MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 07/26/2013, SPi
Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh: Irishlandquestions
in the state of the Union
In a short but challenging article, published in 1994, the cultural critic
Seamus Deane proposed a fundamental distinction between the use of
‘land’ and ‘soil’, as descriptors of territory in Irish history, and between the
Irish ‘struggle for the land’ in the nineteenth century and the contest for
‘the soil of Ireland’. According to Deane, ‘soil is what land becomes when
it is ideologically constructed as a natal source, that element out of which
MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 08/01/2013, SPi
Barbara L. Solow: The Irishlandquestion in a wider context
The meaning of property is not constant.The actual institution, and the way
people see it, and hence the meaning they give to the word, all change over
time. The changes are related to changes in the purpose which society or
the dominant classes in society expect the institution of property to
serve... . When these expectations change, property becomes a controversial subject: there is not only argument about what the institution of
property ought to be
The question of land in Ireland has long been at the heart of political, social and cultural debates. In eleven essays a group of authors including some of the most influential historians and social scientists of modern Ireland, and up-and-coming scholars, explore Ireland's land questions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book is divided into three sections, the first of which presents the current state of our understanding of the issue of land in Ireland in two survey essays that cover the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book's second section presents a series of reflections in which historians and social scientists look back on how they have approached the topic of land in Ireland in their earlier writings. A third section presents some innovative new research on various aspects of the Irish land question.
MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 08/01/2013, SPi
Philip Bull: Writing about Irish land against
the background of Northern Ireland
My interest in the Irishlandquestion originated during the doctoral
research that I commenced in 1968. Focusing on the role of the Irish
nationalist leader, William O’Brien, in resolving conflict over the land
tenure issue in the early twentieth century, I began to realize his importance as a voice that echoed down the years almost as a commentary on
contemporary events in the north of Ireland. During the initial stages of
Thomas Byrne), I thought that it might be a good
time to organize a conference on the Irishlandquestion. Much of the key
work on this subject had been done in the 1960s and the 1970s (even if
some of it had been published later than that), and I thought that it would
be interesting to revisit that work and to reflect on its continued influence and value in the early twenty-first century. During the consumption
of the second pint of Guinness, a piece of paper was identified, and quickly
a list of the names of eminent historians of Ireland who had written on
policy, 1918–1950s’, in Matthew Cragoe and
Paul Readman (eds), The land question in Britain, 1750–1950 (Basingstoke,
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
5 Hardie, ‘A week in Ireland’ (First Article), Labour Leader, 9 February 1906.
6 Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, ‘Irishlandquestions in the state of the Union’, in
Fergus Campbell and Tony Varley (eds), Land questions in modern Ireland
(Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2013), p. 6.
7 Laurence Marley, Michael Davitt: freelance radical and frondeur (Dublin,
Four Courts Press, 2007), p. 284.
8 Hardie, ‘A week in Ireland
It is inevitable that when a person changes the way that they think about
themselves and their own life, and when the world in which they live in
changes, that they will bring the new thoughts that they have to their
interpretation of the past. It is for this reason – hopefully – that none of
our ideas or understandings of the past will ever remain stuck or static
and that the history of the Irishlandquestion as well as everything else
will always be open to reinterpretation.
1 F. Campbell, Land and Revolution: Nationalist Politics in the West of
The public life and political opinions of the 3rd Earl of Rosse
Throughout his life, Rosse was to be a strong defender of the rights of
property and of the privileges of the landed class to which he belonged.
Indeed, he frequently repeated his conviction that the solution to the Irishlandquestion did not lie in any radical transformation of the existing
relationships between landlord and tenant but, rather, rested on the
large-scale emigration of the poorer farmers and agricultural labourers
from the country.2 Later in his life, however, Rosse’s reputation as a
moderate Conservative was to mean that he was
The politics of land reform in twentieth-century Ireland
, the small western farmers were
doomed to become the victims, not the victors, of the ‘Land League
Landless labourers, whose part in the Land League ‘was on the whole
passive rather than active’,17 present us with another losing agrarian class.
When George Wyndham came to engage with the Irishlandquestion
upon becoming Chief Secretary in November 1900, some 70,000 tenant
farmers had already purchased their holdings, leaving a balance of 400,000
to be still dealt with.18 The challenge Wyndham set himself was to legislate
Politics (Gerrard's Cross, Bucks.: Colin Smythe, 1986), 3.
5 IAOS, Annual Report, 1921 , 7.
6 Kevin H. O’Rourke, ‘Culture, Conflict and Cooperation: Irish Dairying Before the Great War’, Economic Journal , 117 (2007), 1357–1379.
7 Philip Bull, Land, Politics and Nationalism: A Study of the IrishLandQuestion (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1996); James S Donnelly, Jr, The Land and the People of Nineteenth-Century Cork (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975).