inagh and Kilnamona contributed 23 pounds and 10 shillings to the cause. Fr. Thomas Quinn was responsible for collecting the money [1].

Fr. Quinn was a noted opponent of landlord oppression and, in this letter of 1858, bitterly opposes the unroofing and levelling of the residences of three widows and their children in Knockatemple, Kilnamona.

Land League and the Irish National League

The Irish National Land League was set up in 1879 to advance the cause of tenant farmers. In early 1880, at a meeting in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin; there were a number of applications for relief submitted. The Kilnamona Relief Committee was granted £20 [2]. Kilnamona again sought assistance in the summer and was granted £10 [3].

A contingent from Kilnamona was present at a Land League demonstration in Miltown Malbay in late 1880. A green flag was displayed on the platform, having on one side the harp, and the words "God Save Ireland" and "Kilnamona". 5 to 6000 people attended [4].

Two weeks later, Parnell himself, along with two other M.P.s, attended a Land League demonstration in Ennis. Between 10 and 12 thousand people attended the meeting. When they arrived in Ennis at 4.a.m., hundreds of people gathered to lead the honoured guests to Carmody's Hotel by torchlight. A contingent from Kilnamona was present. At the meeting itself, Parnell asked the crowd "what are you to do to a tenant who bids for a farm from which another tenant has been evicted?" Some members of the crowd said "shoot him!" Parnell, however, urged the people to simply boycott him [5].

The Land league was suppressed in 1881 as an unlawful association by the government. The Crimes Act gave the government great summary powers to suppress agrarian unrest. Kilnamona was one of the areas where extra constabulary were ordered under the provisions of the act. They were ordered for the townlands of Ahasla, Magowna East, Magowna West, Soheen, Derroolagh and Croaghaunmore [6].

In 1882, Parnell set up the Irish National League. The National League was a movement concerned primarily with the attainment of Home Rule for Ireland. A local branch of the League was set up in Kilnamona. Their A.G.M. in 1887 reveals that Rev. J O'Neill, P.P. was elected as president; Rev. M. Foley, C.C. was elected vice-president; Patrick Commane was elected as treasurer; and Owen Hegarty was elected as secretary. All the officers were elected unanimously. The committee was made up of T Pilkington, M O'Meehan, M O'Loughlin, D. O Keefe Junior, John O'Loughlin, John Collins, Mr. Barrett, M Sullivan, James Finucane, Martin Keatinge and Thomas Galvin [7].

In 1885, Fr. Patrick White of Miltown Malbay invited Charles Stuart Parnell to speak at a massive public meeting. 20,000 people gathered to hear him speak. The Kilnamona banner at the meeting, referring to Parnell, simply read "The Uncrowned King of Ireland" [8].

Around this time, the first reference to elections to Kilnamona is made. In 1882, Poor Law Elections were held in the Ennis and Ennistymon Poor Law Unions. The elected candidate would be able to dispense relief to the poor of the parish. The elections created scenes of "a most disgraceful character" (!):

"At Kilnamona, the partisans of the rival candidates on Thursday in two opposing factions bludgeoned each other something after the fashion of the "Three Year Olds" and the "Four Year Olds". Blood flowed freely on both sides, and those who claimed to be the victors carried away the collector of the voting papers, marched him in triumph into Ennis Workhouse, and then and there demanded that the clerk should declare their man elected" [9].

After the Parnellite split, the Irish nationalist movement was divided for some time. The next national movements that Kilnamona was active in were the now largely forgotten United Irish League and the Land and Labour Association.

Paddy Hanrahan 1968 Election
Paddy Hanrahan of Gurteen votes in the same election
Biddy Commane of Ballyknock performs her civic duty in 1968
Biddy Commane of Ballyknock votes in the by-election of 1968.
  1. June 23, 1843 Freeman's Journal
  2. February 28, 1880 The Nation
  3. May 29, 1880 The Nation
  4. September 11, 1880 The Nation
  5. September 25, 1880 The Nation
  6. September 22, 1883 Freeman's Journal
  7. February 5, 1887 Saturday Record
  8. Murphy, Ignatius (1995) The Diocese of Killaloe 1850-1904. Dublin: Four Courts Press
  9. March 25, 1882 Nenagh Guardian