Land Issues

In 1530 Catholic Irish owned 100% of the land in Ireland. In 1703 they owned 14% of the land in Ireland.

From early times the land in the west of Ireland was under the control of landlords while tenant farmers maintained small holdings at little or no profit. Although they had to pay rent to the landlord the Irish peasantry were very attached to the land on which their forbearers had lived and would do almost anything to remain in the place of their ancestry.

Many landlords did NOT live in Ireland. Their properties were administered by local agents.

Some landlords, who actually lived on their estates, had a paternalistic relationship with their tenants. However, since the landlord had total economic control over his tenants, he also had control on the political and social relationships that existed under his domain.

Many tenants were "tenant at will" meaning they held no lease on the land, could be evicted at any time, and had no recourse in disagreements with the landlord. Tenant eviction and land agitation were issues in Ireland from at least the early 1700s when landlords determined that they could make more money from grazing than from the rents of their tenant farmers.

Many land agitations issues were covered by the English, American, Australian and New Zealand press.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (nee Browne) (1790-1846) was an English evangelist and writer who lived in Ireland from 1818 to 1824. Irish Recollection was first published in 1841. Much of the book is an anti Catholic diatribe. She makes this comment on eviction.

" On these occasions, a keeper was set over the property; some legal papers were served, and all the household goods, consisting of iron kettles, wooden stools, broken tables, a ragged blanket or two, and the little stores of potatoes, the sole support of the wretched inhabitants, were brought out, piled in a long row down the street, and "canted", that is, put up for sale, for the payment of perhaps, one or two pre cent, of the arrears."
I am most interested in the Land League issues that arrose around 1880 as several important events took place in Mayo and Galway where my ancestors were from. These include: the murder of Lord Mountmorres in Galway in 1880, the Boycott incident in Ballinrobe in 1880, the shooting of Mr. Herne in Ballinrobe in 1881, the murder of David Feerick in Ballinrobe in 1880, the Huddy murder in Cong in 1882, and the murder of Walter M Bourke in Galway in 1882.

The Irish Rebellion 1798

Irish Rebellion of 1798 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There is a lot on the internet about the 1798 Irish Rebellion.


Eviction was the most common way for a landlord to rid his land of unwanted tenants. Many of these evicted tenants made their way overseas to England, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. some landlords even paid the tenants way - just to get them off the land.

To see more images of evictions in Ireland click on the image at left.

Whiteboys, Ribbonmen and Molly Maguiers - 1760s to 1870s

Irish agrarian organizations were active in several movements from the mid 1700s to the mid 1800 including, Whiteboys, Ribbonmen and Molly Maguires.

"In consequence of disturbances by roving bands of Ribbonmen, the Government has ordered two squadrons of dragoon and a company of infantry to be stationed at Ballinrobe and Castlebar."

(New York Times October 9, 1879)

Molly Maguires




Land issues in Ireland united people in both the USA and Ireland. The Fenian Brotherhood was a movement started in 1848 whose purpose was to obtain Irish independence from England.

"The Fenian movement did not represent anything like the full force of Irish patriotism, or even, indeed, a considerable portion of it, the bulk of the millions who believed in O'Connell and Smith O'Brien stood with folded arms outside the movement. Its policy was disbelieved in, although the Fenians worked with an energy worthy of the highest admiration, while an honest, mainly, self-sacrificing spirit of patriotism marked the men who were its martyrs. Never did braver men stand in the dock; and to the Fenians, Ireland owes that stirring-up of public opinion upon Irish subjects which hitherto had slumbered in a wasting inactivity."

Frank Leslie April 1880

See The Fenian Movement

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck


L'Univers Illustre

No date.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012, publication unknown


In February 1867 there were several confrontations between the Fenians and the Irish Constabulary. The largest took place near Tallaght Hill where several hundred Fenians were attacked and driven off by the police.

Frank Leslie April 1880, on line

Fenian Trials for High Treason in 1867

Note: The image is from Frank Leslies's magazine of April 1880 although the event took place in 1867.

Paying the Rent
Most Irish did not own their land although families lived on the same property for generations. If an Irish tenant made improvements to his (or her) house or land he (or she) was subject to a raise in the rents, if the landlord so desired. Many landlords did not even live in Ireland, never saw their Irish estates and had matters administered by land agents.
Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Graphic June 4, 1870


'In sooth," Cowper says, "the sorrow of such days is not to be expressed, when he that takes and he that pays are both alike distressed." That he who pays should be distressed is not to be wondered at, but that the receiver should be in like evil case would certainly be surprising if the poet had not given an all-sufficient reason in the fact that "well he knows each bumpkin of the clan, instead of paying what he owes, will cheat him if he can." This was written concerning tithes, but will apply equally well to the subject of our illustration, that bugbear of Irish politics, the rent, a matter in which it is held by some perfectly legitimate, we will not say to cheat, as that is rather a strong word, but to circumvent the landlords, who on the other hand, on the principle of diamond cut diamond, keep a sharper count of their tenants' earnings than is quite consonant with that personal freedom which we all like to enjoy. The season may have been a prolific one in the matter of potatoes, the pigs may have thriven, the cattle been free from disease, the harvest a fat one, but all this instead of being an unmixed cause of congratulation to the lucky tenant, raises, should he be only a tenant at will, a horrid spectre of increased rental, for well he knows that "a chiel," the land bailiff to wit, has been "takin' notes" that he has the whole docketted, and can tell within a reasonable margin what the yield of the farm, or it may be only a farmlet, has been, and will be ready, when rent-day comes round to report his worldly prosperity, and give the agent an excuse for adding another pound or so to the rent.

There is a practice much in favour with defendants to breach of promise cases, who, with a fine knowledge of the weakness of human nature, have observed that the ear is not the only organ to be assailed with appeals for merciful consideration, but that a beggar who in a decent cast might starve very comfortably, has only to tear his garment into shreds and refrain from washing to make a good livelihood. Putting these maxims in practice, with a view to the reduction of damages, they will select their worst clothes in which to appear before a jury of their countrymen, as though their tailors refused them credit, and ready money was a blessing for which they sighed in vain. The case is much the same with the tenants our artist has drawn; their wardrobes have been made to yield their refuse, perhaps a scarecrow had been robbed for the occasion, and their tongues are ready with a lamentable list of misfortunes as a vivid imagination can invent. Frost and blight have withered the crops, the murrain1. has fallen on their cattle, the rot has seized their sheep, the measles have destroyed their pigs, and in fine, there is no rent "sorra ha'porth". But there beside the agent is their natural enemy the bailiff, and it is to be a contest of wits between their protestations and shabby wardrobes and his figures; blarney sometimes getting the better of facts, sometimes being lamentably routed. An Irishman has a persuasive tongue, a quick invention, a ready wit, and driven from one post will retire skirmishing to another; but on the other hand, some Irish landlords have a genius for extracting rack rents from their land, and with such, "no rent", what ever plea may be brought forward in its palliation, has but one remedy-"Eviction." It is difficult to say from the illustration who will be victor in the present case, for while the tenants look plausible enough to soften the heart of the sheriff's officer, as their countryman Sheridan is once said to have done, the land agent has a countenance resembling in its expression the portrait of Sheridan's creation, Uncle Oliver. 2.

1.Murrain literally means disease. A highly contagious disease in cattle and sheep, it is mentioned in the Bible relating to the fifth plague of Egypt.

Exodus 9:3 "Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain."

2. Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy of manners School for Scandal examines "the deceptive nature of appearances, the fickleness of reputation, [and] the often disreputable guises behind which goodness and honesty can conceal itself". Sir Oliver, the uncle Oliver referred to in this article, assumes various disguises to test the integrity of several characters in the play.

Note: Look at the clothing in Evictions . Did the Irish also dress down for evictions?
Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The next week, on June 11, 1870, the Graphic ran the above image in contrast to the June 4th image. The same couple is now presented in their best clothes and with a different demeanor as the greet the parish priest outside of mass.

" The question of rent, on the present occasion, we may presume, has been settled; the bailiff has carried his point and the money has been produced, or the tenant has cajoled the steward into an abatement, or postponement, or what not; at any rate the evil day is past, and the tenant can appear without danger in his decent habit, which, by the time rent-day comes round once more, with its sorrows and anxieties, will be as pitifully ragged as ever."
Notice the dandy attire of the priest!

Ireland in the early 1800s

Several events took place in the early 1800s that put the lives of AngloIrish landlords and land agents in danger. These included: the murder of David Feerick in April 1880 in Ballinrobe, the murder of Lord Mountmorres in September 1880 near Clonbur, the ostracizing of Captain Boycott in October 1880 in Ballinrobe, the shooting of John Hearn in March 1881 in Ballinrobe, the murder of Luke Dillon in November 1881 at Claremorris, the murder of Joe and John Huddy near Clonbur in January 1882, the murder of John Blake in June 1882 in Loughrea, the murder of William M. Bourke and his military escort, Robert Wallace, in June 1882 in County Galway and others.

The government was forced to provide military and police escorts to persons considered to be in danger.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012, The Graphic December 18, 1880

An English journal says: It is simewhat difficult for an ordinary Englishman to realize the present condition of affairs in Ireland, as they were described by the noblemen and gentlemen who, assembled in conference the other day in the Irish metropolis, and subsequently waited upon the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary as a representative deputation of the whole body of Irish landlords. In Dublin, the third city of the United Kingdom, the residence of the Viceroy, the seat of the law courts, and the capital of Ireland, within 11 hours of London by rail, the landed proprietors of the country are actually obliged to meet in private and discuss measures for the preservation of their lives and property without venturing to do so in public, or allow the names and statements of the speakers to be made known. When her Majesty's Representative and the Minister who is specially charged with Irish interests in the Cabinet are compelled to receive a deputation of 105 landlords and agents almost by stealth, and to listen to the statements of men in the highest social position who tell them that it would cost them their lives were their names to be made known outside the Council chamber of Dublin Castle, the people of this country will begin to ask themselves whether such a state of things is to be allowed to go on, and if the Government are prepared to admit that it is no longer in their power to protect human life or uphold the public tranquillity and the supremacy of the law in Ireland."

The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 3 December 1880

It is clear from the image that it was not only the lives of the landlords and land agents that were in danger. As the babe sleps, this Irish wife and mother pleads with her husband not to go out in the night with his gun. While there are not a lot of storys of the Irish being killed or hurt in the assaults on the land agents, some did spend time in jail and several were hung for their crimes. Some also were forced to emigrate.

Many of the "Land War" incidents were said to have been carried out by members of the Land League. There is a lot on the internet about the Land League and tons of books have been written about the movement and its leaders. Suffice to say that it was a political organization whose prime aim was to abolish landlordism and to allow Irish farmers to own the land they lived and worked on. The movement was founded in County Mayo in the fall of 1879. It fought for "Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure and Free Sale."

The Murder of William Browne, Lord Mountmorres, September, 1880, landlord - near Clonbur, Galway

Mayo landlord, Lord Mountmorres (William Browne de Mountmorency, 5th Viscount Mountmorres) was murdered at about 8:00 on Saturday evening September 25, 1880 on the road between Clonbur and Ebor Hall (his home) as he was driving himself from a magistrates meeting in Clonbar. He was shot six times, several times at very close range, and from the nature of the wounds must have died instantly. There were: one shot to the head, three to the neck and two to the body. The shot to the head was in the middle of the forehead. The perpetrators presumably escaped over the hills and across Lough Carrib. When the horse and empty carriage arrived at Ebor Hall the servants went searching for Mountmorris. Lady Mountmorres and her children were visiting Edinburgh at the time. There were accusations that Mountmorris "was separated from his wife".

At some time Mountmorres had retained bodyguards but for some reason had given them up.

While Mountmorris was portrayed in some newspaper articles as a kindly landlord, apparently he was not popular with all his tenants and had recently refused a reduction in rents to some of them. The motive for the murder was never officially clarified and no one was ever convicted. However, the incident was believed to be associated with Land League activities.

In her testimony in 1888 Lady Mountmorris said Lord Mountmorris had taken over the estate in 1864. It contained about 300 acres and had 11 tenants. He had had good relationships with his tenants until he obtained an eviction notice for Patrick Sweeney in July 1880.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck
Supplement of the Illustrated London News Oct. 9, 1880

1. Ebor Hall, the house of Lord Mountmorres. 2. The spot where he was murdered, and 3. Flanagan's cottage.

Note: I never know if an image like this is meant to be ironic. The accompanying article was in general positive about Lord Mountmorres. However, juxtaposing the images of the house of the lord with the cottage of the peasant and the image of the gentleman in his carriage with the poverty stricken woman and child on the side of the road seems to emphasize the differences between the haves and have nots.

Excerpts from the accompanying article:

"An Irish nobleman, of ancient family and title, but of extremely impoverished state, resided in a lonely district of Galway with his wife and children; one of the poorest of country gentlemen, living the plainest style, hopeless of improving his fortunes, and deprived by comparative indigence of the enjoyment of social pleasures and honours befitting his legitimate rank. Of a quite, homely, studious disposition, and willing to do any good among his humblest neighbors.... He had but few tenants, and these had ever found him a consistent and indulgent landlord. But his position, not his personal character or conduct, made him a mark for the class hatred systematically provoked and organized to deeds of blood by the infamous conspirators of the Land League.....

"the poor half-ruined, well intentioned nobleman, endeavoring to do his duty as a county magistrate, and to keep up friendly relations with all classes of the people about him."

"Lord Mountmorris, we are told, never evicted any of his tenants for nonpayment of rent, though he must have wanted the rents badly to support his moderate household expenses."

"He lately had some fault to find with a herdsman in his employment, and dismissed the man from service, requiring him, at the same time, to quit the cottage allotted for the herdsman's dwelling. This man, however, claimed to be an agricultural tenant, and to have a right to hold the cottage and bit of ground. In order therefore to settle the question regarding the legal character of a piece of property, Lord Mountmorris sued for a formal degree of evection, which was granted upon sufficient evidence."

Two hours after the murder the body was still laying in the road.

The Flanagan family who lived in a cottage not far from the site of the murder refused to allow the body to be brought into their cabin. The Flanagans said "if they admitted it, nothing belonging to them would be alive that day twelve months". In other words, they and their animals would be killed or maimed. It is not clear if this was due to suspicion or fear of retribution.

The body of Lord Mountmorres was left in the yard until arrangements could be made to cart it away.

A £1,000 reward was offered for information leading to a conviction of the murder (or murderers) of Lord Mountmorres.

Hugh Flanagan and his wife were later suspected of being connected with the murder and were arrested. They were released.

The finger was pointed at Pat Sweeney, the disgruntled former herdsman, as the possible assailant. Pat Sweeney was arrested in Queenstown as he was about to emigrate. He was sent to Sligo for trial. Patrick Sweeney, an Irish speaker, needed a translator in the court. The case against him was dismissed.

In October 1883 it was reported a tinker (or a man named Tinker) who was present at the murder of Lord Mountmorres turned informer and gave the name of the assassins some of whom had left the country.

No possible assassins were ever caught and the crime remained unsolved.

Michael Davitt, the Irish national agrarian agitator, "held" that

"Lord Mountmorres was murdered because he 'eked our his wretched income as a landlord' by doing spy's work for the Castle, and taking bribes."

(Diary of the Parnell Commission: Rev. from "The Daily News.". By John MacDonald, Great Britain. Special Commission to Inquire into Charges and Allegations against Certain)

It was pointed out in the Parnell Commission that Lord Mountmorres had become "unpopular long before he took eviction proceedings against Sweeney, which started in July, 1880". The local population believed that "their landlord" had been "in constant communication with Dublin Castle" and that this had added to his increasing unpopularity. He was also vocally opposed to the Land League.

"Lord Mountmorres became unpopular because of his known opposition to the League — an opposition which he professed in public." Witness, a police-Constable

"It came out that Lord Mountmorres had been under police protection months before the League was started in the district."

Diary of the Parnell commission By John Macdonald

The death of Lord Mountmorres was of international interest and was covered by the New York Times which shed a bit of light on potential reasons for Mountmorres's unpopularity with his tenants.


The meeting of magistrates, which was attended by Lord Mountmorres just previous to his death, had passed a resolution calling on the Government to adopt coercive measures in Ireland."

New York Times, September 28, 1880

In October 1880 all of the suspects in the Mountmorris case were dismissed.

Lady Mountmorres was granted £3,000 for the murder of her husband under the Crimes Act. However, she was boycotted by the local population and she and her children were forced to leave Ebor Hall and move to England.

Interestingly enough there had been a threat in 1855 on a previous Lord Mountmorres, who may have been William Browne's father, Hervey.


We regret very much to find that a threatening notice has been served on Count MOUNTMORRES, Dean of Achonry, menacing him with assassination. The Roman Catholic clergy of the parish, we are glad to say, denounced those who were connected with the outrage in the most indignant terms. Lord MOUNTMORRES, when in this county, during the famine period, was most benevolent towards the poor, and built the Farrahy Agricultural School, now one of the most flourishing of these establishments. We should rejoice to learn that the cowardly rascals concerned in this proceeding were discovered and punished, as they so richly deserve to be. The offence for which his lordship has been threatened with assassination is the simple expression of the desire that interments should not take place in the grave ground of Achonry on Sundays while divine service was being celebrated in the church." -Cork Reporter.

Cumberland and Westmorland Newspaper Carlisle Journal September 21 1855

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Ebor Hall, Clonbur, Galway, Residence of the late Lord Mountmorres


Illustrated London News October 8, 1880

Viscount Mountmorres, Sir William Browne de Montmorency, Baron Mountmorres of the Peerage of Ireland was born April 21, 1832. He succeeded his father as the fifth Peer and eleventh Baronet in January 1871. He was descendant of a Captain in Cromwell's Army. The family had once been wealthy but by William Browne's time were left with a small estate near Clonbur "in the narrow strip of rocky moorland that separates two considerable lakes, Laugh Carrib and Laugh Mask, forming a natural peninsula of Connemara."

He was said to have only 15 small holdings tenants with an income of only £300 a year. The house was "modest"... "with a space of lawn and wood around it on the slope of the hill, overlooking the beautiful expanse of Lough Carrib and its multitude of picturesque island."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Rusheen, Where the Assassination Took Place.

(The Cross shows the spot here the body was found, and the Arrow the place from which the assassins fired)


Note: I added the red arrows for clarity MLB

Hugh Flanagan, his wife and daughters - refused aid to Mountmorres

When the body of Mountmorres was found an attempt was made to move it to a nearby cabin belong to a farm couple named Flanagan. The cabin was just a few hundred yards from the murder site. The Flangans refused to allow the body in the house, saying everything that belonged to them would be dead within twelve months. Initially it appears that Hugh Flanagan was willing but his wife and daughters prevented it. Was that superstition or fear of retaliation? There is some agreement that it was suspicion. It was stated that the Flanagan house was close enough to the murder site for them to have heard the shots. The Flanagans were held for a while on suspicion of the murder.

Pat Sweeney, Francis Gannon, Patrick Heffernan, William Sepncer and others - suspected in the Mountmorres murder

On October 8, 1880 Patrick Sweeney and Francis Gannon were arrested on suspicion of the murder of Lord Mountmorres and brought before the magistrate in Clonbur.

Patrick Sweeney, an Irish speaker (with no English) born circa 1833, was a herd on the Mountmorres estate. The week before the murder he had been evicted for failure to pay his rent to Lord Mountmorres. Sweeney was described in the papers as dejected and despondent, old (around age 70) and infirm.

Francis Gannon was married and was described as "a smart, active man" between 30 and 40 years of age who walked into the courtroom with a "Jaunty air" waving to friends.

Sweeney and Gannon were placed in custody for eight days.

October 14, The Times London:

"Two further arrests were made on Tuesday for the murder of Lord Mountmorres. The prisoners are Patrick Heffernan and William Spencer. The former is a plasterer at Clonbur, and is believed to be a chief accomplice in the crime. Spencer is a steward of Lord Ardilaun, living near Ashford, Cong. Spencer left Clonbur shortly before Lord Mountmorres, and was drinking at midnight in the village. He had a revolver for his own protection, being unpopular in the county. The two prisoners were conveyed to Galway Gaol."
October 16, 1880:
"THE STATE OF IRELAND. THE MURDER OF LORD MOUNTMORRES. DISCHARGE OF THE PRISONERS. CONG, FRIDAY, TWO O'CLOCK. P.M. The prisoners, Patrick Sweeney, the late Lord Mountmorres's herd; Francis Gannon, a slater of Ballinrobe, Patrick Hefferan, a plasterer, working at Clonbur; and William Spencer, under-steward to Lord Ardilaun, were brought before Mr. Dennehy, the resident magistrate, at Clonbur, this afternoon, charged with complicity in the murder of Lord Mountmorres."
There was one witness who told a rather vague story about passing two men on the road near the time of the murder. He could not identify any of the accused men. The prisoners were discharged.


"Two more men have been arrested on the charge of having been concerned in the murder of Lord Mountmorres. Their names are Patrick Heffernan and William Spencer. Heffernan, who is a plasterer, and has been recently married, was arrested at his house at Clonbur at about eight o'clock on Monday night, and his house was searched. He is believed to be one of Gannon's principal witnesses. Spencer, who is also a married man, serves as steward to Lord Ardilaun at Ashford. Gannon and Sweeney, who were brought before the Clonbur magistrate on Friday, were again remanded, and sent back by steamer from Cong to Galway. Gannon is to be defended at the expense of the Land League, who have also awarded £5 to his family. The Queen has sent through the Marchioness of Ely a letter of sympathy to Lady Mountmorres." (Pall Mall)

In June 1883 Patrick Sweeney was arrested at Queenstown as he was about to emigrate. He was detained from the 13th or June to the 7th of July when he was sent to Sligo to give evidence. He was released on July 14th.

July 1883: A report in the Sydney Herald:

"THE MURDER Of LORD MOUNTMORRE8. At Queenstown, on June 12, a detective constable arrested a man named Patrick Sweeney on a charge of complicity in the murder of Lord Mountmorres two years ago. The man held in his possession a ticket for New York, which he had purchased on the previous day, and he intended to sail by the Inman steamer on June 12. The prisoner said he had been arrested before on the same charge, but had been set at liberty on account of no incriminating evidence being forthcoming. His arrest is said to be the result of a private inquiry now being held at Cong. A special warrant was subsequently granted for his re-conveyance to Cong, He is a man about 50 years of age, and speaks only Irish.

Dispatches from Dublin Ireland in August 1883 say that Patrick Sweeney was "liberated from custody".

In 1888 and 1890 an informer named Mike Burke testified that Pat Sweeney and others had tried to persuade him to "do away with Lord Mountmorres". Later they had told him that they had "done away with Lord Mountmorres." Mike was apparently not a reliable witness. He could not keep his facts straight.

William Spencer was the steward of Lord Ardilaun of Ashford Castle. In January 2017 Spencer decendent Mike Stone found another aricle about the Mountmorres murder in which reference was made to William Spencer:

"THE STATE OF IRELAND. THE MURDER OF LORD MOUNTMORRES. DISCHARGE OF THE PRISONERS. CONG, FRIDAY, TWO O'CLOCK. P.M. The prisoners, Patrick Sweeney, the late Lord Mountmorres's herd; Francis Gannon, the slater of Ballinrock, Patrick Hefferan, a plasterer, working at Clonbur; and William Spencer, under-steward to Lord Ardilaun, were brought before Mr. Dennehy, the resident magistrate, at Clonbur, this afternoon, charged with complicity in the murder of Lord Mountmorres."
A witness, a stock manager to Mr. Berridge, claimed that he accompanied several men including William Spencer from Clonbur when they approached the spot where Mountmorres was murdered. They passed two men who seemed excited.
"Soon after this Spencer got off the car, and saying that he had been threatened fired on a revolver twice, declaring that he should like to see the man who would shoot him. The shots could not have reached the place where Lord fell."

After this the prisoners were discharged.

Lord Mountmorris had stated before his death that some of his tenants were four years in arrears in their rent. He had offered the a 20% deduction but had been refused.

Lord Mountmorres, 5th viscount

Lord Mountmorres, was born in 1872 and succeed his father as Viscount in 1872. He married Harriet Brodick of Hamphill Stubbs, Yorkshire. He was succeeded by his son the Hon. William Geoffrey Bouchard de Montmorency who was born in 1872.

There were insinuation in the press that Mountmorres was a drinker and a bottle of whiskey was found in his carriage. He had fallen from his car more than once and his horse had more than once made its way back home without him. He only had a few tenants - 15 or so. His holding were only 350 acres. He was not popular with his tenants - there was a lot of animosity - about his unwillingness or inability to reduce the rents and his threats of evicting his tenants.


"The funeral of the late Lord Mountmorres took place in Dublin on Thursday. At five o'clock on Wednesday morning a hearse and mourning coach arrived to remove the corpse from Ebor Hall to Galway, en route to Dublin. Some distressing incidents occurred in connection with the removal of the remains. The two men who had driven the hearse and mourning coach and who were employed to take the remains and the mourners to Galway were asked by one of the deceased's relatives to assist in placing the corpse in the coffin, but they refused to do so. In this dilemma the driver of a car from Tuam expressed his willingness to assist, and with the police laid the body first in a zinc and then in an oaken coffin. For this act the man was publicly thanked by Major Brothrick. This did not end the difficulty with the Galway drivers. From information received, it was advised that the corpse should not be taken through the place where the fair was being held. It was therefore suggested that another route to Galway should be taken; but to this the drivers refused to consent, and it was only on threats of violence that they suggested a compromise which would enable them to avoid the fair. The body arrived in Dublin on Thursday morning. (The Pall Mall Budget)


William Sepncer - suspected in the Mountmorres murder

In March 2017 William Spencer descendant, Michael Stone, shared some information on William Spencer.

"He was born in England in 1838. He became employed by Lord Ardilaun as a steward, and eventually head steward of Ashford.

As a result of being employed by Lord Ardilaun, he moved to Ireland sometime before 1863. He married Elizabeth "Bessie" Grant (we believe she was also of England) in Sinrone, Kings, Ireland on Nov. 26th, 1863.

They had three children, Thomas (1865), Mary Anne (1867) and Elizabeth "Bessie" (1869). His wife died a day after her birth, and that is why she was named in honor of her mother. Unfortunately, Bessie died around age three.

William married Sarah Spunner (of Ireland) between 1869 and 1872 in Tipperary, Ireland. They had the following children: George Henry (1872), John Joseph (1873), William Robert (Joseph) (1875), Sarah Ellen (1877) - Astbury, Margaret Jane (1879), Maria Lilie (1881) - Smith, Susan (1883) - Pogue, Frederick Peter (1886) (my great-grandfather), Samuel Blackwell (1889) - he died in 1897

William Robert Spencer lived at Ashford until his death in 1920 and is buried on the castle grounds next to his first wife, Bessie. After his death, Sarah moved to England to live with family (not sure if it was Spencers or Spunners) and died and was buried there.

