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Plunkett, Sir Horace

Plunkett, Sir Horace (1854–1932). Plunkett was a lifelong advocate of agricultural co-operation. A younger son of the 16th Lord Dunsany [I], he was born in Gloucestershire, but spent his early years rearing cattle in America. In 1889 he settled in Ireland and began preaching co-operative farming. He became a member of the Congested Districts Board in 1891 and entered Parliament the following year as a Unionist. The Irish Agricultural Organization Society (1894) led to a Department of Agriculture for Ireland in 1899, in which Plunkett served for seven years as vice-president, despite losing his parliamentary seat in 1900. But like many moderates, his political hopes foundered on growing militancy in Ireland. Reluctantly converted to Home Rule, he urged Ulster not to stay out. When it did, he became in 1922 a member of the Senate of the Irish Free State, but returned to England after his house had been burned down in 1923. In January 1920 Plunkett was reported dead by mistake and had the dubious pleasure of reading his own obituary notices.

J. A. Cannon

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Plunkett, Sir Horace Curzon

Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett, 1854–1932, Irish statesman and agricultural reformer. Educated in England, Plunkett spent 10 years (1879–89) in Wyoming as a cattle rancher. Returning to Ireland, he became an ardent exponent of farming cooperatives. His work was highly important in the face of the serious agrarian problems of Ireland (see Irish Land Question). He founded (1894) the Irish Agricultural Organization Society and as a member of Parliament (1892–1900) drafted legislation for Irish agricultural needs. From 1900 to 1907 he was vice president of the new department of agriculture for Ireland. He was a prominent mediator in the Irish uprisings prior to and during World War I, serving (1917–18) as chairman of the Irish convention founded to effect a peaceful settlement of the outbreaks. He wrote Ireland in the New Century (1904), The Rural Life Problem in the United States (1910), and numerous pamphlets.

See study by R. A. Anderson (1935); biography by M. Digby (1949).

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