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Vandeleurs of Kilrush County Clare
by Senan Scanlan
 

5. Vandeleur Evictions 1888-1900

Introduction.[102]
The Land question in Ireland was an issue of enormous importance in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The insecurity and vulnerability of tenants were made manifest when a series of bad harvests beginning in the late 1870's coincided with increased competition from meat and foodstuffs from the United States and Australia, a recession in British agriculture and a decline in the British market. Agitation by the tenants for a reduction of rents and protection from eviction spearheaded by the Land League prompted Gladstone in 1881 to introduce his Land Act. This offered the three Fs-fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure. Tribunals were established to fix rents judicially for a period of fifteen years.

By 1885 bad weather, poorer harvests, falling prices and declining markets had again taken their toll, and thousands of tenants, especially in the western parts of the country, found themselves unable to pay rents. The deficiencies of the act of 1881 became more apparent. Leaseholders were excluded from seeking judicial rents, many tenants were heavily burdened by arrears. Judicial rents fixed at a time of greater economic buoyancy were found to be too high during a downturn in the economy. It was this situation that brought forth the Plan of Campaign.

Pope Leo X111 sent a delegate, Archbishop Ignazio Persico, who spend six months in Ireland and reported unfavourably on the Plan of Campaign and on boycotting. The Duke of Norfolk and his zealous friend, Captain John Ross of Bladensburg, aided and abetted by Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister, and Arthur Balfour, the chief secretary, also brought damning accounts of the National League and on the role played by bishops and clergy in furthering the Plan of Campaign to the attention of the Vatican. The Pope ordered that a decree should be made to enable the Irish people to defend and assert their rights without prejudice to justice or public tranquillity. The decree read as follows “ Fearing lest right notions of justice and charity should be perverted amongst that people in consequence of that mode of warfare called the Plan of Campaign-which has been employed in that country in disputes between letters and holders of lands or farms, as also in consequence of a form of proscription in connection with the same contests known as Boycotting, commissioned the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition to make the matter the subject of grave and careful examination. Accordingly the following question was submitted to the Most Eminent Fathers---. In disputes between letters and holders of farms in Ireland, is it lawful to have recourse to those means known as the Plan of Campaign and Boycotting---and their Eminences, having long and maturely weighed the matter, unanimously replied: In the negative.” (This is a translation of the Latin Decree and the words letters and holders of lands and farms was meant to refer to landlords and tenants)

Ross also forwarded numerous extracts from newspapers to bolster his case. These included a letter in The Times from the Liberal Unionist, T.W.Russell, about the illegal behaviour of priests at the evictions on the Vandeleur estate in Co. Clare. In an article by David Humphreys, the curate of Tipperary town, in which he argued that the decree did not condemn the Plan of Campaign and the boycotting as practised in Ireland. A letter from Croke announcing his subscription of £5 to a fund for Thomas Joseph Condon, the M.P. for Tipperary East, who had been imprisoned for organising the Plan of Campaign and for lobbying against the award of compensation to a policeman who was injured in the violent affray at Mitchelstown. -------------.

Ross showed no signs of withdrawing from the battle. He went on vacation to Ireland in the summer and used his spare time to visit the disturbed parts of the country and consult with his friends about the situation. He stayed with Lord Emly near Limerick, went to see the troubled estates at Woodford (Clanricarde's), Kilrush, Co. Clare (Vandeleur's), Luggacurran, Queen's Co. (Lansdowne's) and stayed with Bishop Healy at Portumna-------------.

Though admitting that the decree had done some good, which was difficult to quantify, he was still deeply perturbed by the role played by the priests. Not only were they present in significant numbers, when William O'Brien praised the Plan near Kilrush, and at Maryborough, when Joseph Kenny M.P. made his defiant comments about the Plan going on despite the actions of any 'Foreign Potentate’, but they were responsible for galvanising the resistance of the tenants on the Vandeleur and Luggacurran estates. -----------------.

