The great famine, in addition to reducing the population of Ireland by over two million, demonstrated dramatically the inequalities of the landlord system in the country.
Michael Davitt and others founded the Land League and began the agitation to have the land returned to those who lived on it. It was to take them until almost the close of the nineteenth century to achieve this ambition.
This documentary focuses on Father James McFadden, parish priest of Gweedore, who opposed evicitions by the agents of Lord George Hill, landlord for that area.
He had first come to Gweedore in 1873, when he was thirty-one years of age. A strong minded man, he hated the hard drinking that was practised in the "shebeens" and often visited these hostelries and chased all the men out, making liberal use of his blackthorn stick and his fist.
But it was in the land campaign that he became famous. When the landlords agents arrived at one house to evict a tenant, Fr McFadden stood in the doorway. He withstood the bailiffs and orders were given for his arrest the following Sunday as he was saying Mass. This was too much for the people and they resisted it, in the process accidentally killing the police inspector. But the police returned another day and succeeded in taking Fr McFadden, and forty two others from Gweedore, into custody and brought them to trial for the murder of Inspector Martin.
Incidents such as these give some idea of the scope of Pionsias O Conluain's documentary, which draws on contemporary accounts from newspapers and from the oral tradition of Gweedore.
Presented and Produced by Prionsias O Conluain
First Broadcast July 27th 1975
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries