Absentee landlords were common in Ireland and for many landlords the primary focus was income rather than the conditions of their tenants. Many landlords realized that they could get a higher income by turning their properties to pasture than to continue with the old practice of collecting rents from tenant farmers. Evictions was the most common way of getting rid of unwanted tenants.

The tenant frequently built his cottage himself from local materials. However, his rent was higher if he had windows, if his door was over a certain height and if he made any type of improvements or enlargements to the dwelling.

The landlords practiced "Rack Renting" in order to get rid of unwanted tenants. Rents were raised to the point that the tenant could not afford to pay them. The landlord then had the tenant evicted for non payment of rent. There were no appeals and no mercy shown.

Although the only legal reason for eviction was non payment of the rent there were numerous examples of landlords who evicted tenants if they did not conform to the landlord's wishes.

The Illustrated London Times, December 16, 1848

The Ejectment of Irish Tenantry

Two images and text.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Ejectment

The day after ejectment

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


A vast social change is gradually taking place in Ireland. The increase of emigration on the part of the bulk of the small capitalists, and the ejectment, by wholesale, of the wretched cottiers, will, in the course of a short time, render quite inappropriate for its new condition the old cry of a redundant population. But this social revolution, however necessary it may be, is accompanied by an amount of human misery that is absolutely appalling. The Tipperary Vindicator thus portrays the state of the country:_

"The work of undermining the population is going on stealthily, but steadily. Each succeeding day witnesses its devastation - more terrible than the simoon and more deadly than the plague. We do not say that there exists a conspiracy to uproot the 'mere Irish'; but we do aver, that the fearful system of wholesale ejectment, of which we daily hear, and which we daily behold, is a mockery of the eternal laws of God - a flagrant outrage of the principles of nature. Whole districts are cleared. Not a roof-tree is to be seen where the happy cottage of the labourer or the snug homestead of the farmer at no distant day cheered the landscape. The ditch side, the dripping rain, the cold sleet are the covering of the wretched outcast the moment the cabin is tumbled over him; for who dare give shelter of protection from 'the pelting or the pitiless storm?' Who has the temerity to afford him the ordinary rites of hospitality, when the warrant has been signed for his extinction? There are vast tracts of the most fertile land in the world in this noble country now thrown out of tillage. No spade, no plough goes near them. There are no symptoms of life within their borders, no more than if they were situated in the midst of the Great Desert- no more than if they were cursed by the Creator with the blight of barrenness. Those who laboured to bring these tracts to the condition in which they are capable of raising produce of any description- are hunted like wolves, or they perish without a murmur. The tongue refuses to utter their most deplorable - their unheard- of suffering. The agonies endured by the 'mere Irish' in this day of their unparalleled affliction are far more poignant than the imagination could conceive, or the pencil of a Rembrandt picture. We do not exaggerate; the state of things is absolutely fearful; a demon, with all the vindictive passion by which alone a demon could be influenced, is let loose and menaces destruction. Additional sharpness, too, is imparted to his appetite. Christmas was accustomed to come with many healing balsam, sufficient to remove irritation if not to stanch wounds; but its place is usurped by other and far different qualifications. The howl of misery had succeeded the merry carol which used to usher in the season; no hope is felt that an end will soon be put to this state of wretchedness. The torpor and apathy which have seized on the masses are only surpassed by the atrocities perpetrated by those who set the dictates of humanity and the decrees of the Almighty at equal defiance."
Note: Simoon= a hot dry dust-laded wind especially in the Arabian desert

See also Images of the Great Famine

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck. Reprint bought on eBay, 2005

"An Irish Eviction, 1850 by F Goodall, R. A."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck.

E'Expulsion, scene de moeurs irelandaises from L'UNIVERS ILLUSTRE May 14, 1859

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck. Reprint bought on eBay, William Henry Powell, American Artist

"The Eviction" [A Scene from Life in Ireland"], 1871

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck.


The accompanying article stated while eviction had once been common and cruel it was rare at the time, "owing to better feeling between the landlords and the peasantry."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck.