Ross showed little sympathy for those who had been evicted, and blamed the Plan of Campaign for their plight. The tenants on the Vandeleur estate could have paid their rents but the organisers of the Plan of Campaign forbade them to do so, and as a result they have lost everything at the bidding of the organisation. The priests at Kilrush were especially culpable and the Plan would have collapsed, if they had been removed. ----------------.

Ross's visit only served to confirm him in his most blinkered views. English visitors to the Vandeleur estate in Co. Clare were shocked by the poverty and misery of the tenants, both before and after the evictions-------------------.

The Vandeleur Evictions Kilrush 1888.[103]
Comparisons with Evictions during the Great Famine.

One of the paradoxes of history is that small-scale events sometimes are better remembered than much bigger ones. Folk memory is highly selective and yet the very fact that it selects a particular event shows that this event is in itself of some importance. The Vandeleur evictions of 1888 can in no way compare in scale with previous evictions in the same area in 1848-9, yet it is the first mentioned that are best remembered. The scale of the evictions in the famine years is incredible. Captain Kennedy, the Poor Law Inspector in the area, calculated that over 6,000 people had been evicted in Kilrush Union between July and early December 1848. Less than a year later Mr. Poulett Scrope, a British M.P. who visited West Clare, estimated that 20,000 had been evicted in Kilrush Union in the previous two years-and that the greater number of these had died in the meantime. Not all of these were Vandeleur tenants, but many of them were.

The following is a typical eviction scene in West Clare in 1849 as described for us by the English humanitarian, Rev Godolphin Osborne. It is of particular interest for comparative purposes with what happened forty years later.

A gig or outside car arrives with the Sheriff's deputy: the Agent for the property is in attendance on horse-back, with ten or twelve rough-looking peasants, one or two of them having iron crowbars and other necessaries for their business of destruction. A certain form is quickly gone through by the Law's officer, the effect of which is, to put the agent of the property in possession... In very many districts a small body of armed police attend, in case of any forcible resistance... The word is now given by the Agent to his “Destructives”. If the people will not come out of the dwellings they are dragged out: with them the bed, kettle, old wheel, tub, and one or two stools, with perhaps an old chest: few cabins have anything to add to this list of furniture at the time the tenants are ejected....
Finally, when the tenants had been got out, the house was knocked down.
A few points of contrast between 1848 and 1888,

In 1848
a) There was little resistance.
b) There were so many evictions that practically no one came along to watch.
c) The tenants had little or no legal help.
d) The tenants were un-organized.
e) Those evicted were wretchedly poor and their houses generally were mud cabins.
f) Because the houses were so poorly built it was quite easy to force an entrance and later to knock them.

In 1888
a) Eviction was resisted in most instances.
b) Large crowds went along to watch.
c) The tenants had very able legal representation.
d) The tenants were organized through the National League and Plan of Campaign.
e) Those evicted would have been reasonable well off in normal times and their houses were usually solid well-constructed buildings.
f) Because the houses generally were solid buildings, the battering ram was needed to force an entrance and then destroy the house.

Agricultural Depression in West Clare.
In 1879 the Land League was founded by Michael Davitt – and at Davitt's invitation Charles S. Parnell became president of the League. The first major achievement of the League was the Land Act of 1881 under which land courts were set up with the power to fix a “judicial rent” - and this rent was to stand for fifteen years. If landlord and tenant voluntarily agreed on a rent this could also be registered in court with the same status. In effect the Land Act of 1881 established a system of dual ownership in that it recognized the permanent interest of the tenant in his holding -provided he paid his rent. After this the political emphasis switched to the battle for Home Rule, culminating in a great victory for the Irish Party in the election of 1885. However, this was followed by the bitter disappointment of the defeat of Gladstone's first Home Rule Bill in 1886 as a result of a split in his own party.

