Anna Parnell, Michael Davitt

Land League Celebration in Mayo

Michael Davitt Museum

Great excitement – I’ve been asked to speak at the Michael Davitt Museum in Straid, County Mayo this Friday, November 6th, as part of a celebration by the Michael Davitt National Memorial Association to mark 130 years since the foundation of the Land League. Michael Davitt is known as “The Father of the Land League”, and it was he who actively sought – and fought – to establish a Ladies Land League. Anna Parnell considered him to be one of her closest allies and supporters during the Land War.

The same weekend sees the official opening of the Davitt Centre and the North/South Cultural and Historial Symposium on the weekend of November 6 and 7.

Cllr John Cribbin, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council will also launch a photographic exhibition on civil rights, which is on loan from the Museum of Free Derry.

Anton McNulty, of The Mayo News, reports full details of the event on their website. Here’s a quote from his article:

On Saturday, November 7, a lecture by Dr Dominic Bryan of Queens University, Belfast , entitled ‘Transforming Conflict Flags and Emblems’ and a lecture by Dr Mary Harris of NUIG called ‘The Catholic Church and the Partition of Ireland’ will take place in the Pontoon Bridge Hotel at 11am. The session will chaired by Cllr Henry Kenny.
In the afternoon session which starts at 2pm, Rev John Farr from Antrim, will talk on ‘Personal reflections on the Orange Order’ and Senator Labhras O’Murchu will speak on ‘Music and Tradition’. This session will be chaired by Bernard O’Hara of GMIT, and each session will be followed by a question and answer session.

With deep gratitude to Mrs Nancy Smyth for her encouragement and organisational skills!

Anna Parnell, articles, Michael Davitt

Michael Davitt the Peacemaker

Michael Davitt Kevin Myers wrote a lovely insightful article about Michael Davitt in today’s Irish Independent newspaper, called “None dreamed such impossible dreams as Davitt did and then made them come true”.

Comparing Davitt to a nineteenth-century Ghandi, Myers writes, “Davitt’s real lesson for the world — which Ghandi learnt, but tragically Pearse and Connolly did not — wasn’t about the creation of a word but a concept: that peaceful, studiously non-violent mass-action in pursuit of a palpably just cause can create an almost irresistible political momentum. If unjust imprisonment be your fate, then lift your hand against no man, and go to jail.” Davitt did indeed go to jail in 1881, when the British government realised that he was encouraging starving tenants not to pay their overpriced rents. He went back to jail in England, peacefully and with dignity.

Myers goes on to say that “No single individual has ever transformed Ireland for the better as Davitt did; but best of all, he gave power to the powerless by perfectly peaceful means”.

Michael Davitt was one of the key intellects behind the formation of the Ladies Land League, which was headed by Anna Parnell. Both were accused by the media of the time of being extremists, but a closer look at their characters reveals the opposite. Both were pacifists, dedicated to using peaceful means to end the land struggle in Ireland.