"We have little need or wish, after the protracted discussions of so many months past, upon the grievous condition of affairs between the claims of landlord and tenant in the western counties of Ireland, to dwell much on the distressing scene that is here presented. It is obviously the case of a peasant family being expelled, by the aid of the Irish Constabulary, which is a half-military force, and which has the severest coercive duties to preform, from the humble cottage that has long sheltered man, woman, and child. They have failed to pay the rent, and they are consequently ejected by regular process of law but the aspects of this business, in itself, is harsh and threatening; the scanty furniture, rudely cast out upon the ground, the weeping wife and daughter, the terrified babies, the poor old father, apparently stunned by this great affliction, whom a constable is leading from the door, may well appeal to feelings of humane compassion. Such feelings, to their credit, seem to have touched the officer and men employed in protecting those who come to execute this stern decree of forcible removal and who are perhaps themselves less susceptible of pity on these occasions. The neighbours in the village are naturally in a state of high indignation, as may be seen to the right and left of the premises; but we trust that no actual deeds of violence will be committed"


Compare the difference between the Irish Catholic's cottage and the surroundings of the landlord.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

ALL THAT IS LEFT; SCENE AT A MAYO EVICTION The Illustrated London News, April 17, 1886,

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Excerpts from the accompanying article:
" "Agrarian outrages, murders, and other crimes of violence and cruelty, not including the practice of "boycotting," are pretty well confined to certain notorious districts [of the west]......The peasantry, in general, can barely keep themselves alive...... Their greatest hardships are those which Nature has inflicted upon them by the niggardliness of the soil, a large proportion of the country being moorland or mountain, rock and bog, and by the unfavorable climate, stormy, wet, and cloudy, from the neighborhood of the Atlantic Ocean. In the judgment of scientific agricultural economists, a considerable part of the land in those western counties is so poor that it cannot afford to pay any rent whatever; its quality, with the effect of the weather that ordinarily prevails, is such that it only just enables the cultivators to earn mere subsistence for themselves and their families. Rent has usually been paid from money earned by one or two men of each family going yearly to England or Scotland for harvest work, and in some cases also by women or young persons going to work for the farmers of Ulster; when this expedition has failed the peasant has sold his last cow, heifer, or pig, or the horse needed for the plough, to pay the rent; but it is seldom paid for the produce of the soil. This is the position, generally of the poor Connaught tenantry, of whom, in that province, there are seventy thousand having less than five acres each, many with land that yields no crops but potatoes and oats and rye; and in some districts, last season, these crops were an utter failure. Our readers will therefore consider what is the meaning of an "eviction" for non-payment of rent, in such a district of Mayo as that where our Artist, Mr. Claude Byrne, the other day made his sketch of the girl, shut out with her father, mother, and the children from the cottage built by their own hands - waiting in charge of their few household goods while they go to find shelter for the ejected family; but it happens too often that they have no roof to cover them at nightfall, and, with little food and scanty clothing, it is likely that the weaker may perish."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck.


From a Sketch by Mr Claude Byrne

The Illustrated London News, April 10, 1886

A Touch of Nature: Scene at an eviction on Clare Island

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, The Graphic, 1886

"Battle of Saunders' Fort" - the eviction of Thomas Saunders, one of Lord Clanricarde's tenants, Woodford, Galway, August 1886.

Four tenants on the Clanricarde estate were evicted in August 1886 for failure to pay rent.

Thomas Saunders, who had build his house at a cost of 200 pounds, barricaded his property, locals tore up the roads and bridges, felled trees across the roads so the military would have difficulty passing. Tenants fought with sticks, stones, gaffs, lime, boiling water and bee hives. Saunders assisted by 22* men held out for two days*. The sheriff retreated but returned a week later with scaling ladders and a force of 200 (or 500*) men. Twenty two* men were arrested.

"To evict these four men the whole available forces of the Crown in Galway were employed from Thursday the 19th of August to Friday the 27th. Seven hundred policemen and soldiers were present to protect the emergency men who carried out the evictions, and sixty peasants were taken to Galway gaol.

(England Under the Coalition: The Political History of Great Britain and ... By Peter William Clayden, 1893 and several other books available on google books)

The accompanying article was not available with the above print of the Saunder's Fort when I bought it. However, the story is told at Moving Here, Migration Histories . This site contains some original records including a copy of a letter written by the Marquis to his land agent, John Blake, in January 1881.

Tommy Larkin

Tommy Larkin, a boy of 15 (or a young man of 23), from Gurteeny was one of those arrested. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He died in Kilkenny prison - in a cell "no larger than a box"* on September 27. (*The Parnell Commission). He was regarded as a martyr. He was buried in Abbey(about 13 kilometers west of Portumna. The story goes that over 20,000* thousands attended his funeral and when his father returned home he found an eviction notice.

Not a finer man you e'er did pass
In the town of Woodford, going in to Mass.
A bailiff struck a child a blow
My darling Larkin soon laid him low.

Some say Tommy Larkin died on a hunger strike others that he died of unattended medical issues.

The Ballad of Tommy Larkin

Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders had been evicted once before - some years before this event. He reportedly went to Australia where he greatly improved his financial circumstances. He returned to Ireland and built the stone house that became the object of the siege.

