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January 4, 2024

Historical Photos From the Irish Land War in the Late 19th Century

The Land War was a period of agrarian agitation in rural Ireland that began in 1879. It may refer specifically to the first and most intense period of agitation between 1879 and 1882, or include later outbreaks of agitation that periodically reignited until 1923, especially the 1886–1891 Plan of Campaign and the 1906–1909 Ranch War. The agitation was led by the Irish National Land League and its successors, the Irish National League and the United Irish League, and aimed to secure fair rent, free sale, and fixity of tenure for tenant farmers and ultimately peasant proprietorship of the land they worked.

From 1870, various governments introduced a series of Land Acts that granted many of the activists’ demands. William O’Brien played a leading role in the 1902 Land Conference to pave the way for the most advanced social legislation in Ireland since the Union, the Land Purchase (Ireland) Act 1903. This Act set the conditions for the break-up of large estates by government-sponsored purchase.

Alongside the political and legal changes, the “Long Depression” affected rent yields and landlord-tenant relations across all of Europe from the 1870s to the 1890s. Below is a collection of 25 historical photographs from the Irish Land War from the late 19th century:

Police use a battering ram to forcibly evict a tenant, 1888.

The eviction of Thomas Considine at Moyasta, County Clare, 1888.

Police shield themselves against hot water thrown by tenants while carrying out an eviction, 1888.

Constables surround the home of boatbuilder Francis Tully on land owned by the Marquis of Clanricarde at Woodford, County Galway, 1888.

A building in Mitchelstown bears an anti-eviction banner and has its windows barricaded with brush to repel attacks, 1887.

Tenants in County Clare hold an effigy of a sheriff who had suffered an epileptic fit while carrying out an eviction. They saw it as divine intervention. The sign reads “Praise the Lord for here the tyrant’s arm was paralysed,” 1887.

A laborer’s family outside their temporary turf hut after being evicted from their home, 1887.

The scene before an eviction in County Clare. A disassembled battering ram is brought in on a horse cart, 1888.

Police assemble a battering ram outside the house of Mathias McGrath, 1888.

A battering ram is used to breach a farmer’s home, 1888.

Mathias McGrath’s home in Moyasta, County Clare after destruction by a battering ram, 1888.

The eviction of Michael Connell in Moyasta, County Clare, 1888.

Outside the home of Thomas Birmingham in Moyasta, County Clare, 1888.

The eviction of John Connell in Moyasta, County Clare, 1888.

The scene at the eviction of Thomas Birmingham in Moyasta, County Clare, 1888.

A group outside the house of Mary O’Dea in Tullycrine, County Clare after her eviction, 1888.

A family after being evicted, 1890s.

A family settles into a hut after being evicted from their homes, ca. 1890s.

A reporter talks to the police as they evict people from their homes, Moyasta, 1888.

An unidentified man stands at the door of his home, waiting for eviction, Coolgreany, ca. 1890s.

The O’Halloran girls, four sisters who stood up against the police, throwing cans of boiling water on them when they approached, County Claire, ca. 1890s.

Three unidentified men waiting for the eviction, Coolgreany, ca. 1890s.

An old woman and her daughter wait for eviction in their homes, Coolgreany, ca. 1890s.


  1. Little wonder so many ordinary decent Irish people defied British laws when evicted from land stolen from them. Grotesque imperial subjection.

  2. Their land originally stolen, later rented back to them at high rates, stolen again via British law and they are blamed for being bad tenants. The real meaning of British "fair play".




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