It seems, according to what I read in your page, and the article I found, that William was travelling along the road in a carriage when they happened to pass by the place where Mountmorres was murdered, and for some reason, exited the carriage and took a couple of shots at someone down the road. Apparently, he felt threatened in some way.

The event did not appear to negatively affect his employment, or his remaining at Ashford castle, as he continued to live there for many years. This account was news to myself, and my mother."

1901 Census: Clogher District: Cloonbur County: Galway William Spencer 60, steward, born Tipperary, Sarah Spencer 57, born Tipperary, Susan Spencer 17, seamstress, born Galway, Fredrick Spencer 14, born Galway, all able to read and write, all Church of Ireland.

1911: Deerpark, Cloonbur, County: Galway, William Spencer 71, steward land, Sarah Spencer 63, total number of children born 10, 8 living, both Church of Ireland, both born Tipperary

1920: William Spencer Estimated birth year: abt 1839 Date of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 1920 Death Age: 81 Registration district: Ballinrobe Volume: 4 Page: 37 FHL Film Number: 0101608

Grave Stone: In the church ruins outside the Ashford Castle Grounds: "In loving memory of William Spencer, died 21st, November 1920, aged 82 years". Next stone: "SACRED to the memory of Elizabeth Spencer who departed this life, February 1st, 1869, Aged 28 years, May she rest in peace"

In 1917, Fred P Spencer, the son of William Spencer and Sarah Spunner, born May Ireland December 26, 1886, was a mechanical engineer living in St. Louis Mo. with his wife and six children.

Pat Kearney - in regards to Lord Mountmorres

In March 2014 Barbara Anne Kearney wrote that her ancestor, Pat Kearney, was involved in the Land League in the 1880. Pat Kearney was "cited in various transcriptions of depositions and hearings of the Parnell Commission. Specifically, he - and his pub in Clonbur - were implicated by those testifying in the plotting of the murder of Lord Montmorres."

See The Parnell Commission: The Opening Speech for the Defence Delivered By Charles Russell Baron Russell of Killowen and more in this book. And Special commission act, 1888: reprint of the shrothand notes of ..., Volume 2

Image courtesy Barbara Anne Kearney, August 2014

Ebor Hall, April 2014

Image courtesy Barbara Anne Kearney, August 2014

Pat Kearney's pub in Clonbur, 2014

See Barbara Kearney's website at Patrick Kearney, Clonbur

The Whites of Mohill, Country Leitrim in regards to Lord Mountmorres

In October 2015 Cushla Randle shared a letter giving a taste of the concerns of the landed gentry in 1880. In a letter to her sister, Mary Charlotte White (the widow of Captain George White of Cloone Grange, Lertrim) wrote:

" You will have heard of the murder of Lord Mountmorres he is well known to Audley's people* and I have met several of his family - they are all poor but he was the worst off and could not latterly live like a gentleman - there will I fear be more murders before the winter is over. Altogether we are getting it hot and heavy - you will wonder at my thinking of moving in such times but the unusual chance of getting a suitable house in the Co. Leitrim - within four miles of Willie** - moderate rent 50 a year - with good garden and twelve acres of land. I shall let the land."

*Audley White was the wife of William Henry White. **William Henry (Willie) White (1855 - 1892) was the son of George and Mary Charlotte White.

Cushla Randle wrote:
Captain George White, died in 1874 aged 47 and his son died at 39 in 1892. They were both High Sherrif. They lived at Cloone Grange and are in Burkes landed gentry, but George is very invisible. He came to New Zealand in 1853 married Mary Catherine (sic) in 1854 had a son in 1855 and they returned to Ireland before 1861.
The White family had a house at Cloone Grange, near Mohill. They also owned townlands in both the parishes of Cloone and Mohill. William Henry White, Esq. High Sheriff was listed in Cloone Grange, Mohill in 1882 and 1883 (Thom's Directory of Ireland and Debrett's House of Commons 1882).

George White married 25 April, 1854, Mary Charlotte, dau. of Henry Hill, of Ruislip Park, Middx. and had an only son, WILLIAM HENRY WHITE, of Cloone Grange, co. Leitrim, J.P. P.I.: ; b. 31 Jan. 1855; d. 1887, having m. 1st--6 July, 1876, Audley Harriette, youngest daughter of John Reynolds Dickson of Woodville, So Leitrim . She died in 1887. They had George, Audley Mary, Alice, Helen. In 1888 William Henry White married Mariam Charlotte daughter of W. H. Hayes. William died in 1892. Mariam Charlotte married John Weston in 1892. (In 1892 Mariam Charlotte widow of the late Major W. H. White of Cloone Grange, Mohill, County Leitrim married John J. Weston of New South Wales.)

George White was high sheriff of Leitrim in 1861. William Henry White of Cloone Grange was high sheriff of Leitrim in 1879. In 1861 George White Esq., was listed at Drumkeeley, Mohill.

In 1908 John M'Kiernan, Drumshambo North, Aughavas, asked to be reinstated on farm land at Drumkillvy, Mohill, County Leitrim, "on the estate fo Mr. George White, from which his father was evicted some years, ago." (The Parliamentary Debates By Great Britain Parliament)

In 1910 evicted tenants from the estate of George White at Cloone Grange were asking to be reinstated to their farms.

Captain Boycott, Fall 1880, Ballinrobe the inception of "Boycotting" - landlord and land agent for Lord Erne

Charles Boycott, an Englishman by birth, rented a farm from Lord Erne three miles from Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Boycott also acted as estate agent for Lord Erne, who was an absentee landlord.

Tenants of Lord Erne asked for a reduction of their rents. Boycott not only refused but started evictions.

Land League leaders suggested that everyone in the locality should refuse to deal with him. Soon he was without workers on his farm, the local merchants refused to sell to him, crowds booed him as he passed. He was, in effect, unable to continue to live as he had before.

Coercion was a force in getting everyone to comply with the isolation of the Boycott family.

  1. Patrick Harte, age 55 [?] had two shots fired into his house on November 14, 1880. The motive was believed to be to encourage him to give up his emploment by Boycott.

  2. On December 24th 1880 shots were fired at Thomas Harigan, age 20, medical student, Robert Wilderspin, grooom age 25 and a unanmed third "young man" (Captain Boycott's nephew) while they were out checking rabbit traps at night. Harigan and Wilderspin were wounded slightly. All were staying at Loughmask house. Harigan was a guest of Captian Boycott's nephew.

  3. On March 13, 1881 a shot was fired through the door of the home of Patrick Farragher, labourer, age 60 at Caherobbent who's son, Michael, had been a laborer on the Boycott property.

  4. No one was arrested or prosecuted for these offences.

The military was brought in to assure Boycott's safety. Orangemen from the north volunteered to help bring in Boycott's crops. The troops and Orangemen were booed by the locals.

The situation escalated as the national and international press covered the incident. In the end Boycott left Ireland and returned to England.

"Boycotting" proved an effective means of change through social ostracism.

Lord Erne, John Crichton (1802-1885), was the third Earl of Erne and was an an Irish Representative Peer from 1845-1885. He inherited his title from his uncle, Abraham Creighton, in 1842. The family seat was in County Fremanagh, Ulster. Lord Erne held 31,389 acres of land in Fremanagh and 2,184 acres in Mayo. Captian Boycott was the agent for 1,550 acres near Lough Mask and Castlebar.

For more information on the Boycott story and for images from the International press covering the story go to Boycott now or at the bottom of the page.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Graphic, Nov. 20, 1880


This image was in the same issue of the Graphic which carried a number of images of the Boycott incident in Ballinrobe. See Boycott

An accompanying article notes that this image "does not represent Captain Boycott at Lough Mask, but is merely a general sketch of the conditions under which many Irish landlords and agents are now living". In other words military protection was offered to other landlords and land agents.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Graphic, Nov. 20, 1880

A detail of the above print. Compare the "Resident Landlord's" abode to the homes of his tenants.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Graphic, Nov. 20, 1880

An Irish Landlord's constitution.

Boycotting Continued January 1881

"Boycotting" continued throughout Ireland and the world to bring changes to socioeconomic situations.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Illustrated London News from January 1, 1881


Clearly boycotting in this instance meant more than not shopping in the store of this tradesman. The townsmen have come out to "groan" and make unpleasant noises and comments.

Unfortunately, the article that accompanied this picture was not included when I bought the image.

The Land League

The Irish Land League was a political organization who's aim was to free the poor tenant farmers from the burden of the rents imposed by landlords.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


The Land League wished to abolish landlordism and to enable each farmer to own his or her own land. The Irish National Land League was founded in Castlebar in October 1879. Prominent members were Charles Steward Parnell, Thomas Brennan, Michael Davitt, John Dillon, and Andrew Kettle.

The Land League organized tenant groups to withhold rent and resist evictions. The period from 1880 to 1892 was known as the Land War, a period of much agitation and violence.

In November 1880 Parnell and other members of the Land League were charged with seditious conspiracy. They were brought to trial in January 1881.

The Scots guards and other troops were sent to Dublin to prevent the outbreak of violence.

Unfortunately, the article that accompanied this picture was not included when I bought the image.

Print collection Maggie Land Blanck, The Graphic, January 8, 1881

The Wire Pullers and the Puppets

This image insinuates that the well fed and well dressed leaders of the Land League sat around a warm dry place making decisions that were executed by the destitute, thin, poorly attired peasant in the dark and cold rainy night.

Print collection Maggie Land Blanck, The Graphic, January 8, 1881

Down with Him & Administer a Boycott Pill Boys


Unpopular land agents, bailiffs and other who worked for the English landlords were frequently stoned or had garbage and mud thrown at them.

Another popular "punishment" was boycotting.

In this and in so many other images of the Irish they are depicted as coarse and brutish looking - frequently with simian features.

Print collection Maggie Land Blanck, The Illustrated London News, January 8, 1881


Michael Boyton was an Irish American member of the Land League. He was also one of the 14 people brought to trial in Dublin in 1881 for seditious conspiracy. The demonstration depicted in this engraving occurred "on the eve" of the trial in Dublin.

The building in the background is the market house in Kildare.

The '98 Pike refers to the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

The Duke of Leinster in 1881 was Charles William FitzGerald, the 4th Duke of Leinster. He held 67,00 acres on his estate in Kildare. There were about 400 tenants holding from 75 to one hundred and twenty acres. Holders of leases on the Leinster estates were not compensated for any improvements they made on the property unless the had the written approval of the Duke.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012, publication unknown


Members of the Land League who were incarcerated in Kilmainham goal in County Meath were serenaded by sympathizers on St. Patrick's day night 1881.

Print collection Maggie Land Blanck, The Illustrated London News, January 22, 1881


Land League agitators appeared at night with blackened faces to threaten those who "resist the illegal mandates of the association."

"Rory of the Hills" was a signature adopted by agitators threading landlords and tenants who would not go along with the land reform movement.

Charles Joseph Kickham a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood wrote the Irish rebel poem "Rory of the Hill". Information on Kickham and the words to the poem are easily available on the Internet. James Joyce made allusions to this poem in Ulysses. It has also been set to music.

James Conner Roach wrote and performed in a melodrama called "Rory of the Hill" which was performed in New York City in 1895.

Rory of the Hills: A Tale of Irish Life a book by Robert Curtis.

Rory of the Hills, Mayo, 1879, New York Times

October 18, 1879

In "a wild district of the West" on a "lonely mountainside near Westport in the county of Mayo" shots were fired at "an aged gentleman named John Sydney Smyth", a land agent for the Marquis of Sligo and an English landlord, Mr. Clive. George John Browne (31 January 1820 - 30 August 1896) was the 3rd Marquess of Sligo. He was married three times but died without male issue.The Marquis of Sligo had a residence Westport House in Westport co. Mayo and controlled 114,881 acres of land.

A tenant on the Clive estate had recently been evicted for non payment of rent. Another tenant had appeared to take over the land only to be threatened with the "usual" warnings in the form of sketches of skulls, cross bones, and coffins. Mr. Smyth received the following letter:

"I am in this country observing the conduct and tyranny of agents and landlords. Perhaps you are not aware that there is a very large sum of money to be paid for killing you. Take heed to youself on the road between Ballycroy and Newport, for you will be killed."


Mr. Smyth dutifully notified the police. Subsequently he and his son, Sydney E Smyth, went to the Cline estate at Ballycroy to collect the rents. The Smyths were greeted by the tenants who stated they had not a penny among them and were unable to pay the rents because they had not yet sold their animals nor taken in their crops. The Smyths said they were willing to wait and parted amiably. As they traveled along the mountain road in their jaunting car the Smyths were fired upon by four armed men with blackened faces. No one in the jaunting car was hit. Young Smyth shot and killed one of the attackers. The other three fled. The dead man was identified at Charles Howard, who had served with the North Mayo Militia. He was said to hold no land, have no occupation, and to have been of "bad character". Sydney E. Smyth was tried and acquitted of murder in self defense.

Around the same time "Rory of the Hills" send a letter to the Marquis of Sligo warning him to take "this warning, for a second one you won't get till you fall a victim like Lord Leitrim or Tandy. No matter where you go, you won't escape. Powder is plenty, and lead is cheap." In response the Marquis called off plans to "proceed with certain extensive drainage works which were about to be carried out on the estate of the Marquis, as a means of giving employment to laborers."


Oh! knowledge is a wondrous power,
And stronger than the wind;
And thrones shall fall, and despots bow
Before the might of mind;
The poet, and the orator,
The heart of man can sway,
And would to the kind heavens
That Wolfe Tone were here to-day!
Yet trust me, friends, dear Ireland's strength
Her truest strength, is still,
The rough and ready roving boys,
Like Rory of the Hill.

(Last verse of Rory of the Hill a Fenian ballad by Charles Kickham from The universal Irish song book: a complete collection of the songs and ... By Patrick John Kenedy)

See Scenes from the west of Ireland

St Valentines' Day in Ireland, February 1881

Threats and warnings were made by Land Leaguers to the landlords and land agents.

Typically, many images in the AngloIrish and English papers depicted the Irish as miscreant, raggedy, drinkers. While the AngloIrish were portrayed as sophisticated, nicely dressed, proper, gentlepeople.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

THE MAKER (glefully)_ A-h Jeames-'tis illigant." THE RECEIVER- "Is this for you, Father? Is it fun?

The card which depicts a coffin and cross bones.

Searching For Arms

The 1881 Arms Act proved

"an effective check on the possession and sale of arms because each applicant for a license had to be certified as loyal by the local police inspector"

Dear, dirty Dublin: a city in distress, 1899-1916 By Joseph V. O'Brien

Print collection Maggie Land Blanck, The Illustrated London News, April 9, 1881


Accompaning article missing.

Print collection Maggie Land Blanck

SURRENDERING ARMS IN A PROCLAIMED DISTRICT, The Illustrated London times, July 30, 1881

The above image is a sketch from County Galway where as a result of Peace Preservation Act of 1881.

"It is the room of the local police barracks, where a sergeant and one constable are seated to receive the fire-arms, guns and pistols of various description, which all unlicensed persons, in the district are strictly required to bring in, and to deliver into the charge of the guardians of the public peace. A label is written and attached to each weapon so received, stating the name and address of its owner, and the price he would pretend to claim for it; but. Whether from sheer ignorance, or from impudent cunning, or with a derisive purpose, some of these people do not scruple to mention preposterous sums of money as the value they set upon worthless articles, which could be dangerous only to the shooter- old flint-locks, rusty barrels tied on with wire or sting, and some pieces lacking the hammer or trigger, priced at many shillings, when they are not worth as many pence for mere old iron. There are, however, a number of the old Enfield muzzle-loading rifles formerly used in the Army. The inspector will afterwards come to the barrack and make a correct valuation."

More on the Irish Land League

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illustrated London Times, May 7, 1881 (The artist was Aloysius O'Kelly born Dublin, Ireland, 1851 died 1936)

"The State of Ireland: Tilling the farm of an imprisoned Land Leaguer"

In 1881 there were 40 or 50 Land League prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol "having been arrested by the Irish Government under the Peace Preservation Act".

....." most of the prisoners are rather obscure persons, and there are a few of the peasant or small farmer class. In the case of some of these, who have left their farms in Mayo or Connemara, a demonstration of sympathy has been got up by assembling numbers of people, men and women, as shown in our Artist's Sketch, to dig and plant in their fields."
The ariticle also mentions some "Land" incidents in the west.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck.


The Illustrated London News, July 30, 1881

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012


The Graphic, November 12, 1881

The first represents the Dublin branch of the Ladies Land League at work overhauling clothing, &c., intended for the use of the evicted, and the families of the imprisoned suspects. At a recent meeting these patriotic ladies unanimously pledged themselves never to marry an Englishman, and never to give a policeman a drink. The other sketch shows the removal by order of the Government of the name-plate from the door of of the Land League Office in Sackville Street, Dublin.

Attacks on Process Servers

Process servers represented the landlord. They collected the rent and evicted tenants for being in arrears on the rents and other infractions. Several process servers became the objects of tenant resentment and were stoned or shot. These included: David Feerick in Ballinrobe in 1880 and Joe and John Huddy Clonbur, Galway in 1882. See below.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012

The Illustrated London News, July 30, 1881, (The artist was Aloysius O'Kelly born Dublin, Ireland, 1851 died 1936)


According to the accompanying article: William Daly, a process server, suffered from a "broken head", a bailiff named Conners in the employ of Lord Dinsdale was shot and killed.

Shooting of John Hearn, Ballinrobe, Land Agent for the Mountmorency Estate in Cloongowla March 1881

John Hearne was a land agent for the Mountmorency Estate in Cloongowla. He was shot on February 28, 1881.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck



On Febraury 28, 1881 around 2 in the afternoon only 200 yards from his house there was an "attempt by shooting" on the life of John Hearne, age 65 of Killoshine cottage, as he returned from the Ballinrobe Petty Sessions to his home. He was about three quarters of a mile from the courthouse and had stopped to watch some work going on in his fields when he was atacked by two men who shot him six times. Hearne age 65, was a Land Agent for the Mountmorency Estate in Cloongowla and a Petty Sessions clerk. He was hit several times but walked home and survived the attack. Three men, Patrick Hession of Cloongowla and two of his nephews, Richard and John Nally of Ballykinave, Claremorris were charged with the attack but for some reason were not sent to trial. No one was tried for this event. A possible motive for the attack was the eviction of three tenants in May 1880 on the de Montmorency estate for non payment of rents.

Hearn had reportedly received some threatening mail warning him not to evict anymore tenants from Cloongowla signed "A Boycotter".

John Hearne, esq. (1815-1899)

The Hearne family of Killoshine were Methodists. They rented a house, Killoshine Cottage, and 30 or 40 acres from Colonel Knox.

In 1881 John Hearn, Market Street, was a Petty Sessions clerk for Ballinrobe and an agent for the estates of: Captain Harvey J. de Montmorency in Cloongowla, Ballinrobe, the Kenny estates in Ballinrobe and the Livesy estate in Kilbride. He was listed in the 1881 Directory for Ballinrobe as clerk of the petty sessions. He must have known my ancestor John Walsh who was a steward on the Kenny Estate John Walsh (1827-1894 - Ballinrobe

A list of Irish Census substitutes from the web site "Tracing your Mayo Ancestors:

1852- 1854 Tenants of Ballinrobe - Index to the tenants of Mr. John Hearne, Agent for the estate of F.J. DeMontmorency. Alphabetically arranged listing 240 tenants name, townland, rent and year. SMFHRC Jnl. 1989 p. 22-26.

John Hearne born 1815 and died 1899 at Ballinrobe married Frances Anderson, on August 18, 1853. They had a son, Robert Ernest Hearne (1863-). Robert Ernest Hearne died in Ballinrobe Dec 1942. The subject of the Hearne attack was revisited at a hearing on the Land League in October 1888. At that time it was stated that there had been some eviction in the area on October 18, 1880. Several men were evicted and then reinstated as caretakers. Also on October 18th one of Heanre's sons "was pointed at by J. W. Nally... and mobbed when he returned home." It was not clear if Hearne actually had anything to do with the evictions or merely that he was "connected with the law". A month later Hearne received some threatening letters regarding evictions at Cloongowla where he was the agent. He lost some of his hearing as a result of the shooting and suffered greatly from his wounds. He gave up his "agencies" and his clerkship at the Petty Sessions.

In 1894 probate was filed for Frances Hearne effects £202 19 s and 11 d, late of Killoshine Cottage, Ballinrobe Mayo who died June 1, 1894 granted a Ballina to John Hearne of Killoshine cottage, farmer the husband.

John Hearne, farmer, late of Killoshine Cottage, Ballinrobe, died 20 February 1899 and left an estate of £796 10s 9d to his son, Robert Ernest Hearne of Killoshine cottage, Ballinrobe Clerk of Petty Sessions.

John's son, Robert Ernest Hearne (1863-1942, was listed in Ballinrobe in the 1901 and 1911 censuses:

  • 1901 census: Killosheheen, Ballinrobe, Kilmaine, Mayo, Household, Hearne, Robert Ernest (38) farmer/not married, clerk of petty sessions, land agent, commission for Oaths [?] farmer, Methodist, Mary Frances Moran (51) servant/not married, Roman Catholic, Mary Burke(22) servant/not married, Roman Catholic

  • 1911: Robert Ernest Hearne age 48, Killosheheen, married 3 years, clerk of petty sessions, Church of Ireland, wife Marian E age 30, church of Ireland, servant Kate Clarke age 22, Roman Catholic

The Petty Sessions were the lowest courts in Ireland and handled lesser cases both criminal and legal. It was the job of the Clerk of the Petty Sessions to record the details of each case heard.

Killosheheen [Killoshine] Cottage

Killosheheen cottage was built by John H. Hearne (1814-1899) Clerk of the Petty Sessions at Ballinrobe.


Patrick Hession of Cloongowla - implicated in the Hearne shooting

Patrick Hession had been evicted by Hearne for non payment of rent. He was later reinstated as caretaker on the property. He was accused (with his two nephews, Richard and John Nally) of shooting Hearne.

List of those in prison under the Protection of Person and Property Act 1881, published as a supplement to United Ireland, 10th Sept 1881: KILMAINHAM PRISON DUBLIN - Patrick Hession, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Farmer - Richard Nally, Claremorris, Mayo. Labourer - John Nally. Claremorris, Mayo. Labourer.

In a speech given by Parnell in August 1881 he stated: "of the 22 who had been arrested in Mayo, and who were still retained in prison, all belonged to most respectable trades and occupations, with the exception of one who was returned as having no occupation. Seven were farmers, five labourers, one a land steward, one a newspaper correspondent, one a baker, three shopkeepers, two shoemakers, and one tailor." And further: "On those 22 men 100 women and children were dependent for their support. One man had a family of nine, another of 10, another of six, and so on; and all these families were left without support."

Parnell averred that were being held to prevent any danger to "witnesses and persons on whose information the arrests took place." He called the grounds of the arrest of Patrick Hession "vague and untenable" and declared local public opinion was that Patrick Hession was imprisoned for his "connection and sympathy with the Land League."

Richard Nally and John Nally of Ballykinava (Claremorris) - implicated in the Hearne shooting

Richard Nally and John Nally, young men, sons of a herd, and relatives of the wife of a Patrick "Hessian" (who had recently been evicted by Mr. Hearne) were arrested in connection with the incident and were held in the Claremorris barracks. They claimed to have been sowing potatoes on their father's farm at Ballykinave the time of the shooting. Ballykinave is near Ballindine. It is about a four hour walk from Ballindine to Ballinrobe. Hearne said it was possible they were the men who shot him. He said the men were wearing blue jackets with fur caps pulled over their heads. A young woman swore she had seen John Nally loitering near the wall in the area where Hearne had been shot. The Nally borothers were committed for trial.

March 7, 1881: BALLINROBE, Sunday, At one o'clock this morning, John and Richard Nally, charged with attempting to assassinate Mr. John Hearne, were brought into Ballinrobe from Castlebar, under the escort of constabulary.

In Parnell's speech in August 1881 he mentioned the case of John and Richard Nally:

"They were charged with shooting at and wounding a Mr. Heard; and though the magistrates before whom they were brought refused to return them for trial, because of the absence even of a prima facie case, the Chief Secretary in London considered that he had evidence enough to justify him as a juror in practically finding them guilty of an offence of which they were previously practically acquitted. "

Kilminham, 1882:

1st February 1882.
LIST of all Persons Detained in Prison under the Statute 44 Vict. c. 4, entitled "An Act for the Better Protection of Person and Property in Ireland".

Ground stated for his Arrest in the Warrant under which he is Detained.

Reasonably suspected of having, since the 30th September 1880, been guilty, as principal, of a crime punishable by law, that is to say: - Intimidating divers persons, with a view to compel them not to pay rent, committed in a prescribed district, and being an act of intimidation, and tending to interfere with the maintenance of law and order: Richard Nally, John Nally and others

April 1, 1882

Mr. John Lavelle, of Westport, visited Mr. John W. Nally in Kilmainham on Monday, February 6, and found him suffering from palpitation of the heart and a severe cough. He has now been eleven months in confinement. (Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW)

Note: There were two John Nallys in Kilmanham jail in 1882 (John Nally of Ballykinava and John W. Nally of Balla arrested in March 1881 on charges of inciting to murder.).

Captain Harvey J. De Montmorency - Landlord Cloongowla

Captain Harvey J.de Montmorency is recorded in Griffith's Valuation as holding the townlands of Cloongowla, parish of Ballinrobe, barony of Kilmaine.

Mr. De Montmorency resided for much of the year in England. He was not related to Lord Mountmorres murdered in 1880.


David Feerick (1851-1880) process server - murdered in Ballinrobe in 1880 - Browne Estate

David Feerick, born circa 1851 the son of Michael Ferrick, was a process server for George E Browne, esq. of Brownstown. Michael Feerick was born circa 1812 and lived at both Cooleylanghan and Brownstown in Ballinrobe Parish.

On April 5th, 1880 David Ferrick age 28, agent and farmer, and his father, Michael Feerick, were walking from Castlebar to Ballinrobe at about eight o'clock in the evening when two shots were fired at David Feerick. No one was hit and no one was convicted in this incident.

25 5 April David Feerick Firing at the person. Two revolver shots firod at Mr. Feerick when returning home from Castlebar about 8 o’clock on 5th April. He was not injured. Mr. Feerick as an agent was very much disliked. AGRARIAN CRIME (IRELAND)

Several months later on Tuesday June 29, 1880 in Ballinrobe process server, David Feerick, age 29, an agent for George E Browne, esq. of the Brownstown estate was shot ten times at Carnalecka while he was walking home. He was badly injured but survived for several weeks. He said he had passed three men he did not know. They shot him from behind and then came around and shot him in the face and upper body. Each man had a revolver. Semi-conscious and bleeding on the ground his attackers robbed him of £3 15s, left him for dead, and fled. As he lay wounded on the road two men were reported to have passed and refused his pleas for help. After a while Mr. Glover (or Fowler), the county surveyor, happened by. At Ferrick's request Grover (Fowler) went to town for the parish priest. Eventually Ferrick was placed in a car [cart] and taken to Dr. Kelly at the workhouse hospital in Ballinrobe. A large crowd was said to have followed him into the town. He had been shot in the spine, was paralyses in the lower limbs and was not ecpected to live. His deposition was taken by Mr. Kenny, J. P..

