Land is All That Matters: The Struggle That Shaped Irish History / Myles Dungan

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In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe everyone lived 'off the land' in one way or another. In Ireland, however, almost everyone lived 'on the land' as well. Agriculture was the only economic resource for the vast majority of the population outside the north-east of the country.

Land was vital. But most of it was owned by a class of Protestant, English and often aristocratic landlords. The dream of having more control over their farms, even of owning them, drove many of the most explosive conflicts in Irish history.

Rebellions against British rule were rare, but savage outbreaks of murder related to resentments over land ownership, and draconian state repression, were a regular feature of Irish rural life. The struggle for the land was also crucial in driving support for Irish nationalist demands for Home Rule and independence. In this epic narrative, Myles Dungan examines two hundred years of agrarian conflict from the ruinous famine of 1741 to the eve of World War Two.

It explores the pivotal moments that shaped Irish history: the rise of 'moonlighting', the infamous Whiteboys and Rightboys, the insurrection of Captain Rock, the Tithe War of 1831–36, the Great Famine of 1845 that devastated the country and drastically reduced the Irish population, and the Land War of 1878–1909, which ended by transferring almost all the landlords' holdings to their tenants. These events take place against the backdrop of prevailing British rule and stark class and wealth inequality. Land Is All that Matters tells the sweeping story of the agrarian revolution that fundamentally shaped modern Ireland.