"One of these evicted tenants was Thomas Saunders, his wife, old mother, and seven children; he owed two years' rent, 18 pounds, and costs 17 pounds 10 shillings. He had returned from Australia about seventeen years ago where he had made over 600 pounds by farming. He paid a fine of 100 pounds on entering the farm, he built a house and outbuildings at an expense of about 200 pounds; and although strictly sober, hard-working and industrious, is not now worth a shilling. To evict this man and three others, the bailiff came with 700 police and a gang of Orangemen from Ulster!"

(Samuel Lloyd The government of Ireland, 1887)

Hubert George de Burgh-Canning, second Marguis of Clanricarde

Hubert George de Burgh, Lord Clanricarde, the second Marguis of Clanricarde, owned estates at Portumna Castle and at Woodford. He was referred to by the locals as Lord Clanrackrent.

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 agents of Hubert George de Burgh-Canning evicted 359 families in 33 years.

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

John Henry Blake, a land agent for the the Marquis of Clanricarde was shot and killed in June 1882 on his way to attend mass in Loughrea. No one was tried for the incident.

"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

For information on Portumna Castle see Portumna.net

*The numbers of the men defending the house, military assaulting the house, the number of days the defenders held out, the number of mourners at Tommy Larkin's funeral vary depending on the source.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck, The Graphic, 1886


From a photograph taken just before an eviction on Lord Clanricarde's estate, Woodford, Ireland

Evictions in Galway, May 1, 1886

The Illustrated London News carried an article and pictures on May 1 1886 concerning evictions for non payment of rent in the west. This particular article focused on evictions in Galway.

"On one estate we found that the rents, which previously seemed high, had been raised 4s. in the pound about two years ago. Thus holdings which gave 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 acres of oats and about as much of potato, with a wild mountain run for a cow, calf, or pony, had been raised from 5 (pounds) 5 s to 6 (pounds) 6 s......some paid more rent, other less. These little mountain farmers usually had four or five cows or young beasts and twenty or thirty sheep each."
A detachment of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the sheriff, and a company of "York and Lancaster" Regiment of Infantry seemed to have been required to turn out seventy or so poor families from their land.

"It as like a military invasion of the country; they were prepared for fighting; there was an army surgeon with them, and a box, with a red cross on it, containing bandages and medicine for the wounded.

No resistance was offered; scarcely anywhere did people enough gather to be called a crowd."

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

Landing the troops from a gun-boat in Roundstone Bay

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

Troops jumping over a stream on their march

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

Driving on cars to the estate where tenants are to be evicted.

The constantabulary rode in the cars, the soldiers marched.

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

Surgeon of the force examining the sick wife of a tenant

Lest you get the wrong impression, this was to make sure she was not malingering.

"At most of the cottages or hovels only the members of the squalid family to be driven out were found; if any were ill, or feigned illness, the army surgeon, examined the state of the patient."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

Clearing out a tenant's furniture

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

Marching to another eviction

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

The sheriff giving possession to the bailiff, handing him a wisp of straw from the thatched roof.

"Their few poor articles were carried out of doors; and the Sheriff, according to custom, plucked some straw from the thatched roof and handed it to he landlord's bailiff in token of possession."

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Illuminated London News, May 1, 1886

An evicted peasant family and Straw hut on the mountain side, the only shelter after eviction

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


The Rent War in Ireland; Burning the houses of evicted tenants at Glenbeigh, County Kerry

Evictions took place at Glenbeigh, County Kerry on the estate of "the Honorable" Rowland Winn in January 1887.

The estate was located midway between the towns of Killorglin and Cahireiveen. The rents brought in about 1,600 pounds a year. It was said that no rent had been paid for at least five years, some as long as seven or eight. The people had no real way of making an income and were in a chronic state of poverty. The men migrated at harvest time as farm laborers. Occasionally money was sent by sons and daughters living in other places, like America.

Various attempts were made to come to some agreement on how much rent would be paid, but the negations kept falling through. Eventually on Wednesday the 12th of January a party made up of the sub-sheriff's deputy, four bailiffs, the land agent Mr. Roe, and six emergency bailiffs from Dublin, set out to execute the evictions. They were accompanied by a force of fifty policemen. Despite the fact that the evicting party started their work at the earliest possible hour allowed by law, the locals were aware of what was happening and so gathered in large crowds to watch. It was reported that 10 houses were destroyed under the auspices of Winn's agent Mr. Roe.

