by new Beara landlord
In the 1800s, many families in Beara lived under the burden
of excessive rents and the threat of eviction. The situation
worsened in the late part of 1881 when the Puxleys and Lord
Bantry carried out sweeping evictions in the Allihies and
Eyeries areas. In that year several families in those areas
were evicted. Others were thrown out of their ancestral
holdings in neighbouring villages.
During the past week we got an indication of the conditions
under which the people of Beara were condemned to live in
the later years of the 1800s, and for many years after.
Following the evictions carried out by landlords Lord Bantry
and Puxley in 1881, there was a lull before a new landlord
decided to carry out evictions in the Rossmacowen area.
At the time of the third Lord Bantry, parts of his Berehaven
property in Rossmacowen and Bere Island were put up for
sale in the incumbered Estates Court, and were purchased
by an Englishman, Lord Charles Pelham Clinton.
The notice of the sale read as follows: In the Court of
the Commissioners for Sale of Incumbered Estates in Ireland.
In the matter of the Estate of the Right Hon. Richard Earl
of Bantry, Divisse of Robert Hedges Eyre, deceased, Owner
and Petitioner. Rental and Particulars. That Portion of
the Berehaven Estate Called The Island of Bere, in the Bay
of Bantry, held in fee. Situated in the Barony of Bere,
and County of Cork. To be sold by auction, by the Commissioners
For Sale of Incumbered Estates in Ireland, Pursuant to the
Order of Sale, hearing date 23rd October, 1852, At Their
Court, No 14, Heneirietta Street, Dublin, on Friday, the
25th day of November, 1853, at the hour of twelve o'clock
It appears that Lord Clinton bought the lands without being
made aware that there existed arrears of rents on the property,
which Lord Bantry later proceeded to recover from Lord Clinton's
tenants in Bere Ireland. Lord Bantry's agent and bailiffs
arrived on Bere Island and began to round up and seize animals
in lieu of the rent owned. This news upset Lord Clinton,
who got his agent, a Mr. John P. Pendergast, to write a
letter of protest to Lord Bantry. "My Lord, You are
already aware that the business that brought me to Berehaven
was the seizing of Bere Island by your bailiffs on the morning
of 8th September in execution of nearly 200 civil bill decrees,
obtained by your lordship against your late tenants, the
islanders, at Bantry Quarter Sessions in January last, for
sums amounting in the whole of £1,800, found to be
due to your lordship for rent and arrears of rent.
It does not concern your lordship to by what accidents Lord
Charles Clinton was prevented from seeing, personally of
by deputy, to the condition of his new purchases, until
the month of August last, when his Lordship, in company
with his newly appointed agent, visited them, and was received
by their inhabitants with a warmth that indicated fully
as much joy at getting rid of the old landlord as at becoming
the tenants of a new one."
The letter of protest was so long that it was published
in pamphlet form, and went on to describe some of the skirmishes
which took place in the course of taking cattle from the
poor tenants. Of Rossmacowen, the letter describes a scene
there: "The last driving of your lordship's so overcrowded
the great circular pound for Rossmacowen that the place
was a pool of gore, and the bellowings of tortured cows
could be heard at the top of Hungry Hill.
In 1904 Lord Clinton's agent, a Mr Saunders, organised evictions
in the Rossmacowen area. According to a report in the Cork
County Eagle in May 1904, "If anticipation errs not,
the people of Castletown and its neighbourhood will soon
have the opportunity of witnessing those painful scenes
which were only too prevalent during the days of the Land
League, for there have been several notices served on the
On May 30th, the same paper reported 150 armed police under
the command of County Inspector Hamilton and District Inspector
Armstrong from Bantry, had arrived at Castletown on board
the steamer Princess Beara. On the following morning the
paper reported that the police force, now 200 strong, drove
east from the town to Direeny which is in the Adgriole parish
while the sheriff and six bailiffs, and still more police,
were travelling out of Glengarriff.
When the news of the evictions became known, hundreds of
people waited in the hills around Rossmacowen, and had been
alerted by the sound of horn, most of them armed with pikes
and staves. When the evictions began, Canon McDonnell P.P.
in Castletownbere, of which Rossmacowen is a part of, and
Mr James Gilhooly M.P of Bantry, advised the people gathered
in protest, not to break the law.
One of the people evicted was Con Murphy of Holly Hill.
The reporter of the Cork County Eagle wrote, "The bailiffs,
after receiving orders, started at the end of the house
with their crowbars, throwing it down. The doors were barricaded
with white thorn bushes whilst inside were a number with
boiling lime and water to give the bailiffs a dose. After
a considerable amount of the house was undermined, this
tenant settled with the Agent's clerk who was present by
paying two years' rent. The proceeding more or less infuriated
the other tenants."
Courtesy of the Southern Star