PARNELL, Charles Stuart: Queen v. Parnell and Others [JOHN DILLON’S COPY]
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JOHN DILLON’S COPY
[PARNELL] Queen v. Parnell and Others [John Dillon, Joseph Gillis Biggar, Timothy Daniel Sullivan, Thomas Sexton, Patrick Egan, Thomas Brennan, Malachi M. O’Sullivan, Michael P. Boyton, Patrick Joseph Sheridan, Patrick Joseph Gordon, Mathew Harris, John W. Walsh, John W. Nally. Report of the Proceedings preliminary to, and of the Trial, from 25th September, 1880, to 27th January, 1881. From the Freeman’s Journal. Folio volume. Printed titlepage and index. pp. 365. Extracts of the trial from the Freeman’s Journal pasted onto 365 numbered pages with printed running heads. Bound in half brown morocco on cloth boards, title, year and DILLON in gilt on spine. Lettered in gilt on upper cover ‘John Dillon, M.P. / With Compliments of V.B. Dillon Jr. / March 1881.’ Some rubbing to extremities. In very good condition. A remarkable association copy. Presentation copy to John Dillon from V.B. Dillon, Jr. Solicitors for Defence.
Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891) “the un-crowned King of Ireland” was an Irish nationalist
politician and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party - a Party which led the campaign
for Home Rule, but was left behind by the people when the struggle for Irish independence changed
gear following the Easter Rising of 1916.
Parnell was one of the most important figures in 19th century Ireland, and was described by British
Prime Minister William Gladstone as the most remarkable person he had ever met. His importance as a
major figure in Irish history is commemorated in Dublin with the towering Parnell Monument, at the
top of O’Connell Street.
Parnell was elected president of Davitt’s newly founded Irish National Land League in Dublin on 21
October 1879, signing a militant Land League address campaigning for land reform. In so doing, he
linked the mass movement to the parliamentary agitation, with profound consequences for both of
them. Andrew Kettle, his ‘right-hand man’, became honorary secretary.
In a bout of activity, he left for America in December 1879 with John Dillon to raise funds for famine
relief and secure support for Home Rule. Timothy Healy followed to cope with the press and they
collected £70,000 for distress in Ireland. During Parnell’s highly successful tour, he had an audience
with American President Rutherford B. Hayes. On 2 February 1880, he addressed the United States
House of Representatives on the state of Ireland and spoke in 62 cities in the United States and in
Canada. He was so well received in Toronto that Healy dubbed him “the uncrowned king of Ireland”.
(The same term was applied 30 years earlier to Daniel O’Connell.) He strove to retain Fenian support
but insisted when asked by a reporter that he personally could not join a secret society. Central to his
whole approach to politics was ambiguity in that he allowed his hearers to remain uncertain. During his
tour, he seemed to be saying that there were virtually no limits. To abolish landlordism, he asserted,
would be to undermine English misgovernment, and he is alleged to have added.
Ireland was rocked in 1882 by notorious political assassinations, the Phoenix Park Murders, in which
British officials were murdered in a Dublin park. Parnell was horrified by the crime, but his political
enemies repeatedly tried to insinuate that he supported such activity.
Parnell was not steeped in the revolutionary history of Ireland, unlike members of rebel groups such as
the Fenian Brotherhood. And while he might have met members of revolutionary groups, he was not
associated with them in any significant way. During a stormy period in the 1880s, Parnell was
constantly under attack, but he continued his activities in the House of Commons, working on behalf of
the Irish Party. Parnell had been living with a married woman, Katherine “Kitty” O’Shea, and that fact
became public knowledge when her husband filed for divorce and made the affair public record in
1889. O’Shea’s husband was granted the divorce on grounds of adultery, and Kitty O’Shea and Parnell
were married. But his political career was effectively ruined. He was attacked by political enemies as
well as by the Roman Catholic establishment in Ireland.
Always a controversial figure, Parnell’s legacy has often been disputed. Later Irish revolutionaries
drew inspiration from some of his militancy. The writer James Joyce portrayed Dubliners remembering
Parnell in his classic short story, “Ivy Day in the Committee Room.”
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