The first eviction was at the house of Patrick (Paddy) Reardon of Droum in the wild glens three miles from Glenbeigh. He barely had time to remove the furniture from his house when a match was set to the roof. The door was hacked with a hatchet and the walls were felled with crow bars.

"The tenant's rent was £4 10s his valuation £2 17. He was eight in the family and had no stock."
The party next proceeded to the house of Thomas Burke of Droum. An attempt to fire the roof failed but the house was attacked with crow bars and felled.
"The rent is this case was £4 19s, and the valuation £3. There was a family of six"
Next was a joint property of Patrick and Thomas Diggins. Patrick Diggins had eight in his family (a wife and six children) and Thomas Diggins had ten (a wife and eight children) the youngest only three weeks old. They lived in separate but adjoining house that had been build by their father; the landlord contributing nothing. They were joined by one tenancy. Thomas had no livestock. Patrick had two cows. Patrick sold one of his cows and with a little help from a daughter in Limerick was able to offer agent Roe some money. Agent Roe did not accept the offer because Thomas was not able to meat his share. A match was put to the roof and then the sheriff's representative departed leaving the agent to watch the burning of both houses. So now there were 18 more people without shelter in the middle of the winter. Among the evicted and now homeless were Patrick Diggins "an old man of eighty", his wife and their "little grand-child"." Patrick Diggins had "suffered" eviction three times. He had been evicted in 1884 but returned to his property after a while.
"The former had eight in family and the latter ten. The judicial rent was £8, having been reduced from £12, and the valuation £5 15s. There were four cows in the entire place."

On the second day of evictions John (Ned) Conner, age 65 with a family of seven and some children in America was evicted. Paraffin was used to start fires in the thatch roof. Crowbars were used to demolish the corner of the cable until the side walls and the burning roof came tumbling down. The cow barn beside the house was also levered - making sure there was no available roof over the tenants heads.

The eviction crew then proceeded to the house of Daniel Sugrue. Daniel had been widowed with three small children and had recently remarried. The widow of his brother also lived with them. The Sugrues were spared the burning and demolition of the house but their furniture was thrown outside and their door secured so they could not reenter. They did not have any live stock having recently sold their cow to satisfy part of the rent.

The next eviction was that of the Sullivan family: John, the son of Pat, the widow of Patrick and another John Sullivan. John the son of Pat was not in arrears and was spared. The widow of Pat and the other John were evicted and the windows and doors nailed shut. The rent for the widow Sullivan was 9 pound on a valuation of 5 pounds.

On the third day of evictions several houses were still smoldering.

Darby Moriarity and aged and palsied old man and his wife were spared for the moment. Next John, James and Philip Harris were visited by the eviction posse. John Harris and his family of ten were evicted. James Harris was allowed to stay on as caretaker. Philip, who was the father of both John and James was locked out of his house.

Higher up on the mountain side stood the residences of John, Michael and Patrick Reardon - three cabins not far apart from one another. In one a woman lie dying, in another a child lay dying. The woman was allowed to stay, the child and its parents were evicted. A young girl was arrested for hitting a policeman on the head with a shovel.

Daniel Griffin and Michael Rahilly were also evicted on the third day.

On the forth day, Patrick James and Patrick Darby Connor, brothers, were evicted.

Michael and Thomas Griffin were evicted. Thomas Griffin had 9 in his family the youngest an infant of three months.

These evictions were watched by a large crowd. About 25 people were handcuffed and arrested. The prisoners were released without trial because the magistrates were not satisfied with "the legal conditions regulating the appointment of the bailiffs".

Accusations were made the the Land League was stirring up the inhabitants of Glenbeigh and encouraging them to withhold their rents. The holdings at Glenbeigh were described as humble and miserable hovels of little or no value.

See Rootsweb, County Kerry The Irish Question The Truth About Glenbeigh: By Pierce Mahony M.P. for North Meath London: The Irish Press Agency, 25 Parliament Street. 18

The Honorable Roland Winn (1816-1888)

In 1871 the Hon. Roland Winn owned the whole parish of "Glenbegh" near Dingle Bay. It was said to be about fifteen thousand acres.

The Hon. Roland Winn, the brother of the third Baron Headley was born in 1816. He married the daughter of George Walker of Over Hall Essex. He was J. P. for Kerry. He had a son Roland George Alanson born 1855. Roland George Alanson Winn became the 5th Baron Headley. He also converted to Islam and was known as the Shaikh Rahmatullan al-Farooq.

