Chapter 6: Post-Election Activities – The Origins of the No Rent Plan

Post-Election Activities – Davitt’s Plan – My Counter-proposals – The London Meetings – My Plan Adopted by the Party – Dwyer Gray Consulted – Plan Betrayed and Davitt Arrested – Dublin Meetings – Long John Clancy – The Leaders Retreat to Paris – Paris Meeting – I Am Defeated


During the election and immediately afterwards Davitt, Dillon, Brennan, Boyton, Harris, and all the men who the new Chief Secretary Forster made traversers[1] in a trial for conspiracy, were unceasingly on the warpath against the landlords.[2] The current of the agitation was moving very rapidly.[3] I attended very few meetings, and chiefly in the North, but I was constantly in Dublin, particularly on Saturdays, to discuss the points to be pushed at the Sunday meetings. I had the reputation of being, which I was and am, a very indifferent public speaker. I remember Richard Lawlor, M.P., writing to Brennan, the Secretary of the League, to send a speaker to some meeting in the Queen’s County.[4] In a P. S. he said: “Don’t send Kettle – he can organise, but he can’t talk.” Thus I was like the hurler on the ditch somewhat. I was watching the fight very closely without losing my way in the crowd. But I went to new ground occasionally. I went to Carrickmacross with T. M. Healy, where Canon John Hoey[5] made the best Land League speech I heard up to that time. I went to Brookeborough and Enniskillen with O’Kelly, where we had a pretty hot time, shared by that grand old Democrat, Jordan, and a dashing recruit, Trimble,[6] of the Enniskillen Observer.[7]

When Forster issued his writs, a circumstance I regretted occurred. James Plunkett,[8] the man who lost the fifty pounds sooner than lose his right to vote, was thrown over for V. B. Dillon.[9] It was held to be too big a job for Plunkett, but I think he would have managed it just as well. However, Mr. Dillon did very well and finished up on the Irish line in after years. I was not amongst the accused, and I did not interfere in their policy in the courts, but when the trial ended[10] I was brought on the scene in the usual accidental providential way. After the jury disagreed I was passing from the luncheon bar in the Four Courts to the hall when I met Parnell and Davitt. Parnell said, “I am anxious to see you. Come back. I am going to have a chop. And Davitt has proposals to make which I want to have your opinion on.” We sat in one of the four-seated stalls that were then in the place and Parnell asked Davitt to read his proposals. Their purport was that Mr. Parnell and a party of three or four leading men were to proceed to America to collect funds and to be out of the way of arrest. I suppose T. P. O’Connor[11] and all the men acquainted with the English section of the work were to stump England, and Davitt and Dillon with Brennan and the League staff were to remain in Ireland to face Forster, who had announced his intention of asking for a drastic Coercion Act if he failed to get a verdict by the ordinary law.[12] “Well,” I said, “that’s an astounding programme. I call that a policy of dispersion when, in my opinion, it should be a policy of concentration. I believe the whole party should come to Ireland and face coercion, and take the consequences, and strike back by calling for a suspension of the payment of all rent until Parliament would deal with the land question.”[13] Davitt never imagined that I was after thinking out the whole question and we got disputing about it[14] when Parnell said, “You will have to come to London. A meeting of the Executive will be held tomorrow evening and you should come.” “Yes,” I said, “I will go any length to see this thing through, for I believe this is a turning point in the whole movement.”

The meeting was held in a kind of informal way in the House of Commons. There was no Chairman, but the whole discussion turned on my programme. Parnell came in a little late and sat in the second row of seats from a table round which the meeting was grouped on chairs carried over as the members came in. I was examined and cross-examined by Egan and Sexton[15] chiefly. Parnell took no part in the discussion, but he interfered twice when I was being plied with questions from different points together. The trouble about the whole thing seemed to be that the revolutionary men felt that the revolutionary policy of the Land League Movement was being pushed by an outsider.[16] After a good long discussion they adjourned to the Westminster Palace Hotel[17] next day at 1 o’clock.

