Born in Wexford into a Catholic gentry family, he was educated at Clongowes Wood College, Clane Co. Kildare and at Trinity College, Dublin. After graduating he became a clerk in the House of Commons and devoted his life to politics.
Redmond was first elected as an MP in 1881, and served both Wexford and Waterford in his lifetime.
He became leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party after the death of Charles Stuart Parnell and secured the Land Act of 1903 which provided an impetus for land purchase. Redmond faced stiff opposition to Home Rule from the Ulster Unionist Party, led by Sir Edward Carson, which became a serious threat. But he was responsible for the introduction of the Home Rule Bill (1912) and believed Ireland’s support for the war in 1914 would secure it.
Despite being opposed to the use of physical force Redmond oﬀered the services of the Irish Volunteers for the defence of Britain and Ireland during World War 1 but by encouraging the Volunteers to join the British army, he split the organisation.
Committed to keeping Ireland within the Union, he regarded the Rising as treason and a ‘German intrigue’. Redmond, however, pleaded for leniency in the House of Commons after the executions had started in Dublin. His brother was one of 120,000 Irishmen killed at the front in 1917. Redmond died suddenly on March 6, 1918. Later that year, in the general election of December, Redmond’s party’s representation at Westminster collapsed, resulting in a Sinn Féin triumph.