Between 1869 and 1871 Roland Winn build an enormous Gothic revival house at "Glenbegh", County Kerry designed by the architect Henry Crisp. Called Glenbegh Towers, costs on the building exceeded estimates and the winter rains impeded construction and made the building very damp. The walls were three feet thick. The facade was 93 feet long by 66 feet tall. It contained two court-yards, one for stables and one for the entrance. The building was referred to as "Winn's Folly". Ruins of the castle still remain.

In 1888 Roland Winn's house was described as a "melancholy-looking castle" among the "thatched and lime-washed cottages of the farmers". (Murray's Magazine, Volume 3)

1871: Census, Hon Roland Winn age 54, born Middlesex, England, St. George Hanover Square London : Hon Rowland Winn 54, widower, Rowland G A Winn 16, Helen Margaretta Winn 14, Stephana Winn 12, Margaretta Anne Winn 10, Eliza Tuthill 32, housemaid, Emma Tuthill 24, cook, William Wild 18, footman, Ann Clifford 49, sister in law.

1881: Census, Rowland Winn 64, widower, Hon. J. P. Helen M. Winn 24, Stephanie Winn 22, Margaretta A. Winn 20, Elizabeth Earle 60, lady's maid, Elizabeth Fay 27, cook, Elizabeth Root 35, housemaid, Emma Kirby 15, kitchenmaid, Fredk. Henley 23, footman

The Hon. Roland Winn died in London in 1888.

Agent Roe

In 1887 agent Roe felt in necessary to raze the houses so the tenants could not regain admission such as occurred at the last eviction. He was repeatedly described as a cruel and brutal person.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Eviction of Thomas Considine, Tullycrine July 1888"

This image was cut from a book. The caption says that the family were Vandeleur tenants.

Evictions from the Vandleur Estate, Kilrush

There were 21 evictions on the Vandeleur estate in Kilrush in July 1888. These evictions became an international incident. It was reported that the eviction party consisted of 20 bailiffs, with axes, crowbars, ladders, and battering rams. They were accompanied by a troop of hussars, 2 companies of soldiers, and about 250 policemen.

The landlord at the time was Hector Vandeleur the worse type of absentee land lord. He had inherited the property in 1881 but only visited in once in 1882.

See Kilrush Local History, Clare Library for more information on the Vandeleur evictions.

See Clare Library Lawrence Collection for more images of this eviction.

See Kilrush House to compare the landlords accommodations to the tenants accommodations.

A Canadian born America of Irish descent, Edward Joseph O'Shaughnessy, his wife, Maggie, and sister-in-law, Ellen Dunn, witnesses the evictions at the Vandeleur estate in Kilrush in July 1888.

Hector Stewart Vandeleur, Landlord

Vanderleur, Capt. Hector Stewart, J. P.: Lord Lieutenant County Clare, eldest son of Colonel CroftonMoore Vandeleur, M. P. (died 1881) and Lady Grace Toler daughter of 2nd Earl of Norbury,; born 1836 married 1867 Charlotte, eldest daughter of W. O. Forster of Apley Park, Salop. Education Eaton. Fomerly in Rifle Brigade: High Sheriff County Clare 1873. Address 50 Rutland Gate, S. w..; Cahiracon, County Clare, Clubs Carlton, Arthurs - (Who's Who, 1907)

In 1851 Hector Vandeleur was listed as a student at Eton.

In 1871 Hector S Vanderleur an his wife and son, Cecil age 1 were listed in London with: a butler, a cook, a kitchen maid, a footman, a nurse a housemaid and a nurse.

In the 1881 census Hector S Vandeleur, born county Clare Ireland, his wife, Charlotte and a daughter, Norah age three, were listed in St George London with: a cook, a housemaid, an under housemaid, a footman, a kitchen main, a lady's maid, and a Swiss nurse.

In 1891 Hector his wife and two children, Grace age 19 and Alexander 7, were listed in London with: 9 servants: a butler, a cook 2 lady's maids, 2 housemaids, a footman, a kitchenmaid, and a scullery maid

In September 1901 C. F. Seymore Vandeleur, the son of Hector S. Vandeleur of Kilrush Ireland, born 1869 educated at Eton, was killed during the Boer War when a train blew up near Waterval South Africa.

In 1906 Hector Vandleur owned at least 902 untenanted acres of land in Kilrush parish.

Hector S Vandeleur died in 1909 leaving "effects" valued at 6,114 pounds.

Tom Considine, evicted tenant

Tom Considine was the second of five evictions of the day on the Vandeleur estates. Tom Considine was said to have owed 4 years rent at 9 pounds per year. He had barricaded his houes with a flimsy heap of brush. The Royal Irish constabulary quickly entered the house. Just as quickly they arrested three men and two girls. Tom Considine complained to the reporter that his rents had been raised almost double in the last twenty years. He had barely been able to make the original rent and certainly could not make the rent as increased to 9 pounds in 1874.

