Wind that Shakes the Barley - DEMANDS for IRISH RULE

DEMANDS for IRISH RULE (Illustration) Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Civil Rights Film Social Studies World History Nineteenth Century Life Law and Politics Civil Wars

This image, from Puck, illustrates how some Brits viewed Gladstone's ideas about Irish Home Rule. The caption is:  "A Big Fire for an Old Woman to Put Out." Puck, Volume VIII, no. 200, 1881. Online via University Library, Newcastle University's 19th Century Collection 941.5081 PUC Pamphlet.


Bad harvests, in 1879, once again led to near-famine conditions. Tenant farmers were harmed even more when Ireland began to import cheap grain from America.

One logical fix was to lower land-rental payments for Irish farmers. An Irish National Land League was formed for that purpose, but nothing really changed at first.

Agitating against land agents, who failed to ease the plight of Irishmen, workers refused to harvest the crop of Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott in 1880. A new word - boycott - was thus added to the English language.

By 1886, Gladstone (the British prime minister) was convinced Ireland needed to be independent, as contemporary articles make clear. He tried - unsuccessfully - to convince the British government to reestablish the Irish Parliament. His bill for Irish "Home Rule" failed both in 1886 and in 1893.

The House of Commons finally agreed - follow this link to a Punch cartoon where Gladstone tries to convince his cabinet to back his proposals - but not the House of Lords. Home Rule for Ireland seemed as dead as all the men who had fought for it.

Not everyone was upset about that situation, however. People in the northern Ireland province of Ulster wanted to be part of the United Kingdom. In 1892, the Ulster Unionist Convention opposed Irish Home Rule so vehemently that its members threatened to fight if Home Rule became the law.

Meanwhile, progress was being made on Irish land reform. By 1903, the Wyndham Land Act encouraged British landlords to sell their estates to tenant farmers who purchased property with government loans. But even as land-ownership problems diminished, resistance to Irish rule increased in the north. In 1905, the Ulster Unionist Council was established to resist Irish rule.

In the election of 1910, many Irish nationalists were elected to Parliament. In the fall of that year, Unionists in the north, increasingly worried about Home Rule, formed a committee to buy weapons. Under the leadership of Sir Edward Carson, they would form an army - and use their weapons against other Irishmen - if Ireland were given the right to rule itself.

By 1912, the British Parliament was debating a Third Home Rule Bill. Members of Parliament opposing the measure encouraged people in northern Ireland to resist if the Bill became law. Nearly half-a-million residents of Ulster agreed to do just that when they signed a "Solemn League and Covenant" on Ulster Day - September 28, 1912.

The House of Commons approved Irish Home Rule in 1913, but the House of Lords rejected the measure again. A day later, people in Ulster - largely Protestants who did not want an Irish national government - formed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). One of their first acts was to arm themselves.

People in the southern counties - largely Catholics who wanted an Irish national government - formed the Irish Volunteers. They, too, began to gather weapons.

In the spring of 1914, the Commons approved Irish Home Rule again. By that time, the UVF had smuggled in about 40,000 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition.

They were not planning to use those weapons in the world war.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Mar 05, 2015

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"DEMANDS for IRISH RULE" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2006. Dec 12, 2019.
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