of the major Landlords
decade from 1593 to 1603 was one of the worst in County
Monaghan history. Following the land settlements of 1591
there was nothing but war, raids, murders and fighting -
not just with the foreigners but among the clans themselves.
Those who had been granted freeholds¹ were the subject
of constant raids, cattle stealing and general mayhem. By
All this left it an even easier task for the English to
assume control and settle the Monaghan territories
with landlords from across the water. Thus, Monaghan came
into the Ulster Plantation programme of 1607, more or less
towards the end of that period, and really spelt finis
to the power of the local chieftains and the days of McMahon
and McKenna over-lordship of lands were well and truly numbered.
The scenario quickly changed and saw the lands being transferred
to English and Scottish Planters, and chief
among these were the Blayneys, the Shirleys, the Leslies,
the Dawsons, the Baths, the Anketells, the Maddens, the
Foresters, and a host of other lesser names, who soon adopted
the mantle of a new Ascendancy and became very
much the new rulers of all Monaghan territory. Many of them
would prove to be extremely harsh and cruel land-owners,
but quite a few proved to be both kind and helpful. Either
way, they all had an extremely important role to play in
Monaghan history from the seventeenth century onwards, and
we must accept them as part of our heritage.
In this day and age, we should also try to be forgiving
of the injustices of the past. As Sir Shane Leslie wrote
in his Preface to Denis Carolan Rushes
excellent book A History of Monaghan for Two Hundred
Years, 1660 - 1860 (published by Tempests of Dundalk
Let Monaghan men always remember to honour and respect
each others traditions, and when possible in the present,
to help, and when needed in the past to forgive. As for
the future, may the Lord be good to Monaghan.
Greatest of all the Monaghan landlords was Sir Edward Blayney,
who had been appointed Governor of Monaghan
in 1604. Most of the confiscated McMahon territories went
to Blayney who built castles in both Monaghan and Castleblayney.
He died in 1629 and was succeeded by his son Henry, who
was killed in the Battle of Benburb 1646. Henrys son,
Edward, sold both the Monaghan and Castleblayney estates,
but the Castleblayney estate was later bought back. The
Monaghan part, however, went to the Westenras, who later
became the Lord Rossmores, and these did not always enjoy
a particularly happy relationship with the native Irish.
During the fight for Catholic Emancipation one of these
Westenras surprisingly agreed to vote for Emancipation,
if elected, which he duly was, at the expense of Leslie.
Daniel OConnell had urged the various Parish Priests
to get the forty shilling freeholding tenants
of north Monaghan to vote for Westenra and there was great
rejoicing in Monaghan town and surrounding areas on his
success, but it is doubtful if he ever did much to justify
OConnels trust in him.
These Rossmores had some notorious agents who evicted at
will. The most famous of these were Arthur Gamble Lewis,
Jesse Lloyd, and later Dacre Hamilton, whose town-house
in Monaghan (named Aviemore) still stands. This last named
was made the subject of novelist William Carletons
famous, but heart-rending, novel Valentine McClutchey.
The Leslies of Glaslough were probably the most intriguing
of all the Co. Monaghan landlords. The first Leslie, Bishop
John Leslie of Raphoe, had purchased the (McKenna) estates
of Sir Thomas Ridgeway, then the Kings Treasurer at
Arms in Ireland and later the first Lord Londonderry, and
did not come as a Planter. Later Leslies, notably
three by the name of Charles Powell Leslie, proved to be
major assets to North Monaghan, but were very anti-Catholic.
Despite this, they very rarely evicted a tenant and, even
during the Great Famine period, suspended the payments of
rents for the worse-off cases.
It was for the reason of their anti-Catholicism, however,
that they lost the 1826 Election to Westenra - they had
been the Members of Parliament of North Monaghan from 1801
up until that date. Later, the wheel turned full circle
when Sir Shane Leslie became a strong advocate of Home Rule
and an out-and-out Nationalist, promoting Irish culture
at all levels and becoming a great collector of local folk-lore.
He was also a prolific writer and many of his books are
treasures in the National Library in Dublin. The Leslie
descendants still live in Glaslough, and are very much part
and parcel of life there.
Carrickmacross had two major landlord estates - The Shirleys
and the Baths. The Earls of Essex (Lords Devereux) had control
of the barony of Farney up until 1646 when it went to the
Shirleys. Most famous of his family was Evelyn Philip Shirley,
who wrote a magnificent history of Farney is one long sorry
story of conflict between the natives and their over lords.
In the West of the county the Dawsons, Maddens and Lennards
were the main landlords. The Dawsons were MPs with Leslie
from 1801 until 1818. Madden supported Home Rule but lost
out to Leslie in the 1874 Election. A remarkable agent for
the Lennard estate was one Hercules Ellis, who was an extremely
well educated man and who had an amazing interest in Irish
and wrote several long poems, which he called Romances,
about the various old legends which he picked up in his
travels over north Monaghan.
These landlords themselves had little personal contact with
the native Irish and it was their agents, for whom they
must accept responsibility, who made the adverse headlines
for them in the land-wars of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
An account of some of the activities of these agents might
be more appropriate then, in the context of Planter
influence on Monaghan life, down the years.
William Stewart Trench, agent for the Bath estate in Carrickmacross,
was easily one of the most notorious and cruel of all land-agents
during the 19th century. Detested by the peasantry, he evicted
at will throughout Farney.
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 Castleblayney. 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.
As unusual eviction took place in Inniskeen on 16th April
1858 when John Byrne, a tenant on the Col. Lewis estate,
was evicted despite his willingness to pay rent - he had
refused to send his children to the Protestant school. On
31st May 1887 one hundred policemen, three police inspectors,
along with bailiffs, left Monaghan town for Scotstown where
they evicted several Tydavent tenants on the Hamilton, Rose,
Woodright and Evatt estates - these were John McKenna of
Mullinacrochan; Peter McKenna, Patrick McCarron and John
McPhillips of Aghagally; and James McAree and James McKenna
of Drumlish, who were all thrown out on the roadside.
Arthur Gamble Lewis, the Rossmore agent, once refused to
accept a respectable farmers rent simply because he
entered his rent office wearing a beard, while he also insisted
on the local priest, Fr. McDermott, entering his office
by the back door. Essex Castle in Carrickmacross became
the agents office for the Bath estate and, with the
break-up of that estate in 1888, the castle came on the
market and was bought by Dean Birmingham for the building
of a convent of the St. Louis nuns.
The Dawsons of Rockcorry had a very mixed reputation. It
was Richard Dawson, later known as Baron Dartrey in 1847
and Earl of Dartrey in 1866, who granted a site in Donagh
parish for the erection of St. Macartans Seminary,
just north of Monaghan town, in 1828. However, it was also
on the Dawson estates that some dreadful evictions took
place in 1887 when their estate agent, WH Swan, with 150
policemen, evicted Peter Halligan of Tonysilloga; James
and Anne McKenna, also of Tonysilloga; Peggy McVicker and
her brother; Richard McCarron of Goland; Catherine and Owen
McCrudden (who was sick in bed); as well as Owen McCarron.
Michael McKenna, Pat McKenna, Catherine and James Treanor
(a cripple) - all from Donagh parish and all thrown out
on the road-side on 30th March 1887.
For these reasons many of the landlords, who appointed such
cruel and bigoted land-agents in the first place, themselves
incurred the hatred of the native Monaghan population, and
very understandably so. Overall then, the impact of the
Planters on Monaghan life, down the years, reads
very unfavourably for the vast majority of them, but we
must also pay tribute to those who showed compassion and
who did everything they could for the betterment of their
Taken from Monaghan's Match