PAULINE MURPHY traces the link between the founder of the Land League and the giants of Scottish football.
Michael Davitt was four years old when a landlord cruelly evicted his family from their Mayo homestead at the height of the Famine. The Davitts had no other option but to emigrate and they headed across the Irish Sea to Liverpool. From there they walked to East Lancashire where they made their home.
Young Michael Davitt worked in a cotton mill where, at the age of 11, his arm got caught in a cogwheel. His arm was so badly mangled it had to amputated. This awful accident ended his days working in the cotton mill but it opened the door for the young Davitt to get an education and ultimately lead him to the life of a social campaigner.
As a young man Davitt joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was arrested for sedition and sent to Dartmoor prison for a number of years. Following his release Davitt became a campaigner for land and social reform in his native country. He became a key supporter of Parnell and Home Rule.
Davitt’s crusade against oppression and poverty made him an icon among Irish people at home and abroad. In that most Irish of Scottish cities – Glasgow – Davitt was so admired that he was asked to become patron of Glasgow Celtic football club.