Felix M. Larkin


THE SKIBBEREEN EAGLE FAMOUSLY declared in 1898 that it would be keeping an eye on the Tsar of Russia (Potter, 2011: 49, 55–6). A decade or so earlier, Youghal was very much in the eye of the press – and, indeed, in the eye of the storm – during the Plan of Campaign, the second phase of the Land War in Ireland. The tenants on the nearby Ponsonby estate were the first to adopt the Plan of Campaign in November 1886 in order to secure lower rents (Donnelly, 1975: 334, 355– 360). The struggle that ensued dragged on inconclusively until it was overtaken by the Parnell spilt in the 1890s, and the Ponsonby tenants – like so many others elsewhere in the country – were then left high and dry, with no alternative but to settle on terms that fell far short of what they sought (Geary, 1986: 4). The Freeman’s Journal was the main nationalist daily newspaper in Ireland at that time,1 and it kept its eye closely on developments in and around Youghal as it covered the Plan of Campaign throughout the country – often in remarkable detail. What I want to do in this paper is briefly to outline the Freeman’s coverage of the events in Youghal, and to place its coverage of those events in the wider context of Irish political journalism in the second half of the nineteenth century.

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