Inside Our Collection – the Irish Land League Poster

The object

The large framed Irish Land League propaganda-style poster depicts the 1881 trial in Dublin of Charles Stewart Parnell and other leaders of The Irish Land League.

The men were arrested on 13 October 1881 and imprisoned under a proclaimed Coercion Act in Kilmainham Gaol for “sabotaging the Land Act”, from where the No Rent Manifesto, which Parnell and the others signed, was issued calling for a national tenant farmer rent strike against the Anglo-Irish landlords. The Land League was suppressed immediately.


The coloured off-set (probably) lithograph depicts a standing Parnell addressing an unseen English judge. The piles of books and papers on the judge’s bench represent the might of English law. People involved in the Land League are pictured in the poster.

The defendants named at the bottom of the poster are:


People in the jury and rally represent well known people in late 1800s Irish society. The proper lady wearing a hat is Parnell’s wife while the lady scandalously depicted without a hat is his long time mistress, Kitty O’Shea.

The stylized poster features ‘embellishments’ attached such as gilded lacy corners, gold tassels. gold cuffs and golden flames on the candles. It is unclear whether these embellishments are original or added.

This is an unusual object but it is framed in traditional style – dark wood frame with a gold fillet inside. The image area has a surround of black paper, but appears to be one object.


Irish Land League

The Irish National Land League (Irish: Conradh na Talún) was an Irish political and agrarian organisation of the late 19th century which sought to help poor tenant farmers. Its primary aim was to abolish landlordism in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land they worked on. The period of the Land League’s agitation is known as the Land War

Historian R F Foster argues that in the countryside the Land League “reinforced the politicization of rural Catholic nationalist Ireland, partly by defining that identity against urbanization, landlordism, Englishness and—implicitly—Protestantism.”


The poster was donated by descendants of Moruya’s earliest settler, Francis Flanagan. Flanagan arrived in 1828, became a magistrate and lived at Shannon View, Moruya. He attracted other Irish migrants to the district where Catholics soon made up 50 per cent of the population, as opposed to 25 per cent in the overall 19th century NSW population.

The Irish National Land League poster demonstrates the importance of the local Irish community and its continued links with political movements in Ireland.

Historically, the poster is even more significant given that Mr J. Dillon M.P., one of Parnell’s co-accused, toured Australia following his release from prison  Prominent citizens of Moruya wanted to invite Dillon and his fellow delegates to Moruya. These facts help create direct lines between the events depicted on the poster (1881) and Dillon’s Australian meetings held later that decade.

The Irish Home Rule Delegates

… a meeting was held in the Mechanics’ Institute on Tuesday 23rd inst., for the purpose of considering the advisability of inviting Mr. Dillon MP  and his  co-delegates to visit Moruya.  The attendance was disappointing when the important mission of these Irish patriots is considered, and we were not a little surprised to find many absent who should have attended to show at least by their presence, their sympathy with suffering people of Ireland.

Moruya Times and South Coast Journal, Wednesday 1 May 1889, page 2

These deep Irish links were also reflected in the Moruya community’s significant anti-conscription response to the referendums of World War 1, in part because of the Dublin Uprising of 1916.

The poster in our collection symbolises the importance of the local Irish community and its continued links with political movements in Ireland.

A not so supportive poster. Parnell and the land League is depicted as Dracula about to ravish an English maiden – Punch, 24 October 1885



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