Charles Stewart Parnell.

Famous Irish People.

Charles Stewart Parnell.


Charles Stewart Parnell although the son of a country landowner from Avondale in County Wicklow, became one of the greatest campaigners for democracy in Ireland. He was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge University.

Parnell entered the British House of Commons in 1875 as a member for County Meath. He united the Home Rule party, and tried to make it powerful by obstructing all other legislation until Irish demands were met. To unite Ireland, Parnell came to terms with Irish revolutionaries, he together with Michael Davitt founded the Land League. The league wanted land reforms that would end with tenant farmers owning their farms.

In 1879, Parnell visited the United States where Irish emigrants and their descendants were only too happy to donate large amounts of money for the Land League cause. When he returned to Ireland, he suggested boycotting the landlords in order to force land reform . For this policy and for trying to obstruct legislative proceedings, Parnell was arrested and imprisoned for six months. From prison, he urged tenant farmers not to pay rent. This advice added bitterness to the situation. After his release in 1882, Parnell returned to Parliament and tried again to force home rule. For a time he seemed about to succeed. In 1886, Parliament passed the Tenant's Relief Bill, which improved farmers' conditions.

But the next year, Parnell had to defend himself against charges that he was involved in the Phoenix Park murders. Irish terrorists had committed these murders in 1882. Parnell proved that letters which seemed to implicate him were forgeries.

In 1889, just as Parliament was about to meet, a political supporter of Parnell named Captain William O'Shea filed divorce proceedings against his wife because of her relationship with Parnell. The charges were proved, and Parnell's reputation and influence were ruined. Parnell married Mrs. O'Shea after the divorce. The following year a mere five months after marrying Mrs O'Shea Parnell died.

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