Feature: The First Boycott

It was near the unassuming little village of Neale, near Cong, that the term 'boycott' came into use. In 1880 the Irish Land League, in an effort to press for fair rents and improve the lot of workers, withdrew field hands from the estate of Lord Erne, who owned much of the land in the area. When Lord Erne's land agent, Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, evicted the striking labourers, the surrounding community began a campaign to ostracise him. Not only did farmers refuse to work his land, but people in the town also refused to talk to him, provide services or sit next to him in church. The incident attracted the attention of the London papers, and soon Boycott's name was synonymous with such organised, nonviolent protests. Within a few months, Boycott fled Ireland.