Kilkee Civic Trust Talks – The Land War in East Clare < Back

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Speaker: John S. Kelly

Talk Title: The Land War in East Clare with particular reference to the Bodyke Evictions of 1887

Talk Description:

During the latter half of the 19th century; Ireland experienced a Land War. Our speaker, John S. Kelly, explores the three distinct phases. The first, lasting until 1882, witnessed a violent struggle between landlords and tenants, orchestrated by the tenants’ rights organisation, the Land League. During the second phase, 1882-1891, a more intensive struggle called the Plan of Campaign was instigated. The final phase of agreement and settlement eventually led to tenant ownership through a series of Land Acts.

If the Land War began as a means of securing rent abatements, it evolved into a campaign against landlordism. In County Clare, the disturbances that took place on the Bodyke section of Colonel John O’Callaghan’s estate during the 1880s, culminating in the notorious evictions of June 1887, form one of the most dramatic episodes of the entire Land War in Ireland. The Bodyke evictions became a cause célèbre in the debate over the land question, a debate argued in both the House of Commons & House of Lords; the Local, National and International Press; and played a significant part in the overthrow of the prevailing land holding system in the country.

About the Speaker:

John S. Kelly, long-associated with East Clare, is a native of Rathcroghan in Co. Roscommon. A Boarder at Summerhill College, Sligo, from 1953 to 1958. Always the keen sportsman and team-player; John enjoyed a successful football career; playing centerfield for Roscommon in the 1962 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final; where he marked Kerry-man Mick O’Connell.

John S. Kelly is a History Graduate of University College Galway. He has done Post-Graduate Research on Land Agitation in East Clare, and is the author of “The Bodyke Evictions”, published in 1987.

He was involved in the development of a Private Lay Secondary School in Scarriff in the mid-1960s, which in 1968 amalgmated with the local Vocational School to become one of the first Community Colleges in the country. John retired as Principal of the College in the year 2000.

In 1979, for the Centenary Celebrations to mark the founding of the Land League, John was invited by Clare County Council to deliver the Commemoration Lecture. All things historical are close to John’s heart, and together with on-going speaking engagements, John is a Director on the Board of the Hunt Museum Trust, charged with responsibility for overseeing the Hunt Collection on behalf of the people of Ireland.

Entry to all KCT Talks is Free of Charge

All of our speakers give of their time and energy on a pro-bono basis.

The appreciation of the audience & KCT is expressed by way of presenting each speaker with a Book Token, or similar, at the end of each Talk.

A Donations Box is provided at all Talks to assist us in defraying necessary expenses.

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