Meanwhile a significant local development had taken place in Kilrush. In November 1881 the head of the Vandeleur family, Colonel Crofton Moore Vandeleur, died. He was the only landlord with extensive properties in West Clare who normally resided in the area. His successor, Captain Hector S. Vandeleur, did not come to the family residence, Kilrush House, to make it his home and paid only one visit to his West Clare property in the year after he succeeded to it. (As can be seen from the newspaper references above he spent lengthy periods in Kilrush during the years 1883,1884,1885,1891,1892,1894,1895 and 1896) A reporter at the end of 1882 commented on how few labourers were employed on the Vandeleur property in comparison with what had been the case when the previous owner was alive and he went on to describe the agricultural depression, which had hit West Clare.

Tillage is steadily decreasing in the district, and there has been a gradual decadence from tillage to dairy farming, from dairy farming to grazing, and from grazing to meadowing. The last mentioned transition has been accelerated, or rather is accelerated, by the unfavourable seasons. The less “strong” farmers have found it necessary to reduce the numbers of their stock: and what is still more serious, in view of the future, they have found it necessary, although for a different reason, to substitute an inferior breed of cattle for the improved breeds, especially the short horns, which during the last 25 years have by degrees found their way into the most remote parts of Ireland.

In addition to the bad weather, American competition had contributed to the agricultural depression, which had hit Ireland as a whole, by causing a serious decline in farm prices. When the second half of the 1880's was reached the position in agriculture had worsened rather than improved -and prices fell catastrophically in 1885-6. The result was that tenants had become unable to pay even what had been considered fair judicial rents-and according to law these were fixed for 15 years. It was against this background that the Plan of Campaign began in late 1886.

Michael Davitt in West Clare 1885.
Meanwhile, in October 1885, Michael Davitt visited Kilkee for a big demonstration under the auspices of the Irish National League, the successor of the Land League. The meeting was chaired by Fr. Quinlivan P.P., Kilkee. Davitt referred to the general election being held in the following month. When that was over:

The next work, which will be before us in Ireland, will be the work of resisting evictions by landlords for non-payment of impossible rents. The rent question, therefore, will be after November the most important question for the tenant farmers of Ireland...If they (landlords) band themselves together to resist a just demand for a just reduction the people must combine in order by every justifiable means in the constitution to resist the inhumane right of eviction for non-payment of such rents. Assuming that the present administration in Ireland will so disregard law and order as to defy the voice of justice and lend the authority of the powers that be to the carrying out of evictions, what must be done? Wherever a holding is thus made vacant, we must see that it remains so and we must see that the evil genius of the tenantry of Ireland and of the country-namely, the land-grabber-shall not thwart the popular movement and lend his support to Irish landlordism in order to thus defeat the just rights of the people of Ireland. We will be perfectly justified in following the example of the landlords, and they boycott the Nationalists in trade and business, it cannot be wrong on our part to boycott the land-grabbers and the landlords...........

The land struggle, as Davitt indicated, was now at the point of getting more intense again after a lull during the previous few years and the enforcement of a boycott was not new to his hearers. In March of that year (1885) fourteen evictions for non-payment of rent had taken place on the Vandeleur estate. One of those involved in carrying out the evictions was a sub-agent of Vandeleur, who had two horses which he wanted to run in Kilrush Races the following September. However, notices were posted calling on the people not to allow his horses to race. One of the horses (called “Harkaway”) had white marks on its legs and forehead. The owner painted these over and, with the disguise, it was not recognised and won the third race. But when his other horse went out for the fourth race it was recognised and a disturbance took place, with the jockey eventually being knocked off the horse. As a result a number of men were charged at Kilrush Petty Sessions and two of them were returned for trial at Clare Assizes.

The Plan of Campaign.
In October 1886 the scheme known as the “Plan of Campaign” was launched, mainly under the direction of John Dillon, William O'Brien and Timothy Harrington. Where a landlord refused to lower his rents voluntarily to an acceptable level the tenants were to combine to offer him reduced rents. If he refused to accept these, they were to pay him no rent at all, but instead contribute to an “estate fund” the money they would have paid him if he had accepted their offer. This fund was to be used to maintain and protect the tenants, who might be evicted, Land-grabbers, as previously, were to be dealt with by boycott.