He died six weeks later on August 14th at the Ballinrobe workhouse and the incidence was covered by the papers for some period of time. It was reported in the Freeman's Journal Dublin on July 1.

14 Aug.- David Feerick - Murder - Mr. Feerick was fired at by three men armed with revolvers, when returning from Baillnrobe, on the 29th June last, and wounded in 10 places; he was removed to Ballinrobe Workhouse Hospital, where he lingered until the 14tli August, when he died of his wounds. Mr. Feerick incurred the hostility of the tenancy by the fearless discharge of his duty as agent over the property of George E. Browne, esq. 1. James Hynes 2. John Varley. 3. Peter Hynes. 4. Pat Macken. 5. Pat Henaghan 6. Martin Conry. 7. Thos. Quinn. 8. Michael Hastings. 9. John Conway. No. 1 Tried at Winter Assizes, Galway, December 1880, and acquitted. Remainder discharged at Petty Sessions. AGRARIAN CRIME (IRELAND)
In August threats were made against Dr. James D. Kelly:
Letter warned Dr. Kelly that if, through his medical aid, Mr. Feerick should recover, he would be treated similarly to Mr. Feerick. Dr. Kelly was at the time in attendance on Mr. Feerick. (See No. 94.)
On August 19th Patrick Walsh, a laborer, was a witness to the inquest into the incident. Walsh said he saw David Feerick laying in the middle of road "down about Kenny's farm. Caulfield's house was near it, and Mrs. Walsh's land is on the same side." Patrick Walsh ran back to town to summon the priest. The town sub constable, Patrick Kelly, testified that he saw Feerick laying on his back, wounded, and bleeding from the eye "on the road at Carnalecka."

On July 10 the results of the magisterial enquiry were reported. The police had arrested several suspects none of whom were from Ballinrobe. They were all from outlying towns like Westport and Claremorris. Most of the suspects were dismissed because Feerick could not identify them. However, James Hynes was identified by Feerick as the man who had shot him when he was already down. James Hynes was arrested and held in Castlebar Jail on a charge of murder. There was conflicting testimony concerning Hynes whereabouts at the time of the shooting and he was not convicted. While the jury returned a verdick of "Wilful Murder" in the death of David Feerick:

"Having heard it stated in court that a person named James Hynes had been charged with this crime, we take this opportunity of stating, from the evidence adduced during the course of this investigation, that we believe he is in no way connected with this outrage."

The Freeman's Journal, Dublin of July 3, 1880 said Feerick had been a land agent for Mr. Browne, "late member of Parliament" and that he resided with his parents and two sisters on an "extensive farm in Brownstown, some three or four miles distant from Ballinrobe". Before he became an agent he was said to have been popular and to have even attended "some of the land meetings held in the district." After he became a land agent stories were "freely told of his harshness and cruelty". It was said that he developed a "penchant" for evictions and carried them out with a "high hand".

The shooting occurred near a high stone wall that ran for a considerable distance along the property of Mr. Kenny, J. P.. Points were again made: that the road was generally highly traveled, it was still daylight, it was a holiday with extra people on the road, it was across from the graveyard where a funeral was in process, it was near and inhabited thatched cottage. How could the deed have gone unobserved? In addition two men passed by and refused Ferrick's plea to call a doctor and the priest. The people were reticent and little or no sympathy was "evinced for the unfortunate land agent."

The Freeman's Journal, July 8, 1880:

"SPECIAL TELEGRAM FROM OUR REPORTER. Claremorris, Wednesday Night. Mr. David Feerick, Mr. George Browne's agent, who was shot on June the 29th about three miles outside of Ballinrobe, is still lingering on a bed of agony, suffering at intervals from fever and delirium, which can only terminate one way. His death is a matter now not of days, but of hours. Dr. Robert M'Donnell, of Dublin, saw him at the beginning of the week, and could hold out no hope. He is under the skillful care of Dr. Kelly. Yesterday his condition was considerably altered for the worse. He is described by those who knew him as being a fine young man, 28 years of age, a trifle over six feet high, and of a very robust constitution, of which the fact that he has survived a week the terrible fusillade poured upon him is sufficient proof. He bears on him, I am informed, the wounds of eight revolver bullets. One of the shots injured the upper part of his spinal column."
On August 21, 1880, it was reported that David Feerick had died on the 14th.

The murder and it aftermath were covered by the press in Ireland, England, the United States and New Zealand.

"Three constables from Balla, Ireland, have gone to America in quest of Hynes and Vahey who are suspected of having murdered David Feerick in June 1880. The crime created a sensation at the time, as it was believed to be a political murder. The arrest of 26 persons last week at Ballinrobe on the charge of being accomplices revived recollection of the crime. Feerick was for about 12 months agent over property in the County Mayo belonging to George Brown, late member of Parliament for that county. Prior to his occupying that position he had been conspicuous as a land agitator. As Mr. Brown's agent he made himself very unpopular with the peasantry by alleged acts of harshness, and he frequently received anonymous threats of violence. He was a powerful and courageous young man, of large stature, and he laughed at the treats, refusing even to be attended in his walks by a special police guard. One afternoon, about 3 o'clock, in the latter part of June, 1880, he was walking along the highway alone, when he came upon three men in a dark and lonely spot. He was permitted to past the strangers, but immediately afterwards was riddled with bullets from three revolvers. He fell to the ground, and while in a semi-conscious condition was robbed by the murders, who fled. After lying on the road for some time the dying man was picked up by the County Surveyor and taken to a hospital. He retained consciousness barely long enough to tell the story of his assassination.

New York Times April 3, 1883

In September 1882 Michael Feerick, the father of David Feerick, was in court seeking compensation for the loss of his son. He made a claim in the amount of £3,000 to the court for compensation for the death of his son under the Crimes Act to be paid by the rate payers of the district. Michael Feerick said that David had earned £150 to £200 a year from a guano business in Ballinrobe. Other testimony included the facts that there had been previous threats made and that David had been fired upon before the incident in 1880. Michael also said that David had had permission to carry a gun, but did not have it with him the day he was shot as he was on mass and did not want to bring arms into the church.

Michael Feerick was awarded £450, 10 September 1883.

The story was still in the papers in October and December 1888 with relationship to Land League activities.

In October it was stated that Feerick had been shot in broad daylight around 3 o'clock in the afternoon on a busy road near the town. He was shot in the back, arms, right thigh, right hip and left eye and left for dead.

In December Constable James Hughes of the Royal Irish Constabulary testified that he was stationed in Ballinrobe in 1879 and knew David Feerick "an agent for some property belonging to Mr. George A. Brown". Constable Hughes stated that he was present in October or November of 1879 when Mary Greaghty, a tenant of Mr. George, was evicted. Also present was David Feerick, three men (who were latter known members of the Land League) and a crowd of about 20 or thirty people. "The demeanor and attitude of the people towards Mr. Feerick at the eviction were very threatening and Mr. Feerick had to be taken home under protection." There was no Land League in Ballinrobe at the time of the eviction of Mary Greaghty but by the time of Ferrick's murder there was. The first Land League meeting was reportedly held in Ballinrobe in October 1879. However, by late summer of 1879 Mayo was in a state of agitation due to evictions and other land issues. It was insinuated that Ferrick was a rather violent man and that he had threatened people at "markets and fairs". It was also insinuated that Ferrick had Mary Greaghty, a widow with small children, evicted because he held property next to hers. There was apparently a lot of bitter feelings regarding the eviction of Mary Greaghty. Hughes also testified that Ferrick had been shot at in March 1880 on his way back from Castlebar. Feerick also had evicted another tenant named Garvey whose three acres of land abutted Ferrick's own. Ferrick walled the property in.

Sergeant John Donovan, RIC, also testified that he had been present at the eviction of James Durkin, a tenant of "Mr. Brown". The agent was David Feerick. James Durkin was put back on the property as caretaker. Donovan also testified that very few people of the district attended David Feerick's funeral and that three men were accused of the murder but all were acquitted because no witnesses would appear against them. The New York Times reported on the attack on several occasions. The articles insinuated that Ferrick was a rather cocky fellow. Apparently he had been an active land agitator until about a year before the shooting at which time he became land agent for Mr. George "Brown". As a land agent and bailiff he became quite unpopular due to his acts of harshness towards the tenants. He became the object of many anonymous threats which he laughed off. It was said that Feerick was a "strapping" 26 year old of great physical strength who lived on a large farm near Ballinrobe. He generally had a police escort but like to brag that he would not show any fear to those who were waiting for the opportunity to do him harm. He also frequently carried a gun but did not have it on him the day he was fatally shot.

The following list of people were rounded up in relationship to the shooting. James Hynes was tried and acquitted the rest were released without trial.

1880: 14 Aug. 20 Feb. 1881, Murder, Manslaughter, Agrarian, David Feerick
  1. James Hynes
  2. John Varley
  3. Peter Hynes
  4. Patrick Macken
  5. Patrick Henaghan
  6. Martin Conry
  7. Thomas Quinn
  8. Michael Hastings
  9. John Conway

No. 1 tried at Winter Assizes 1880 and acquitted; Nos. 5 and 6, discharged at preliminary inquiry; remainder remanded, and discharged by magistrates at Petty Sessions.

(AGRARIAN AND OTHER CRIMES (IRELAND). RETURN to an Order of the Honourable, The House of Commons, dated January 1881)

With regard to the men arrested for the Feerick shooting the The Freeman's Journal, July 8, 1880 reported:
"SPECIAL TELEGRAM FROM OUR REPORTER. Clarcmorris, Wednesday Night. The seven prisoners detained in custody by the police were brought before Mr. Feerick, but he could not identify them. These prisoners are - Patrick Macken, a farmer's son living near Brownstown, and a cousin of Mr. Feerick: Thomas J Quinn, Claremorris, a young man, the son of a farmer; John Varley, James Hynes, south of Ballyglass; Peter Hynes, his brother, also of Ballyglass; John Conway, a farmer's son, near Brownstown; and Michael Hasting, from near Westport. This morning all the prisoners were brought up before the Ballinrobe magistrates and charged with being connected with the attack on Mr. Feerick. Macken being especially charged with being an accessory before the fact on the strength and belief of some threatening language alleged to have been used by him towards Mr. Feerick. Hastings and Conway were arrested, it will be remembered on board the Scythia at Queenstown, they having taken passage for New York. Mr. J J Louden (instructed by Mr. Patrick J B Daly) appeared for Macken, Quinn, Varley, and Peter Hynes. Mr. T J Blake, also instructed by Mr. Daly, appeared for James Hynes."
Of the seven men in custody it was decided that there was no reason to keep five of them in prison and they were released. They were Thomas Qninn, John Conway, Michael Hastings, John Varrelly aud Peter Hynes.
"When the order for discharge was given it appeared that the persons were all handcuffed, the Chairman said the handcuffs ought to be taken off when the men were, in the dock. After some delay, the policeman who had the keys of the handcuffs was discovered somewhere in the town, the prisoners were unhandcuffed and the five men ordered to be discharged were released."
Mr. Louden applied for reimbursement expenses on the behalf of Hastings and Conway to pay their way back to Queenstown where they had been arrested. Further that they "should receive fair compensation for the loss of time which they had sustained in being arrested in transite." The lawyer for the Crown said:
said these men were arrested as coming very near the description of the people who committed the offence. They gave wrong names, they were travelling under assumed names and therefore were not entirely guiltless, and if their doing that led to the belief that they had committed some offence, and if their description waa a sufficient reason why they were arrested, he did not think the Crown was bound to give them any compensation. They themselves travelling under a false name contributed to what occurred."
While aboard the ship in Queenstown Hastings was asked if he had takes sheep from his mother and sold them - and why he was so anxious to take John Conway with him to America. He answered: "if his mother did not wish to prosecute him, it was their own affair and that John Conway was a friend of his and wanted to go with him that, his mother was willing to let him at all that was fair enough."

The shipping agents for the Scythia granted them passage on a following vessel.

James Hynes and Patrick Macken where held for an additional eight days.

David's father Michael Feerick, farmer, age 70, was also the object of intimidation: in November 1882 when one of his sheep was killed by breaking its neck and again in April 1883 a similar event occured.

The Ferrick incident was mentioned in the Irish State Trials against agitators connected with the Land League in 1881. "Traversers"* named were: Michael P. Boyton, Organiser, Central Executive, T. Brennen, Secretary of Irish National L.L., J.W. Nally, Balla, Co. Mayo., Thomas J. Quinn, Claremorris, Hon. Sec.. They were all in Kilmainham Prison in Dublin in September 1881. Two others, Gordon and O'Sullivan, were mentioned as "traversers" but were not among those listed in Kilmainham Prison. Patrick Gordon, Claremorris, Mayo was in Galway jail. J. W. Nally was quoted as saying that "Feerick's murder was worth a hundred speeches."

Nally, Brennen, Boyton, Brennen, and Quinn were list in prison under the Protection of Person and Property Act 1881.

In March 1883 the New York Times reported that 26 persons were arrested in connection with the Feerick murder and that three constables from Balla, Ireland were sent to America in search of Vahey and Hynes who were "suspected of having murdered David Feerick in June 1800". On March 29, the St. Paul Daily Globe reported that twenty one of the twenty six arrested for complicity in the murder of Ferrick were released.

*Traversers from the leagal term "traverse" or deny the charge. Traversers would mean those pleading innocent.

See Feerick in Ballinrobe

The crime occurred very close to the home of my ancestors. In 1880 the family of John Walsh lived in Carronalecka, near the "Kenny" estate and the house of the Caulfield family. My great grandfather, Joseph Walsh, would have been seven years old at the time of the Feerick shooting.

See John Walsh

James Hynes - implicated in the Feerick murder - from Ballyglass

James Hynes from Ballyglass was identified by Feerick as the man who had shot him. His brother Peter also of Ballyglass was arrested with him.

James Hynes was confined in Castlebar and held for trial in June and tried in the 1880 winter Assises. Others arrested with him were released in July.

Ultimately James Hynes was cleared of the murder of David Feerick.

Ballyglass is a village about 10 miles from Castlebar and about as far from Ballinrobe.

Patrick Macken - implicated in the Feerick murder - from Brownstown and a cousin of David Feerick

Patrick Macken living near Brownstown - cousin of David Ferrick - farmer's son - suspected of murder of David Feerick.

He was released at the Petty Sessions in July.

George E Browne - Landlord Brownstown

George E Browne, esq. of Kensington, London and Brownstown, County Mayo, was for many years a member of Parliament from Mayo. The Browne owned 2,809 acres in county Mayo. The Browne estate, Brownestown, near Hollymount, was on the shores of Lough Carra.


Joe Huddy and his Grandson (or nephew) John Huddy murdered Galway 1882 - agents for Lord Ardilaun

Joseph Huddy, age 70, bailiff and process server for Lord Ardilaun, and John Huddy bailiff, assistant, age 19, were assassinated by pistel shots on 3 January 1882 at Cloughbrack, Clonbur, Co. Galway.

Joe Huddy was employed on the estate of Lord Ardilaun who was a member of the Guinness family and the owner of Ashford Castle.

In January 1882 bailiff Huddy and his grandson (or nephew) went to the village of Cloughbrack on a hill overlooking Lough Mask about four miles from Clonbur to serve writs on several homes. When they did not return it was thought that they had been murdered and their bodies hidden. After an extensive 23 day search their bodies were found in sacks weighted with stones in the middle of Lough Mask. It was reported that the murders had taken place in the daytime and were witnessed by a crowd of villagers.

Sixteen people were arrested on suspicion, including Mathias Kerrigan, who later became the key witnesses for the state. Kerrigan spent 9 months in jail and was "liberated" after he named Patrick Higgins, Thomas Higgins and Michael Flynn, fellow villagers.

Kerrigan who spoke only "Erse" needed a translater at the trial. He testified that the Joe and John Huddy were driven up against a wall where they were first stoned and then shot. Their bodies were carried in cleaves (baskets for carrying sod) to Lough Mask. Kerrigan reportedly revealed the name of three of the murderers: Patrick and Thomas Higgins and Michael Flynn. They were convicted and executed based on the testimony of the Kerrigan family.

Matthias Kerrigan, age about 35, was married with two sons Mathias age 16 and Martin age 12. He also had two daughters, age 18, and 10. His wife was Bridget. He had been a tenant of Lord Ardilaun for about 26 years. It was stated that he had blood on his cloths and that he was to have been served an eviction notice which was found torn on the ground near his cabin. Mrs. Kerrigan, "a short squab-figured, dumbly little woman she was, with the face of Punch's typical Hibernian"* and the two sons also testified at the trial. Mrs. Kerrigan wore a bright tartan shawl over her head "in the manner of Irish peasant women"*. She testified in Erse. ( *Diary of the Parnell Commission By John Macdonald, 1890)

Judy (or Julia) Halloran, a married sister of the prisoner, stated that her brother was home all day. It was said on several occasions that Mathias Kerrigan had the strongest motive for the murders as he was three years behind in his rent.

The testimony as covered in the newspapers is rather confusing. However, other villagers named included: Kate Higgins, the daughter of Patrick Higgins, a girl with the surname Connor, two persons called Holloran, Pat Manion (an old man deposed in Irish), James Corbett, another Pat Higgins (Sarah), James Corbett, Mary Walsh who lived off the main road and was served a process by Huddy and his grandson, she was the wife of "Walsh" of Cloughbrand a tenant of Lord Ardilaun's, in the same direction by a country road was a man named Pat Moran, across the fields to another road (which was on the map) to a place called America, were the houses of people named Coyne and Kenny, along the main road passed the house of Flynn, in the direction of the house was one John Mackens, "two others persons named Halloran, father and son", a lad named Manion, along the boreen was a man named Kyne, and Tom Higgins.

In addition "Six witnesses" were named on 8 December 1881 by the Times of London "the four Kerrigans and the two Hallorans" - (Matthew Kerrigan about 35 years old, his wife, and two sons one son Martin Kerrigan was a boy of 12).

It was insinuated that the Kerrigans gave their testimony to save the skin of the father, Matthew.

Other witnesses listed in the same article were: Mary Walsh and Catherine Moran wife of Patrick Moran.

The two Hallorans were called the "truth telling witnesses" by the morning News Belfast, Dec 9, 1882. On Dec 16, 1882 in the same paper it was stated "remember that the evidence of the Hallorans proved nothing." They heard shots but their backs were turned and they could not say who fired the shots.

Another witness was Mary Conroy age about 17, and English speaker she said that Patrick Higgins had been thrashing oats in the barn when the shots rang out. She swore he had been in the barn and did not touch the boides.

Cloughbrack townland was "rather densely inhabited for a county district. There was no town or village there, but the farms were small and the houses were close together."

The situation was described by Katharine Tynan thus:

"I was living in Cong then, and I knew Joe Huddy well. He wasn't a Western man. Many a time I saw him going down the street with drink on him and he shouting, 'Up Kerry!' He was a Kerry man. He was an old man when I knew him first, twenty years before the murder. I believe he was always old. He didn't dress like the people of these parts. His hair was fair and straight, falling down on his neck. He wore a Caroline hat, a brown frieze coat, and corduroy knickers with boxcloth leggings that ended in spats over his shoelaces. A queer thing about him was that he used to kneel outside the chapel at Mass. Many a time I saw him kneeling on a big flat stone just beyond the chapel door.

"It was after the famine years he made his name as a bailiff. D'Arcy of Houndswood was broke and his property sold in the Encumbered Estates Court. There were a lot of evictions on the estate and Joe was the bailiff. He was very good at the work; for when others of the Sheriff's posse held back Joe 'ud be up on the thatch of the wretched cabins with a crowbar, tearing the creatures' little homes to pieces. By this the people were prevented going back into the cabins, and had only the roadside, unless some charitable neighbour took them in.

"There was an eviction one day at a place called Townroe, and it used to be said that twelve cradles stood out in the rain that day and each cradle with a baby in it. The mothers had ranged the cradles to get what shelter they could from the bitter wind under a low wall that edged a little lane running down to an old graveyard. They were thinking to stay there the night, as the lane was a No Man's Land. They had gathered sticks and lit a fire, and had hung a pot from a stick in the wall, and with a few handfuls of Indian meal they had they were making stirabout. Joe came up with a great pretence of friendliness by the way that he was going to light his pipe at the fire. He stood there, puffing at the pipe and talking quietly, till the stirabout was near cooked, and then, before anyone could hinder him, he pulled down a big stone from the top of the wall right into the pot, and the bottom was knocked out of the pot, and, all the poor hungry people's food spilled out on them. And with that he ran away.

"The parish priest of Cong at that time was Father Waldron, a very holy, good man. He denounced Joe for his cruel act the following Sunday at Mass, and said he: 'He'll never die till he's put in a bag,' a saying the people couldn't make out, only that they took it to mean that Joe wouldn't get Christian burial. But it was a prophecy, as was proved in time.

"The time came - and that was in the midst of the troubles - when Joe and his grandson, a young man of nineteen or so, drove from Cong to the village of Cloughbrack, by way of Clonbur, to serve processes for Lord Ardilaun. They reached the village by a rugged stony path, having left the car and horse with the driver on the side of the road to wait for them. The people of the village set upon the Huddys. The boy took to his heels, and ran for his life across the fields, with a couple of men after him, and they killed him. "Some of the men had revolvers, and they fired them into Joe. The story was that they got him into a yard. At the first shot he fell, sitting down, on the dunghill. While the fellows were loading the revolvers again, Joe kept calling out to them in Irish: 'Tharraidh aristh a diabhal!' ('Come on again, ye divil! ') And so till they finished him. He died game.

"Meanwhile the man that was driving them waited a bit and then quietly drove back to Cong; but said nothing about Joe and the grandson till the hue and cry started and then he told where he'd left Joe. Perhaps he guessed what was going on and thought it wisest to keep out of it; and small blame to him!

"Well, they tied the two bodies up in sacks and for fear the blood would betray them, they carried the sacks in a turf-creel all along the river-bed from the village down to the lake, so that the clear, running stream would carry away the dripping blood. And they dropped them into the lake.

"At first they could get no word at all of what had happened to Joe and the grandson. The police used to be up examining the people, and they were trying to get it out of the children. But the men that did it had got Joe inside the yard, so the children couldn't see the murder done. And all they got out of the children was - they were all Irish - speaking: 'Ni fhaca me Joe marbh na beo ' ('I did not see Joe dead or alive').

"A few weeks after the murder a message was sent to the police, and it was told in letters cut out of a newspaper to say that they'd find Joe in Lough Mask. So a pinnance was sent over from H.M.S. Banterer, then lying in Galway Bay, with a crew of bluejackets; and for three weeks they harrowed and dragged the bottom of the lake till they brought up the sacks with the bodies."

I have mentioned in my "Twenty-Five Years " that I was present at the trial in Green Street, Dublin, of the Huddy murderers. Quite by accident, I was put to wait till a seat in the court was found for me, into the room with the relatives of the men who were being tried for the murder. They were all women-folk, and I can remember to this day the strange pathos of the hooded figures, some of them nursing a baby at the breast, seated on the wooden benches around the walls. They were like so many Fates, these creatures of a destiny too strong for them, helpless, uncomplaining, doomed. Afterwards I saw the trial of the Irish-speaking peasants for the murder. The evidence had all to be translated by an interpreter. I remember how they protested their innocence, their arms extended in the shape of a cross, murmuring their deep Irish, their tragic, haggard faces uplifted to the judge who was to condemn them.

The talk flows on:
"The men that were arrested were lodged in Galway Gaol, and while the depositions were being taken they were brought over to Cong every day. One day, as they walked along the street, the wife of one, named K, by way that she wanted a word with him, walked by him and slipped a £3 note into his hand. He found a way of speaking with a woman who was giving information, and he passed her the £3, whispering, 'Say nothing about me, ye divil.' So, when she named the others she left him out of it; and he turned informer and got off.

"Here's another story about the same K. He had to have a police escort for fear the people would kill him. It was a good while after that another man in these parts was brought over by The Times to give evidence at the Commission. The people thought very bad of that act of his, and when he came back no one would look the side of the road he was walking on.

There was himself and there was K , and the two of them walking about with a couple of big Constabulary men at their heels, and they were no more civil to them than other people. Well, he was feeling pretty sick of his life one day when he caught sight of K with his escort. 'Here's a man,' said he to himself, 'that'll be glad enough to speak,' and he calls out: 'Hello, K!' Only it was in the Irish. K turned on him, and says he, 'How dare you address me, you damned informer!' 'Informer yourself!'said the other fellow. 'What's the difference between us, except that you hanged four men?' 'There's the difference of the world between us,' said K , 'for I informed to save my neck, and you informed to put dirty money in your pocket.' With that they set to, and they hammered each other till neither could see out of his two eyes. And all the time the four policemen lay stretched on the grass -it was fine summer weather - playing a game of Spoil-Five, while the two blackguards pounded each other black and blue."

The middle years, 1917 By Katharine Tynan
The New York World of January 13, 1882 reported that Huddy was the oldest process server in Mayo.
"He lived for years in a cabin on the road between Ballinrobe and Hollymount, which was always under siege. He had been fired on many times, once while attempting to break the blockade of Captain Boycott in 1880 and run supplies."

Patrick and Thomas Higgins and Michael Flynn were tried for the murders. A trial in December 1882 ended in a dismissal because of a hung jury.

They were tried again and convicted

Patrick Higgins (Long) - convicted and executed for the Huddy murders

Patrick Higgins was about 60 years old at the time of the murder. He was known as Patrick Higgins Long to differentiate him from another Patrick Higgins in the townland.

An Irish speaker, he did not speak English. He was convicted of the murder of Joseph and John Huddy on the testimony of the Kerrigans and was executed January 15, 1883 at Galway.

Patrick Higgins had six children: two in America, two in England and two at home (a son and a daughter, Kate). Kate who testified in Irish in her father's behalf. His wife did not testify.

"THE IRISH CONSPIRATORS; PATRICK HIGGINS HANGED FOR THE HUDDY MURDERS. HIS DEATH INSTANTANEOUS - GALWAY, Jan. 15. - Patrick Higgins, one of the murderers of the Huddys, was hanged within the jail at 8 o'clock this morning. The weather was stormy. During the night there was thunder and lightning. There were few persons outside the jail at the time of the execution." (New York Times January 16, 1883)

As part of his defense Patrick Higgins claimed that Mathias Kerrigan, a member of the Land League, was the real murderer.

