Wexford Connections: The Redmond Family & National Politics

The Redmond Family Political Dynasty

The Redmonds were one of the oldest Anglo-Norman families in County Wexford. Dispossessed of their lands in the 1650s, the family had become involved in commerce and shipping by the late eighteenth century. They set up a private bank in 1770 which withstood the major banking crisis of 1820. In the mid nineteenth century they became active in Liberal politics. Patrick Walter Redmond (1803-1869), was a magistrate, High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant of Co. Wexford. His brother, John Edward Redmond (1806-1865) was a banker and magistrate as well as a Liberal MP for Wexford from 1859 to 1865. He helped to bring the railway to Wexford. He was also a prime mover in a scheme to reclaim 2,500 acres of land from Wexford Harbour’s sloblands.Patrick Walter Redmond’s son, William Archer Redmond (1825-1880) was one of Ireland’s first Home Rule MPs, elected for Wexford Borough in 1872. He married Mary Hoey of Dunganstown, Co. Wicklow.

They lived at Ballytrent House near Rosslare Harbour. Their two sons, John Edward Redmond (1856-1918) and William (Willie) Hoey Kearney Redmond (1861-1917), served as Irish Parliamentary Party MPs until their deaths.

John E. Redmond’s son, William Archer Redmond (1886-1932) was Irish Parliamentary Party MP for East Tyrone (1910-1918), for Waterford City (1918-1922), and Independent TD for Waterford from 1923 until his death in 1932. William Redmond’s wife, Bridget then held the Waterford seat until 1952.

The Redmond Family Tree
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Home Rule

Home Rule was the demand that Ireland should have its own domestic parliament instead of being governed from Westminster. The first and second Home Rule Bills, in 1886 and 1893, were defeated in Parliament.

After the elections of 1910, the Irish Parliamentary Party, led by John Redmond, held the balance of power in the House of Commons. For this reason they were able to negotiate the introduction of a third Bill in exchange for supporting the Liberal Party in government.

The Third Home Rule Bill was introduced on 11 April 1912. It passed the Commons by a small majority but the House of Lords overwhelmingly rejected it. This happened again in 1913.

The Home Rule Bill met fierce opposition from Edward Carson and the Irish Unionist Party. During 1912, over 500,000 people signed the Ulster Covenant against the passing of the Bill. Early in 1913 the Ulster Volunteer Force was formed to oppose Home Rule, by force if necessary.

In May 1914, after the Commons again passed the Bill the Government used the provisions of the Parliament Act of 1911 to override the Lords’ opposition and sent it for Royal Assent.

The Third Home Rule Bill provided for the creation of a two-chamber Irish parliament, with a 164-member House of Commons and a 40-member Senate, and also allowed Ireland to continue electing MPs to Westminster.

On 18 September 1914, the provisions of the Home Rule Bill became law, but at the same time another Act was passed to stop it coming into effect until after WW1.

John Edward Redmond: Timeline 1856-1918

1856: Born 19 September, eldest  son of William Archer Redmond, Nationalist M.P. for Wexford, and Mary Hoey.1870: Attends Clongowes College, Co. Kildare.1873: Enters Trinity College, Dublin to study law.1876: (age 20) Leaves university early to live and work alongside his father in Westminster.1879: Attends his firstpolitical meeting with Charles Stewart Parnell.

1880: (age 24) His father William Archer Redmond (b. 1825) dies.

1881: (age 25) Becomes M.P. for New Ross.

1885: (age 29) Becomes M.P. for North Wexford.

1891: (age 35) Becomes M.P. for Waterford.

1900: (age 44) Becomes Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.

1912: Negotiates the introduction of the Third Home Rule Bill with Liberal Prime Minister Asquith.

1914: At the outbreak of war, Redmond pledges the Irish Volunteers to the defence of Ireland. Third Home Rule Bill reaches the statute books on 18 September but is postponed until the war ends.

1916: (age 60) The 1916 Rising is a shattering blow to his life long policy of constitutional action.

1917: His younger brother, Major Willie Redmond, is killed in action in Flanders on 7 June, age 56.

1918: Dies on 6 March in London  and is buried in the family mausoleum in St John’s graveyard, Wexford.

Redmond Family: places of interest
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Find out more

Denman, Terence: A lonely grave. The life and death of William Redmond. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1995. ISBN: 978-0716525615.

Furlong, Nicholas: ‘The history of land reclamation in Wexford Harbour’ in Journal of the Old Wexford Society, No. 2 (1969), pp. 53-77.

Glynn, Jarlath: ‘The Redmonds and the Catholic community in Wexford town’ in Eithne Scallan (ed.) The Twin Churches Book. Wexford: Carraig Mór House, 2008.

Meleady, Dermot: ‘John Redmond - Parnellite and Nationalist’ in Journal of the Wexford Historical Society, No. 21 (2006-07), pp. 123-146.