Thomas Sexton, 1880

When the meeting was breaking up Mr. Davitt beckoned me over to where he and Mr. Dillon were standing. He says, “I am not satisfied about this business. Dillon and I are meeting in the Charing Cross Hotel tomorrow at 12 o’clock. Will you join us until we discuss my plan in detail?” “Certainly,” I said. The three of us spent some time before the meeting discussing his policy of dispersion. “Mr. Davitt,” I said, “you seem to be well posted in Irish-American matters, and Mr. Parnell is in English public work, but I really cannot wrong my conscience and subdoctrinate my judgement in matters concerning Ireland to any public man I am acquainted with. As you know I have had great opportunities of studying the land question and I feel bound to push this matter of policy through if I can.” He said, “Your motion will come first before the meeting and if it is adopted I shall not move mine at all.” I said, “Nothing could be better than that. Let the meeting decide.” About twelve members of the Executive attended the meeting. Mr. Parnell came in late and excused himself when taking the chair as president. He commenced by saying, on considering the discussion last night he drew up a sketch of how he thought they ought to proceed and “I think it might shorten the proceedings if I read it,” and turning to me he said, “I think it will carry out your proposal.” The purport of the paper was, the Party were to attend in the House in force and fight the Coercion Bill fiercely but not so fractiously as to get expelled. When the last stage would be reached he was to stand up and make the bitterest possible protest against suspending the liberties of a people instead of enquiring into their just grievances, and wind up by impeaching the right of England to govern Ireland at all, and take his hat and march out of the House with the whole Party, make arrangements to post away to Euston, cross to Dublin, and have arrangements made to hold the largest possible public Convention or meeting, and then to solemnly delegate every Member of Parliament to go to his own constituency and stay there and hold meetings in all the towns and villages on the public questions of the time. He as chairman would announce before the world that the first arrest under the new Coercion Act would be the signal for the suspension of the payment of all rent until the Legislature would take an account of the equities of the Irish land question and transfer the land on just terms to the people.[18]

Justin McCarthy, 1891

While he was reading the paper the people present did not seem to breathe, so tense was their attention. Justin McCarthy[19] was the first man to stand up and speak. It was the first time I saw him. He thanked God that he lived to hear such a proposition made to grapple manfully with the enemies of his country, and he thanked Heaven for sending the Irish people a leader who proposed to lead on such lines. The contents of the paper was adopted with acclamation, and Mr. Davitt and myself were deputed to cross to Ireland and make arrangements at once for the famous convention. T. P. O’Connor then intervened and said it would be a great point if we could get the support of the Freeman in carrying out this policy. He was the London correspondent of the Freeman at that time. He said he thought Mr. Gray was in the hotel, and after some discussion it was decided to send for him. Mr. E. D. Gray came in quite soon. I think he must have heard that the meeting was being held.[20] Mr. Parnell explained how matters stood and asked him for his opinion, and if he agreed his support in the Freeman. “Well,” says Gray, “I am not going to jail and I do not think it fair to ask my opinion. Of course if you carry out that policy the Government must put you all in prison.” “Well,” says Parnell, “you are in that position that your opinion cannot alter our decision. We have unanimously decided to carry this policy through, but, at the same time we would be glad to have your opinion and to secure your support in the Freeman.” “Then,” says Gray, “that alters matters.” He looked round the room which was a small one and he asked, “What does Kettle say?” “Oh,” says Parnell, “Kettle is the head and front of the whole business.” Gray says to me, “Can this thing be done?” “What be done?” I says. “Get the tenants to keep their rents in their pockets for a few months? I think it will come rather natural to them.” I then took up the running and went over the arguments of the previous night that evidently convinced Parnell. I asked, “Will the character of the settlement depend upon the pressure we give the Government?” Gray said, “Yes.” “Are the government going to deal with the land question?” Gray said, “Yes.” “Well then,” I said, “this is February, and one gale[21] of rent will only accrue in March or May until the question is dealt with. No one will be hit or hurt until the wrangle is closed up and the knot cut out on the lines of the Land League.[22] If the battle is fought out on open broad daylight lines there will be no temptation to commit outrages and we shall escape the dangers arising from an irresponsible combination. If the present bitterness is augmented by coercion many things will be done that may compromise the leaders very much more than the bold, manly, stand-up battle I recommend. Believe me, it will be a mercy to everyone concerned and I think it will be effective.” I said other things but when I was done Gray burst out with this remarkable expression of opinion. “Well, Parnell, if you have the courage to put that policy in force I will undertake that you will settle the land question in six months on better lines than it ever could be by any other means. I am every day meeting leading public men and I know the feeling that prevails among them, and I solemnly tell you that they are prepared to pay even more than Kettle’s price for peace in Ireland.” (My price was a bonus of six years’ purchase on the rental – three for the landlords, and three for the tenants.) While Gray was speaking I was looking at the door and was on the point of standing up and putting my back against it until we would pledge everyone present to secrecy on the next move until it would be accomplished. I hesitated, and lost my opportunity, and our secret got around somehow. I should mention that Egan or Brennan were not present at the meeting in the Westminster Palace Hotel. They left for Paris the night before the meeting in the House of Commons to lodge the first instalment of the Land League funds.