In December 1886 about 200 of the Vandeleur tenants met in Kilrush, preceded over by Fr. Dinan, P.P., and decided to ask for a 25% reduction on the judicial rents and a 40% reduction on non-judicial rents. They also stated very clearly that they would accept nothing less. If the landlord refused to accept these rents they would adopt the Plan of Campaign. A committee was appointed, consisting of two tenants from each of the parishes involved- and these, accompanied by a number of priests, had a meeting with Mr. Studdert the agent of Captain Vandeleur. The reason given for requesting the reduction was the terrible agricultural depression. Mr. Studdert replied that Captain Vandeleur had already given what he considered a reasonable reduction from 10% to 20% on old rents-and he had instructions to give no more. Fr. O'Meara, P.P., Killimer, then told him that if this refusal was the landlord's final word, they would adopt the Plan of Campaign. However even though the lines were drawn with tenants withholding rents and the landlord threatening evictions, many further efforts were made, particularly by Fr. Dinan, P.P, Kilrush, during the next year and a half to secure a peaceful settlement- as indeed happened on over half the estates in Ireland where the Plan of Campaign was put into effect.

By May 1887 the Clare landlords, who were banded together in the Clare Landlords' Union, were threatening wholesale evictions on many estates. A Coercion Bill was on its way through Parliament. At the same time a meeting, representative of the National League in West Clare, was held in Kilrush Christian Brothers' school, with Fr. Dinan in the Chair. They protested at the Coercion Bill and adopted a fighting attitude in the face of the threatened evictions. However, it is also clear from the resolutions of the meeting that not all tenants had as yet joined the Plan of Campaign.

Evictons in Kilrush Town October 1887.
In October 1887 evictions were carried out in, Kilrush Town-appropriately enough in Vandeleur Street. On the Sunday before the evictions were due to take place a protest meeting was arranged for 1.00p.m. Before last Mass ended a force of forty armed police took up positions in the church grounds and precincts, ensuring that a meeting would not be held near the church. A little after 1.00 pm. About 2,000 people marched from the Market Square, through Frances Street, into Toler Street-and then past the police into Pound Street on the way to Shanakyle, where a meeting was held. When it was seen that the police were following them with drawn batons, and some with rifles, the crowd moved on into a field, and there was no clash with the police. Another meeting was held on the same day at Ballykett. Later in the week one of the police, Constable Buckley, resigned because of the way they had gone into the chapel grounds. An order was made that he be put on trial. He was the second policeman in the area to resign in this way.

During the first half of the week a number of evictions were carried out with only minor disturbances on Tuesday, when stones were thrown at police of whom eventually there were about 100 in the town. None of them could get lodgings and they had to bed down on straw in the market-house. On Thursday, as the evictions were now completed, the police who had come in from outside the town departed for home. However, they had some problems in getting out as the roadway was barricaded with planks of timber, trees, boulders and other materials. Later, during November, thirty people were brought to court in connection with the disturbances. One of those accused was James Clancy, formerly secretary of the local branch of the National League, who had been evicted and later returned to his house. For this he was given 21 days in jail with hard labour.

From Spring to Summer 1888.
During the spring of 1888, although ejectment orders had been obtained against many tenants they were not put into effect and negotiations continued. National League meetings arranged for Kilrush, Ennis and other places in Clare on Sunday, 8 April, were banned. John Redmond M.P., was due to speak at the Kilrush meeting-and when he arrived in town with Mr. Crilly, another M.P., a large force of military and police awaited him. Redmond went to Williams' Hotel and while he was there with some companions, also strangers to the area, the local R.I.C. Sergeant arrived to serve him with a notice that the meeting had been banned. He was told to go ahead and serve it-but Redmond refused to identify himself, and as the sergeant did not know any of the men present he had to go away without serving his notice. Later, another policeman who knew Redmond by sight did the job. A crowd of people gathered for the banned meeting and after the police had made a baton charge on them, particularly trying to get at Fr. Glynn, P.P., Kilmihil, the crowd dispersed peaceably although a few were injured.