The scaffold was the same on which the three Maamtrasna murders had been hung a month before.

He died without making any declaration of his quilt or innocence. None of his family were present.

Thomas Higgins (Tom) - convicted and executed for the Huddy murders

Thomas Higgins (Tom) ages given as 27 and 60, was also tried, convicted and hung for the murders of Joseph and John Huddy on January 17, 1883. The hanging was covered in the New York Times. It was said that one of the writs to be served by Joe Huddy was to Thomas Higgins.

On my oath, I never fired a shot at John Huddy, nor Joseph Huddy, nor any other man since the day I was born. Kerrigan and his family have sworn falsely." Thomas Higgins on being sentenced, December 16, 1882.

Thomas Higggins and Michael Flynn were hung at Galway prison on January 17. Neither made any statement.

However it was said that when sentence was passed on Flynn on December 20, 1882 he "created somewhat of a sensation in court" when he said: "Thank you sir. I am as willing to go there (pointing to the skies) as to go home. I wish you all a good day."

Michael Flynn - convicted and executed for the Huddy murders

Michael Flynn (age 40) was also tried, convicted and hung for the murders of Joseph and John Huddy on January 17, 1883. He was described as an elderly man, impoverished looking, coarsely and roughly dressed in old frieze without any collar or neckerchief. He did speak English. He was said to be better educated than the others accused. He was said to be a member of the Clonbur Land League since 1880. He claimed to have been at a funeral some distance away at the time of the murders.

"I solemnly swear that I am as innocent of that deed as any man that ever drew breath." Michael Flynn on being sentenced, December 10, 1882.

Michael Flynn claimed he had been at a funeral 13 miles from Cloughbrack at the time of the murders. Eight witnesses testified on his behalf. The jury at first seem to accept the alibi but later were convinced that the witnesses had perjured themselves.

The news of the three executions was carried in papers all over the English speaking world.

Some thought that the senior Huddy provoked the crime; going without police escort when he knew how much the people hated him; his defiant coolness seemed an insult.

The story of the Lough Mask murders was carried by the international press including the New York Times and papers in Australia.

It was still a popular story as late as 1904 when the Saint Paul Globe carried an account and an image of the village. The author of the article visited the village and saw Mrs. Mary Kerrigan, the mother of Mathias Kerrigan. She was described as standing in the doorway of her thatched cottage, smoking her pipe while the pigs rooted and grunted in the yard, and keeping her mouth as tightly shut as the residence of the village had done in 1880.

Mrs. Kerrigan in front of her cottage.

Joseph Huddy had a son, Thomas, who testified at the trial and was awarded damages in his father's death.

To Thomas Huddy, for the murder of his father, Joseph Huddy, Lord Ardilaun's bailiff, £300 - to be levied on the district in three instalments, the first to be paid forthwith; to Michael Huddy, father of John Huddy, the nephew of Joseph Huddy, who was murdered at the same time, £200 (The Pall Mall Budget: Being a Weekly Collection of Articles ..., Volume 30, 1883)

Lord Ardilaun

Lord Ardilaun, Arthur Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, 2nd baronet (1840-1915) was a member of "the" Guinness family. He owned 33,000 acres in Galway and Mayo. He lived most of the year at Ashford castle. The Guinness family became owners of Ashford Castle after "the" famine and during the Encumbered Estates Court sales.

Lord Ardilaun

LADY ARDILAUN - Nice site with lots of images of the Guinness family at Ashford Castle.


John Henry Blake, agent for Lord Clanricarde, and Blake's servant Thady Ruane, murdered, Harriett Blake injured, Loughrea, County Galway, June 1882

John Henry Blake age 70 (the agent for absentee landlord, Lord Clanricarde) his wife Harriett and his servant Thady Ruane, bailiff, were shot on their way to mass in June 1882. Blake and Ruane died. Harriett survived the attack. It was said that Mr. Blake was an "elderly married man with a young family" (The Times London). The did have a son, Edmond, born in 1876. The Blakes were generally under police protection but somehow had forgone it for the six mile ride in a jaunting car from their home to the town on that fateful morning.

July 8, 1882: The Tablet:

"And on Thursday, the Feast of St. PETER and PAUL, Mr. JOHN HENRY BLAKE, of Rathville, a magistrate, cousin and agent of the Marquess of CLANRICARDE, and his servant-man, THADY RUANE, were shot dead at eleven o'clock in the morning, within a few hundred yards of Loughrea, as they were proceeding to Mass in that town. Loughrea is a municipal town of over 3,000 inhabitants, of which Mr. BLAKE had been for many years chairman. Mr. BLAKE and his wife occupied the left side of an outside car, and RUANE, the driver, sat on the other. The driver was shot dead, but Mr. BLAKE, who fell off first, lived for some fifteen minutes, and received absolution from a priest who had driven past them on the road, but returned when apprised of the sad tragedy. Mrs. BLAKE received some slugs, and the horse was also wounded."
There were several arrests - no one stood trial for the murders.

Mrs. Blake and Mrs. Ruane were gven compensationfor thier husbands' deaths and Mrs. Blake was given compensation for her injury:

Harriet, the widow of John Henry Blake, Rathville, Loughrea, county Galway was awarded £1,200 for personal injury and £3,000 for the murder of her husband to be raised off three baronies in the county within three years

Bridget, Ruane, the widow of Blake's servant, Thady Ruane, Rathville, Loughrea was awarded £400 for the murder of her husband.

Evictions for and image of evictions from the estate of Lord Clanricarde and some additional information on the the Blake murder.

Frank Joyce became the next agent for the Earl of Clanricarde. He was agent from 1882 to 1887. Frank Joyce brought action of libel against Lord Clanricarde in 1883 asking £100,000 for alledged libel and £1,560 commission during his management of the Galway estates of Lord Clanricarde. (The Law Times, Volume 83)

In 1886 the Pall Mall Budget reported that there were four honest hardworking tenants of the Marquis Clanricardein Woodford who had been paying their rent in full fro the pervious eighteen to forty years. They and their fathers had made numerous improvements to the land and their dwellings. They asked for a reduction in their rents due to a bad economy. Most landlords in the area had given a reduction of at least 15 per cent.

"His agent, Mr. Frank Joyce, a fine manly, courageous gentleman, whose life would not be worth five minutes' purchase were he not constantly covered by the rifles of at least a couple of constables, was on the spot. I believe if he had been allowed a free hand the whole affair could have been settled in half an hour, but the capable competent agent on the spot was absolutely forbidden to make any reduction whatever by the landlord, who, in his chambers at the Albany, Piccadilly, insisted upon the exaction in full of the whole rent. This absentee Marquis in the Albany, Piccadilly, who had never spent a single penny on his tenants, whose face is absolutely unknown to them, who has never discharged one solitary duty of those which are supposed to be attached to the possession of the rights and privileges of property, then set the machinery of the law in motion against these four tenants."
The battle went on for years. Lord Clanricarde went to court and spent more in fees than he would have lost in lowering the rents. He tired to sell the tenants interests but no one would buy. He evicted the tenants. And was paid no rent. The government was obliged to cover costs for protection of the evicted lands.

The New Zealand Tablet reported in 1888 that the two houses of an evicted tenants on Lord Clanricarde's estate near Woodford were demolished by a party of Emergencymen under the direction of Mr. Tener, the landlord's agent. Mr. Tener warned that any tenant who obstructed the sheriff would have his house razed. He claimed Lord Clanricarde had given him £20,000 "to carry on the struggle against obstreperous tenants".

Frank Joyce of Tally-ho, Loughrea, died in 1890 when a side car he was driving was upset by an uncontrollable horse. He suffered fatal head wounds.

A year later in 1891 after three years of fighting and the eviction of about 100 tenants, Lord Clanricarde came to the conclusion that it might be better to make a reduction in the rents and he suggested 20 per cent. The tenants demanded that the evicted tenants were reinstated. Clanricarde refused. About 150 more tenants were evicted. About 800 tenants remained on the estate.

John Henry Blake J. P. of Rathville House, Raford, Parish of Kiltullagh

John Henry Blake was a "peer of the realm". He was the younger son of John Blake of Furbough and his wife, Marie Elizabeth Gallway of Cork. In 1869 he was listed as a magistrate for county Galway.

He was the land agent for Lord Clanricarde.

In 1881 John Blake was listed in the town directory: AGENTS Blake John H (land), Barrack st

His wife tried to clear his reputation after his death. She claimed that he was really concerned about the tenants on the estate and wanted to reduce their rents but Lord Clanricarde would not agree.

He was, however, portrayed as a cruel agent by his enemies.

The Blakes was members of the Tribes of Galway - merchant families of mixed origin who controlled the political, social and commercial life in Galway form the 13th century to the 19th century.

His wife Harritt died in 1918. They had two sons, Edmond (1876-1944) and Henry.

Rathville House, County Galway

Thady Ruane

His name was also given in the papers and reports as Kane and Ryan. His wife was named Bridget. They lived in Rathville, Loughrea (this is possible on the property of his employer). He was reported in the various papers as a: driver, servant and bailiff.

What happened to Mrs. Ruane? Were there children?

Thady Ruane died in this incident. Despite that fact, Mrs. Blake gave testimony in 1889 insinuating that Thady had some for knowledge of the ambush. On the day of the murders on the way to town she saw a boy on the road who looked at them in an "unkind" way. She asked her husband who the boy was. He said he did not know. Mr. Blake then asked "the servant" who said he did not know. Mr. Blake remarked: "Oh Thady, that is the first time I have heard you say that you did not know who any one was." Just then they came to the turn in the road and a shot was fired. Under further examination she said that between herself, her husband and the servant they know almost everyone in the area.

Mrs. Blake also stated that no one on the road gave her any assistance after the shooting. Mrs. Blake was wounded. Mr. Blake had fallen off the car and Ruane's boddy "was lying across the well of the car". Mrs. Blake begged for help but none was given. The horse proceeded on into the town at a easy trot.

In 1889 she said she lived near Loughrea, but had not lived in Loughrea since the murders. She testified that around 1881 there had been a change in the attitude of the local peasant for instance they no longer touched their hats.

Frank Joyce (18-- - 1890) land agent for the 2nd Marquis of Clanricarde

Frank Joyce resigned as agent in 1887.

Frank Joyce died in an accident in 1890

"JOYCE, Frank (son of Pierce Joyce of Merviev, Galway, d. 1883). Agent for marquess of Clanricarde, resigned and brought an action against his employer for libel; well known sportsman in Galway; resided at Tallyho, Loughrea; upset in a jaunting car and d. at Loughrea from a wound in his head May 1890. Times 9 May 1890 p. 10. (Modern English Biography: I-Q By Frederic Boase)

John Whelan - bailiff for the 2nd Marquis of Clanricarde

In 1890 E. S. Tener was agent and John Whelan was the bailiff for the Clanricarde estates. There were three assistants.

In 1887 Mr. Whelan was the only bailiff remaining on the Clanricarde estate. At that time he had a police escort. See Evictions

In 1888

"September 1, fierce resistance to evictions on the Clanricarde estate. .... The bailiff Whelan strikes Bridget Bowles in the mouth breaking her teeth.

September 4, "John Fahy, of Douras, died at Woodford from injuries received while being evicted on the Clanricarde estate, on August 31st. He was lying ill at the time. His parents begged the agent to postpone the eviction on the ground of his ill-health, but the agent refused."

Journal of the Home Rule Union, Volume 1

In October 188 a tenant named "Dr." Tully was evicted and severely beaten. His house was surrounded by emergency men. A battering ram was used to break down the front door. Ladders were put against the house. Buckets of scalding water were carried to the roof. Stones were hurled at the emergency men. A fierce battle ensue between the tenants and the police. The police eventually took the house through holes in the slate roof. The tentants surrendered and were taken away in handcuffs. Tully was badly beaten and had been hit in the ribs with the butt of a rifle. Bridget Bolwes, a sister of Tully's, ran out into the yard to catch a calf that bailiff Whelan had taken. Whelan shoved her inside and struck her in the face. She was arrested. Whelan proceeded in helping Tener to clear the land. The police then attacked other houses.

Edward Shaw Tener (1832-1915) - land agent for the 2nd Marquis of Clanricarde

By 1888 Tener the new agent for Lord Clanricarde "had established himself in Portumna Castle like some baron out he middle ages. Surrounding himself with police and Emergency men." (The Parliamentary Debates )

The castle had been destroyed by fire some years before and by 1888 was a ruin.

He frequently emerged from his stronghold at midnight with his escorts to make raids on the tenant's cattle, rounding them up and impounding them or to make raids destroying the tenants crops. Mr. Tener claimed to have been given £20,000 by Lord Clanricarde as a kind of war chest to use in his fight against the tenantry.

Edward Shaw Tener was an Ulster Protestant.

Fear and Loathing in East Galway

Edward Shaw Tener died November 15, 1915 in Galway.

Hubert de Burgh-Canning (1832-1919) 2nd Marquis of Clanricarde

Lord Clanricarde, Hubert de Burgh (Burke) the second Marquis of Clanricarde was one of the most hated absentee landlords in Ireland. Clanricarde owned estates at Portumna Castle and at Woodford. He was referred to by the locals as Lord Clanrackrent. The agents of Hubert George de Burgh-Canning evicted 359 families in 33 years.

Hubert George de Burgh was born in 1832. The name Canning was added later. He was: Lord Somerhill or the United Kingdom, the Viscount Burke of Clanmorris in County Mayo, Baron Dunkellin of County Galway, Earl Clanricarde of Ireland, and Marguis of Clanricarde.

Hubert George de Burgh-Canning, was the second son and had not expected to be the heir to the estate and titles. When his older brother died at age 40 Hubert inherited the estates. He was a "confirmed bachelor" who collected paintings and ceramics. He was the master of 52,000 acres in Galway from which he received an income of $104,180 a year in 1907. At that time he had visited his Irish estates only once in his lifetime, to attend the funeral of his father in 1874.

The Clanricarde estate stretched from the Shannnon to within a mile of Galway City and included: Loughrea, Woodford, Portumna, Galway, Eyrecourt, and Craughwell. The tenants were mainly Irish speaking.

"The worst rack-renter has been the Marquis of Clanricarde, a heartless usurer, who has not visited his estates for some twenty years (not even coming over to the funeral of his own mother), who has refused all concessions, and who upon a late occasion dismissed an agent primarily for forwarding to him a respectful memorial for his tenants. The Nation, Volume 46, February 2, 1888

He was deprived of his rights to administer his estates by the English Parliament in 1907 due to incompetency.

In 1909 The Earl of Clanricarde was an old and infirm man - not expected to live much longer. He had no direct heirs. He lived in Piccadilly in London. His heir was his nephew, Lord Sligo of Westport an old man himself. Lord sligo's heir was his son, Henry Ulick Browne, born circa 1851.

Freeborn County Standard Albert Lea, Minnesota July 20, 1882


Something About the Marquis of Clanricarde and His Irish Estates.

Most Irishmen who know anything of the personal character of the Marquis of Clanricarde will regret that if there was to be a murder like that of Thursday week the victim should not have been the landlord himself rather than his old agent and his bailiff. Lord Clanricarde is the only surviving descendant of the great orator, George Canning, Pitt's protege who married one of the three daughters of the famous gambling Scotchman, general John Scott, who pursued a regime of perfect abstinence from drink in order that he might fleece the less temperate players of that generation. General Scott accumulated a fortune large enough to give each of his daughters a million sterling, and as Canning was penniless, his marriage set him on his feet at once. Another daughter of General Scott married the Duke of Portland, father of the late eccentric bearer of title and joined her family name with that of the Bentincks, and the third heiress was captured by the Earl of Moray. George Canning's only daughter inherited all the immense fortune of her mother on the death of her brother, Viscount Canning, in 1862. She had married the father of the present Lord Clanricarde and her brother's private estate went to her second son, who, on the death of his older brother, about eight years ago, came into the title and estates. The family name of the Clanricardes is De Burgh, to which Canning was added on the marriage with the heiress. The estates lie in Galway and the seat is Portumna Castle, which exists only in name; having been long ago destroyed by fire. The father of the present Marquis planned and began the construction of a new house, and meanwhile fitted up his residence over the extensive stables, which were the pride of the West country huntsman. But when the present Marquis succeeded to the estates he decided to return from Paris, where he passes most of his time in a life of elegant bachelor loafing, and he has allowed the immense Irish estates to go practically to waste in the hands of agents and factors, whose orders have been to make the rents as large as possible. The marquis of Clanricarde has no personal interest in the Irish estates beyond the revenues, and his perpetual absence and indifference have brought the dissatisfaction of the men of Galway to the point of violent resistance to his orders. He is probably one of the worst cases of absentee landlordism in Ireland, and the evicted farmers would certainly never have murdered his agents if they could have got a shot at the Marquis himself. A man who would refuse, as he did, to make any abatements on rent in the famine year of 1870 has very little occasion to show himself in Galway in the present condition of affairs.

Hubert de Burgh-Canning

See Woodford stood up to the power of Lord Clanricarde GALWAY ADVERTISER, MAY 06, 2010 for the story on Lord Clanricarde and John Henry Blakes' murder.

Extraordinary victory for the people of east Galway


The 2nd Marquis of Clanricarde, "the most hated landlord of Irish landlords".

Born December 15, 1822. He collected paintings and china. He never married and had no heirs.

Luke Dillon, bailiff, Logboy [Loughboy] - estate of John Nolan-Farrell, Claremorris - murdered November 1881

On November 17 1881 Luke Dillon, a 45 year old bailiff on the Logboy estate owned by John Nolan-Farrell, was found dead on a public road in Cornacarty[a], Claremorris with three bullets in his body. He was reported to have either been on his way to serve 18 evictions or simply to visit a friend. The New York Times said he was killed near Ballyhaunis.

"November 17, 1881, Luke Dillon was murdered. He was bailiff to Mr. Farrell. The Land League having some idea that Farrell might have some pressure brought to bear on him, vengeance was wreaked upon his agent. On November 17 he was shot about halfpast 8 o'clock in the evening."

(Parnellism and crime, Part 1 By Baron James Hannen Hannen, Great Britain. Special Commission to Inquire into Charges and Allegations against Certain Members of Parliament and Others, 1888)

Special Commission Act, 1888: Reprint of the Shrothand Notes of ..., Volume 2
"He was much disliked as a bailiff, and on the morning of the day he was murdered he was supposed tho have received by post 18 processes for eviction, but none were found on his dead body."
November 26, 1881 Ballinrobe Chronicle:
" An inquest has been held at Logboy on the body of Luke Dillon, who was found murdered on the morning of Thursduy, the 10th Instant, from a bullet wound. A verdict of murder ----- ------ person or persons unknown was returned"
Dillon, who was also a tenant on the estate, had a reputation as a tough land agent who controlled the one water pump in the area and who delighted in evicting tenants and burning their cottages.

His killer/killers was never discovered.

Luke Dillon

"The next case was that of Luke Dillon, of Ballyhaunis. He was a tenant on the estate of Mr. Farrell, and the suggested reason of animosity was that he had assisted in certain evictions on that estate. His son received a threatening notice, and his son's hay was burned..... But this, I am glad to say, is in contrast with the last. Universal sympathy seems to have been expressed for Dillon and his family. The funeral was described by the police witnesses end others as being a large funeral, the neighbours being kind and sympathetic, and it was suggested - I do not do more than say it was suggested hat Dillon was a man who was in the habit of going about with considerable sums of money, and on the occasion he was found without any money at all. It was undoubtedly in the minds of some people there that the character of this outrage was other than agrarian. That is the second Mayo murder. I leave by pointing out that, unless I am quite wrong in my examination of the evidence there is not one ---- of evidence to connect it with the League or with members of the League. (The Irish Case Stated By Charles Russell Baron Russell of Killowen, 1889)

1883: Monetary compensation for the death of Luke Dillon, Dillon, Luke, Curnacarta, Ballyhausnis, Mayo to the person representing the deceased (his son John), £500, in one sum.

John Nolan Farrell

1844: "Four miles south from Ballyhaunis is Logboy, the seat of Edward Nolan, Esq. a place rendered interesting from its improved state in this bleak country." (Various guides to Ireland)

1878: Farrell, John Nolan, of Loughboy House, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo 9,731 acres value 3,073

In 1880:

"About a hundred acres of bog situated at Rockfield, within two miles of Claremorris, the property of Mr. John Nolan Farrell, but held under lease by an English gentleman for shooting purposes, were set on fire in several places last Friday night. The bog is covered with heath and long white grass, and all efforts to stay the progress of the fire were unavailing. Some boys were recently prosecuted for poaching on the bog, and it is believed that they set fire to the grass for revenge." (The Pall Mall Budget: Being a Weekly Collection of Articles ..., Volume 24)
The 9,732 acre Logboy estate of John Nolan-Ferrall was located at Ballyhaunis. Nolan-Ferrall was reported to have left Logboy to live in Dublin after the shooting of bailiff Dillon. In June 1901 processes were granted at Claremorris against 34 Nolan-Farrell tenants for non payment of rent. (Kentucky Irish American, June 21, 1902)

In 1905 the tenants of the Nolan-Farrell estate at Logboy near Ballyhaunis, County Mayo agreeded to purchase their holdings from the Congested Districts Board for twenty years for first term rentals and twenty three years for second term rentals of permanent agricultural uses.


John Cassidy, bailiff, Ballyhaunis, co. Mayo, 1882, threatened at gun point

On the second of March 1882 a party of about 20 men came to the house of John Cassidy, age 45 bailiff to Lord Dillon, and his son, Patrick Cassidy, age 35 farmer, at Ballyhaunis. The men demanded arms. When given a gun they fired into the house. Patrick Regan was convicted at Sligo winter Assizes and sentenced to 18 months of hard labor.

In 1882 the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was asked in Parliament who was to pay for the four police who protected John Cassidy of Crossara, Ballyhaunis, co. Mayo.

In June 1886 several families were evicted from Lord Dillon's estate in Ballyhaunis. December 2, 1886 (NY Times)

"Two hundred girls today attacked and pelted with mud a bailiff and his assistant who were serving writs of ejectment upon tenants on Lord Dillon's estates in Ballyhaunis. The men beat a hasty retreat, leaving horse, car, and papers."
The aggitation at Ballyhaunis continued:
"Seven hundred tenants of Lord Dillon, round Ballyhaunis, attended at the rent office, and begged for a 25 per cent reduction; most of them can only pay rent by working in England and saving their wage, or by getting help from America. The agent at the office had no authority to grant a reduction, so no rent was paid. About 6,000 tenants are on the property, and they are all making common cause."

Our Corner, Volume 9 By Annie Wood Besant, 1887

"Near Ballyhaunis, county Mayo, on October 18, 1887, a bailiff, accompanied by a force of police, made a seizure of sheep for rent due to a landlord. A riot ensued. The women, according to tactics not unfrequently adopted, were placed in front, while the men threw stones at the police over their heads from behind. A number of these rioters were identified and prosecuted. Among others, two girls, Honoria Drudy, who gave the age of 20, and Bridget Hunt, who gave the age of 13. ...... No punishment at all was inflicted upon either of these girls under the Crimes Act. When, however, they refused to find sureties for their good behaviour they were committed to prison under the ordinary law for one week, without hard labour. I may add that an old woman named Ellen Tighe was inadvertently summoned at the same time. Upon her age being discovered proceedings against her were dropped, and she was at no time under arrest.

From this single incident have sprung all the tales told of tender children who intimidate the police, and all the stories of little girls who only say 'boo' to a bailiff. It will be seen from the above that we are also indebted to this historic occasion for the equally popular 'old woman of 80.'

Publications Issued During the Year 1885-90

November 21, Ballyhaunis, County Mayo:
Accused - Pat Conboy, Bridget Hunt, Ellen Tighe, Dominick Byrne, Thomas Kilkenny, Bridget Dudy, Michael Dudy, Michael Keneghan and Anne Conboy. Charge - Obstructing police and bailiffs. Result - Sentences varying from three weeks to ten day.

(A Diary of Coercion: Being a List of the Cases Tried Under the Criminal Law ... By Timothy Charles Harrington)

Ellen Tighe "a tottering old woman of 80" was not prosecuted. "Mary" Hunt, young girl of 12 and Miss Conboy age 18 were sentenced to three weeks. Miss Drudy stated that she would rather go to jail than pay bail. 1887 (Hansard's Parliamentary Debates):

Patrick Regan - convicted of attack on John Cassidy - Dillon bailiff

Patrick Regan was conviced at Sligo winter Assizes and sentenced to 18 months of hard labor for shooting at John Cassidy.

Charles Strickland - land agent for Lord Dillon

Charles Stickland was the manager of Lord Dillon's estates in Ireland. He was appointed by Charles Henry Dillon, 14th Viscount (1810-1865).

Charles Stickland was the eldest son of Jerrard Edward Stickland. He died in Dublin April 17, 1892 age 73. He was in charge of the Dillon estates from 1844 to 1884. It is said that he came to the aid of the tenants on the Dillon estate during the famine. Charles Stickland was the planner and developer of Charlestown (co Mayo) founded in 1846. The new town overshadowed the contiguous, older and previously flourishing market town of Bellaghy (co. Sligo) which was just on the other side of the river but in a different county. A number of of web sites and books say the Charlestown was built for spite, but I cannot find an original source for this opinion.

In 1837 Bellaghy had 34 houses and 170 inhabitants with a market on Wednesdays and a fair each month.

Srickland stated in 1882 that in years past when the crops were good or when the locals could get employment in England, the rents were paid in full. In bad years if the potatoes failed or the employment in England fell short, it was necessary to make an abatement and to allow the arrears to accumulate. He stated that the tenants in 1882 had refused to pay the rent and that Lord Dillon had not offered an abatement. The employment season had been bad in England in 1879 and 1880. In addition the years 1879-80 had been "wet" in Ireland causing a bad potato crop and a poor turf harvest.

Lord Dillon rufused to give an abatement even though other landlords in the area were doing so.

"The contrast between this beautiful park and its deserted mansion and the small holdings and cabins with which it is surrounded was very striking. (Incidents of Coercion: A Journal of Visits to Ireland in 1882 and 1888 By George Shaw-Lefevre Baron Eversley)

Maurice Fitzgerald Hussey (1862-1917) and his father Samuel Murray (Sam) Hussey (1824-1913)- Land Agents for Lord Dillon - Ballyhaunis

Samuel Murray Hussey was one of the most hated land agents in Ireland. His son, Maurice Fitzgerald Hussey, was Lord Dillons land agent appointed in 1881.

"HUSSEY - Notorious and merciless land agent evictor for Viscount Dillon in Ballyhaunis area of Co. Mayo." (History of Mayo, Brendan Quinn 2000)
Note: In Vol. III of the History of Mayo Quinn also makes reference to Hussey as an agent of Lord Dillon.