Davitt and myself came to Dublin by the next boat to make arrangements for the great meeting. We drove to Amiens Street where he was stopping and I brought the car on to Artane. I did not see him for a good twelve months afterwards. I was late coming back, and when I reached the League rooms I heard that he had gone back to London with John Ferguson,[23] to get his friend Charles Bradlaugh[24] to get John Bright[25] to induce Gladstone to withdraw the Coercion Act.[26] Davitt and Brennan on his return from Paris met in London and came across to Dublin where Davitt was arrested before I had time to see him and sent to Portland Prison.[27]

John Clancy, 1911

The Irish Party led by Mr. Dillon raised such a storm on Davitt’s arrest that they were expelled and there was a kind of Irish panic or disturbance feared by the London press.[28] It was rumoured that there was a danger of Mr. Parnell and others being assassinated. Feeling must have been rushing at hurricane speed for Mr. Dillon came to Dublin after being expelled and got the Land League Executive to publicly and formally ask Mr. Parnell and others to go to America. This was part of Mr. Davitt’s plan. Dillon, Brennan, Harris and myself were the only Executive members in Dublin, and Mr. Dillon got Messrs. Brennan and Harris to sanction a resolution in his own house to the effect stated above. I, of course, dissented, and when the question was coming before the public meeting called for the purpose I threatened to retire, but Mr. Dillon begged me to take the chair, which would put me in a neutral position. I took the chair as I intended all through to see the thing out. When the motion was proposed a very tall, good-looking young man who stood a head over the crowd in the doorway at a very crowded meeting, interposed with the remark that this seemed to be an extraordinary proposition to ask the general to run away when the enemy was advancing. He went on and spoke a bit extravagantly. Someone stood up to a point of order, but I ruled in his favour with such goodwill that the meeting went wild, and the motion was not passed. This young man was John Clancy,[29] the present sub-sheriff. I never saw him before, but I’ve known him ever since. This was the only time in my life that I felt completely alone in Irish politics. Davitt was gone to prison and all the other Land League leaders were gone from Ireland. After some days I learned that they were all in Paris. I got a letter urging me to go there, but I refused and threatened to expose the whole breakdown. In a couple of days after I got a letter from Tom Brennan, who was the youngest but perhaps the most reliable of all the leaders, and with whom I was confidentially acquainted through his uncle James Rourke, as well as on his own account. I decided to go to Paris.

It seemed as if Mr. Parnell and I were not to be separated until the end. On my way to Paris he came on board the packet[30] at Dover and we travelled in a terribly crowded train from Calais to Paris. We got to Egan’s hotel some time in the night, and when I woke in the morning Tim Healy came rushing into my bedroom to know where the blazes did I find him. I told him I had found him and that was enough. He said: “We were going to get detectives to look for him. We thought he was done away with.”[31] With the exception of T. P. O’Connor and Justin McCarthy I think all the other members of the League Executive were in Paris. It was Sunday and John Dillon and I went to Mass in the Madeleine[32] and went for a walk afterwards. He told me there was a meeting to be held about 2 o’clock and that it seemed to him that I was the only one who had a grip on the situation, and that he would back me up in anything I might propose. “Oh,” I said, “there would be no use in proposing anything here. If the people here meant to fight they would not be here. I simply came over at my own expense to hear what they had to say for themselves.”

