For The Love of Ireland

A Historical Novel by Judy Leslie

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Charles Stewart Parnell   1846 - 1891

Today, Irish children learn about Charles Stewart Parnell and his contributions in their history class at school. Below is only a brief sketch of his political life as it relates to the story For the Love of Ireland.  You can find more information about Charles Parnell by searching the internet.

 

Charles was an Irish Member of Parliament from 1875 to 1891. Persuaded by Michael Davitt in 1879, he became president of the Land League and campaigned for land reform.  Though Charles looked to the Fenians (rebel groups) for their support, he declared publicly that he would never join a secret society. He toured America in 1880 to raise funds for famine relief, and to secure support for Home Rule in Ireland, but had to rush back to Ireland to run for office again.

 

At the time Charles recognized the need to apply Michael Davitt’s peaceful ideas as a way to achieve self-government, rather than repeating the use of force.  Unfortunately, Prime Minister Gladstone became alarmed by the growing power of the Land League, and Charles was arrested and held in jail for six months.  Charles was released once he made a deal with the government (the so-called Kilmainham Treaty) to discontinue boycotting landlords and to dissolve the Land League.  After disbanding the Land League he then formed a new group, the Irish National League, with the intent of using the organization to further his political agenda. As a result, Charles lost support from the Irish in American.

 

Shortly following Parnell’s release from prison both Chief Secretary, Lord Cavendish and his Under-Secretary, T.H. Burke were found murdered in Phoenix Park. Parnell had nothing to do with the murders, but in 1887, the British edition of The Times accused Parnell of endorsing the murders and having ties to illegal subversive organizations.  The Times claimed they had written proof to backup their articles.  In 1889, an investigative trial was held to look into the accusations.  The trial ran for 128 sessions, were testimony was heard from a variety of former Land League members, Michael Davitt and a spy from America.  In the end, the forger admitted his crime and fled the country.

 

Called the 'uncrowned King of Ireland', Charles Stewart Parnell is remembered by the Irish as a fighter for freedom, as an unsung hero and a victim of the British Government.  Parnell's legacy has been depicted in many literary works, and for the Irish writer, James Joyce, he was an undisputed hero. Joyce wrote about the story of Parnell in several of  his books including 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man', 'Ulysses', and in the essay 'The Shade of Parnell'.

 

 

 

For The Love of Ireland

The story of Margaret Sullivan & the Secrets of the Clan-na-Gael

A Historical Novel by Judy Leslie