We are used to watching news in real time through television  and social media. It was in the 19th century that the antecedent of the modern news industry emerged through newspapers and magazines. Although photographs were around since the Crimean War in 1850’s the hand drawn sketch dominated the print media. The last post I wrote was about the Land War (check it out here) and it was this conflict where visual imagery came into its own as the story of the conflict was relayed. The first two are rare photographs from the period. The others are a selection of images below mainly from London illustrated news. These are just a selection there are others online particularly at this website.

(The image above is a police raid on a meeting of the Ladies Land League)

Eviction in 1879

Eviction Co Clare 1882

This well known image depicts a Land League meeting in Kildare. The man in the centre holding the burning torch is the Irish American Land League organiser Michael Boyton. He is burning leases of a landlord in Kildare on a pike. Pikes were a very evocative symbol having been the weapon of choice for many rebels in the 1798 Rebellion.

This cartoon illustrates the Prime minister of the time William E Gladstone attacking the Land league. The Land League represneted by the “devil fish” came under severe attack in 1881. Like in the image Gladstone attempted to cut the head off the league by imprisoning much of the organisers on the ground, this failed with an explosion of rural violence after the leadership had been imprisoned.

After the Land league was supressed by the state in 1881 much of the work was carried out by the Ladies Land League. This images depicts Ladies Land League activists in their office in Dublin

In late 1880 perhaps the most famous incident of the Land War took place in Mayo when The Land League ostracised a local land owner Captain Boycott who was also the  agent for the large landlord Lord Erne. In an effort to break what would become known as a boycott (named after this incident), the British Army Occupied the area to protect labourers brought from outside the region to harvest Boycotts potato crop. This image portrays the local community harassing the Army.


With the introduction of the coercion acts in 1881 the league saw hundreds of activists in imprisoned after which prisoner solidarity became increasingly important aspect of league activity. Below is are people helping on an imprisoned activists farm

There were several dozen assassinations of landlords and landlords agents during the Land war. Below two suspects are brought before a survivor of an assassination attempt. Mr Hearn the victim lying in bed was a landlords agent in Mayo. The two suspects are at the end of the bed. They were charged but never prosecuted.