When the meeting assembled (Healy was not a member and was not present) Parnell took the chair, smoking a cigar, but kept his body down and looked at no one. We sat there, and sat there, until the silence became terrible. In desperation as it were, Mr. O’Kelly who was in great form blurted out looking at me: “Well, what have you got to say now?” I said I thought he should address the chairman, but as the meeting seemed to be at a loss how to begin I had no hesitation in giving my views. What had happened since the meeting in London? One man had been arrested. Should that circumstance prevent the other fourteen from carrying through the policy unanimously and solemnly decided upon? Why, if the fourteen were arrested and only one left I thought that he would be in honour bound to go on with the struggle. The people in Ireland are very anxiously waiting at this moment to know if the leaders are going to fight the Coercion Act, and the gentlemen present should remember that in Irish movements the leaders have always failed, the people never. When I sat down Mr. Sexton, who was after making one of his wonderful speeches in Parliament, said that he thought the people should not be asked to do anything in Ireland that would compromise their position in the House of Commons. I got on my feet again and damned the House of Commons and its great talkers as being the greatest obstacle to Irish freedom. Sexton and I were getting angry when Parnell intervened with: “Gentlemen, if we get into personal wrangles we cannot get on with the business. Under the altered circumstances since our last meeting I have put my views on paper,” and he pulling some pages out of his pocket, “which if you permit me to read may show a way out of the present crux.” He commenced reading a very ably-written paper of considerable length dealing with the whole circumstances and ably glossing over the abandonment of the prison policy that Dwyer Gray swore would have settled the land question. There was a pause or delay in turning over the pages of the paper and in one of these intervals Dillon whispered to me, saying: “It was Kitty wrote that. Parnell never wrote a line of it.” This was the first I ever heard of that unfortunate, unlucky political adventuress and English governmental agent.[33] Parnell’s paper was adopted by the meeting, Dillon, Brennan, and myself dissenting. Thus ended one of the most disastrous retreats ever recorded in the unfortunate history of this unfortunate country.[34] I am willing to admit that this policy of mine came on some members of the Executive like a blizzard for which they were not prepared, and I thought that the extreme men like Egan and Harris and others would have pushed it better if it emanated from some extreme man or leader. I was only a silent partner in the concern up to this point, and had been all my public life working through other men owing to my defective education and want of talking powers.[35] I early found that I could do more effective work for Ireland by helping Sir John Gray and Butt and Parnell. This was the first time that I felt under the necessity of standing alone, and I failed owing to the want of caution or treachery of someone in getting Davitt arrested. Had he remained I would have won easily.

