“They or we must quit this island” – Fintan Lalor on the landlord class (June 1848)

From the republican newspaper The Irish Felon, June 24, 1848.  This appeared in the original as one paragraph, but I have broken it up into several paras to assist 21st century readers.

Although written 170 years ago as a condemnation of the main property-owning class in Ireland then (the landlords) it sounds very modern, like a condemnation of the main property-owning class in Ireland today (the capitalists).  It is not hard to see why Connolly – and Pearse – admired Lalor so much.  The article represents a step forward in republican political thinking from the time of Tone and Emmet, as over four decades of class development and conflict had taken place and Ireland was in the midst of the horrors of a massive famine created by the capitalist property system.

The bit about “strangers” is also apt as a description of the Dublin4 and WestBrit set of today.

by James Fintan Lalor

They or we must quit this island

They or we must quit this island.  It is a people to be saved or lost; it is the island to be kept or surrendered.  They have served us with a general writ of ejectment.  Wherefore I say, let them get a notice to quit at once; or we shall oust possession under the law of nature.

There are men who claim protection for them, and for all their tyrannous rights and powers, being “as one class of the Irish people”.  I deny the claim.  They form no class of the Irish people, or any other people.  Strangers they are in this land they call theirs – strangers here and strangers everywhere; owning no country and owned by none; rejecting Ireland and rejected by England; tyrants to this island and slaves to another; here they stand, hating and hated – their hand ever against us as ours against them, an outcast and ruffianly horde, alone in the world and alone in its history, a class by themselves.

They do not now, and never did, belong to this island at all.

Tyrants and traitors have they ever been to us and ours since they first set foot on our soil.  Their crime it is and not England’s, that Ireland stands where she does today – or rather it is our own, that have borne them so long.  Were they a class of the Irish people the Union could be repealed without a life lost.  Had they been a class of the Irish people that Union would have never been.  But for them we would now be free, prosperous and happy.  Until they be removed no people can ever take root, grow up and flourish here.

The question between them and us must, sooner or later, have been brought to a deadly issue.  For heaven’s sake and Ireland’s let us settle it now, and not leave it to our children to settle.  Indeed, it must be settled now; for it is plain to any ordinary sight that they or we are doomed.

A cry has gone up to heaven for the living and the dead – to save the living and avenge the dead.

Posted on July 29, 2019, in 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-social activity, British strategy, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Famine, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland in 1800s, Natural resources, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, Workers rights, Young Ireland. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great stuff. More applicable today to the Gombeen or native Irish capitalist class than the landlords although some of the former are also the latter.

    Reblogging.

  2. Reblogged this on rebelbreeze and commented:
    Great words. More applicable today to the Gombeen or native Irish capitalist class than the landlords although some of the former are also the latter.

  3. Thanks mo chara. Yes, very true of the gombeens. I think Lalor is very relevant to today and deserves his work to be much better known. Pearse identified him as one of the four great thinkers of the republican tradition – the others being Tone, Davis and Mitchel.

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