Irish Historical Studies, Volume 17, Dublin University Press, 1971

"Samuel Murray Hussey (b. 1825), land agent for the Kenmare and other estates, had been in the business since 1845 and by 1881 claimed to manage one-fifth of the county. His home was blown up in Nov. 1884, yet despite everything he had polled quite well as conservative candidate at Tralee in 1880, being defeated 187-133. He was the author of some memoirs, ill-organised but interesting."
Sam Hussey was an agent on the Kenmare Estate in 1874.

Described as unscrupulous, ruthless, merciless, notorious, most hated, colorful, unpopular, and a vulture, Sam Hussey was said to burn houses when he evicted tenants. Numerous attempts were made on his life.

The editor of the Daily Telegraph said of him:

"Sam Hussey, yes, that's the famous Irishman they used to call "Woodcock" Hussey, because he was never hit, though often shot at."

About four in the morning of November 20, 1884 the rear wall of his house at Edenburn near Tralee was bombed with dynamite despite round the clock police protection. No one was injured and the damage was not serious.

In The reminiscences of an Irish land agent Samuel Murray Hussey claimed a man was mistakenly killed in Charlestown, the mob thinking it was Hussey's son, Maurice. "Another time, when returning to his house in Mayo from Ballyhaunis, on a dark night, my son Maurice found a wall built, about eighteen inches high, across the road, for the express purpose of upsetting him. It was only by the grace of God - as they say in Kerry - and his own careful driving, that he was preserved."

The County Families of the United Kingdom By Edward Walford, 1869:

HUSSEY, SAMUEL MURRAY, Esq., of Edenburn, co. Ke . Fifth son of the late Peter Bodkin Hussey, Esq., J .P., of Dingle, co. Kerry, by Mary, dau. of Robert Hickson, Esq., D.L., of The Grove, co. Kerry; 6. 1825; m. 1853 Julia Agnes, dau. of John Hickson, Esq., D.L., and has, with other issue, John Edward, b. 1856. Mr. Hussey is a Magistrate for cos. Cork and Kerry (High Sheriff 1869). - Edenbum, Tralee, co. Kerry."
In 1883 Samuel Murray Hussey of Edenburn, Gortalea, owned 7,087 arces in Co. Kerry

1881: Bath, Samuel Hussy 56, landed property, born Bath, Julia A. Hussy 50, Ireland Kerry, Mary Hussy 25, daughter Ireland cork, Charlott Hussy 17 Ellen M. Hussy 16 Florence B. Hussy 11 Julia A. Hussy 9 Julia G. Fitzgerald 27, vis, born Paris France, Honor Donghue 29, maid, Mary Ward 48, domestic, Mary J. Currey 24, domestic, Rose Gellan 31, domestic

In 1887 Lord Dillon and his land agent, Maurice Hussey, refused ot give one penny of reduction in the rents.

In February 1887 Maurice Hussey, land agent of Lord Dillon, was in the House during a debate on an amendment presented by Parnell,

1901: Bath England, Samuel M Hussey 76, retired land agent, born City of Bath, Julia Agnes Hussey 70, born Ireland, Dingle, Eileen M Hussey 36, born Ireland, Cork, Julia Agnes Hussey 28, born London, Ma--bone, James O Sherrard 16, g son, born London Paddington, Jane S Grant 21, servant, ladies maid, Eliza Francis 29, servant, house maid,, Hannah Jones 27, servant, parlour maid, Helina Mascord 38, servant,cook Florence Perdue 19, servant, kitchen ward.

1911: Hussey Samuel Murray 86 Male Head of Family Church of Ireland, Hussey Julia Agnes 80 Female Wife Church of Ireland, Hussey Maurice FitzGerald 49 Male Son Church of Ireland, Hussey Charlotte 41 Female Daughter Church of Ireland, Hussey Eileen Margaret 40 Female Daughter Church of Ireland, Hussey Julia Agnes 36 Female Daughter Church of Ireland, Hussey Eileen Merlyne 11 Female Grand Daughter Church of Ireland, Griffin Nora Mary 17 Female Servant Roman Catholic, Kessane Mary 23 Female Servant Roman Catholic, Dowling Catherine Mary 24 Female Servant Roman Catholic, Wallace John 65 Male Servant Roman Catholic, Ryan Kate 24 Female Servant Roman Catholic, Corcoran Margaret 19 Female Servant Roman Catholic

1913 Probate: Hussey, Samuel Murry, 24 December late of Aghadoe House, Killarney, county Kerry J. P. who died 8 November 1912 granted at Dublin to Francis Mc G. Denny and Peter D. Fitzgerald Esquires - Effects £25,000 5 s ad 1 d Resworn £25,53610s 1d.

Maurice Fitzgerald Hussey (born 1862 died 1917) son of Samuel Murray Hussey, was an agent for Lord Dillon from September 1881. He lived at Loughglynn House seat of the Viscount Dillon in 1894. He died in 1917 in Adare County Limerick, leaving an estate of £6075 to his widow Mabel.

S. M. Hussey from the book the Reminiscences of and Irish Land Agent, by S. M. Hussey

Kerry Ireland circa 1843:

"Few farmers ate meat except at Christmas. They wore homespun flannel and frieze, and their only luxury, whisky, was obtainable at a quarter of its present price. A young couple were considered ready to start in married life when they had obtained a 'farm,' consisting of a couple of acres for potatoes and a mud hovel for themselves; and thus a population, dependent on a precarious root, increased very rapidly. It was thicker near the sea coast than inland. The rents then were about double what they are now (though half what they had been at the beginning of the nineteenth century), yet, with good potato crops, people seemed content and times were fairly good. I should say there was not such general drunkenness as in later times, and very little porter was consumed in those days—at all events outside Dublin. What schools there were were shockingly bad, and reading, not to say writing, was an exceptional accomplishment, not only among the labouring classes, but among those who held their heads much higher. This of course impressed me coming straight from Scotland, where a really grand education has been the national birthright for generations." (The Reminiscences of and Irish Land Agent)

Unable to acquire a large enough holding to farm Hussy turned to being a land agent in County cork.

"The duties of an Irish land agent comprise a great deal of office work, drawing up agreements with tenants, receiving rent, superintending agricultural and all landlords' improvements, sitting as magistrate and representing the landlord when the latter is absent at poor-law meetings, road sessions, and on grand juries.

With very rare exceptions the salary has been five per cent, on the rents received. So the agent has been paid five per cent, on all the money he has put into the landlord's pockets, whilst an architect has always received five per cent. on all he took out of them, an arrangement which in the latter instance has not worked at all well for the landlords." (The Reminiscences of and Irish Land Agent)

Hussy's take on the situation of his son, Maurice Hussey:
"A gentleman named Nield was killed in Mayo, simply because he was mistaken for my son Maurice. This was in broad daylight, in the town of Charlestown. It was raining hard at the time - a thing so common in Ireland that no one mentions it any more than they do the fact of the daily paper appearing each morning - and the unfortunate victim had an umbrella up, so the mob could not see his face. They shouted, 'Here's Hussey,' and tried to pull him off the car, but the parish priest stopped this. However, before he could reduce the villains to the fear of the Church, which does affect them more than the fear of the Law, they gave poor Nield a blow on the head, and, though he lived for six months, he never recovered.

Another time, when returning to his house in Mayo from Ballyhaunis, on a dark night, my son Maurice found a wall built, about eighteen inches high, across the road, for the express purpose of upsetting him. It was only by the grace of God - as they say in Kerry - and his own careful driving, that he was preserved.

In those same Land League times, my son was a prominent gentleman rider. At Abbeyfeale races he rode in a green jacket and won the race, which produced a lot of enthusiasm, the crowd not knowing who it was sporting the popular colour. They only heard it was my son after he had left the course, whereupon a mob rushed to the station, and the police had to stand four deep outside the carriage window to protect him, to say nothing of an extra guard at the station gates."

Lord Dillon

Viscount Dillon was granted the lands "of and around" Loughglynn by King Charles in Roscommon in 1622. (Landed Estates)

Loughglynn House County Roscommon was built in Ballyhaunis by Richard, 9th Viscount Dillon, between 1713 and 1737. The 11th Viscount Dillon married an Englishwoman in the mid 18th century the family became absentee landlords. In 1872 Charles Strickland, a land agent for Lord Dillon was living in Loughglynn House.

Lord Dillon owned the Parish of Loughglynn, Ballyhaunis, Tibohine, Fairymount, Ballaghaderreen, Frenchpark, Cloonarrow and Errit in county Roscommon and Charlestown and Kiltimagh, in county Mayo.

"Lord Dillon, in the county Mayo, from which Lord Dillon, though he had never put his foot in Ireland, draws £25,000 a-year. The tenants had themselves reclaimed the barren rocks and hills of the estate, and, owing to the severe depression, they asked for a reduction. Lord Dillon refused, and a quantity of writs were served. Then the Plan of Campaign was adopted, and Lord Dillon, after some time, consented to grant a reduction of 20 per cent. Then the entire rents, less this reduction, were paid over to him. "

In 1876 Viscount Dillon owned 83,749 acres in county Mayo, 5435 in county Roscommon (Landed Estates)

In 1888 the tenants won a concession. Lord Dillon agreed to reduce rents by 30% on his estates at Aghanmore near Ballyhaunis. This decision put an end to a "long standing and acrimonious dispute".

By 1899 The Congested Districts Board had "purchased Lord Dillon's estate for the purpose of improving and enlarging some of the holdings and of reselling all the holdings to the tenants through the Land Commission, but the Board are not yet in a position to say when the holdings will be resold. The negotiations have been carried on by the Board and the solicitors for Lord Dillon. The price to be paid to Lord Dillon is £290,000." (The Parliamentary Debates (Authorized Edition), Volume 72)

The Dillon estate consisted of 87,669 acres and with 3,000 to 4,000 tenants.

Arthur Edmund Denis Dillon, 16th Viscount Dillon (1812 - 1892) and his son Harold Arthur Dillon, 17th Viscount Dillon (1844 - lanriccrde) where the Lord Dillons of the time period.

In 1906 Anthony Trollope in The Kellys and the O'Kellys said:

"The Dillons, of Ballyhaunis, who had three thousand a-year, and spent six; they were really a delightful family, - three daughters and four sons, all unmarried, and up to anything: the sons all hunted, shot, danced, and did everything that they ought to do- at least in the eyes of young ladies; though some of their more coldly prudent acquaintances expressed an opinion that it would be as well if the three younger would think of doing something for themselves;"

James Brennan - Creeslough, County Donegal - shot and injured

In May 2014 Margie McBride wrote about her ancestor and sent the following articles"

Belfast News-Letter, 28 March 1881 page 4 of 8 Advertisements and Notices A bailiff named James Brennan, while sitting in his house near Creeslough, in a remote part of County Donegal, was fired at through the window, and injured, on the hand, upon which his head at that moment was leading. Two arrest have been made.

Alleged Shooting at and wounding a bailiff in Co. Donegal (by Telegraph) (From Our Correspondent The Belfast Morning News, Monday, March 28, 1881 Two men named Diver and M'Bride have been arrested in connection with an outrage on a process-server named Brennan residing near Creeslough, Dunfanaghy, in the County Donegal. The report of the affair states that while Brennan was sitting in his house with his head leant on his hands, shots were fired through the window, and one took effect in his head, a ball passing through it. The Belfast News-letter, 28 March 1881 Same article as above.

Thomas Gibbons, 1882, County Galway murdered

Thomas Gibbons, age 24 (or 17), farmer (or the son of a gamekeeper), the son of John Gibbons and his wife Bridget, was returning from a pattern with his mother on March 17, 1882 when they were waylaid and beaten by three men. Thomas Gibbons never recovered consciousness and he died from his injuries on November, 19 1882.

Thomas' father, John Gibbons, was a caretaker to Lord Ardilaun.

"A brutal murder was committed near Clonbur. The youngest son of a gamekeeper of Lord Ardilaun named Gibbons, returning home by the high road from Clonbur at 6 o'clock on Friday evening, March 17, was waylaid by three men, who fractured his skull with heavy stones. His mother was also badly wounded in the head; she was rendered insensible, and is in a precarious state. The poor boy, who was only 17 years of age, never recovered consciousness and died on Sunday. His family are well-to-do and respectable, and the only reason that can be alleged for this murder is that his father has always done his duty faithfully towards his employer. Several persons were present when the attack was made upon him, but instead of rendering help they ran away. There was good light at the time, but they say they do not know the murderers. Three men have been arrested."

(Several papers carried the same story)

On Patrick's Day, March 17th, a boy named Gibbons, aged seventeen, son of one of Lord Ardilaun's gamekeepers, was killed on the highroad near Clonbur in county Galway, his head broken with large stones, and his mother, who was with him was beaten.

(The Irish Revolution, Volume 1)

In July 1883 Patrick "Conneally" was tried for the murder of Thomas Gibbons. It was stated in the London Times that Conneally belonged "to the small farming class" and appeared to be about 30 years old. He lived near the Gibbon family. It was alleged that sometime prior to the murder Conneally asked a "brother of the deceased whether he would go to a Land League meeting, adding that if he did he would get a revolver and scarf." "Young Gibbons, refused to attend the meeting and "a bad feeling afterwards sprang up on the part of prisoner against the Gibbons family." Later Lord Ardilaun gave John Gibbons, the father, permission to graze and farm on a small holding which had been taken away from Conneally. When Gibbons put his cattle on the property the Coneallys beat them off and threw stones at Gibbons. Conneally ran into the young Gibbons and his mother at Clonbur on St. Patrick's day 1882. Late in the evening as they were retuning home, Mrs. Gibbons and her son were attacked by and beaten with sticks and stones. Young Gibbons was mortally hurt and died two days later. Conneally was identified by Mrs. Gibbons and a young boy named John Thronton. Conneally trail at the March assizes resulted in a hung jury.

Another report from Sligo announced the resumption of the trial of Patrick Connealy for the murder of Thomas Gibbons. The Crown claimed the case was murder, but counsel for the defence said it was merely the unfortunate result of a "drunken squabble".

Three of the Queen's council and a junior barrister were sent to Sligo to prosecute Patrick Connnoly. The major witness was Thomas Gibbons's mother who originally stated she could not positively identified any of the assailants and later fingered Patrick Connoly. There were accusations of documents in favor of the defendants being held back by the Crown. After half an hour deliberation the jury found the prisoner guilty of manslaughter. Sentence was deferred till after the trials of Edward Fox and William Diskins, the other two who reportedly made up the trio of attackers.

According to the Special Commission report, Patrick Connolly, William Diskin and Edward Fox were convicted of manslaughter on July 24, 1883 at Sligo and sentenced to 20 years penal servitude.

"William Diskin, Edward Fox, and Patrick Conneally were found guilty at the Sligo assizes on Friday of the manslaughter of Thomas Gibbons, an assistant-herd and gamekeeper, in the employment of Lord Ardilaun, at Clonbur, on the 18th of March, 1882, and were sentenced by Mr. Justice Murphy to twenty years' penal servitude." (The Pall Mall Budget: Being a Weekly Collection of Articles ..., Volume 30)

Patrick Conneally [Connolly], William Disken and Edward Fox

At the trial at the Sligo Winter Assizes in 1883 a deposition by the "widow" of the deceased "declaring her inability to identify the guilty parties" was said to be missing. On the official commission report Thomas Gibbons' age was given as 24 years.

The Kentucky Irish American of September 10, 1898 reported the release of Patrick "Connolly" from Prison after sixteen years in jail. He was convicted in Sligo in 1883 with two others of the manslaughter of "Lord Ardilaun's gamekeeper, Gibbbons". The other two were named Fox and Deskin. Fox received a life sentence and "lost his reason in prison and died mad". Deskin was released in ill health some years before 1898.

William Burke, J. P. - lawyer and land agent for Lord Ardilaun

William Burke of Lisloughry was called to the bar in 1843. He had a law practice at Ballinrobe with George Johnstone Darley in 1874. They practiced until 1894. Darley "carried out for Lord Ardilaun, the pier and harbour works, and approach roads, &c., at Lisloughrey on Lough Corrib, near Cong." (Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Volume 132)

In 1881 William Burke was the land agent for Lords Ardilaun, Kilmaine, Clanmorris and others.

William Buke was not popular with the tenants and was under police protection in 1881. He had served eviction notices to several of Lord Clanmorris's tenants near Ballinrobe.

He had a multi year battle with the Noonan family who lived in Cong.

The Noonan Family of Cong

The Noonan lost the right to live in a dwelling near Cong Abbey that the family had occupied for somewhere between 20 and 50 years. They blamed William Burke. In June 1879 Margaret Noonan thre scalding water at the land agent, William Buker. The Noonans were still at their fight a year later in June 1880.

June 14, 1879 Ballinrobe Chronicle:

WILLIAM BURKE , ESQ., J.P. The many friends of William Burke , Esq., .J.P., Lisloughry , who may have heard of the attack made on him on yesterday in Cong, so calculated to do him serious injury, will be glad to learn that he has fortunately escaped with a comparatively trivial scald near the eye, on one hand and leg, and that today he has been able to travel about and resume business. It appeared that on yesterday while Mr Burke was riding on his pony through Cong, and his attention being occupied by a man who was speaking to him, a girl named, Margaret Noonnan, residing near the Market Square, Cong, who was waiting his approach, flung a bucket of boiling water in his face, over his person, and partly on the pony; she next flung the iron bucket at his head , but he having pulled back his head and the pony, fortunately the missile did not strike him. The girl then ran into Nicholas Hopkins' house in which she resides with her brother, where she was shortly after arrested by the police, aud subsequently brought before T. M. Sheehy, who, on the information of Mr. Burke, detailing the above facts, committed her on remand to Monday next. The cause assigned for this offence is that an ejectment, at suit of Sir A Guinness, (Mr Burke being the agent), against Nicholas Hopkins and his under tenant, Nicholas Noonan, her uncle and brother, had been served, and is to come up for trial at the coming Claremorrls quarter assizes.

1879: June 21, 1879
THE ATTACK ON WM. BURKE, ESQ - ..... Inquiry was held in the grand jury room of Ballinrobe courthouse...... Into the matter of the recent attack with boiling water on William Burke, ---, J P , Lisloughry, in Cong ..... Margaret Noonan, of Cong, charged with the offence, was brought up in custody on remand, and was undefended. Mr. William Burke made a deposition to the following effect - On Friday evening last, the 13th instant he was riding from his office towards Cong, about half-past four o'clock when he met James Cruise, who spoke to him and walked beside his pony up to the market cross in Cong; while his attention was occupied by Cruise, Margaret Noonan (Identified prisoner) rushed forward and said, 'look here', upon which he (Mr. Burke) looked towards her; she then threw a bucket of boiling water at him; struck him on right side of the face, right arm, right leg, and over his person generally, scalding him on the right side of the face, close to the eye, right hand and right leg; she then threw the bucket at his head; he threw himself on the pony to avoid it, which caused the pony to rear; he then jumped off, and escaped being hit with the bucket; she then hastily went into Nicholas Hopkins' house, where she lives with her brother (Nicholas Noonan); the pony was badly scalded with the water; the bucket was one similar to the bucket produced by Countable Connolly." (Ballinrobe Chronicle)
Burke's testimony was backed up by James Cruise, a Baliff, at Cong.

Margaret Noonan, described in several papers as a young girl, then ran into her house and would not come out until her brother Nicholas Noonan and other told her to. She was then taken into custody. Margaret did not deny throwing the hot water at Mr. Burke. She accused him of wanting to evict her and her brother. She said she had just been washing up the dishes when she saw him coming. She was very angry at him and something just came over her that she could not control. The case was returned for trial and Margaret Noonan was committed to Castlebar jail in the absence of bail. She was sentenced to six months with hard labor.

A year later on June 12, 1880 the Ballinrobe Chronicle reported:

NOONAN ---- The High---- Arthur Edward Guinness, Lord Ardilaun), of Ashford, county Mayo, v. Nicholas Noonan, Cong

That on the ----day of May. 1880, you did, at Cong, county Mayo, again willfully trespass in and upon a dwelling-house, complainants property and in his possession, situate at Cong, county Mayo, you ----- within --- months from the said first May, to wit, on the 12th April, 1880 , trespassed in and upon said dwelling house and premises, and having been on such date warned off by the caretaker of complainant duly authorised for that purpose, and refused to leave when so warned. Mr. M J Kelly, solicitor, appeared for complainant. Defendant was not professionally represented. Mr William Burke, land agent to complainant, proved that on ---rd November --- he had got over possession of a house and premises in Cong from Mr. J. U. M'D----, sub sheriff of Mayo, under an ejectment decree of the Co. Court Judge, in the care of Sir A E Guiness, Hurt v. Nicholas Hopkins and another, and that he had put Hopkins into possession as caretaker and subsequently, from what he had heard, instructed a man named John Smith to act as caretaker and to warn off defendant. Cross-examined by defendant, to show that himself and other members of his family as well as Hopkins (his uncle) were in possession of the house and premises for over 50 years, and in reference to late ---- clients by himself. Nicholas Hopkin proved that he had been placed in it ---- by Mr Burke in caretaker; that defendant went in on 11th April and refused eviction [?]. John Smith, caretaker, proved to having found defendant in the houes on --st May, asked him to leave and he refused. Mr Kelly prayed the court to give the full penalty and 10.s --- in each ease; ..... Decision Fined 10s with 5s costs, In default 7 days imprisonment. There were five other ..... complainant and defendant, for like, on 1st June , 2nd Juue , 3rd June, -th June , and --- June. Like rule in each case. Same - Margaret Nonnan, for like, --- and place. Defendant, who is sister of defendant in preceding case , did not attend. Personal service of ---- having been proved. Like evidence was given in these six eases as in the six cases against her brother. Like ruling 5s costs in each case; in default 7 days imprisonment.

In January 1881 the Noonans were back at it. Nicholas Noonan, Margaret Noonan, and their mother, Mary Noonan attempted to forceable retake a house they had lived in for "20" years. The house near the gate at Cong Abbey belonged to Lord Ardilaun, at Cong, county Mayo, and was being occupied by a "caretaker" John Smith. Smith acted on Sunday mornings as gate keeper - unlocking the gate that led from town to the Cong Abbey Chapel. As Richard Noonan and his family, which included his wife, Mary, and children, Margaret and Nicholas was leaving mass around noon, Nicholas Noonan told his father to take a walk for his health. Mary, "the old woman" caught hold of Smith, Nicholas grabbed him by the hair and beard and Margaret "seized him by the teeth". (Sounds very painful.) They pushed him from the gate into the front yard of the cottage. Margaret caught Smith's finger in her mouth and bit it. It hurt a great deal. The three Noonans forced Smith into the house. Richard Noonan did not center with them. Smith's wife returned from mass and was also accosted - she was dragged and also bitten. The Noonans were in the house five or six minutes when the police arrived and arrested them. Richard Noonan, who was described as an "old Man", had worked at the lodge house (I assume as the gate keeper). The Noonans were not ejected but left of their own will and went to another house. It was stated that Lord Ardilaun gave Richard Noonan a pension and another house when he was not able to work. The defendants declined to cross examine the witness.

Mr. Smith said he had been put in the house by William Burke, land agent for Lord Ardilaun, as caretaker and to mind the gate. Smith was asked why he did not just let the Noonans into the house and let the police take care of it later.

A witness said he heard the cry of "police" and went into the house where he saw the Noonans holding Smith by his whiskers and Smith "had hold of them". When the police arrived the Noonans gave up and were arrested taking them to the barracks. Nicholas Noonan refused to testify. The prisoners were to be admitted to jail until the Castlebar assizes. (As reported by the Ballinrobe Chronicle - January 29, 1881)

In May 1881 several papers noted the release of the Noonan siblings of Cong: "the release of two prisoners, Nicholas and Margaret Noonan, of Cong who had been in Castlebar Gaol since the March Assizes for attempting to keep grip of the land."

In 1885 several publications published Land League comments on the Noonans:

"Nicholas and Margaret Noonan, of Cong, have been just discharged from Castlebar gaol, where they were detained since the March Assizes for attempting to keep the firm grip. These poor people have served over fifteen out of twenty-four months in gaol in trying to cling to the homestead. Since their late committal their father, an old man who saw eighty odd summers, had to take refuge in the Castlebar workhouse, where he is presently located."
A plea was made to raise funds to help the deposed tenants.

More on William Burke

William Burke. Esq., Ashford, Cong, was appointed to the Commissions of the Peace, on the recommendation of the Right Honourable Earl Lucan."

In 1883 William Burke gave evidence in the Mountmorres affair.

"William Burke, Esq, Lisloughry, gave evidence of the state of Ebor Hall and the trespasses committed there. He believed the murder of Lord Mountmorres will interfere with the sale of the place; he would not now give half the purchase money for it." (Ballinrobe Chronicle, Jan. 6)
In 1883 the Land League accused William Burke of initiating ejectment processes for non payment of rent without proper application to be served on several voters in Cong a few days before an election. Persons voting in the manner Burke chose were granted time to pay their rents, whereas those who did not were either forced to pay or be ejected.


William Burke bred cattle on his estate in Lisloughry. One of his bulls was Osman sired by Mohammed.

Lisloughry is now a hotel.

Lord Ardilaun - Benjamin Lee Guinness and (1798-1868) Arthur Guinness (1840 - 1915)

Sir Benjamin Lee Guiness bought the Ashford Castle at Cong in 1852. He was made a baronet in 1867. He died in Dublin 19 May 1868. Benjamin's son, Arthur Edward Guinness the 1st baron of Ardilaun was born in 1840. By 1881 Arthur Guinness owned 33,298 acres in Mayo and Galway. Not a full time resident, he did spent 4 to 5 weeks a year at Cong. While in residence he maintained and armed body or retainers. He had about 670 tenants.

Sir Arthur Guinness was granted the title Baron Ardilaun in 1880. His male heirs had right to the title. Ardilaun is an island in Lough Carrib.

By 1881 Lord Ardilaun had built a first rate school at Ashford. However, since he was Protestant many of the local Catholic families chose not to send their children to the school for fear of Protestant indoctrination.

Laborers on Lord Ardilaun's properties worked from 8 A. M. until dark in the winter and from 6 A.M to 6 P. M. in the summer. Many of the workers came from three and four miles away. Some local tenants supplemented their incomes by going to England in the summer to work. About 20 percent of the tenants who lived in the mountains of the Ardilaun estate went to England each March. The found employment in construction and at forges. Many of Lord Ardilaun's tenants had a cow, some had a donkey or horse and cart. Tenancy was on a year to year basis with no lease. Only 10 tenants were ejected between 1868 and 1881 for non payment of rent.

