#OnThisDate in 1846 – Michael Davitt, known universally as ‘The Father of the Land League’, was born in Straid, Co Mayo.

Michael Davitt founded the Irish Land League in 1879, a non-violent action group designed to help Irish tenant farmers who effectively had no rights in 19th century Ireland.

The objectives of the Land League were “to bring out a reduction of rack-rents; second, to facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the soil by the occupiers. That the object of the League can be best attained by promoting organisation among the tenant-farmers; by defending those who may be threatened with eviction for refusing to pay unjust rents; by facilitating the working of the Bright clauses of the Irish Land Act during the winter; and by obtaining such reforms in the laws relating to land as will enable every tenant to become owner of his holding by paying a fair rent for a limited number of years.”

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’’.

The town of Haslingden has also commemorated Davitt’s link with it through a public monument erected in the presence of Davitt’s son. The inscription reads as follows:

“This memorial has been erected to perpetuate the memory of Michael Davitt with the town of Haslingden. It marks the site of the home of Michael Davitt, Irish patriot, who resided in Haslingden from 1853 to 1867. He became a great world figure in the cause of freedom and raised his voice and pen on behalf of the oppressed, irrespective of race or creed, that serfdom be transformed to citizenship and that man be given the opportunity to display his God given talents for the betterment of mankind. Born 1846, died 1906. Erected by the Irish Democratic League Club, Haslingden (Davitt Branch).”

Photo: Michael Davitt Statue, Michael Davitt Memorial Museum, Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo

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