Edward Joseph O'Shaughnessy, an American witness to the Evictions at the Vandeleur Estate in 1888

E. J. O'Shaughnessy, a well known Irish Nationalist, his wife and sister-in-law went to Europe in April 1888. They traveled in Germany, France and Italy, where they had a private audience with the pope. Then they headed to Ireland where they "went to the evictions" and observed the destruction of the cottages with battering rams for "some three or four miles around Kilrush". "When the procession moved to another beat it looked like a hugh funeral with its long line of military in front, and outside carts following, the people on foot bring up the rear, besides, thousands crossing the fields" Only the reporters and O'Shaughnessy and his companions were allowed inside "the lines of steel". No other sympathiseres were allowed within a half mile of the site. The chapel bell tolled endlessly and all the stores in Kilrush were shuttered. O'Shaughnessy said that Ireland was the "worst looking, most wretched, most decayed, most poverty stricken and apparently the most God-forsaken county" he had ever seen. (Quotes from The True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, October 9, 1889)

E. J. O'Shaughnessy, age 40, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy age "27"*, and Miss E Dunn age 25, arrived as saloon passengers on 19 October 1888 on the City of New York from Liverpool to New York. (*This is not correct. She was born circa 1853.)

The family was planning on spending the summer at Lake George in 1889.

Edward Joseph O'Shaughnessy was born in Montreal, Canada in 1848 the son of John and Ellen O'Shaughnessy. He immigrated to New York circa 1865. He married Maggie (AKA Margrette) Dunn the daughter of Patrick and Lucinda Dunn in New York City in September 1874. They had at least 4 children: Nellie c 1876, Charles c 1877, Edward c 1884 and Bernadette c 1892. Charles died at age 26 in 1903

1910: St Nicholas Avenue, New York, Edward O'Shaughnessy M 62 Canada, collector customs, Wife Margaretta O'Shaughnessy F 57 New York, Daughter Nellie O'Shaughnessy F 34 New York, Son Edward O'Shaughnessy Jr. M 26 New York, Daughter Bernadette O'Shaughnessy F 18 New York

E. J. was a member of the American Irish Society. In 1920 he was listed as a customs collector. At his death in 1923 E. J. was a deputy collector for the U. S. Internal Revenue Service.

E. J. O'Shaughnessy died in Brooklyn in 1923 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

At the probate of E. J. O'Shaughnessy on June 18, 1923, Margaretta was living at 11 Murray Street Freehold, NJ with her two daughters. His estate was valued at eighteen thousand dollars.

Thanks to E. J. O'Shaughnessy's great grandson for making me aware of this interesting bit of Irish America history. Ed shared two contemporary articles one form Limerick Ireland, the other from the Irish American Weekly

More images taken by Major E. J. O'Shaughnessy and published in the Gael August 1901.

House of John Connell - Demanding Possession - Vanderleur estate near Kilrush 1888

Vanderleur estate near Kilrush 1888 - First Stoke of ram Michael Cleary's House
Vanderleur estate near Kilrush 1888 - Attacking the Breach, Michael Clery's House

Vanderleur estate near Kilrush 1888 - Tom Birminghham's House - ram at work

As battering rams were used to break the walls of the cottages most in habitants barricaded their doors and widows and resisted "as far as they were able". One method was to boil water and throw it at the evictors as they came though the hole that had been rammed in the wall. When smoke was seen coming from the chimney the evictors would climb on the roof and stuff the chimney with straw in an attempt to smoke the tenants out.

The tenants did not know who would be the next to be evicted out of over a hundred cabins scattered over an area of nine miles.

Captain Vandererleur turned his home, the Kilrush house, into a camp to accommodate the infantry and constabulary involved in the evictions.

"During the evictions all business was suspended in Kilrush,the shops were closed and the widows shutters put up, men left their work in the fields and the bell of the parish church tolled mournfully and unceasingly as if for a funeral."
The Vandeleur property consisted of about 20,000 aceres. Disputes of rent rates resulted in 86 ejectment decrees.
"The holdings ranged from fifteen acres to fifty or sixty. The houses were well built with stone, and with three or four rooms; the land apparently well cultivated. The families of many of the tenants had been in possession of these farms for generations. The houses had been built and improvements of every kind had been effected by them. Their tenants' interest was at least equal to that of the landlord. They had been selected for attack as those most solvent and best able to pay in the opinion of the agent."

