Ginni Swanton's Web Site

The Land Wars

First Phase


The Campaign of Violence

Although the Kingston tenants had conducted a generally non-violent campaign of civil disobedience, the great rent strikes of 1881 in Cork were marked by an unprecedented amount of violence which powerfully contributed to the success which they achieved. The number of reported agrarian outrages increased from 289 between February and December 1880 to 61 during the following twelve months.

Threatening letters and notices accounted for most of the increase, but there was a startling rise in the number of outrages against persons and property, including aggravated assault, firing into dwelling houses, incendiarism, and cattle maiming. Such cases increased in number from seventy-eight between February and December 1880 to 134 during 1881 -- far more than in any other year of this troubled decade. Some of the violence was directed against landlords and agents.

In late March, a twelve-acre plantation at Ballyknockane near Mallow belonging to Samuel Hutchins, whose life had been attempted in the previous October was set ablaze. The office of the Clonakilty land agents T. R. Wright and Sons was blown up with dynamite in June. A West Cork landlord, Robert Swanton, nearly eighty years old and deaf, was ambushed at Crooked Bridge near Ballydehob in early August and died of his wounds; his son had been fired upon in the same area recently.