(1844–1925), Baron MacDonnell of Swinford, a Catholic gentleman from Co. Mayo who became an Indian proconsul. Knighted in 1893, he retired in 1902 but was appointed by the Conservative George Wyndham as under-secretary for Ireland with a special dispensation to initiate policy—although a civil servant, a Liberal, and a home ruler ‘in principle’ whose brother was a Nationalist MP. He sought a general Irish settlement, based on reconciliation and administrative reform. The 1903 Land Act was partly his achievement, and certainly his main success. The devolution crisis ended Conservative interest in his ideas, but in 1907 the Liberal government introduced his Irish council bill. Neither this, nor his plan for a university settlement based on a second college in Dublin University with a Catholic ethos, was implemented. Augustine Birrell and the Nationalist leaders both found his autocratic style irksome and his faith in ‘moderate landlords’ unrealistic. He went to the House of Lords in 1908.
From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: European History.