1st 'Monster Meeting' OTD in 1879
Plaque Commemorating the First Tenant Right Meeting
The first of many "monster meetings" of tenant farmers in the Irish National Land League was held on this day in Mayo in 1879, with an estimated turnout of 20,000 people. The Land League was formed to achieve a few clear objectives, the first was to reduce 'rack-rents', or excessive rents. The second was to protect tenants under threat of unfair eviction, and the third was to create a change in the laws that would eventually allow renters to become partial owners of their properties after paying a fair amount of rent for a certain amount of time.
'Refusing the rent'
The first monster meeting was addressed by leaders like James Daly, John O'Connor and others. The Connaught Telegraph's report of the meeting in its edition of 26 April 1879 began:
"Since the days of O'Connell a larger public demonstration has not been witnessed than that of Sunday last. About 1 o'clock the monster procession started from Claremorris, headed by several thousand men on foot – the men of each district wearing a laurel leaf or green ribbon in hat or coat to distinguish the several contingents. At 11 o'clock a monster contingent of tenant-farmers on horseback drew up in front of Hughes's hotel, showing discipline and order that a cavalry regiment might feel proud of. They were led on in sections, each having a marshal who kept his troops well in hand. Messrs. P.W. Nally, J.W. Nally, H. French, and M. Griffin, wearing green and gold sashes, led on their different sections, who rode two deep, occupying, at least, over an Irish mile of the road. Next followed a train of carriages, brakes, cares, etc. led on by Mr. Martin Hughes, the spirited hotel proprietor, driving a pair of rare black ponies to a phæton, taking Messrs. J.J. Louden and J. Daly. Next came Messrs. O'Connor, J. Ferguson, and Thomas Brennan in a covered carriage, followed by at least 500 vehicles from the neighbouring towns. On passing through Ballindine the sight was truly imposing, the endless train directing its course to Irishtown – a neat little hamlet on the boundaries of Mayo, Roscommon, and Galway."