Chasing Michael Davitt -The Film

We plan to make a film about Michael Davitt because he was one of the most influential personalities in 19th century Irish history, but sadly he is Ireland's forgotten hero. We would hope to redress the balance by pointing out the enormity of his contribution to the course of Irish history and humanity in general.

His family was evicted from their small tenancy in Mayo in the west of Ireland when Michael was four years old in 1850 and they migrated to Lancashire England. He lost his arm in a textile mill accident aged 11 years. He became politically aware and joined the banned Irish Republican Brotherhood. As a result of hisgun-running activities he was incarcerated for 7 years. Crucially, after his release, Davitt shifted his position by eschewing the violent route to Irish emancipation and advocated passive resistance to and non-cooperation with exploitative authority.

The issue of land reform in Ireland was still a major concern to Davitt and he was determined to secure rights for the tenant farmers who had been so badly treated, like his family. This passive approach to land reform was achieved though the National Land league which he set up with Parnell et al. Mahatma Gandhi, who developed the practice in his dealings with the British in India, noted this modus operandi. Nelson Mandela was to follow suit. The Land League inspired reform saw the greatest changes in land management in Western Europe.

Michael Davitt was an enlightened thinker and had very progressive views on the role of women in society, multi denominational co-educational schooling, He had elaborate views on local government provision in matters pertaining not just to education, but to the provision of arts and literature facilities on a local basis, throughout Ireland.

Davitt was always on the side of the oppressed and after his career in the UK Parliament he earned his living as a journalist, highlighting injustice, quite literally, throughout the world. He was one of the founders of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which still flourishes in Ireland, yet he also officially opened the Glasgow Celtic Association Football ground in Scotland.

He was fluent in several languages and he wrote extensively on political issues- not least- on prison reform. He died tragically young at the age of sixty of septicemia following dental surgery His life experience exemplifies triumph over adversity.