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Capitalising on the Irish land question: land reform and state banking in Ireland, 1891–1938

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2016

Nathan Foley-Fisher
Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC
Eoin McLaughlin*
University of St Andrews
E. McLaughlin, corresponding author: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Geography & Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, North Street, St Andrews, ky16 9al, Fife, Scotland, UK; email:


Land reform and its financial arrangements are central elements of modern Irish history. Yet to date, the financial mechanisms underpinning Irish land reform have been overlooked. The article outlines the mechanisms of land reform in Ireland and the importance of land bonds to the process. Advances worth over £127 million were made to tenant farmers to purchase their holdings. These schemes enabled the transfer of over three-quarters of land on the island of Ireland. The article introduces a new database on Irish land bonds listed on the Dublin Stock Exchange from 1891 to 1938. It illustrates the nature of these bonds and presents data on their size, liquidity and market returns. The article finds a high level of state banking in Ireland: large issues of land bonds were held by state-owned savings banks.

Copyright © European Association for Banking and Financial History e.V. 2016 

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