Realities of Irish Life: The Ribbon Conspiracy

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There are few who have not heard of the Ribbon Soceities of Ireland; those dark and mysterious confederacies which, springing up from tme to time in different localities, have spread terror and dismayintotheheartsof bothricand poor, which have done so much to discourage the influx of capital into Ireland, and to promote the absenteeism of hundreds of wealthy prorietors, who would be only too glad to be allowed to reside upon their Irish estates, and in the midst of thier Irisih tenantry , could they do so in peace and safety.

But the terrible Ribbon Code is too formidable for most men to face, who have the means of living elsewhere, and who are not bound by any peculiar ties to Ireland. It is the fashion to blame absentees; but can they always be justly blamed?

It is a fact, the bitter truth of which has been felt and can be attested by many, that those who have been most earnest and anxious for the improvement of their estates, have come most frequently under the ban of the Ribbonmen; whilst the careless, spendthrift, good-for-nothing landlord, who hunts, and shoots, and drinks and runs in debt, who even exacts the most exorbitant rents from his tenants, provided only he does not interefere with their time-honoured customs of subdividing, squatting, conarcre, and reckless marriages, may live in peace and careless indolence on his estate, in high favour with the surrounding peasantry, and with no fear or danger of being ever disturbed by a Robbonman.

It is not my intention to enter at present upon any dissertation on this curious and strange phnomenon; neither is it my intention to enter into any anlaysis of the causes which produced this state of things. We must look back into the history of Ireland for these. Would that some abler hand than mine would investigate and lay bare the truth!

William Steuart Trench
Realities of Irish Life