About Ireland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 72 pages of information about About Ireland.

“All is changed now.  Many of the shops are closed and deserted, others will follow their example shortly; the butter market has been removed from the town, the cattle fairs have fallen to half their former size.  One sees shopkeepers, but a short time back doing capital business, walking about idle in the streets, with their shops closed; armed policemen at every corner are necessary to prevent a savage rabble from committing outrages, and many people avoid going near the town at all.  All this is the result of William O’Brien’s speech in Tipperary and the subsequent action of the National League.  The town and whole neighbourhood were perfectly quiet till one day Mr. O’Brien descends on it like an evil spirit, and tells the shopkeepers and surrounding farmers that they are to dictate to their landlords how to act in a case not affecting them at all.  For fear, however, of not sufficiently arousing them for the cause of others, he suggests that, in addition to dictating to the landlord what his conduct shall be elsewhere, all his tenants, farmers and shopkeepers alike, shall demand a reduction of 25 per cent, on their own rents.  As to the farmers’ reduction I will say nothing; if they wished it, they could go into the Land Court, and if rented too high could get a reduction, retrospectively from the day their application was lodged.  The reduction, however, that the shopkeepers were advised—­nay, ordered—­to ask for must have surprised them more than their landlord.  Many of them, at their existing rents, had piled up considerable fortunes in a few years; others had enlarged their premises, doubled their business, and thriven in every way; nevertheless, they had to obey.  The landlord naturally refused to be dictated to by his tenants in matters not affecting them; he also refused to reduce the rents of men who in a few years had made fortunes, and some of whom were commonly reputed to be worth thousands.  Legal proceedings were then commenced, and the tenants’ interests were put up to auction.  Some of the most thriving shopkeepers declined to let their tenancies, out of which they had done so well, be sold; others, in fear of personal violence and outrage, not unusual results of disobeying the League, did allow them to be knocked down for nominal sums to the landlord’s representative.  Let lovers of liberty and fair-play watch what followed.  All the shopkeepers who bought in their interests were rigorously boycotted; men who had had a large weekly turnover now saw their shops absolutely deserted.  Plate-glass windows that would not have shamed Regent Street, were smashed to atoms by hired ruffians of the League, and the shopkeepers themselves and their families had to be protected from the mob by armed police, placed round their houses night and day.  All this because they desired to keep their flourishing businesses, instead of sacrificing them in a quarrel not their own.

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About Ireland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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