Michael Davitt was born at the height of the Great Huger in Straide, Co Mayo. At four, his family was evicted and forced to emigrate to England. He joined the Fenians in 1865, became organising secretary and was arrested in 1870 for arms smuggling. Released after seven years, he returned to Co Mayo as a national hero. His travels in Connacht showed conditions had not improved. Realising that, if the power of the tenant farmers could be organised, it would be possible to bring about improvement, he arranged a convention in August of 1879. The result was a body called the National Land League of Mayo. Thus began the land agitation movement.
At Straide, Davitt’s birthplace is now a museum that commemorates his life and works. A life-sized bronze statue stands before it. The bridge from Achill Island to the mainland is named after him. Over Davitt’s grave a Celtic Cross in his memory bears the words “Blessed is he that hungers and thirsts after justice, for he shall receive it”.
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