Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Two Windows: The Tenants of the De Freyne Rent Strike 1901-1903
by Wolf, Daphne Dyer, Ph.D., Drew University, 2019, 328; 13861866
Abstract (Summary)

The De Freyne rent strike of 1901 in County Roscommon, Ireland, was of national significance when it happened, but it has not been remembered or commemorated in Ireland and is largely ignored in Irish historiography. While this research examines the events and ramifications of the strike, the primary intent is to resuscitate the contributions of the tenants, and to understand why their efforts have been forgotten. As a micro-study, it looks at the final days of the Irish Land War from the perspective of those who fought its battles on a single estate. In addition to reviving a forgotten episode in Irish history, this project focuses on two main inquiries: how the concerns of people in a small place intersected with larger political and social movements, and how the remembrance of one episode in the long history of land reform in Ireland was crafted and controlled by local circumstances and later events.

Late in 1901 near Frenchpark, the tenants on the rural estate of Arthur French, 4rd Baron De Freyne, stopped paying their rent. Far from remaining a local dispute, their action exploded into a national furor pitting nationalist political leaders fighting for issues like land reform and home rule against unionists in their final defense of landlordism. The tenants’ act of rebellion was debated in parliament, and made headlines in Dublin, London, New York, and across the global Irish diaspora. When Lord De Freyne sued the leaders of the United Irish League in retaliation, the situation in Roscommon became a tipping point that led to a conciliatory conference between landlord and tenant advocates in 1902. That conference paved the way for the Wyndham Land Act of 1903, which signaled the end of landlordism in Ireland.

Given the lack of personal documentation from the tenants, this research relies on government statistics, newspaper articles, and manuscripts from various archives to establish the tenants’ motives and attitudes. The legacy of collective action on the estate, stretching back fifty years before the strike, is interrogated, as is the influence of political and religious leaders during that period, and at the time of the strike. The research examines the tenants’ economic, social, and cultural lives, and considers the impact of Lord De Freyne’s behavior and attitudes on their communal resistance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Barra, Caoimhín De, Rose, Jonathan
Commitee: Kinealy, Christine, Mac Suibhne, Breandán
School: Drew University
Department: History and Culture
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: European history
Keywords: Agrarian agitation, Colonialism, Grassroots politics, Irish history, Land reform, Memory
Publication Number: 13861866
ISBN: 978-1-392-12222-8
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