Milestones in 19th Century Irish History

Local history talks by S Alex Blair

This month, local historian S Alex Blair continues his popular series of talks looking at milestones in 19th century Irish history.

The first talk for this year, Whose Land Is It?, takes place on Tuesday 17 January at 8pm in Ballymoney Town Hall and it is the first of four topics which produced significant change in Ireland and had special interest for local people.

The great families of Ireland were landed gentry. It was the material basis of their power and it gave them their positions in the Ascendancy. Their luxurious life-styles were possible because of the rent they received from the tenant farmers who worked the land.

Often these tenants had a hard life but the idea that they should have any say in how the landlord system worked would have been unacceptable to most of the gentry. However as the 19th century progressed things began to change and the tenants came more and more into the reckoning.

In post-famine Ireland what came to be called “the Land Question” surfaced as a major political issue. North Antrim played a leading role in this and at meetings in Ballymoney Town Hall the main slogan of the movement and some of the most influential speeches were heard.

At the end of it all, it was complete victory for the tenants, who finished up owners of their farms. It is a heroic story and will be told with perception and understanding in the very place where some of this epoch in Irish history actually happened.

The series continues on Wednesday 22 February with When the Potatoes Failed, Tuesday 13 March with A Nation Once Again, and the final talk in the series, Home Rule is Coming, is on Tuesday 3 April.

All talks take place at 8pm in Ballymoney Town Hall. Admission £2 includes refreshments. The series is promoted by Ballymoney Borough Arts Committee in conjunction with Ballymoney Museum.