While Lord Ardilaun was considered by many as a beneficent landlord, there were complaints. Some tenants were evicted to make way for Ashford Park, a game reserve, which was home to herds of deer. He diverted water that fed a local mill to his property to feed a fountain on his estate. This forced the mill to close affecting the local economy. He strictly enforced no trespassing on his fishing and game reserve. Grouse hunting was so important to him that in 1874 he fined 30 tenants for pulling heather that they needed for fuel to cook and heat. Two of his land agents, the Huddys, were murdered at they attempted evictions in 1882. See Huddy. Another land agent, William Burke was forced to have police protection. Some of the antipathy towards Lord Ardilaun was directed towards his land agent, Walter Burke.

1882 Evictions:

CONG Branch, Co. Mayo. Bridget Murphy, 1, evicted 20th Nov. by Pat Foy, Cong, not readmitted.

Richard Higgins and Mrs Andrew Conway, The Neale, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Lord Ardilaun, Landlord, Captain Boycott, Agent.

In December 1883:
A MAN SHOT BY A BAILIFF A caretaker of Lord Ardilaun named, Cartwright discovered last night two men taking away some timber from Ross Hill, near Lough Mask and as they refused to bring it back he fired at them wounding one severely. (The Morning News from Belfast)
In 1884 one of Lord Ardilaun's bailiffs shot and wounded two men who left their boat and trespassed on Lord Ardilaun's property in search of wood. The keeper pleaded guilty and paid £40 to one man and £20 to another. A second bailiff pleaded guilty to common assault.

In October 1881 "Father Conway, parish priest of Clonbur, was sentenced to to months imprisonment at hard labor for assaulting a bailiff who served him a writ at the suit of Lord Ardilaun." (NY Times). In December 1881 Father Watt Conway wrote a letter to the Freeman in which he stated that Lord Ardilaun ordered him to removed a "certain causeway" which "obstructed his right-of-way, flooded his mountain lands". Conway claimed the causeway was a pile of loose stones placed according to plans of an eminent engineer to form a passageway across a deep and dangerous ferry crossing on Lough Mask. The construction of the causeway gave local employment over three or four week to over a hundred families. There was no possible flooding of Lord Ardilaun's mountain lands which, in addition to being elevated, were six to seven miles from the causeway. The 250 families who lived near the ferry had not other means of crossing themselves or their stock except swimming if the ferryman did not answer their call. Frequently people were left out in the cold and inclement weather unable to wake the boatman. The news of Father Conway's imprisonment was carried around the world.

In 1886 a traveler from Oregon in the US reported:

"Though Lord Ardilaun has a ---- roads and given much employment to working men at Cong he is unpopular there. I met his agent walking, followed by two well appointed constables with their rilles. Ardilaun, it appears, has evicted tenants, and pays low rates to his laborers." (The Oregon Scout. (Union, Union County, Or.)
In September 1893 - Alleged Misconduct of a Bailiff co. Mayo

Dr. Ambrose (Mayo W.) "I beg to ask the Chief secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland wether he is aware that within the past months a man named Deskin, a bailiff on the property of Lord Ardilaun, accompanied by other bailiffs, attacked the hut of an evicted tenant named Nicholas Noonan, living near Ballinrobe, and forcibly ejected him and his family without any decree of ejectment or other process of law, and that the hut was completely destroyed; whether Deskin was armed with any legal warrant for such proceedings: whether he is aware that Noonan offered no resistance, Deskin presented a loaded revolver at his face and and threatened to blow his brains out: whether Deskin had a licence to carry a revolver: and, if so, will it be revoked, whether Deskin had not a licence, the authorities will prosecute him for carrying a revolver without legal authority whether Noonan was prosecuted for resisting the bailiff, and returned for trial, while Noonan's application for a cross-summons was refused? Mr. J. Morley testified that the bailiff acted under a degree of eviction obtained on July 20. He claimed that the bailiff did not draw his gun on Noonan until Noonan had stabbed one of the bailiff's assistants with a pitch fork. "and was about to make another attempt to stab." He claimed the bailiff was licensed to carry a revolver. (ALLEGED MISCONDUCT OF A BAILIFF, CO. MAYO.)
In 1906 Lord Ardilaun's estate held over 1700 acres of untenanted demesne land at Strandhill, Cong, Ballinrobe, Cong 31, Kilmaine, Mayo. (Landed Estates)

At his death in 1868 Benjamin Lee Guiness left and estate in England of £60,000.

At his death in 1915 Ardilaun, Authur Edward, baron of Ashford Castle Cong, left and estate of £332,705 in England

Arthur Edward Guinness, Lord Ardilaun, was childless and the barony ended with his death.

Lord Ardilaun

Ashford Castle

LADY ARDILAUN - Nice site with lots of images of the Guinness family at Ashford Castle.

Lord Kilmaine

John Cavendish Browne, Lord Kilmaine, was the third Baron Kilmaine in 1866. He sat in the House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1849 to 1873. He was born 22 June 1849 and died 13 Jan 1873.

Sir John Brown, a Mayo Landlord, purchased the title of Lord Kilmaine. (The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland: Or, The Story of the Land League Revolution By Michael Davitt, 1904)

1878: certain portions of the Mountains and Townlands following (the Estate of LORD KILMAINE) WILL BE POISONED for the Destruction of Vermin, that's to say: Sughafadda, Ballyrourke , Loughanaganky, Ballyglass, Ballinchalla, Bunavaunish, Bunnadober, Carrowuagurraun, Cahernicole (East and West), Castletown , Inishc--g, Inishmaine , C-hcrhagollum , all in the Parish of Ballinchalla and Barony of Kilmaiue and County Mayo. Ballytrasna , Munnadesha Hall -argadaen, Ballywalter, Neale Park, Caherngry (East and West), Cusblaoernt, Carrowkee-, Tobernashee, Creevagh (North and South), Ballyshingadauu, Knockroe , Kildotia, Caherbernash, Parkmore or Demesne all in the Parish of Kilmolara, Barony of Kilrea, and County Mayo. Lecarrow, Killee- in the parish of Cong, barony of Kilmaine, and county Mayo. Cabernablauh y, Curraboy (Kilmaine) all in the parish of Ballinrobe, barony of Kilmaine, and county Mayo. Shanafarrag --- in the parish of Ross, barony of Ross, and county Galway. Dated this, 22nd day of March, 1878. WILLIAM BURKE, Land Agent to Lord Kilmaine.

Lord Clanmorris

John George Barry Bingham, 5th Baron Clanmorris was born in 1852 and died in 1916. He was the son of the 4th Baron John Charles Robert Bingham. He lived mainly at Ardrahan in County Galway.

He had houses at Cregclare and Seamount in Co. Galway and Newbrook, Ballyglass, Co. Mayo.


Huddy process servers on Lord Ardilaun's estate who were murdered in 1882.

Patrick Freely, Ballyhaunis, Mayo, February 1882 - Murdered

In February 1882 Patrick Freely, farmer's son age 23, was attact by a party of men at his father's house. They dragged him outside and beat him with sticks. He was then shot in the chest and died the same night. The attack was intended for the father, who was accused of paying his rent, but when he hid and could not be found the son was attacted instead. No one was accused.

"A shocking murder was commited last night at Ballindrehid near this town. A farmer's son, named Freely, was taken from his bed and shot dead outside his own door by a party of disguised men. The father of the deceased had paid his rent, and it is alleged that this was the cause of the crime". (Telegraph from a Ballyhaunis corespondent - The Parliamentary Debates By Great Britain. Parliament, William Cobbett, Thomas Curson Hansard)
David Freeley was described as a "poor old man" (the Parnell Commision report).

27 Feb 1882, Manchester Courier and Lancashire Advertiser:

"THE STATE OF IRELAND BALLYHAUNIS MURDER. Ballyhaunis on Saturday, Martin Cunnane, secretary of Lake Behan Land League, his son, Patrick Cunnaue, Patrick Bryne, Patrick Finn, and three brothers named Brennan were arrested in connection with the murder of Joseph Freely, at Ballindred.
In February 1883 Thos. Owens, age 23, an Irish laborer was apprehended at Morley near Leeds England on suspicion of the murder of Patrick Freely, farmer at Ballyhaunis County Mayo. Owens admitted that he came from Ballyhaunis and had arrived in Morley a short time after the murder.

In 1889 at a special commission hearing on Parnell and crimes Michael A. Waldron was called as a witness. He said in part.

"I am a trader in the town of Ballyhaunis...... I think the Land League in my parish was first started in 1880; it lasted until the suppression of the League........ I was secretary to the Land League during its existence in our part of the country.......... Most of the respectable people in the parish were members of the Land League.......The Land League was suppressed at the time the murders of Freeley and Dillon took place. Freeley's murder was in January, 1882, Dillon's in November, 1881. Our League were always opposed to crime and outrage. I attended the funerals of both the murdered men. Those murders had nothing whatsoever to do with the National League or the Land League. There was very much sympathy felt for them in the neighbourhood and by every member connected with our League so far as 1 could see. Dillon had a very large funeral - perhaps one of the largest in that part of the country, and Freeley had also a large funeral." (Parnellism and Crime, Part 26) In 1889:
The next case is that of Patrick Freley, of Ballyhough. This was "the son of the old man David Freley, who was called here. I recollect that old man well. One's sympathy went to him very naturally. He then, bearing this great sorrow and trouble, came here to prove the circumstances of the case, and he earnestly disclaimed the suggestion that the Land League in his opinion had anything to do with it whatever. Is appears that his son's death came about in this way - that he was visited by a party of Moonlighters or some such class, and they demanded where was the rent payer. But the witness went on to say that all his neighbours like himself had paid their rents. He himself was a member of the local Land League and one of the committee. The murder was denounced by the League and by the Catholic priests of the district, and the bishop, Dr. M'Evilly, appears to have come down specially also for the same purpose. Apparently no one in the neighbourhood entertained the opinion that this murder was in any sense a Land League outrage. It is sufficient for my purpose to say that no evident connection is shown. (The Irish Case Stated By Charles Russell Baron Russell of Killowen, 1889)

James [John] Dolan, Ballinrobe, 1881 - ear cut off

On September 27, 1881 James [or John] Dolan, age 45, farmer, of Derryveeney, Ballinrobe was dragged from his house by a party of five men who cut off is left ear. It was said that he had a disagreement with a cousin over a small piece of land.

John and Martin Lydon, father and son, Letterfrack Ballinahinch, County Galway murdered - And Constable James Kavanagh Letterfrack - murdered - Apring 1881

Martin Lydon and his father, John were attacked at their home in Banouglis (Bannogaes) Letterfrack County Galway on Sunday April 24, 1881. Seven or eight men burst into the cabin and severely beat the two Lydons. They were then dragged outside and shot. John Lydon died immediately. Martin survived long enough to finger one of his attackers, Patrick Walsh, who was tried and hung at Galway Gael on September 22, 1882.

Constable James Kavanagh a leading witness in the case was shot and killed February 15, 1882. Michael Walsh, the brother of Patrick Walsh, was tied in September and found guilty of the murder of Constable Kavanagh. Michael Walsh was sentenced to death but it was reduced to penal service for life in consideration of his youth. He was 18 years old at the time of the murder.

The Irish Case Stated By Charles Russell Baron Russell of Killowen, 1889:

"This is a very sad but a very simple story. It appears that a landlord called Graham, who had some land sloping down to the bay, had a tenant named Walsh. That tenant was evicted, and these poor people (Lydon and his son) were simply there to herd the cattle of Graham on the land. Walsh continued to live in a cottage by the crossroads leading to Renvyle, to Clifden, and to Kylebeg. It really, is enough to say in relation to this case that it was proved that this was an act of individual vengeance on the part of the Walshes and their friends in concert with the Walshes. One of the sons of the Widow Walsh was hanged for that murder, and another son was sent to penal servitude for being connected with the murder of the police constable engaged in getting up the evidence against his brother. I shall refer to the evidence of the clergyman who lived at the placa at the time, but your lordships see from the evidence given that there was no pretence for saying that there was any connection between the Land League and this murder; and it is quite properly pointed out to me that this man Mangan attempts to impose himself on your lordships as being a member of the Land League. His evidence is very important. He says he never heard of Fenianism before 1881. He himself was charged with Lydon's murder, he was in prison, and only let out when his mind gave way. Then he was taken to an asylum, and afterwards allowed to leave the asylum. I never heard of Fenianism before 1880. Father M'Andrew is the PP (that means he was the PP at the time). I did not know him to be president of the Land League, nor did I know Father Q'Connor to be secretary to the Land League. I would not call these Fenian meetings, because Fenians shoot a man before his face. All the meetings at Mrs Walsh's were of Fenians. We knew one another by signs. I got a card of membership.- Pat Ronan, of Fallilly, joined the League. Fallilly is near Letterfrack. I cannot swear there was a Land Lessue at Letterfrack, Pat Walsh was one. Mrs Walsh's sons were hanged for the murder."
"The State of Ireland: Tilling the farm of an imprisoned Land Leaguer":
"The renewed prevalence of fierce outrages in Connemara has excited serious apprehensions. The murder of John Lyden, a caretaker in the service of Mr. Francis J. Graham, at Letterfrack, was a most shocking crime. On the night of Sunday, the 24th, nine armed men broke open the door of Lyden's house, dragged him and his son, Martin Lyden, out of bed, in the presence of his wife and young children, took them outside the house, and then fired a volley of bullets into the unfortunate old man, and finished by battering him with heavy stones; they then fired at his son, who fell, they thought, dead with four bullets in his body; but he is still live. The surgeons have no hope of his recovery. Two men, named Joyce and Walsh, have been arrested on the charge of taking part in this murder. At another place a bailiff, named King, was seized by a gang of these villains, and was roasted over a fire till his whole body was covered with blisters and the hair burnt off his head. At Deergrove, near Castlebar, and at Ballyhean, houses were attacked last week, in the night, and shots were fired in at the windows. In several instances bailiffs or hinds of the landlords have been savagely beaten and stoned, and cattle and horses have been cruelly mutilated."
"on the part of the Crown, moved that Michael Walsh, charged with the murder of constable James Kavanagh, at Letterfrack county Galway, should be transferred from Galway to Dublin. The motion was made, on the certificate of the Attorney-General, that a fair trial could not be had in Galway. The motion was granted. A similar application was acceded to in the case of Patrick Walsh, brother of the other prisoner, charged with the murder of Martin and John Lydon." (Law Times, and Journal of Property, Volume 73)
1882: December Morning News Belfast. On September 22 Patrick Walsh was executed at Galway for the murder of Martin Lydon, on april 1, 1881. His younger brother, Michael, was sentenced to hang for the Constable Kavanagh at Letterfrack on October 28, but the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. "A reward for a thousand pounds was paid for the conviction."

The Pall Mall Budget:

Patrick Walsh, who was convicted of the murder of a herd at Letterfrack, was executed at Galway on the 22nd inst. Marwood was the executioner. Just before the cap was drawn over his head Walsh said, "I am going before my God tied up as a criminal. All witnesses swore falsely against me." A large number of soldiers and police were on guard, but very few people collected outside the gaol. The mother of the condemned man stayed near the prison walls crying bitterly all the morning.

The trial of Michael Walsh for the murder of Head constable Kavanagh at Letterfrack, county Galway, in February last, was commenced on Wednesday in Dublin before Mr. Justice Lawson and a special jury. The prisoner is the brother of Patrick Walsh, who was executed at Galway. Head-constable Kavanagh was sent specially from Dublin to investigate these murders, and was shot dead outside the constabulary barracks door one evening shortly after his arrival. The evidence against the prisoner is purely circumstantial. The prisoner's counsel applied for a postponement of the trial on the ground that the prisoner's mother, an important witness for his defence, was in such astate of nervous prostration_that she was unfit to give evidence. The motion was opposed by the Crown, and after a doctor had seen the woman and found nothing wrong with her the trial was ordered to proceed."

In the first trial of Patrick Walsh all the jurors were Protestant. Again in the second trial of Patrick Walsh all the jurors were Protestant. At the first trial of Michal Walsh all of the jurors were Protestant with one Quaker.

Constable James Kavanagh had arrested Patrick Walsh for the murder of the Lydons. The murder of Constable Kavanagh took place late on a dark night, when everyone else was away form the barracks. Normally there were six men at the barracks but that evening there were only two as one was on leave and three were at a wedding in a neighboring village. At about 8:30 Kavanagh left the barracks and went to a public house run by a woman named, Noon. Kavanagh and another man in the pub had a few whiskey and lemonades together. Since the other constables would return by 11 o'clock and Kavanagh was staying too long at the pub, Moon tried to lure him outside. Some noise and commotion was made to indice Kavanagh to go leave the pub. About twenty minutes after 10 he finally left by the back door. Out of the darkness several shots rang out. The police arrived but it was so dark they could not see much. In the morning footprints were found that lead to the suspects house. Boots wer found in the house that matched exactly the foot prints by the murdered constable's body. A hat was also found near the body that was said to belong to the suspect. His lawyer pleaded circumstantial evidence. While the jury said there was no evidence that Walsh had fired the shots, they convicted him, but recommended mercy "on account of his youth." He proclaimed his innocence. (AN IRISH MURDER TRIAL. NEW ZEALAND HERALD, VOLUME XIX, ISSUE 6560, 25 NOVEMBER 1882) September 30, 1882

Constable Kavanagh left a widow who applied for compensation for his death.

1882: December:

"Mr. D. J. Field, stationer, of Westmoreland street, one of the jurors who convicted Michael Walsh for the murder of Constable Kavanagh, at Letterfrack, was assaulted this evening between six and eight o'clock near the door of his residence, 14, North Frederick-street, by two men, who, as is believed, dogged him."

1883 Monetary compensation for the death of John and Martin Lydon:

Lydon, John, Lydon, Martin, "Banouglis", Ballinahinch, County Galway £700* (*This amount awarded for the benefit of the surviving family of the said John Lydon, exclusive of his eldest son Partick Lydon.)

October 31, 1882 - Awarded to Nappy Lydon, Gurtmilsih, for the murder of her husband, John Lydon, and her son, Martin Lydon, at Banonglis, Co Galway The Morning News from Belfast

Walter M Bourke, and his military escort, Corporal Robert Wallace, murdered June 1882 - Galway

Walter M Bourke was a wealthy West Irish landlord. He was born circa 1836 the son of Mr. J, Bourke, Crown Solicitor for Mayo County. Walter Bourke received a degree from Trinity college, Dublin. He owned two estates in Ireland, at Curraleagh (near Claremorris in County Mayo) and at Rahasane Park (in county Galway). He had made a fortune as a barrister in India before returning to Ireland to buy Rahasane. He inherited the property at Carraleagh.

He had several "disputes" with his tenants and was in the process of carrying out evictions at the time of his death.

The Illustrated London News of May 14, 1881 carried a story about Walter M Bourke evicting his tenants near Claremorris, Co Mayo. A year later he was shot near his estate in Galway.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck. Illustrated London News, Walter M Bourke May 14, 1881


It was extremely difficult to find process servers due to the hostile and dangerous conditions they met while trying to serve evictions notices. Walter Bourke, a Claremorris landlord and a candidate for a county constituency, took it upon himself to serve writs to his tenants at Curragh Leigh. He galloped up on horseback, strode into the house with his pistol drawn, and presented the writ to the surprised tenant. He was backed up by his servant who was also armed. At one point he spied one of his tenant, Malachy Fallon, in town and chased him into a building, up the stairs and from room to room until he cornered him in the garret where the poor fellow as obliged to accept the writ. [Illustrated London News, May 14, 1881]

Michael Scanlan of Middle Mase, Claremorris was one of six families evicted by Walter Bourke of Carraleigh, Claremorris. Michael and his family were forced to live in a sod hut constructed in a ditch by the side of the road. There was no room for their furniture and they were forced to keep their table and chair by the roadside. [Hansard's parliamentary debates, Volume 262, By Great Britain. Parliament, Thomas Curson Hansard]

Walter M Bourke owned a "moderate size estate" of 4,141 acres near Claremorris. The 1878 rents on some parts of the Bourke estate were 57 per cent above the government valuation in 1878. On other parts of the estate they were 91 percent above the government valuation. Fifty families were evicted from the Bourke estate in 1881. Various reports stated that the land was of poor quality and that the rents were paid not from monies earned off the land by seasonal migration to England. When the seasonal migration was no longer profitable the tenants could not meet they rent. [Land and Popular Politics in Ireland: County Mayo from the Plantation to the to the Land War, By Donald E. Jordan]

"CARRYING A GUN INTO CHURCH. A singular scene has just occurred at Claremorris. Mr. Walter Bourke, J.P., who has been Boycotted and his life threatened, attended mass with his family on Sunday, and carried a gun into the chapel with him. The people became excited, and demanded that he should leave the gun outside, which he refused to do. They then demanded that he should be put out himself, but the Rev. Canon Bourke persuaded him to go into the sacristy. The congregation still demanded the removal of Mr. Walter Bourke and the gun, but the Rev. gentleman declined to order his removal. The congregation then left in a body, carrying the Rev. Canon and his clerk with them in the crowd. Quiet was restored, and the congregation returned on Mr. Bourke, his family, and servants leaving the chapel. A memorial has been presented to the Lord Lieutenant by the Rev. Mr. Corbett, CC, complaining of Mr. Bourke bringing his gun into another chapel."

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

Mr. Burke had been mentioned in an Illustrated London News article of May 21, 1881:

"Some remarks were made last week, having reference to the instance of a landlord near Claremorris, Mr. Walter Burke, who finding that none of the ordinary process-servers in the county would venture to go round and deliver writs of ejectment to his defaulting tenants has resolved to do it himself."
" He took an active part in the prosecution of Father Conway a few years ago. A few months ago he entered the church at Carraro, armed with a repeating rifle while mass was being celebrated. The priest ordered him to leave the church, and he escaped by a side door in order to avoid being mobbed."

New York Times, June 9, 1882

The murder: Walter Bourke of Carraghleagh Co, Mayo and Rahasane Park, Co. Galway, age about 46, and his military escort, Corporal Robert Wallace, were shot and killed outside Castle Taylor, Ardrahan, Co Galway in June 1882 by a party of four or five assassins. Bourke was shot once in the neck and once in the head. The brains of the victims were scattered about the sight. Some reports say Bourke and Wallace were riding together in a dog cart - Bourke driving and Wallace sitting on the back seat looking backwards. Other reports say they were on horseback. In any event, they were shot in "board daylight" in a public place. The killers walked away carrying their own arms and the rifle and carbine they had taken from Bourke and Wallace. A inquest found that Bourke and Wallace died of gunshot wounds "willfully inflicted by some person or persons unknown." It is believed that the shooting was work of the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood). Rifles found near the murder spot were "marked the shamrock". The local Catholic clergy encouraged their flocks to do everything possible to bring the murderers to justice. Witnesses said that six men had left the scene. There are conflicting reports about arrests - from no one to three. No one was tried.
"Mr. Walter M Bourke, J. P., a barrister who had made a considerable fortune at the practice of his profession in India, and who had settled down as a landed gentleman, and his guard, Corporal Wallace, of the Royal Dragoons, were shot dead on the highroad at Ardrahan. Mr. Bourke was a Catholic, and had earned some considerable notoriety by attending mass at Carroroe Church with a repeating rifle, and would not leave the Church even at the request of the clergyman."

Reminiscences of John Adye Curran, k.c., late county court judge and chairman of quarter sessions; (1915)

1882: The Irish government offered rewards:
  • £2,000 for information leading to a conviction of the murderers

  • £1,000 for private information leading to "a similar result"

  • £500 for information followed by the conviction

Also offered was "Free pardon and the special protection of the Crown in any port of her Majesty's dominion to any person concerned in or privy to the murders other than the actual perpetrators."

1882 The Parliamentary Debates: The three dragoons provided as protection to Bourke were not provided with horses. By riding in the same vehicle together they lost the advantage that a separate would have afforded. However, it was also argued that a mounted escort could not shoot as accurately as one in a vehicle.

Corporal Wallace left a widow. Unfortunately, the Widow Wallace "was not on the married establishment, he having married without leave." She did in the end receive compensation o £300. Ballinrobe Chronicle June 17, 1882:


The Dublin Correspondent in alluding to the murder of Mr. Bourke and his soldier escort, writes:

"The fate of Mr. Bourke and his escort has called the attention of the authorities to the expediency of altering some of the existing arrangements with a view to greater efficiency of the system of police and military protection. Mr. Bourke was one of tbe bravest of men; his courage might be called foolhardiness, but it was indomitable. He knew for more than a year that his assassination had been resolved upon. A correspondent of the Daily Express states that he was told twelve months ago that twenty-four men were lying in wait to shoot him on his way home from Claromorris to Curraghleagh, but he declined protection, saying that he would shoot any head that appeared where it ought not to be. He always carried a Winchester rifle, and when approaching his own woods used to fire several shots into them to clear them. An incidont occurred some time ago which illustrated this practice in a rather startling manner. A constable was reconnoitering in a wood which he knew Mr. Bourke was to pass, when he drew up and fired 10 bullets into it before he passed. The constable, it is said, found it necessary to get quickly under cover or he would have had a bad chance. Mr. Bourke was repeatedly warned to have protection, but he refused it, and it was only within the lost two or three months that he was persuaded to allow it. He had three dragoons at Rahasine and two infantry soldiem at Curraghleagh. By a singular omission of the authorities, however, the dragoons were without their horses, and these would only be provided at the expenee of the person protected. The result was that, bringing but one guard with him and having him on the same vehicle as himself, he lost the advantage which a separate and double guard would have afforded. It was a dear piece of economy which cost him and the poor, trooper their lives. The fact that the soldler's carbine, was unloaded was due to another regulation the folly of which is unhappily proved by this outrage - namely, that no trooper is to carry his carbine loaded unless at full cock, and, as it is liable to go off by the slightest accident, the practice is not to load until the occasion arises. Poor Wallace was in the act of getting out his cartridges to load when the messenger of death intercepted him. The authorities are now considering the propriety of arming escorts with tho Winchester repeater. Better, experience ought by this time to have taught both the persons threatened and their protectors the necessity of adopting the most efficient means of defeating the purpose of the assassins, who are ever vigilunt and prepared.

Two fowling pieces and a Snider rifle which appear to have been used in the murder of Mr. Bourke and his guard on Thursday were found on Saturday in a field near an old abbey about two miles from Castle Taylor. Two of them had been recently discharged, and the third had a charge about 6 in. deep in it. The funeral of the unfortunate soldier, Corporal Wallace took place on Monday. His remains , whioh reached Dublin on Saturday evening by mail train, were interred with full military honours at Arbor Hill Military Cemetery. The deceased belonged to the 1st Royal Dragoons, was barely 25 years of age, and a native of Scottland. He was a young soldier, having completed six years and 105 days of irreproachable service. The bands of the Coldstreams, the 21st. Hussars, the 63rd Shropshire Regiment, and the 1st Royals followed the remains, which were on a gun carriage, drawn by six horses of the Royal Horse Artillery. A contingent of corporals was furnished by each regiment in the garrison. The public were most respectful in bearing, the greatest sympathy being expressed."

