Captain Charles Boycott was a land agent of absentee landlord Lord Erne living in Lough Mask House, County Mayo, Ireland in 1880.
Harvests were poor that year and the farmers working Erne’s land were unable to afford the rent.
There are vast swaths of context that I’m not including here because so many valuable resources have already covered how the enclosure movement legalized the theft of land from Irish farmers who were then charged rent to work the land they had owned for centuries.
Boycott, showing all the mercy and grace of our modern-day GOP, responded by evicting 11 tenants from the land.
The Irish farmers had no recourse. All they had was solidarity which they employed despite significant personal hardship by refusing to work the land from which their friends and neighbors had been evicted.
Now the harvest was coming in and Captain Boycott had painted himself into a corner. He eventually had to hire Orangemen from Counties Cavan and Monaghan and pay one thousand police officers to escort them in to reap a harvest that was worth far less than it cost Boycott to gather.
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day in our deeply troubled world, I invite you to join me in invoking Ireland’s greatest gift to the world, the boycott.
The legacy of our Irish ancestors isn’t luck at all, it’s resilience.
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