A London journalist who visited Ireland in December 1880 commented, ‘It is impossible to exaggerate the panic prevailing among the landed proprietors of Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare’. Certainly, a number packed up and were driven into being absentee landlords. But a great many stayed on and saw the matter out. In this they were assisted by various factor and bodies, the most influential of which was

the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union (ILPU). The ILPU has not received the attention it deserves, no doubt because it fairly rapidly became subsumed into the new unionism which emerged in the late 1880s. Established on 1 May 1885, less than a week after the prince and princess of Wales left Ireland following a royal visit,60 the ILPU was, to all intents and purposes, the Irish branch of the English Primrose League which was established in 1883 and finally dissolved 121 years later in 2004. . . . In its heyday, though, it had been a political force with over two million members by 1910. It was established two years after the death of the Tory statesman Benjamin Disraeli (the earl of Beaconsfield) and was overtly imperial and radically Tory, under the leadership of the maverick Lord Randolph Churchill. It was the first mainline political organisation in Britain to afford women the same status as men.

The ILPU held over 300 public meetings in Ireland and Great Britain in 1886, which cost them £3,600 to organise. It printed 20,000 posters that year. Given its linkages and patrons, it is little wonder that the ILPU had the substantial funding required for a propaganda drive as well as to employ a staff to mine the Irish nationalist press for any statement which might be taken to reflect disloyalty to Britain or possible incitement to political or agrarian crime.62 This information was used in the production of a substantial number of leaflets and pamphlets. The magnitude of this ILPU research and publishing enterprise is reflected in the fact that it established a Special Press Bureau. By 1886, the ILPU had published 203 leaflets on various subjects with a total print run of 7,410,100 copies, averaging 37,000 copies per leaflet. To this must be added, 53 pamphlets with a total print run of 573,150 copies, which averaged about 11,000 copies per pamphlet. The largest leaflet print run was What Home Rule means (503,000 copies) and the largest pamphlet print run was England’s duty to Ireland (43,000 copies).63 This publishing enterprise was costing the ILPU £6,600 a year. [162-64]]


McCracken, Donal P. ‘You Will Dye at Midnight’: Threatening Letters on Victorian Ireland. Dublin: Eastwood Books, 2021. Pp. 257 + xvi. ISBN: 978-1-913934-16-3 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-913934-24-8 ebook. [Review]

Last modified 3 December 2021