Ballinrobe visiting journalist: James Redpath (1833- 1891) and the verb 'To Boycott'

Photo:James Redpath - 1833-1891

James Redpath - 1833-1891


By Averil Staunton

Redpath was born in Scotland and his family moved to the United States where he was eventually a public schools supervisor. He founded an orphanage, was a poet, writer, an American journalist and antislavery activist.

He visited Ireland to cover the Boycott episode and it is quoted in the Irish Tourist Association Survey, 1945: 

“It is related that an American journalist named Redpath was, amongst others, in the district at the time for the purpose of having first-hand knowledge of the situation.   When dining with the Rev. Fr. O’Malley, P.P. the Neale, he asked the priest if he could suggest a new word to describe Parnell’s sensational policy, whereupon Fr. O’Malley promptly supplies the noun-verb “Boycott”.  The word was included in Redpath’s report and was speedily established in the English vocabulary”.

Upon his return to the United States, after covering the Boycott saga in Ireland, he lectured on the lyceum circuit, wrote newspaper articles, and published talks about Ireland and Redpath's Weekly, both devoted to Irish causes.

Redpath became editor of the North American Review in 1886. He died in 1891, shortly after being run over by a horse-drawn trolley in New York


McKivigan, John R. "James Redpath" in: Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007

Extract from Irish Tourist Association Survey, 1945 – ITA/3/10 (87) Mayo County Library, Castlebar.

This page was added by Averil Staunton on 16/10/2011.