Incidents of Coercion: A Journal of Visits to Ireland in 1882 and 1888 By George Shaw-Lefevre Baron Eversley

All of the tenants furnishings were turned out of the houses and in some case the buildings were totally destroyed. The tenants (except for the women) were arrested and remanded to prison to await trail at Kilrush. Twenty-two tenants were evicted.

In September 1889 Tom Bermingham and Pat McGrath, two of the Kilrush evicted tenants were still in prison. Tom Bermingham was sentenced to two sentences of 6 months each. (Journal of the Home Rule Union, Volume 1)

Ireland Old News London Times July 26, 1888 THE VANDELEUR EVICTIONS TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES. mentions Bermingham, Connell and Cleary

Photo collection of Maggie Land Blanck. Reprint bought on eBay, 2005

"Eviction Scene Vandeleur Estate, Kilrush, County Clare 1888"

Photographer Robert French for the Eblana/Lawrence Collection per Ciaran Walsh, April 2006

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"An Eviction, Ireland"

Cut from a book, title unknown. Written in pencil on margin, "1890"

Stoddard Lectures on Ireland, 1901

"Battering down a home, an eviction scene"

Stoddard Lectures on Ireland, 1901

"An Evicted Family"


The Graphic March 10, 1888

The following three images are from an article entitled "STUDIES FROM LIFE IN IELAND — IV in the Graphic of March 10, 1888.

A group of peasants in the mountains near Woodford, Co. Galway prepared to resist the eviction party by barricading their homes with rocks and anything they could find at hand. The women prepared large pots of hot water to throw at the police. However, men arrived with crowbars and took out a corner of the cottage in order to enter and serve the notice of eviction.

The Graphic March 10, 1888



The Graphic March 10, 1888



The Graphic March 10, 1888



Thomas Bateson - Eviction of Tenants in County Down, 1860s

Curious to see an example of an eviction notice I went on line to try and find one. I could not find one for Mayo so I bought one from Gortnamoney, parish of Moira, Division of Newry, County Down, dated March 19th 1868. Sir Thomas Bateson was the plaintiff and John Hull the defendant.

"Sir Thomas Bateson" (4 June 1819-1 December 1890), 1st Baron Deramore had estates in Belvoir Park near Belfast and at Moira Park, County Down, Ireland. He was a staunch supporter of the Church of England and a Conservative Member of Parliament. He was a adamant opponent of electoral reform saying it would lead to "emasculation of the aristocracy".

Vanity Fair ran an article on him in January 28, 1882 called "Landed Estates in Ireland." Prints of the caricature of Thomas Bateson that accompanied the article are widely available on the Internet.

Landlords and tenants in mid Victoria Ireland, William Edward Vaughan page 56:

"...in 1866 Sir Thommas Bateson decided to have part of his estate in County Londonderry revalued: as the Salters Company have lately increased their rental, Sir Thomas Bateson is of the opinion that the present is a suitable occasion to have the work done"
The New York Times June 21, 1866
Rhetoric on Stilts. — The Evening Post of yesterday makes game of the rhetoric of and "English Squire" — Sir Thomas Bateson — who recently said in Parliament that
"This new born sympathy for the workingman had been begotten by a lust for power, suckled by the unctuous pap of peripatetic stump orators, and dry-nursed by the insolent threats and swaggering bluster of domineering agitators"

Note: There had been an incident in 1851 involving another Thomas Bateson (Thomas Douglas Bateson) a land agent for Templetown estates near Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.

On the evening of 4th December 1851 Thomas Douglas Bateson, agent for the Templetown estate was murdered on his return from a Petty Sessions meeting in Castle Blayney. Two brothers, Owen and Francis Kelly, who had nothing to do with the murder, were successfully defended by Issac Butt and were released. Three others were later arrested and tried, found guilty and hanged at Monaghan jail on 10th April 1854. They were Neal Quinn, Brian Grant and Patrick Cooney. While their trial was in progress, a second assassination attempt was made on a land agent - this time on the aforementioned Trench, agent for the Bath estate. He was the intended victim but a tip-off prevented the attempt, but two local men were later arrested and charged.

Internet 1852 Gentlemens Magazine pa 209 VOL XXXVII Google Book

Register of Deaths Died December 4 1851

Of wounds received the day before in a murderous attack near Castle Blayney, Thomas Douglas Bateson, esq. agent of Lord Templeton, brother of Sir Thomas Bateson of Londonderry, bart.

There is no listing in the peerage for Thomas Douglas Bateson brother of Thomas Bateson. They may have been related but were most likely NOT brothers.