  1. A ‘traverser’ was a person who formally challenges or disputes an allegation in a legal context, hence, the defendant in a trial.
  2. The Land League had struggled to gain support in the more prosperous regions of Leinster and Munster. However, in August 1880 the House of Lords rejected the very moderate Compensation for Disturbance Bill which shattered the government’s authority in rural Ireland. The Land League was suddenly transformed into a nationwide movement and the rate of increase in ‘agrarian outrages’ during 1880 led Dublin Castle to feel that the movement was out of control. Charges of seditious conspiracy (conspiring to prevent the payment of rents and the taking of farms from which tenants had been evicted, for resisting the process of being ejected and creating ill-will among her Majesty’s subjects) were laid by the Irish Attorney-General against Parnell and the Land League executive in November 1880, and their trial began in Dublin in December 1880 (Bew 1980, 49-50; Bew 2011, 69; Comerford 1996a, 41).
  3. There were 2,590 ‘agrarian outrages’ listed for 1880 with nearly 1,700 of these being committed between October and December. However, much of the agitation did not represent actual danger to life and between October and December there were only two actual agrarian murders (Bew 2007, 323).
  4. The name for Co. Laois until 1922.
  5. Rev. Canon John Hoey was the parish priest of the parish of Muckno in Co. Monaghan from 1882 to 1895 (Carville 2011).
  6. William Copeland Trimble (1851-1941) was a newspaper editor and eldest son of the newspaper proprietor William Trimble. He joined the Land League in 1880 and was in charge of the liberal newspaper the Impartial Reporter, which was critical in support for the Parnellite demand for self-government, while continuing to advocate for tenant protection and relief (DIB 2009, ‘Trimble, William Copeland’).
  7. There is no record of a newspaper with this title. Kettle probably meant to say the Impartial Reporter.
  8. This is likely to be James Plunkett (c. 1817-99), a Dublin solicitor who acted as ‘sub-agent’ for Parnell in his first County Dublin election in 1874 (Evening Herald, 29 May 1899, ‘Death of Mr. James Plunkett’). No information can be found relating to the anecdote about the lost £50.
  9. Valentine Blake Dillon (1847-1904) was a lawyer and politician who was the nephew of John Blake Dillon (one of the founding members of the Young Ireland movement) and the cousin of John Dillon. He had qualified as a solicitor in 1870 and took part in many trials related to the Land War (Wikipedia 2022, ‘Valentine Blake Dillon’).
  10. After a hearing of nineteen days, the jury had failed to agree on a verdict and the case was dismissed.
  11. T. P (Timothy Power) O’Connor (1848-1929) was born in Athlone and educated at Queen’s College Galway. He moved to England in 1870 and became an accomplished and popular journalist, writing for the Daily Telegraph and as London correspondent for the New York Herald. He was the only Home Rule MP to sit for an English constituency, representing Liverpool from 1880 to 1929. A strong supporter of the Land League and Parnell, he later opposed Parnell during the leadership crisis following the O’Shea divorce scandal (Hickey & Doherty 2003, 360).
  12. The failure of the trial would allow Forster to convince the Cabinet of the need for coercion and in January 1881 the government proceeded to bring in a ‘Coercion Bill,’ which allowed for the mass internment of some 1,000 suspects.
  13. Kettle's argument for an Irish withdrawal from Parliament favoured a rapid solution to the land problem. He was perhaps the most convinced advocate of secession in this period (Bew 1980, 51).
  14. The more realistic ‘neo-Fenians,’ although perhaps too confident in their control of the movement, appeared to be more moderate in their proposed actions than Kettle. Bew speculates that their greater experience in such matters may have taught them to be more cautious in inviting government oppression (Bew 2007, 325).
  15. Thomas Sexton (1847-1932) was a journalist and politician. Encouraged to run for Parliament by Parnell, he was first elected as MP for Co. Sligo in the 1880 general election. He was considered to be one of Parnell’s principal lieutenants although he later opposed him in the split. He was regarded as one of the finest orators of the Irish Parliamentary Party, hence his sobriquet ‘silver-tongued Sexton’ (DIB 2009, ‘Sexton, Thomas’).
  16. As Bew notes, ‘Kettle had emerged from the world of land reform politics rather than Fenian conspiracy. It seems that his arguments carried little weight’ with the ‘neo-Fenians’ (Bew 2007, 325).
  17. The Westminster Palace Hotel was a luxury hotel in London, located on Victoria Street, directly opposite Westminster Abbey and close to the Palace of Westminster, the meeting place for Parliament.
  18. This proposed general strike against rent sounded very radical, and it did unify all the factions involved, but it stopped short of a withdrawal from Parliament. Parnell would wish to avoid such an extreme move and his political calculations were influenced by his close knowledge of the balance of forces within the Liberal government, which was keen for a settlement of the Irish land question (Bew 2007, 325).
  19. Justin McCarthy (1830-1912) was a journalist, historian, novelist, and politician who was an MP from 1879 to 1900. He joined the Westminster Home Rule Association in 1877, was elected MP for Co. Longford in the 1879 by-election, and served as vice-chairman of the Home Rule Party from 1880 to 1890. He acted as a conduit between British leaders and Parnell. After the party divided in 1890, McCarthy became chairman of the anti-Parnellite group (DIB 2009, ‘McCarthy, Justin’).
  20. As editor and proprietor of the influential Freeman’s Journal, Gray was a moderate who had been initially opposed to Parnell and had voted against him in the contest for leadership of the party after the 1880 general election. Afterwards, however, he accepted Parnell’s leadership, his support and loyalty partly influenced by the establishment by Parnell in 1881 of the United Ireland newspaper, which threaten to rival Gray’s Freeman’s Journal (DIB 2009, ‘Gray, Edmund William Dwyer’).
  21. Gale day was the day the rent was due dependent on the agreement made between farmers and landlords. It was usually twice yearly and after the harvest.
  22. Here Kettle is emphasising how the long and complicated dispute over the land will be solved by the prompt decisive action of the withholding of rent.
