Baltinglass - Wicklow County Council
The last Lord Aldborough, Benjamin O’Neill, died unmarried in Spain in 1875, a somewhat sad eccentric. He had spent his time in Baltinglass experimenting with ballooning. He had sold off much of his estates long before the victory of the Land League. The great Baltinglass landlords, and the old grand jury system, were gone forever.
In 1898 a new Local Government Act created County Councils. The new Wicklow County Council was given the right to impose local taxes, as well as the control of sanitation, housing, roads and public works. The right to vote was not given to everyone but was limited to householders, or part-householders. This included many women for the first time.
Twenty councillors were elected across Wicklow. The new Wicklow Council reflected the rise of a new kind of politics. Seventeen were nationalists, in favour of Home Rule. They wanted Ireland to run her own affairs as much as possible. Three were Unionists, who did not want to change Ireland’s relationship with Great Britain. In Baltinglass, Edward P. O’Kelly J.P., a merchant of the town and a committed nationalist, was elected unopposed.
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