Civil Bill Ejectment for Nonpayment of Rent where One Year's Due
Collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Evicted Tenants Bills of 1907 and 1908, Robert Charles Ponsonby and the Marquess of Donogall

Image courtesy Veronica de France, November 2014

This hand drawn cartoon sent to R. Ponsonby, 1 Great George Street, London in 1908 illustrates the Anglo/Irish (or Protestant Ascendancy's) view of the Irish tenant as somewhat less than human.

In 1907 and 1908 The Evicted Tenants Acts were passed to empowered the Estates Commission to buy land, sometimes compulsorily, from landlords for restoration to tenants who had been evicted, some as many at 28 years before. These acts basically gave evicted tenants the right to return to holdings they had been evicted from and enabled them to purchase these holdings at a low rate. At least 3,500 evicted tenants were settled on 26,000 acquired for the purpose. Needless to say these acts were not popular with the landlords.

Evicted Tenants Act of 1907

Robert Charles Ponsonby was born in 1854 to Sir Spencer Cecil Brabazon Ponsonby and Louise Anne Rose Le Dillon. He married Mary Machlachlan daughter of George Machlachlan of Castle Lachlan in 1877. Robert Charles Ponsonby was a solicitor. Robert Charles Ponsonby died, aged 55, on Tuesday, 16 November 1909, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. The Ponsonbys were members of the English aristocracy.

In 1889 Robert Ponsonby was the solicitor for the estate of the Lord Adolphus John Spencer Churchill Chichester (18 December 1836 - 5 March 1901) Marquess of Donegal. On the death of the Lord Chichester in 1901, Robert Charles Ponsonby, was a trustee of the will. There was a complicate court case in 1908 involving bankruptcies, rents and an infant heir to the estate. It was stated that "the Marquis of Donegall had been a bankrupt many times over" at the time of his death in 1901. He was hopelessly insolvent even after having outstanding bankruptcies annulled.

Arthur Chichester was created the first Marquess of Donegall in 1791.

"Seldom has any man been able to inflict such a wrong on his country as that Chichester who became the first Marquis of Donegal. He was an absentee, and to supply his wants in London he permitted thousands of his Scottish tenants in Ulster to be evicted to make place for Irish Catholics who were willing to give the landlord all the land produced, except sufficient butter-milk and potatoes to support their own lives. At first the Scots directed their hatred against the new tenants; but soon it turned against the Government which had permitted the promises on which their fathers had come to Ulster to be broken, and they joined with the disaffected Catholics. They were helped to do this by the French Revolution. Religions passion among them had cooled, and many of them dreamt of a United Ireland free from it and with equal rights for all, and free too from the Government and landlords who oppressed both Protestant and Catholic alike; so in Belfast a joint-rebellion of the north and south was planned. Before the struggle had lasted a week the Ulstermen had been awakened from their dream; the rebellion in the south had once more developed into a Catholic crusade led by fanatical Catholic priests and accompanied by massacres of Protestants. The rebellion had important consequences in Ulster. It convinced the Government and the landlords that their interests still needed guarding, and it convinced the Ulster Scots that co-cperation between the North and South was impossible. The landlords once more recognised the Ulster custom of tenant-right, and the Government encouraged trade and commerce in Ulster. With the Union justice advanced quickly. All religious disabilities were abolished, the Church tithe which the Presbyterians hated followed, tenant-right was enforced against the landlords by statute, and then the tenants were given the right to purchase their farms. Now the Protestants of Ulster find themselves perfectly free and perfectly contented and attached to the people of Great Britain, not merely by the Union, but by the stronger ties of a common race and a common religion, common traditions and common ideas, while they are separated from the Catholics of the South on every one of these points.

Blackwood's Magazine, Volume 206, 1919

The Chichesters were among the most prominent Protestant and Unionist families in Ulster. In pre famine days they were ruthless.
"The Marquess of Donegal became one of the largest rent collectors in the realm, squandering his fortune into bankruptcy through gambling, ... They drifted in, in the wake of evictions and perennial unemployment, and the trickle became a flood during and after the famine."

Ireland: a terrible beauty - Leon Uris

Lord Lucan and Evictions Near Ballinrobe During the Great Famine

George Bingham, the 3rd Earl of Lucan, was one of the major landlords in the Ballinrobe area. Known as the "Exterminator" he ruthlessly evicted his tenants at the height of the potato famine. For more on Lord Lucan go to Landlords now or at the bottom of the page.

Derryveagh Evictions Donegal, April 8, 1861

150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Lough Gartan Evictions of April 8, 1861. Donegal Genealogy Resorces

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Land Issues
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This page was created in 2010 as an extension of a page created in 2004: Latest update, December 2014