North Sligo by-election, 1891

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The North Sligo by-election, 1891 was a parliamentary by-election held for the United Kingdom House of Commons constituency of North Sligo on 2 April 1891. It arose as a result of the death of the sitting member, Peter McDonald of the Irish Parliamentary Party.


In the period before the by-election, the Irish Parliamentary Party had been undergoing a serious crisis. Its leader, Charles Stewart Parnell, had been cited as co-respondent in a divorce case, which he had not contested, causing a scandal. A majority of the party's MPs left to found a new Anti-Parnellite group. The contest at North Sligo was the second of three by-elections which followed the split and gave the voters an opportunity to express their views of the two sides - as Frank Callanan puts it, 'a staggered plebiscite on [Parnell's] leadership'.[1]

The campaign[edit]

Two candidates were nominated: Bernard Collery for the Anti-Parnellite faction, and Valentine Blake Dillon for the Parnellites.[2]

The Anti-Parnellite campaign was managed by Maurice Healy and David Sheehy.[1] Clerical opposition to Parnell was strong, with two of the bishops whose dioceses covered parts of the constituency taking a firm anti-Parnell line. But in Tireragh, in the west around the part of Ballina in County Sligo, Parnellite support was strong and the Bishop of Killala, whose diocese included the town, took a neutral line and allowed local priests to canvass for Parnell.[1]

The Voting[edit]

Like the previous by-election in North Kilkenny, the result was a triumphant success for the Anti-Parnellites. Collery won 3,261 votes, as opposed to 2,493 for Dillon - a majority of 768.[3][4] While this was clearly another setback for the Parnellites, they gained a larger proportion of the vote (43%) than they had in North Kilkenny (35%).


  1. ^ a b c Frank Callanan, The Parnell Split: 1890 - 91 (Syracuse University Press, 1992).
  2. ^ The Times, 21 March 1891
  3. ^ The Times, 4 April 1891
  4. ^ The Constitutional Year Book, 1904, published by Conservative Central Office, page 192 (216 in web page)