  23. John Ferguson (1836-1906) was a publisher, Home Ruler, and land reformer originally from Ulster. He developed an interest in agrarian reform as a young man and, following a move to Glasgow, became an Irish nationalist and established the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain in the early 1870s. A radical intellectual, he was also active in the Land League activities in Ireland and frequently returned to Ireland, where he gave moral and practical support to Butt and later to Parnell (DIB 2009, ‘Ferguson, John’).
  24. Charles Bradlaugh (1833-91) was a prominent English freethinking political activist and atheist. His youthful experiences while serving in the British army in Ireland had influenced his political development and he was a supporter of Irish Home Rule. Admired as an orator and incorruptible public figure, he led many unpopular causes, including advocating for birth control (Berresford 2004).
  25. John Bright (1811-89) was a Quaker and an influential British Radical and Liberal statesman. After the Great Famine, he had expressed sympathy and support for land reform in Ireland, although he later opposed Gladstone’s 1886 Home Rule proposal, and he regarded Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party as ‘the rebel party’ (Wikipedia 2022, ‘John Bright’).
  26. The passionate debates that took place in Parliament at this time (February 1881) against the Coercive legislation had effectively transformed the Irish Parliamentary Party into a specifically Parnellite party. The Irish MPs united in their defence of the constitutional liberties of their countrymen, and those who refused to support Parnell were denounced as traitors to the national cause. The tactic of obstruction of Parliament also reached new heights (Bew 2007, 323-24).
  27. On 3 February the government revoked Davitt’s ticket of leave, which had been granted on his release from prison in 1877. He was arrested in Dublin and returned to jail in England (Bew 2007, 323-24).
  28. News of Davitt’s arrest sparked chaotic scenes at Parliament, which led to 36 Irish MPs, led by Parnell and Dillon, being suspended from the House (Bew 2007, 323-24).
  29. John Clancy (1844-1915) was a local government official who began work as a printer with the Irish Times and joined the IRB. He was arrested in 1866 for making seditious speeches and was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail for several months. By the mid-1870s he had become a well-known figure in Dublin republican circles and a strong supporter of the Land League. He was also imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail in early 1882 for supporting the No Rent Manifesto. A strong supporter of Parnell, he had played a critical role in organising support for him after the party split. He established the ‘Parnell Leadership Committee’ at the National Club to form an alliance of all Parnellite town and city councillors in the country. He had a lengthy career in Dublin city hall, playing a significant role in Dublin municipal politics (DIB 2009, ‘Clancy, John’).
  30. A type of boat used for scheduled mail or passenger service.
  31. A couple of days after Davitt’s arrest the Land League executive had assembled in Paris to plan their response. However, for a whole week Parnell did not appear and his colleagues feared that he was dead (Bew 2011, 79).
  32. La Madeleine is the Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, a Catholic parish church on Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
  33. Katharine Parnell (Katharine O’Shea) (1846-1921) was born Katherine Page Wood on 30 January 1846, the 13th child of Sir John Page Wood. In her biography of Charles Stewart Parnell, Katharine recounts that as a child she was musically gifted and educated by her father, being particularly inspired by his work as a long-serving chairman of the Board of Guardians. In 1867 Katharine married William O’Shea (1840-1905), a member of the Home Rule Party and MP for County Clare. The couple had three children, but after some years they began to live separately. Katharine moved into a residence on the estate of her wealthy aunt, Mrs. Benjamin Wood, at Eltham, Kent. She commenced a relationship with Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880 and they had three children (Claude Sophie, 1882; Claire, 1883; and Katharine, 1884). Throughout the 1880s, facilitated by the status and connections of her family, Katharine acted as the intermediary for correspondence between Parnell and Gladstone on the Irish question. The O’Shea family had remained financially dependent on Mrs. Wood, who left her niece a substantial inheritance after her death in 1889. In the same year, Captain O’Shea initiated divorce proceedings, citing his wife’s relationship with Parnell. During the ensuing scandal Parnell was rejected by the majority of his party, the British political establishment, and the Catholic hierarchy, and he lost popular support in Ireland. On 25 June 1891, now divorced, Katharine married Parnell in Brighton, four months before he died. She published a two-volume biography of Parnell in 1914. Katharine Parnell died on 5 February 1921 (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2010; O’Shea 1914, vol. 1, pp. 15-18; Wikipedia 2023, ‘Katharine O’Shea’).
  34. In rejecting the secession option, Parnell had acted in accordance with his deepest convictions of the value of parliamentary work. While it was a view approved by most of his followers and was greeted with relief by his lieutenants, Kettle was bitterly disappointed. In effect, it rejected the chance of a rapid solution to the land problem and instead surrendered the initiative to Gladstone. Two weeks before Parnell died in 1891, Kettle records Parnell lamenting not taking his advice at this time: ‘How much better would it have been had we taken your advice in ’81. It would have been all over and won long ago’ (Bew 2011, 79).
  35. Kettle was always a forceful writer although he appeared to lack confidence in his own education and ability to speak in public. While he displayed a love of learning and books in his youth, he records (in Chapter 1) that he left school at an early age in order to work on the family farm. He was self-educated thereafter.


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The Material for Victory: The Memoirs of Andrew J. Kettle Copyright © 2023 by Open Press at the University of Galway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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