The Irish system of land ownership was seen by many post-famine reformers and analysts as the main factor predisposing the country to the worst consequences of famine. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that some of the most pertinent and noteworthy thinking to take place in Ireland during the second half of the nineteenth century was concerned with 'the land question'. The demand for land reform had already been made by the Young Irelanders, a group of cultural nationalists who had joined the Repeal Association in 1841 and subsequently organized themselves around their consciousness-raising newspaper, the Nation. Thomas Davis, one of the leaders of the group, had attacked the landlord and tenant system, describing it as an evil legacy of 'the rank feudality' of a darker age. Over against feudal landlordism he had set udalism, an earlier and (in his view) superior form of freehold tenure based on the rights of both the community and the individual tiller. In Davis's conception of udalism, 'the soil remained the property of the tribe, though the crop was the property of the tiller' (1889:45). On the death of the head of a family, 'his land returned into the common stock of the clan, and at the same time land was distributed in such quantity as was convenient among his children' (46). However, with the Norman invasion and subsequent English conquests, udalism gave way to feudalism and landlordism, resulting in what has now become Ireland's 'master-grievance', a grievance that Davis articulated in exclamatory italics: 'Ireland itself, belongs not to the people, is not tilled for the people' (55).