"the late ill-fated Walter M. Bourke, of Curraleagh, near Claremorris, himself a counsellor, who after a brilliant and successful career in India, returned to Ireland in the Land League days, made a losing race as candidate for M. P. of Mayo, had various disputes with his tenantry, and was unfortunately shot to death, with a soldier escort, near his residence in Rahassane Park, near Gort, Co. Galway, June 8, 1882, the last Bourke of prominence in the affairs of Mayo." Gaodhal, Volume 22
Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

1. Spot where Mr. Bourkes' body was found. 2. Where the body of Corporal Wallace lay. 3. Loophole to wall, through which the shots were fired. (Gate by which the murders afterwards came out)


In October 1888 the London Times had a multi page report on the Land League issues in which the Attorney general spoke against the Land League actions. He stated that P. J. Gordon at Claremorris encouraged the "boys" to keep their powder dry, the flag flying, and to continue the battle against the land thieves in particular to "blow Bourke to blazes one fine morning - Walter of Curraleigh" who had all the money his father had robbed from the poor tenants. Gorden had added that "In one case he threw our 13 weak children and brought 300 police to evict them." The Attorney General declared that this was a direct incitement of the crime that was subsequently committed.

According to the New York Times account of the murder, Bourke took an active part in the prosecution of Father Peter Conway. Peter Conway was a activist priest from the famine days until his death in 1872. He was the curate of Ballinrobe Parish for a number of years. See Religion

Corporal Robert Wallace

Corporal Robert Wallace of the Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) was accompanying Walter Burke when they were shot. It was reported that Wallace, a six foot tall Scotsman, had only arrived from the Curragh Camp two days before. Anxious to see the countryside he exchanged duties with a comrade. Corporal Wallace was shot three times - twice in the head and once in the heart.

"Funeral Of Corporal Wallace. - The funeral of Corporal Wallace, 1st Dragoon Guards, who had been shot dead while escorting the late Mr. Walter M. Bourke, near Ardraban, County Galway, took place with full military honours June 13th. The deceased, who was only 25 years old, was a native of Scotland, having been born at Shotts, Lanarkshire. He had been six years and 105 days in the army, and during that entire period he had borne an irreproachable character. He was, indeed, a man of high military training, excellent conduct and steadiness, and had been especially selected for dangerous service. Previous to his promotion he had formed one of the personal guard of a gentleman named Digby, residing at Tuilamore.......... A melancholy circumstance in connection with his murder was that he had, it appears, volunteered to be one of the protection party in attendance on the late Mr. Bourke, and had been only a few days engaged in discharging that duty when he was assassinated. Shortly before three o'clock the cortege, which included a contingent of corporals from each regiment in the Dublin garrison, started for Arbour Hill Cemetery. First advanced the Firing Party, consisting of fifteen men of Wallace's own regiment, headed by a non-commissioned officer, followed by the band of the 58rd Shropshire Regiment; the drum and fife band of the Coldstream Guards, the full band of the 21st Hussars, and the band of the Royal Dragoons, playing in turn a Miserere. Next came the body of the murdered man, borne on a gun-carriage of the Royal Horse Artillery, drawn by six horses, draped in black. The Union Jack was spread over the coffin, and on this pall were placed wreaths of flowers sent by the Lord Lieutenant, the officers and men of the 18th Hussars, stationed at Gort, and by the Soldiers' Institute. The deceased's charger, led by one of Wallace's comrades, next followed, and then came the mourning-coach, in which sat the murdered soldier's mother and brother, who had arrived from Scotland on Sunday. Next in processional order followed a large party of the 1st Royal Dragoons, under command of Col. Hutton. Then came some veterans from the R. Hospital, Kilmainham, and detachments from the 53rd Light Infantry, the 13th Regiment, the Coldstream Guards, the Royal Artillery, tho 21st Hussars, the Royal Horse Artillery, and a contingent of Royal Irish Constabulary Phoenix Park. Major-Gen. Lord Clarina and several officers brought up the rear. As the funeral passed onward to the cemetery it wis received with the utmost manifestations of respect by the people who stood in the streets to see its mournful progress, all remaining uncovered as the gun carriage upon which rested Wallace's body slowly moved by. At the grave tho customary volley was fired ; and the last honours having been paid to the dead, those taking part in the funeral returned from the cemetery.

The British Flag & Christian Sentinel, Volume 1

Corporal Wallace was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"The funeral of Corporal Wallace, at Dublin, on the day before, was also attended by a public demonstration. The Corones jury in Galway returned a verdict of murder by some person or persona unknown." (Mysteries of Ireland 188?)

Widow Rawn Wallace was awarded £300 for the death of her husband.

"Mrs. Rawn Wallace, wife of Corporal Wallace, £300 for the murder of her husband while he was escorting Mr. Walter Bourke, who was also murdered"

Shooting of Peter Mullen, December 1880, Ballinrobe

Peter Mullen, a farmer, was shot on the road between Ballinrobe and Hollymount. It was unclear if it was a land issue or a personal vendetta. In fact, it was most likely an issue between Mullen and his wife. However, the press pointed out that it was indicative of the situation in the West of Ireland where "advantage may be taken to further the ends of private malice."

Two young men who lived in the vicinity were arrested. His wife was concidered a suspect. His son was tried for the murder.


A tenant farmer named Mullen while returning from Ballinrobe market last night was fired upon by six men concealed behind a wall on the road to Hollymount. He died immediately, all the bullets taking effect. It is thought the murder originated in a land disputer. Nor arrests yet.

(Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh Wisconsin, December 21, 1880)

Peter Mullen, his wife, Judy, and their son, Pat, of Kiltrone had been in Ballinrobe for the market on Monday the 20th. They left town very late with some neighbors. They had apparently all been drinking. Peter Mullen and his son Pat arrived home first. Peter left the house again to go and search for his wife. He found her at the neighbor's house where he apparently attacked her, pulled her hair and "thumped" her. She escaped and the neighbors persuaded Peter and Pat to stay and have tea. Peter left after a short period of time, followed by his son. Pat returned to the neighbors saying his father had been murdered. Pat said that two men sitting on the hedge by the "boreen" had shot his father as he passed them. He said the men then ran toward Cornfield Wood. Pat ran back to tell the neighbors and then went back to Ballinrobe to tell the police. The following morning the police arrested Judy Mullen, the murdered man's wife, and two of her nephews, Patrick Feerick and Anthony Sheridan. There appeared to be no evidence against them but they were kept in Castlebar jail for a week and then released as innocent. Two years later Pat Mullen was arrested in Liverpool and taken back to Ballinrobe to face the charge of murdering his father. There was a lot of conflicting testimony. I do not know how the trial turned out. See
Ballinrobe Chronicles

At Hollymount, Baila, on Saturday, "Peter" Mullen was charged with the murder of his father, Peter Mullen, at Kiltrone, in December, 1880. I cannot access the article as of August 2017.

Who committed these crimes?

It was claimed that it was common knowledge among the local population just who had committed these crimes. The events were freely talked about in the community. But despite the large rewards offered everyone remained silent to the authorities. Although hundreds of troops were poured into the West of Ireland "crimes" continued to be committed right under the noses of the military and the police.

1883 Court claims for compensation for crimes in 1880, 1881, and 1882 in Mayo and Galway awarded by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Under the Crimes Act monetary awards for loss of relatives or personal injuries were given for crimes committed.

Awards for deaths in counties Mayo and Galway were as follows:

  1. Mountmorres, Viscount, Ebor Hall, Clonbur, county Galway, £3,000 in three installments, £1000 at once, 12 months and 2 years to the representative of the deceased (his widow).

    To Harriette Viscountess Mountmorres for murder on Sept. 25, 1880 of her husband Viscount Mountmorres, at Clonbur, County Galway £3,000 (Oamuru Mail).

    See above.

  2. Bourke, Walter M Rahasane, Gort, County Galway

    Bourke, Walter, M., Rahasane, Gort, County Galway, £1,500, to the person representing the deceased (his widow), in three installments, at once, 12 months and 2 year.

    See below.

  3. Thomas Barrett a small farmer from Doolough was murdered on 10 May, 1882.

    Barrett, Thomas, Doolough, Bangor Erris, County Mayo, £400 to personal representative of the deceased - his widow Bridget (October 31, 1882 The Morning News from Belfast, Page 3)

    Thomas Barrett a small farmer of Doolough was shot in his house in March 1882. He had just returned from the fair at Bangor when he was murdered. One suspect was arrested and released.

    Will - Thomas Barrett, £290 estate of Thomas Barrett late of Doolough county Mayo, farmer who died 10 May 1882 granted at Ballina to Bridget Barrett, widow

    Reason for murder:

    "The next case is that of Thomas Barrett, who had done nothing calculated to bring down upon him the dislike of his neighbours except taking some grazing land which a man named Reilly had given up. The suggestion made in cross-examination is that Barrett had made some reference to the murder of a man called Carter which had happened some years before. His widow was cross-examined and stated that up to the date of her husband's murder she never received any unkindness from her neighbours and thought she was on good terms with everybody. She admitted that her husband had said that some particular man had shot Carter. She was asked, " Did your husband tell you whether he had been saying that elsewhere to many people?" She replied, " I never heard him say that except at the time." She was again asked, " Did he tell you that he had said anything of the kind at the fair?" and her answer was, " I don't know whether he did or not. I never heard him say anything of the kind except on this occasion." Here, again, there is no evidence to connect the Land League with this man's death" (Parnellism and Crime, Part 19)
    Thomas Barrett, age 50 farmer, as he was about to go to bed a shot was fired through the window which hit him on the hip, he died two hours later from the wound. It was stated that he had taken some land from which another had been evicted. (Special Commission Act, 1888: Reprint of the Shrothand Notes of ..., Volume 2)

    The following story was reported in the London Times: "On May 11, 1882 Thomas Barett was murdered.......A landlord named Bigham who had a farm of 12 acres from which he evicted a tenant in 1871, and Barrett occupied the farm for four or five years." In October 1880 a notice was posted on Barrett's farm stating that for the welfare of the Irish tenant farmer grazing must be discouraged and land grabbing put down so Irish hands could till Irish lands. Everyman was obliged to observe the rule. It added "your second notice shall be a bullet so drop the grazing in time before November 1." Barrett gave up the farm on November 1, 1880 and the property was rented to a person named Carter. But in May 1882 Barrett took the farm back from the same landlord. He was fired upon as he and his wife were getting ready for bed and in the same room in which his children wer sleeping. He was wounded in the hand and hip and died several hours form his wounds. It was not clear if the intended victim was Carter or Barrett.

  4. Conway, James, Killariff, Athenry, County Galway £800 to personal representative

  5. Dillon, Luke, Curnacarta, Ballyhausnis, Mayo to the person representing the deceased (his son John), £500, in one sum

    to John Dillon for the murder of his father at Culnacorla County Mayo on November 18, 1881 £500 (Oamuru Mail)

    See Dillon

  6. Huddy, John, Creevagh, Cong, County Mayo, £300, three installments £100 at once, 12, months and 2 years to the representative of the deceased (his father, Michael).

    See above

  7. Huddy, Joseph, Creevagh, Cong, County Mayo, £200, three installments, 66 l 13 s 4d at once 12 months and 3 years to the representative of the deceased (his, son Thomas).

    See above.

  8. Gibbons, Thomas, Drigheen, Cong, £250, to be raised in three installments, of 83 l. 6.s 8 d each, immediately, 12 months, and two years to the person representing the deceased (his parents, John and Bridget)

    See above.

  9. Lydon, John, Lydon, Martin, "Banouglis", Ballinahinch, County Galway £700* (*This amount awarded for the benefit of the surviving family of the said John Lydon, exclusive of his eldest son Partick Lydon.)

    October 31, 1882 - Awarded to Nappy Lydon, Gurtmilsih, for the murder of her husband, John Lydon, and her son, Martin Lydon, at Banonglis, Co Galway The Morning News from Belfast.

    See Lydon

  10. Feerick, David, Brownstown, Ballinrobe, to the person representing the decease (his father, Michael Feerick) £450 in one sum. to Michael Feerick for the murder of his son David at Ballinrove, County Mayo £400 (Oamuru Mail)

  11. See Feerick

  12. Wallace, Robert, Rahasane, Gort, Galway, £300, three installments, to the representative of the deceased (his widow Mrs. Fanny Wallace, Chale Farm, Isle of Wight).

    to Mrs. Fanny Wallace of Chale Farm Ilse of Wight for murder of Robert Wallace at Castle Taylor, county Galway on June 8, 1882 £300 (Oamuru Mail)

    Corporal Wallace of the first Dragoons, was the companion of Walter M Bourke of Rahasane, Cor. county Mayo. They were shot near Ardrahan in May 1882.

    See Bourke

  13. Freehilly [Freehill, Friely & Freely], Patrick, Bracklowboy, [Brackloughbay, Blackloughbay, - Bracklinboy] - Bracklaghboy - Civil parish of Bekan - Poor Law Union of Claremorris Ballyhaunis, Mayo, £600 in one sum to the person representing the deceased (his father, David)

    Patrick Freely farmer's son, age 23 was attact by a party of men at his father's house. They dragged him outside and beat him with sticks. He was then shot in the chest and died the same night. It was said the attack was in in retribution because the father had paid his rent. The assault was intended for the father, David Freeley, but he hid and could not be found so the son was attacked instead. No one was accused.

    David Freeley was described as a "poor old man" (the Parnell Commision report)

    1889: "The next case is that of Patrick Friely, of Blackloughbay, the son of David Friely, the poor old man called before your Lordship, to whom my sympathy went out very naturally" David Friely expressed doubts that the Land League was involved in his son's murder and stated that his son's murder was perpetrated by a gang of moonlighters "or some such class" who set upon father and son. He escaped but his son was taken by them and shot. David Friely claimed all his neighbors payed rent and he himself was a member of the Land League. (Parnellism and Crime, Part 19)

  14. John Henry Blake (the agent for absentee landlord, Lord Clanricarde) his wife Harriett and his servant Thady Ruane were shot on their way to mass in June 1882. Blake and Ruane died. Harriett survived the attack.

    Blake, John H Rathville, Loughrea, county Galway-

    Harriet, the widow of John Henry Blake was awarded £1,200 for personal injury and £3,000 for the murder of her husband.

    £3,000 to Mrs. Harriett Blake for the murder of her husband John Henry Blake June 29, 1882, in the county of Galway to be raised off three baronies in the county within three years (Oamuru Mail) - to Mrs. Harriett Black for personal injuries sustained on the occasion of her husband's murder £1000 (Oamuru Mail)

    Bridget, Ruane, the widow of Blake's servant, Thady Ruane, Rathville, Lounghrea was awarded £400 for the murder of her husband. See Woodford stood up to the power of Lord Clanricarde GALWAY ADVERTISER, MAY 06, 2010 for the story on Lord Clanricarde and John Henry Blakes' murder.

    Lord Clanricarde, Hubert de Burgh (Burke) was one of the most hated absentee landlords in Ireland.

    See Evictions for and image of evictions from the estate of Lord Clanricarde and some additional information on the the Blake murder.

  15. In 1883 Peter Dogherty [Doherty] of Carrigeen East, Gort, co. Galway, [Carrigan, Craughwell] was awarded £600 for the murder of his son Peter November 2, 1881.

    To Peter Dogherty for the murder of his son at Currigeens, County Galway on June 29, 1882 £400 (Oamuru Mail) "Peter Doherty, a young farmer, living at Carriagn, who took a farm surrendered by another tenant wao was refused a reduction, was shot dead at his own door". (The truth about the Land league, its leaders, and its teaching By Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster, 1883). Doherty had been boycotted.

    Peter Doherty, a farmer's son age 25, was shot near the heart at about 9 0'clock in the morning. Some men had released a mare from the barn. Dohery went to secure the mare. Whereupon he was shot. Shots were also fired at the house of his uncle John. Pat Finnegan and Michael Muldowney were accused of the murder and conviced on the testimony of two informers. Pat Finnegan maintained his innocence. Finnegan and Muldowney were later reprieved.

    A bizarre meeting on the Galway train GALWAY ADVERTISER, JUNE 14, 2012

  16. In 1883 Bridget Connell (Conwell) of Coolaght, co Mayo was awarded £130 for injuries to herself received on the night of July 17, 1882.

    Bridget Connell farmer age 65 was shot in the left hand. She was accused of having taken a farm surrendered by another tenant. No one was accused or apprehended.

  17. In 1883 Mary Dempsey [Dempsy] of Riverville near Loughrea was awarded £800 for the murder of her husband, Peter, on May 29, 1882 at Hollypark

    To Mary Dempsey of Riverville County Galway for the murder of her husband on May 29, 1882 at Holly Park £800 (Oamuru Mail)

    Peter Dempsey small farmer age 43, was shot twice about 11 o'clock while entering a gate at the rear of Hollypark House near Loughrea, Riverville, the residence of Mr. Peter Blake, J. P.

    Peter Dempsey was reported to have taken the farm of Murty Hines [Hynes]. Two men were accused; both were acquitted.

Awards for injuries in county Mayo and Galway were as follows:

  1. Byrne, John, Loughanboy, (Logboy) Ballyhaunis £300 for injury

  2. Harriett Blake, Rathville, Loughrea Count Galway £,200

  3. Connell, Bridget, Coolaght, Kilcolman, County Mayo, £130

  4. Carter, George T. S., Belmullet, Co. Mayo £1,500

  5. Dolan, James, Derryvenny, Cappaduff, co. Mayo £100

  6. Gibbons, Bridget, Dringeen, con, Co. Mayo £75

    Gibbons, Bridget, Dringeen, Cong, for injuries, £75 to be raised in three installments of 25 each, 1st installment at once, 2nd in 12 months and 3rd in 2 years.

    See above.

  7. Hearne, John, Killeshien, Ballinrobe, £600 personal injuries

    See above.

  8. Horkan, Martin, Drumshinagh, Swinford, Co Mayo, £150

  9. Hernon, Bartholomew, Kilronan, Arran Island, co. Galway £100

  10. Reid, Michael, Cloonlumney, Kilcolman, co. Mayo £100

Awards for Deaths in co. Mayo and Galway made by the Grand Juries of Ireland were:

  1. James M'Donagh, dunmore, co Galway to Mary M'Donagh £1000

Awards for injuries in co Mayo and Galway by the grand Juries of Ireland were:

  1. John O'Connor, Dunmore co. Galway to John O'Connor £250

Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons and Command, Volume 63 (1884) and COMPENSATION FOR MURDERS IN IRELAND. OAMARU MAIL, VOLUME IV, ISSUE 1322, 11 SEPTEMBER 1883, National Library of New Zealand

27 Agrarian Murders in Ireland in 1882

It was said that there were 27 agrarian murders in Ireland in 1882:

chief amongst which were those of the Joyce family, five in number, slaughtered while asleep in their little cabin in the mountains of Maamtrasna 1.; of the two bailiffs of Lord Ardilaun, (an old man and his grandson,) who were shot dead when they went to serve eviction notices on tenantry dwelling near the shores of Lough Mask, Connemara, and whose bodies were then tied in sacks and sunk in the deep waters of the lake2.; of Mrs. Smythe, whose head was blown literally into fragments at Barbavilla, Westmeath, as she drove home from church one Sunday afternoon in a carriage with her sister and her brother-in-law, (a local landlord)3.; of Mr. Walter Bourke (a landlord) and Corporal Wallace (one of Mr. Bourke's military bodyguard,) who were both shot dead in broad noon-day on the public road near Rapassane, Galway4.; of Mr. Blake (land agent of the Marquis of Clanricarde) and his servant man, who were both shot dead on the road near Longhrea, Galway5.; of Constable Kavanagh, who was shot dead at Letterfrach, Galway6.; and of Mr. Herbert, a grand juror, who was shot dead at Castle-island, Kerry3.. All these twenty-seven murders were assassinations, pure and simple, and in no case whatever could even the palliation be urged that death resulted as the consequence of a fight. The murderous design was always stealthily and deliberately carried into execution. In one instance in which a herdsman named Linnane, seventy years old, was shot dead while sitting at his fireside at Miltown, Mally, Clare, because he had worked on a "boycotted" farm, the circumstances of the case were more than ordinarily mournful, for his son, who had been sitting at his side when the fatal shot was fired by the " Moonlighters" who attacked the house, lost his reason through his fright and horror, and died crazy some months afterwards. But besides this fearful catalogue of crime, in very few instances of which any one was brought to justice, were the startling assassinations of Lord Frederick Cavendish (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) and Mr. Burke (the Under Secretary for Ireland,) on Saturday evening, May 6th, in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Then, also, frequent assassinations occurred in Dublin streets; these, thongh undoubtedly political, cannot be exactly classed with agrarian crime. In different parts of the city, four informers were assassinated, and a police constable named Cox was shot dead while aiding in an attempt to arrest a party of armed Fenians, thus bringing the entire number of political and agrarian murders committed in Ireland during the past year up to thirty-four.

The Criminal Law Magazine, Volume 4, 1883

1. There is a ton on the internet on the Maamtrasna murders and there are a number of books about it. It is still a mystery why five members of the Joyce family, the parents and three children, were murdered and who murdered them. There was a major language issue during the trial. Three people were hanged for the murders and five were sentenced to life imprisonment. While it became a symbol of the Irish question, it is not completely clear that it was indeed an Irish issue.
2. See Huddy
3. I only followed the Galway Mayo murders.
4.See Bourke
5. See Blake
6. Constable Kavanagh was shot in connection with the Lydon murders. See Lydon<

Clash Between Tenants and Police, County Mayo, November 1881

At Garkill, a hamlet near Belmullet on the north-west coast of Co, Mayo, there was a confrontation between local inhabitants and the police on October 28, 1881.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS Nov. 12, 1881, (Aloysius O'Kelly born Dublin, Ireland, 1851-1936)

Grawkill "perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the Atlantic" consisted of "about a dozen houses of the meanest and poorest class". A process server accompanied by about 60 police was about to serve "summonses for the rates."

"The people of the neighborhood, seeing the police approaching, gathered to the number of about three hundred. When the police were ascending the mountain path that leads to the village, they were assaulted by the crowd, from the heights above, with showers of stones. The police charged them up the hill several times but they returned to the assault. The sub-inspector in command at length gave the order to fire, which was obeyed, and some of the shots took effect, but even after some of the rioters were wounded, they did not retire. Twenty-four shots were fired. An elderly woman who received a wound in the throat and a charge of buckshot in the chest, is dead, and a young woman who received a bullet on the left side. Many others were less seriously wounded. Several of the police were injured. More than twenty persons were arrested and sent to Castlebar Jail."


The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and officials of Dublin Castle had the authority to "proclaim" a meeting unlawful and further had to right to order force to suppress the meeting in question.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

HARPERS WEEKLY, December 17, 1881 (Aloysius O'Kelly born Dublin, Ireland, 1851-1936)

The Condition of Ireland — Posting the Government Proclamation in Connemara

Unfortunately, the relevant part of the accompany article is missing.

Boycotting Continued

An article in the The illustrated London News of March 13, 1886 shows how the idea of boycotting took hold all over Ireland and was used as a method to push at the English dominance in society.

"The social condition of Ireland has in all ages been deplorable; from one case to another, that country has never been at peace for seven years in the course of seven centuries. The peculiar symptom exhibited at this moment of its chronic malady is the organized system of interference with private dealings and personal affairs by the arbitrary decrees of the local branches of the National League, formerly known as the Land League. These decrees are enforced by putting every man or woman who disobeys them under a species of interdict or excommunication, forbidding all members of the League, who are the majority of the neighbors, to render the commonest services of life to the obnoxious person."
The article was accompanied by four drawings.

"Parcel Post Bringing Provisions To Boycotted Emergency Men At Kilcooley"

""Here is and "emergency man," one specially employed by the Defense Association to take charge of the house from which a tenant has been evicted; the neighbouring baker and butcher have been prohibited from selling him food, so he is obliged to order it from a distant town, and the package, sent by the parcel post is handed to him though a window."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Boycotting turf at Johnstown, Kilkenny"

"A cartload of boycotted turf is stopped on the road, upset, and scattered, by a mischievous assembly of peasants; while the deputy of the National League, turning his back on this petty outrage, pretends not to be aware of it, and reads, United Ireland as if all were quite and serene.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Boycotting caretakers conveying provisions from Thurles
"In another scene, the cart bringing provisions for a party of "caretaker" on a boycotted estate is waylaid by a family, man, wife, and boys who have been recently ejected from one of the farms, and whose insults might proceed to acts of violence but for the presence of armed police."

"A Boycotted Member of the Kilkenny Hunt"

"The Kilkenny Hunt, being a pastime for the landed gentry, was severely boycotted, and here we see the farmers, on the bank of a stream, treating a gallant horseman as a trespasser, and driving him off when he attempts to land in their fields. What would the hard-riding, free-living, cross-county gallopers of Charles' Lever's entertaining tales have said to such an interruption of their sport?"

"These minor annoyances keep up a bad feeling between different classes, interfere with trade and industry, deprive home life of its comfort, and spoil the naturally pleasant temper of the Irish people. The continual reports of their occurrence have greatly prejudiced English minds against consideration of those plans for the benefit of Ireland which statesmen are disposed to entertain. It is extremely impolitic, on the part of leaders of the Irish political movement, to permit within reach of their influence, such unjustifiable exhibitions of spite and malice, which are likely to create a false idea of the national character, and to impede salutary legislation."

What Boycotting means In Ireland-A lady of the manor making calls.

No date. Publication unknown.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Notice the difference in dress between these "ladies of the manor" and the peasant ladies on their estates as seen in other images.

The guards were provided by the government. It would be interesting to know how much the government spent on soldiers to escort "ladies of the manor" on visits during the "troubles" in the 1880s.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Boycotting of James and Norah Fitzmaurice, County Kerry 1888

"A Brutal agrarian murder was committed in the early hours of the morning of Jan. 31, 1888" in County Kerry. The victim was a feeble man of sixty-six years of age named James Fitzmaurice. Having retaken a farm from which he and his brother had been evicted, he was denounced as a land-grabber, and boycotted."
Fitzmaurice had been given police protection but on January 31 he declined a police escort as he set out with his daughter at half past four in the morning to the Listowel Fair. Two men followed them. Fitzmaurice turned back to talk to the men while his daughter went on in the cart. An argument ensued and Fitzmaurice was overcome by his assailants and shot two times. The assailants fled. Fitzmaurice walked a few paces along the road and collapsed. He was taken to a nearby house where he died shortly thereafter.

Norah Fitzmaurice gave evidence against the accused murderers, Daniel Hayes and Daniel Moriarty, at the trial. They were convicted and sentenced to death. Daniel Hayes and Daniel Moriarty were executed in April 1888. Norah Fitzmaurice was boycotted for testifying at her father's murder trail.

