Category Archives: Famine
“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. 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 Read the rest of this entry →
Posted 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
“My object is to repeal the conquest – not any part or portion, but the whole and entire conquest of seven hundred years”: Fintan Lalor, 1847
A letter from Lalor to John Mitchel on the landlords, repealing the Union and repealing the Conquest. Lalor subsequently shifted from the views here, becoming totally opposed to the landlords as a class. (See “They or we must quit this island: Fintan Lalor on the landlord class, June 24, 1848”; I will have this up on the blog by the end of this month.) The piece below originally appeared as a single, long paragraph; I have broken it up into shorter paragraphs.
From Sir C. G. Duffy’s Four Years of Irish History: 1845-1849, London, Paris & New York, Cassell, Petter, Galpin, 1883.
I know the Confederation and you by speeches and writing only. But men may speak and write forcibly and yet act very feebly, and be very competent to criticize, yet utterly incompetent to construct. Ireland’s greatest and last opportunity was in your hands – a revolution that would have put your own names in the blaze of the sun for ever was in your hands; you have flung it away as the cock flung the diamond, useless to him as the crisis was to you. Vain to him the flash of the gem which he could not polish; vain to you were the lightnings of heaven and the meteors of earth, which you could or would not kindle and guide.
You appear to be under mistakes as to my objects which I cannot permit you to retain. I have nothing to do with the landlord and tenant question, as understood. The question of the tenure by which the actual cultivator of the soil should hold his land is one for an Irish Parliament. My object is to repeal the conquest – not any part or portion, but the whole and entire conquest of seven hundred years – a thing much more easily done than to repeal the Union.
That the absolute (allodial) ownership of the lands of Ireland is vested of right in the Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, Economy and workers' resistance, Famine, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland and British revolution, Ireland in 1800s, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions
Fintan Lalor on Repeal, land ownership, insurrection and saving the Irish masses in the Famine
The following article appeared in The Irish Felon, July 1848. It was titled “To the Irish Confederate and Repeal Clubs”. The sentences in brackets were Lalor’s introduction to the piece. In this lengthy feature Lalor criticises the Young Ireland movement for the partial nature of its break with Daniel O’Connell and his Repeal Association; argues that the goal of the struggle has to be a social revolution and not simply repeal of the 1801 Act of Union; outlines different forms of insurrection; identifies the landlord class as a garrison class; notes the socio-economic impact of Famine on Irish society; and how a plan of action is needed to fight immediately to save the country from ruin.
I must admit I was sorely tempted to break up the more massive paragraphs! However, I decided to resist the temptation.
by James Fintan Lalor
[The paper that follows was written in the last week of January, 1847 – just one year and five months ago and was forwarded to one of the leading members of the Confederation for private circulation among the council of that body. I now address it to you just as it was written.]
I see no reason to prevent me mentioning that, in about a month from the date and delivery of my paper, I received a letter from John Mitchel stating that, on perusal and consideration of its contents, he had fully adopted my views, and that he meant to act on them so soon as occasion should fit and serve. – January 25, 1847
My sole wish or attention is to suggest. Any attempt to convert or convince would be useless. Individuals are never converted; they must convert themselves. Men are moved only in masses; and it is easier to convert a million of men than a single man. But neither is the attempt necessary. To you, or any of those whom this paper is intended, the end of the clue-line is enough. You will be able, if you choose, to follow it out yourself. To lead you on, link by link, would be needless and absurd.
To anyone who considers their speeches, resolutions, and proceedings, it will, I think, appear manifest and marked, as it does to me, that the “seceders” have gone into organized action upon mere vague impulse and general feeling; with their objects undefined, their principles unsettled, their course unmarked; without any determinate plan, or, consequently, any fixed purpose – for no purpose can long remain fixed, but must be ever veering and wavering, without a plan to guide, control, and sustain it; and a purpose without a plan to confine and confirm it, is no purpose at all. Such a plan, too, is wanting as a warrant and guarantee to yourselves and to others that your object is feasible and your means adequate ; that you have gauged your enterprise and measured your means; and that the work you call on us to do will not be wasted. There are few worse things, even in the ethics or economy of private life, than labour misdirected; but what should be said of those who would, for want of a full and exact survey and calculation, mislead and exhaust the labour and means and strength of a people? It is not Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, British strategy, Economy and workers' resistance, Famine, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Natural resources, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions
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“(T)he clearest exposition of the doctrine of revolution, social and political”: Connolly on Fintan Lalor
The piece below is taken from chapter 14 (“Socialist Teaching of the Young Irelanders: Thinkers and Workers”) of James Connolly’s Labour in Irish History (1910). I’ve broken up very big paragraphs.
. . . But the palm of honour for the clearest exposition of the doctrine of revolution, social and political, must be given to James Fintan Lalor, of Tenakill, Queen’s County. Lalor, unfortunately, suffered from a slight physical disability, which incapacitated him from attaining to any leadership other than intellectual, a fact that, in such a time and amidst such a people, was fatal to his immediate influence. Yet in his writings, as we study them to-day, we find principles of action and of society which have within them not only the best plan of campaign suited for the needs of a country seeking its freedom through insurrection against a dominant nation, but also held the seeds of the more perfect social peace of the future.
All his writings at this period are so illuminating that we find it difficult to select from the mass any particular passages which more deserve reproduction than others. But as an indication of the line of argument pursued by this peerless thinker, and as a welcome contrast to the paralysing respect, nay, reverence, for landlordism evidenced by Smith O’Brien and his worshippers, perhaps the following passages will serve. In Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, Economy and workers' resistance, Famine, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland in 1800s, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions
Marx, Engels and the Irish and British revolutions: a note
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ireland’s greatest Marxist, James Connolly.
Accordingly, I will be running material by Marx (and Engels) on the subject of Irish freedom and its interconnectedness with the British revolution, as well as material by and about James Connolly.
This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of Connolly’s great co-workers, Constance Markievicz.
This blog already contains a substantial body of her writings and also articles about her. Most recently, I added her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.
Later this year, I will be putting up a substantial piece on her and the Irish revolution, something I began to write well over 20 years ago and put aside unfinished.
I will also continue my (so far rather haphazard) efforts to get up everything I have of Fintan Lalor’s writings and write something substantial on ‘Fintan Lalor and the Irish revolution’. I had made a load of notes for this last year and then lost them, so I have to start again; very frustrating.
I want to get something substantial up soon on Sean McLoughlin too, a kind of precis of the book by Charlie McGuire, a book I urge folks to go out and buy.
As always, I have a bunch of books – and it’s growing, also as always! – which I want to review. They go back to stuff published about five years ago now, I have been so lax in getting these reviews done. Aaaarrrggghhh!
And there are a few old articles from several journals that I want to get up here, but I have to type them up – a very time-consuming task.
Posted in 1798 - 1803, 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Constance Markievicz, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Engels, Famine, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, James Connolly, Marx, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Reviews - books, Revolutionary figures, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism