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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 17:08 GMT


1850-1909: Parnell, Gladstone and the battle for Home Rule

Charles Stewart Parnell - the dominant figure of Irish politics in the late 19th century

Fenians founded James Stephens founds a secret society in 1858 dedicated to bringing about an independent Ireland - the Irish Republican Brotherhood, known as the Fenians.

A linked organisation, the Fenian Brotherhood, is set up in the US the following year.


[ image: The Manchester Three become martyrs]
The Manchester Three become martyrs
Manchester Martyrs' Two armed Fenian uprisings in 1867 are aborted when an informer betrays the conspirators.

Three Fenians executed in Manchester for killing a policeman while helping rescue a Fenian leader - they become known as the 'Manchester Martyrs'.

Church Disestablished The Protestant Irish Church is disestablished in 1868 by Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone.

Home Rule Movement This body is founded in 1870 by Isaac Butt and relaunched in 1873 as the Home Rule League.


[ image: Gladstone - converted to Home Rule]
Gladstone - converted to Home Rule
Also in 1870, Gladstone begins his attempts to reform Irish land ownership and tenancy with his first Land Act.

Nearly 60 Home Rule MPs are elected in the general election of 1874, the first under secret ballot.

Ignored by Benjamin Disraeli's new government, they begin to use tactics of obstruction in the Commons.

Land League Bad harvests in 1879 lead to near-famine. The plight of small tenant farmers is made worse by falling prices caused by cheap grain from America.

In response, the Irish National Land League is formed to fight for reduced rents. Its president is MP Charles Stewart Parnell but many former Fenians are its leading officials.

Boycott A new word is introduced in the English language in 1880 when supporters refuse to harvest the potato crop of County Mayo land agent Captain Boycott and Parnell urges others to apply similar measures.

Parnell on the rise Gladstone's second Land Act of 1881 gives tenants greater rights. Parnell is jailed for his vociferous opposition to it on the grounds that it does not go far enough.


[ image: Lord Cavendish's murder was a bitter blow for the Home Rulers]
Lord Cavendish's murder was a bitter blow for the Home Rulers
In 1882, Parnell is released from prison but hopes for a deal are wrecked when the new Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Cavendish, is murdered in Dublin by former Fenians with links to the Land League.

Parnell ascendant General Election of 1885 fought on wider franchise which had tripled the Irish electorate. Parnell's Irish Parliamentary Party with 86 seats holds the balance of power in the Commons. Gladstone is converted to Home Rule.

The Conservatives campaign against Home Rule - Lord Randolph Churchill tells an Orange rally in 1886 that "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right".

Gladstone's Home Rule Bill is defeated in the Commons soon after by Conservative opposition and Liberal defections.


[ image: Kitty O'Shea - Parnell's rock on which he ultimately foundered]
Kitty O'Shea - Parnell's rock on which he ultimately foundered
Parnell falls Parnell is cited in a divorce case in 1890 involving his long-time lover, Kitty O'Shea.

His party splits and he is deposed as leader.

Parnell dies the following year.

Home Rule opposition An Ulster Unionist Convention of 1892 declares it will fight if Home Rule is enacted.

Blocked by the Lords Gladstone's second Home Rule Bill passes the Commons in 1893 but is rejected by the Lords.

Local powers Local government in Ireland reformed in 1898, leaving the administration of many aspects of local life in the hands of Irishmen.

Independent Orange Order Tom Sloan founds the Independent Orange Order in 1903, opposed to 'constructive Unionism'.

Land reform Also in 1903, the Wyndham Land Act encourages landlords to sell their estates, which are bought by tenants with government loans. Birrell's Land Act continues the process in 1909 and further extends land purchase provisions. Land reform gradually becomes less of an issue in Ireland

Ulster Unionist Council The Ulster Unionist Council is formed in 1905 to resist Home Rule.



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In this section

1997-98: Second IRA ceasefire to the Nobel Peace Prize

1995-96: Clinton's visit and the end of the IRA ceasefire

1993-94 The Downing Street Declaration and the IRA ceasefire

1990-92: Start of the talks process

1988-89: Gibraltar killings and release of the Guildford Four

1985-87: The Anglo-Irish Agreement

1981-84: Hunger strikes and the Brighton bomb

1976-80: The violence continues

1972-75: The failure of Sunningdale

1970-72: Internment and Bloody Sunday

1968-69: The troops are sent in

1939-67: Relative calm before the storm

1923-38: The fixing of the Irish border

1921-22: The Irish Free State and civil war

1917-20: The road to partition

1910-16: The 'winning' of Home Rule to the Easter Rebellion

1850-1909: Parnell, Gladstone and the battle for Home Rule

1695-1850: A time of revolution and the Great Famine

1170-1691: From Strongbow to the establishment of Protestant ascendancy