The Boycotting of Norah Fitzmaurice

"On January 31st, an agrarian murder of a remarkable cold-blooded and deliberate kind was committed near the village of Lixnaw, Kerry, an old man named James Fitzmaurice being assassinated in the presence of his daughter, Norah. Two men, who have since been executed, were afterwards charged with the crime, and Norah gave evidence on the part of the Crown against them. From that time onwards she was rigorously and vindictively boycotted. On Sunday, April 15th, she attended service at the Lixnaw Roman Catholic Chapel for the first time since the conviction of her father's murderers at the Wicklow Assizes in March. She was protected by twenty armed policemen, some of whom entered the chapel, while other remained outside. Just before the part of the service called "The Gospel" was reached, two men, named Thomas Dowling and Mortimer Galvin, got up off their knees and walked down the aisles; and, in consequence of signals given by them, the majority of the congregation, numbering about fifty persons, left the chapel and refused to return. No word was spoken to Norah Fitzmaurice herself. The result of these proceedings was that on April 21st, at a special Court held by Captain Massey and Mr. Cecil Roche, at Listowel, Dowling and Alvin were charged with intimidating Norah Fitzmaurice, and were each sentenced to imprisonment with hard labor for six months. The defendants appealed, and were admitted bail. We may add that an urgent appeal is being made to the loyalist of Great Britain and Ireland on behalf of Norah Fitzmaurice, her sister, and their widowed mother. Their lives are in such danger that they are continually guarded by police. They find it impossible to a labourer to work for them, and have no funds to employ men from a distance. Several influential gentlemen have undertaken to collect subscription; among them are the Ven. Archdeacon Orpen, the Rectory Tralee; S M Hussey, Esq., Tralee; and J A Frounde, Esq., 5 Onslow Gardens, London. S. W.

On delivering judgment Captain Massey said: "The case is a peculiar one, but is part and parcel of the dread system of boycotting which is carried on in this county. This instance of sympathy with murders surpassed all that has gone before, for it had led to the desecration by the people of their own house of worship". And Mr. Roche added: "The girl Norah Fitzmaurice had committed no offence against the laws of God or man; she simply told the truth, and brought to justice the ruffians who so cruelty and foully murdered her father. In any civilized country the poor girl would be an object of pity and compassion. Whereas she had been subjected to the most cruel persecution; her enemies had even t racked her into the house of God, and there exposed her to what was the greatest possible form of intimidation by forbidding others to worship in her presence."

Clearly there was something more going on here than the malicious boycotting of a young woman solely because she testified against her father's murders.

See Religion for the accompaning picture.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Graphic April 21, 1888



The accompanying article is missing.

I assume the boycotted police were those who accompanied the agents who were serving eviction notices.

More Land League

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


by A. O'Kellly (Aloysius O'Kelly born Dublin, Ireland, 1851-1936)

The Illustrated London News, February 5, 1881

No text accompanied this print when I bought it. A restricted access Internet site (Project Muse, O'Sullivan, Niamh. Imaging the Land War) suggests that this print is related to a land reform issue in Ireland.

Aloysius O'Kelly: Art Nation Empire By Niamh O'Sullivan, notes that this images "operates as a ironic meta-marrative" countering the accompanying text that denounces the need to deal with 'seditious Fenian and agrarian intrigues' perpetrated by 'those misguided dupes who are tempted to acts of vilence and outrage'. Court investigations were extremely common at the time but O'Kelly treated the incident with solemnity "imbuing it with a highly charged sence of drama".

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illustrated London News, June 18, 1881 (Aloysius O'Kelly born Dublin, Ireland, 1851-1936)



According to the accompanying article few auctioneers could be found who were willing to officiate. Consequently, it was left to the sheriff or sub-sheriff to run the auction which was generally held in the market square. "These proceedings have during the last few months, been frequently attended with scenes of turbulence and riot".

"Emergency Committee" members (generally friends of the landlord) where in attendance to make bids if no other bidders came forth.

The crowd jeered, yelled and cursed as each lot came up.

"They assemble and march in procession to the place, with a band of music and banners; and, if they get possession of the cattle, will parade them, decorated with the Irish national colors, through the streets of the town."
For the most part, however, the cattle went to to the Emergency Committee. Members of the Committee can be seen standing to the left of the auctioneer and protected by the line of policemen. In the background is a detachment of dragoons at the ready if trouble should arise.

The total number of "outrages" committed in May of 1881 was as follows: "Murder, 3; firing at a person, 5; assault on police, 7; aggravated assault, 14; assault endangering life, 2; assaults on bailiffs and process-servers, 6; cutting or maiming the person, 3; incendiary fire and arson, 24; burglary and robbery, 6; taking and holding forcible possession, 8; killing cutting or maiming cattle, 15; demand or robbery of arms, 1; riots and affrays, 10; administering unlawful oaths, 7; intimidation - by threatening letters or notices, 140; otherwise, 36; attacking houses, 11; resistance to legal process, 3; injury to property, 31; firing at dwellings, 5. the total number of outrages reported in the return for March was 146, and in April 295."..........

The total number of persons now detained in prison without trial, under the Coercion Act, is 110, of whom 49 are in Kilmainham Goal, Dublin".

In June 1881 meetings were forbidden (or proclaimed) in Carlow, Kilcronin, county Louth, Conrath, county Meath and Keadue, county Roscommon, Mills-Street, county Cork, Neagh, Kildare, Skibbereen, Skull and Ballydehob.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012, circa 1881


The Kildare Hunt was one of the most prestigious in Ireland.

Few tenant farmers whose lands contained coverts full of foxes relished the sight of the local hunt charging across fields sprouting winter and spring crops, not to mention the damage often done to fences and gates.

Nationalism and Popular Protest in Ireland By Charles H. E. Philpin

The hunts had been tolerated until 1881. Then beween November and December there were a number of protests resulting in the cancelation of several hunts. Several hounds were stoned to death and some were poisoned by strychnine. These tactics, along with boycotting and ambush, convinced the gentry that the Land League would stop at nothing to drive the old landlords away.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, Unknown publication


The image can be dated to around 1881 based on the period of protest against fox hunting and the mention of the recent publication of a pamphlet by Fortrell called "How to Become the Owner of Your Farm". The accompanying short article stated that things were generally quite in Ireland.

The image represents:

"a condition of things which has of late become quite common in various parts of Ireland, the peasantry turning out with sticks, stones, and other missiles to attack the hounds, horses and riders whenever they show themselves in the hunting-field."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


1. Before We start for out twenty mile Drive to Mushroom Hill We are paraded and instructed "to take Notes of all" We may see, and to prevent a Breach of Peace"

2. Taking notes with Difficulties

3. "Thirteen Hares were killed after a most enjoyable Day's Sport (!?) and in a most sportsmanlike manner (Vide Local Newspaper).

Accompanying article:

"These sketches may be best explained by a leaf from Constable P. Murphy's note-book: —"Left Ballynamuch at 1:30 A.M., for Mushroom Hill, to prevent Land League Hunt taking place. Twenty Irish miles. March to the mountain. Crowd assembled with dogs. Men all armed with bludgeons. We are 'to prevent a breach of the peace, and to take notes of all we see.' Begor, we'd want a powerful note-book. I wonder would it be a breach of the peace to break my rifle over the returned Yankee blagyard's head? Mem. Ask the Head when we go home. 12:30 P.M. Raining like the divil. No more note-taking. The boys have just killed a hare, after a fine course of fifty yards. There are ten dogs at it, a big fellow, for fear it would escape, gave it a 'polthogue' with a wattle. The League will have fine soup these times. It is very cold. What the divil did they send us for I'd like to know. I wish I was back in Ballynamuck again. The rain is making porridge of my notes. No whiskey, and tobacco wet!" "
Land League Hunts attracted large crowd of farmers and laborers who defied the laws against poaching on the landlords land.
"These nationalists hunts often turned into festive occasions with hundreds of farmers and labourers gathering near a covert or woods. After much cheering and blowing of horns, not to mention some consumption of liquid refreshments along the way, they would move of with their dogs and hunt until they had killed enough hares and rabbits for their needs. Farmers who owned horses capable of clearing a low fence or narrow ditch would often join in the chase and ride after any four-footed game".

Nationalism and Popular Protest in Ireland By Charles H. E. Philpin, Stopping the Hunt 1881-1882

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012, Illustrated London News March 20, 1886


Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Graphic, March 31, 1888


Brass bands played at Land League meetings, evictions and havestings: Ballinrobe, Ballintubber, Ballyroan Brass Band , Ballyshannon, Claremorris Brass Band and more.

"...the Land League band turned out, playing round the town, and collecting the young and fiery spirits of the locality."

Ireland under the Land League: a narrative of personal experience By Charles Dalton Clifford Lloyd

"Sketches in the West of Ireland- Arrests at a "Proclaimed" Meeting"

From Harper's Weekly, March 24, 1888

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


The Illustrated London News, April 21, 1888

This image and the image that follows were on the same page of the Illustrated London News of April 21, 1888

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


The Illustrated London News, April 21, 1888

In protest to a Coercion Act*: William O'Brien

"called a public meeting at Loughrea, which was perhaps the best proclaimed district in Ireland. An enormous crowd attended the meting from all parts of the County of Galway. But an army of soldiers and constabulary was poured into the town, the demonstration was proclaimed and suppressed.

Recollections of an Irish judge ... By Matthias M'Donnell Bodkin

* Coercion Acts were emergency acts of Parliament passed in an attempt to maintain order in Ireland. Over 100 were passed between 1801 and 1922.

"Meanwhile the Coercion Act has been further employed as an engine of oppression in the hopes of quelling the spirit of the tenants by imprisoning their leading men. On Agpril 8 another great meeting was held at Loughrea.........the people attended in vast multitudes, all with the National League cards in their hats.The Government proclaimed the meeting and endeavored to suppress and disperse it, but did not succeed in preventing Mr. O'Brien making his speech to a subsidiary meeting.

For his action on this occasion, and for attending the meeting, Mr. William O'Brien and twelve other persons were arrested and prosecuted, and but for some technical point, and for some irregulatrity in the proceedings, would long ago have been convicted and sent to prison."

Incidents of coercion: a journal of visits to Ireland in 1882 and 1888 By Baron George Shaw-Lefevre Eversley

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

THE GRAPHIC May 17, 1890

"Obstruction — Scene in a disturbed district in Ireland"

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2012


The Land Commission was established to make loans from public funds so tenants could buy their farms from the former landlords.

In this image four well dressed gentlemen are inspection the premises and more importantly the actual soil itself. The one farmer is holding a shovel full of dirt.

Hard Times in 1891

The most famous of the hard times in Ireland was the "Great Famine" of the mid 1840s. However, famine was a continuous issue in Ireland.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


Publication and date unknown. 1891 based on an article on back of image - Richard Lefevre Blunt new Bishop of Hull.

Most of the accompanying article about the "seed potatoes" is missing. However, enough remains to indicate that the distribution of seed potatoes was the responsibility of the local poor-law union.

Clonakilty is is west County Cork, Ireland.

In February 1891 the Local Government Board reported:

"Apart from the potato crop, the small farmers are well circumstanced, but they are confronted with a greater scarcity of potatoes than they have experienced for over thirty years and this fact will cause distress in each locality according to the extent to which the people rely for sustenance upon potatoes......

Report on agencies and methods for dealing with the unemployed By Great Britain. Board of Trade, 1893

Much of the west of Ireland was still dependent on the potato in 1891.

The Land Issues as Related in Part by Frank Leslie's Magazine, April 1880

Frank Leslie April 1880

In 1845 (the year immediately preceding the famine) the population was at the highest point it attained during the present century, and probably the highest it ever reached. It was estimated at 8,295,061. In 1847, the year when the famine was at its height, the numbers are given as 8,025,274. In 1875, just thirty years after the maximum, the numbers had fallen to 5,309,494. In 1877 they were estimated at 5,338,900, showing an increase over 1875 of 29,412.

Now, the census returns show that from 1851, very shortly after the famine, there has been a steady decrease in the number of farms under fifteen acres, and a steady increase in the number of farms between fifteen and thirty acres, as well as in farms exceeding thirty acres in area. Up to 1861, the number of holdings not exceeding fifteen acres had declined 55 per cent, while those above fifteen acres had increased 133 per cent. The number of farms between fifteen and thirty acres was, in 1861, double what it had been in 1841, and the farms above thirty acres amounted, in 1861, to 157,833, against 48,625, which had been their number twenty years before. Between 1861 and 1871, farms under fifteen acres decreased by 12,548, and farms above thirty acres increased by 1,470. According to the latest returns (1875), the farms not exceeding one acre in area were 51,459; those of one to five acres were 69,098; those of five to fifteen acres, 166,959 ; fifteen to thirty acres, 137,669; the total above thirty acres being 160,298 holdings.

This distribution of the land seems to indicate a considerable improvement, compared with the state of things prevailing before the famine. Unfortunately the increase in the size of holdings has not been attended by a corresponding decrease in the number held on an insecure tenure. Tenancy at will continues to be the rule, and permanency the exception, in Irish land tenure.

An attempt to estimate roughly the classes of landholders has been made by an able writer in the Contemporary Review. The "Domesday" list of proprietors of land gives the number of owners of one acre and under ten as 5,892, holding 28,968 acres, or an average of a little over 'our acres each ; between ten acres and fifty, there are 7,746 owners, holding 195,525 acres, or an average of a little over twenty-six acres; between fifty acres and a hundred, there are 3,479 owners, holding 250,147 acres, or an average of just tinder seventy-two acres. These make up a body of small proprietors, owning from one to a hundred acres, numbering 18,117.

Eison's Almanac for 1879 estimates the number of "proprietors in fee" of agricultural holdings at 20,217. The same, authority gives the number of leaseholders in perpetuity as 10,298 ; for terms of years exceeding thirty-one, as 13,712; for thirty-one years and under, as 47,623 (many of which maybe short leases); and of leases for lives, or lives and years alternative, as 63,759. The number of tenancies at will is 526,628, or 77.2 per cent, of the whole number of holdings. These statistics, collected in 1870, have doubtless been in some degree modified by the working of the Church Act and the Land Act.

The Domesday list of the proprietors of under one acre is given in Thorn's Directory as 36,144, holding 9,065 acres; but their holdings do not affect the present question, as they are mostly non-agricultural. The estimate in Eason's Almanac purports to relate wholly to agricultural holdings. Domesday includes all classes.

Another index of the condition of a people maybe found in the way they are housed. Mean and comfortless dwellings imply not only a low standard of comfort, but often a low morality. Let us see how this matter has stood in Ireland.

The Census Commissioners of 1841 divided the dwellings of the people into four classes. The fourth, or lowest, comprised all mud cabins having only one room. Of this class there were in all Ireland, according to the 1841 census, 491,278. In the last census, 1871, the number had fallen to 155,675. The third-class dwellings were also built of mud, but contained three or four rooms, with windows; the latter convenience being by no means universally present in the one-roomed cabin of the fourth class. Of the third class, the census of 1841 enumerated 533,297; by 1871 this number had fallen to 357,126. The second class are described as good farmhouses, and in towns, houses having from five to nine rooms. Of this class, in 1841, there were 264,184; and in 1871 the number had increased to 387,660. The first class of houses increased daring the same period from 40,080 to 60,919. Let us see now in what way the population has been distributed in the different classes of houses.

In 1841, the number of families occupying first-class houses was 31,333. In 1871 the number had risen to 49,693. During the same period the number of families in second-class houses rose from 241,664 to 357,752. On the other hand, the families in third-class houses decreased from 574,386 to 432,774; and those in the fourth-class, or one-roomed cabins, from 625,356 to 227,379. By a curious coincidence, the proportion of families to houses was the same in 1841 and in 187 - one hundred and eleven families to one hundred houses. In this way the very great shifting in the classes is all the more clearly proved to indicate a real rise in the condition of the people.


Absenteeism is, and long has been, a serious drawback to Ireland. The yearly drain is no trifle, economically, apart from the bad political effect of treating with tenants exclusively through agents, who have no interest in the estates, and look upon the whole question as a mere matter of salary and commission. In any steps which are taken to enable the Irish to become possessors of their holdings, the estates of permanent absentees may at least be considered fit subjects for experiment. Not the most abject idolater of the rights of real property can contend that they feel any deep interest in the welfare of a country which they rarely or never visit, and which, in many instances, their continuous demands for increased rent tend to pauperize. To allow such people to assert their privileges to the full extent, when they altogether neglect their duties, is simply to legalize and encourage a ruinous system.

In the good old time, when Ireland was "great, glorious and free," the sparse population of the country was divided into various clans, about seventy in number, whose chiefs were elected from among the members of the ruling family. The condition of the kern, or peasant farmer of that time, is thus described in Dr. O'Connor's "Historical Address": "Until the period of James I the lower orders of Irish had no legal tenure, no freehold property; no, they were worse off than the negroes in the West Indies.

"Their haughty chiefs could punish them at pleasure by coigne and livery, by cosherings, cessings, cuttings, tallages, spendings, etc., and even by death."
After the last of the various uprisings against English conquest, the conquered territories were granted to English settlers, who, especially in the west and southwest, let the lands on the system that existed in England in the 13th and 14th centuries, and is now to be found in Russia, and, to a very small extent, in the west of Ireland. The greatest difficulty experienced in the management of Irish estates is the preservation of subdivision, and for this tendency the tenant is not entirely to blame, as, for over fifty years previous to the famine of '46-7, estates had been deliberately divided into very small holdings.

Landlords found ruin staring them in the face, and from one extreme opinion veered to the other; and the most prosperous property was that on which fewest tenants were to be found. Then came the time of enforced emigration, scarcely less terrible than the famine itself, when thousands, enfeebled by disease, died on the passage to America, or in the hospitals where they were received on landing. Bands of men, armed with crowbars and ropes, accompanied the sheriffs, and completed the evictions by pulling down the houses just vacated, and the face of the country presented a scene of desolation; the site of some populous villages being now marked by a mass of smokeless and roofless gables. After the famine of 1846-47, and the" rising" in '48, a large number of estates changed Lands by the action of the Encumbered Estates Court; and the encumbered estates were sold at prices so small that many of the mortgagees found themselves minus their money. Then came the system of "driving," and the abolishment of the "hanging gate." The Fenian movement passed the Land Act of 1870, by which every small tenant was granted an interest of seven years in his farm, to the extent of seven times the annual rent; the county court judge was permitted to appease the landlord who capriciously evicted a paying tenant. At the expiration of the tenancy, claims were sustainable for improvements made during its continuance, and for unexhausted manures used on the farm. This Act, in a word, is an attempt to compel a bad landlord to act like a good one; but "hard" landlords in Ireland are thick as leaves in Vallombrosa. Previous to the meeting at Irishtown, at which the present land agitation was 'inaugurated, the farmers showed no intention to repudiate their liabilities. For several years they had prosperous seasons; and though in 1872 there was a partial failure of the potato crop, nearly as serious as the failure of 1879, no agitation was resorted to for the purpose of obtaining remission of rents. But in 1872 there was no party in the House of Commons on whom the Irish farmers could place the slightest reliance. In fact, the Irish party was a mere mockery, a delusion and a snare.

In prosperous times no agitation is dangerous. "Agitation," says a distinguished writer on the subject of the new movement, "requires a basis of real depression to give it force." This depression existed in Ireland in the April of last year.

A reckless system of credit had sprung into existence - so reckless that, in 1878, the majority of small tenant farmers found themselves almost hopelessly in debt when the commercial collapse came, of which the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank was the central incident. The Irish banks, in a panic, called in their outstanding debts, and refused further accommodation on almost any terms, trembling for their own stability, when no man knew what giant interest might go next. In April, the condition of affairs in Ireland was, then, favorable for any proposition that promised the farmers some relief from their difficulties. The tactics of the obstruction were such as delighted the Irish heart, being always "again the Government "; and the forced modification of the South African Bill; the forced amendment of the Mutiny Bill, fought with dogged tenacity by Mr. Parnell and his following; and the annulling of the Queen's University charter—achieved entirely by the efforts of that section of Irish members who, casting off traditional Parliamentary restraints, determined to win, by sheer force of unceasing obstruction to the ordinary business, the measures to which the almost unanimous voice of Great Britain had declared itself—caused the pulse of the peasant farmer to beat at its highest.

In 1878, it was generally supposed that an election was at hand, and it was necessary that the electoral campaign should open with a policy or movement to which the Catholic clergy would not be in opposition ; for Soggarlh aroon is as strong in the Irish heart of to-day as it ever was, all assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. A series of meetings was arranged for the purpose of adopting the new agitation, the first of which took place on Sunday, April 20th, at Irishtown, a small village in the portion of Mayo adjoining the counties of Galway and Boscommon, where a considerable tract of country is owned by absentee proprietors.

The Gombeen Man

A kind of rural Irish loan shark, the Gombeen man was a moneylender who charged exorbitant interest. The word comes from the Irish gaimbin = usury.

"Once a farmer gets into debt with the gombeen man he seldom gets free from the big man's clutches"

Report, Volume 13, 1914

A history of the Irish Parliamentary party ..., Volume 2 By Frank Hugh O'Donnell, 1910 discribed the gombeen-man as "the universal usurer, the shopkeeper who sells on credit, and does not like to sell for ready money, because his main profit comes from keeping his customers in debt." And further: "He is the curse and vampire of the countryside." and "He is the most liberal doner to all Chruch objects." and "Better sometimes quarrel with the priest than with the gombeen-man". It was claimed that about 25% of drinking establisments, groceries and general stores were run by gombeen men.

Behind a web of bottles, bales,
Tobacco, sugar, coffin nails,
The gombeen like a spider sits,
Surfeited; and, for all his wits,
As meagre as the tally-board,
On which his usuries are scored.

Joseph Campbell, The Gombeen Man

"The Gombeen Man"

The Graphic, December 11, 1880. Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Patrick J. B. Daly, solicitor, (c 1850-)

Patrick John Bernard Daly was a wellknown solicitor in co. Mayo who was employed by the Land League to defend "oppressed tenant farmers" (HANSARD'S PARALIAMENTARY DEBATES).

1877: Patrick J. B. Daly, Applicant's Attorney, 1 Merchants Quay, Dublin and Ballinrobe co. Mayo (Ballinrobe Chronicle)

1881: Thom's Directory of Ireland Daly, Patrick J. B. solicitor 52 Abbey street, middle, Ballinrobe

1885: January 73, at St. Patrick's, Ballinrobe, the wife of Patrick J. B. Daly, solicitor, of a son.

1887: Birth, March 22 at St. Patrick's Ballinrobe, County Mayo, to Patrick J.B. Daly, solicitor, and his wife, a daughter was born.

1899: June 7, at Eyre Square, Galway, Death Mary Margaret, eldest daughter of Patrick J. B. Daly solicitor (The Irish Law Times and Solicitors' Journal, Volume 33)

1889: Patrick J. B. Daly testified that he was a solicitor admitted to the bar in 1874, had lived in Ballinrobe up to 1888, and in 1889 was living in Galway. While living in Ballinrobe he had defended:

  1. Daly and others charged in firing at Smith an agent of the Marquis of Sligo near Ballycovy. -

    [October 18, 1879- shots fired at John Sydney Smyth" agent for the Marquis of Sligo. See Rory of the Hills above.]

  2. Persons charged with the murder of Lord Mountmorres -

    [Lord Mountmorres, William Browne De Mountmorency, 5th Viscount of Mountmorres was shot several times at close range on September 25, 1880 near his home in Clonbur. Several people were arrested in connection with the murder. No one was convicted. See Mountmorres]

  3. Persons charged with the murder of "Mullins" (Mullen) -

    [Peter Mullen, a farmer, was shot near Ballinrobe in December 1880. It may have been a personal vendetta. See Mullen]

  4. The Feerick murder

    [David Feerick was a process server who was murdered in broad daylight on the outskirts of the village of Ballinrobe. See Feerick]

  5. The Huddy murder

    [Joe and John Huddy, process servers, were murdered in County Galway in 1882. See Huddy]

  6. The Gibbons murder

    [Thomas Gibbons was murdered in Sligo in 1882. See Gibbons]

  7. The Freely murder

  8. The murder of Bourke the herd at Balla in Mayo

  9. Defended 15 to 30 persons charged with offenses under the Whiteboy Acts.

  10. The Aughamore outrages on process servers

  11. Ballinlough outrages

  12. Rioters in Mayo between 1879-1882

  13. Cases of malicious burnings

  14. Kilvine riots against process servers

Mr. Daly claimed he did not communicate directly with the Land League about any of the murders. He did say he was compensated with costs amounting to £300 to £400.

When questioned he stated that he had also been the solicitor for:

  1. Miss Gardiners tenants at Ballycastle who where charged with retaking possession of the holdings

  2. The Crows at Milltown, Galway who had attacted the police

  3. Brennan at Castlebar in 1879 who had been arrested for making a speech.

  4. In several ejectment cases

He testified that he had the only practice in Ballinrobe and maybe he had the largest practice in Western Ireland and defended practically all of the cases against the Land Leaguers.

He stated that the Land League was weak in Ballinrobe in 1879 and 1880. He could not remember that anyone was convicted except in the Huddy case. The Times (London) February 2, 1889

Other testimony in inquiries concerning the Land League show that Mr. Daly was the solicitor for Mr. Fitzmaurice who was prosecuted at Castlebar for interfering with the process servers on the Boycott property.

1901: Eyre Sqaure Galway City: Daly Patrick M 50 Male, married, Head of Family Catholic, solicitor, Irish English speaker, born Galway, Daly Mana E 72 Female Mother Catholic, mother, widow, English speaker, Daly Bard J 17 Male Son Catholic, son medical student, English speaker, Goos Anne 72 Female Visitor, Catholic, single, Lordam Bridget 18 Female Spinster, Servant Catholic, single,

1911: Daly Patrick John Bernard 60 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic, solicitor, widowed, Irish English speaker, Greally Mary 34 Female Servant Roman Catholic, English only

The Land Reclaimed By The Irish

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The above two images are from one postcard that shows a before and after picture of the same area in Castlebar.

After centuries of oppression by English landlords the Irish peasant began to gain control of the land through a series of Acts that allowed them to purchase the land they had been living on:

  • In 1885 the Ashbourne Land Purchase Act provided for a system of government-assisted land purchase, which enabled many tenants to buy out their landlords.
  • The 1887 Land Act was an extension of the Ashbourne Land Act. It allowed excluded leaseholders into the system set up two years previous.
  • The Land Act of 1891 created a board to purchase land and create holdings in the poorest areas in the western counties and a loan fund for tenants who wished to purchase their lands.
  • The Wyndlam Act of 1903 provided loans to tenants at reduced interest for the purchase of land and gave bonuses to landlords who sold.
  • The 1907 Evicted Tenants Act provided for compulsory sale of land needed for evicted tenants.

By 1921 two-thirds of land was in the hands of Irish tenants.

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The Boycott Incident
Land League
Irish Life

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