In the following month Fr. Gilligan.C.C. Kilmurray McMahon got a month in jail for taking part in a proclaimed meeting at Labasheeda. This was the first attempt to prosecute a priest in Clare. Although very many of them were prominently associated with the land movement. On the 20th May a large number of people had gathered in Labasheeda for the forbidden meeting. Fr. Gilligan and some other men went out on the river in boats and delivered their speeches from the water. For this they were prosecuted and imprisoned.

By early July 1888 matters on the Vandeleur estate had come to a head. The landlord had obtained very many eviction orders but withheld them as negotiations continued. His offer was to wipe out all arrears to March 1886 and to reduce rents-32½% reduction on non-judicial rents: perhaps half that or less on judicial rents. The tenants, for their part, were asking for all arrears to March 1887 to be wiped out together with the following reductions – 40% on non-judicial and 25% on judicial rents. There was also disagreement on who should pay law costs and the county cess. Fr. Dinan offered as a comprise that both parties should accept that arrears be wiped out to March 1887 and that rents be reduced by 35 %( non-judicial) and 20% (judicial). Most tenants owed at least two years rent while in several hundred cases it was higher than that -three or four or even six years. All efforts at compromise failed although negotiations went on to the very evening before the evictions began. By mid July, then, everybody was prepared for the evictions, which were regarded as inevitable.

Preparations.
The 15th of July was Sunday-and before the weekend large contingents of troops and police were already setting up camp around Kilrush House. There were 70 Sherwood Foresters, 50 3rd Hussars, 50 Royal Berkshires (who were located at Cappagh Barrack), and 120 R.I.C. The whole arrangements were in the hands of Colonel Turner. Also present were a number of magistrates – Captain Welsh, Mr. Hodder, Mr. Roche, Mr. Shannon. The sub-sheriff was Captain Croker.

On Tuesday 17th July the town was quiet and a casual visitor would have noticed nothing unusual. But within the demesne, at Kilrush House, the scene resembled that of an army preparing for war. The people too had prepared -and many were said to have had their houses barricaded for over a month. A government manifesto, declaring that all meetings for the purpose of frustrating the work of the sheriff were unlawful, was posted up on Saturday. This was countered soon afterwards by an anti-eviction manifesto.

Come on Norbury. Come on with your hirelings. We await you and them. This is not the first time the hellish work was played on our forefathers. If the moulding bones of Shanakyle could speak: if the waters of the Ferry could give up their dead, humanity would be aghast at the dreadful tale they could tell. We faced the crowbar brigade then when we were friendless. Do you think we fear them now?

(The reference to Norbury was to the famous hanging judge, Lord Norbury, who was Hector Vandeleur’s great-grandfather).

Evictions Begin, Wednesday 18th July.
On the morning of Wednesday, 18th July, the army set out to commence the work of eviction, to the accompaniment of ringing of the chapel bell. However, on the previous evening Mr. Hilliard, solicitor for the tenants, had served a notice on the agent and sub-sheriff that thirty specified tenants had not been duly served with notices of ejectment, which were in accordance with the process of law. As a result only holdings which did not come under Mr. Hilliard's term of protest were visited.

The Clare Journal described the procession as follows:
First came an outpost of four Hussars in single file, behind them was a car-full of Emergency men. At their rear came one Hussar. Two Hussars followed, and then came Colonel Turner, D.M., behind who was a police orderly. The succeeding car contained Mr. T.W.Russell, M.P.: Mr. H. Studdert, the agent on the estate, and Captain E. Croker, the sub-sheriff. After these came a large body of police, and then a small crowd of Emergency men. After them came the battering ram on a cart- a powerfully constructed engine, the beam being about 30 feet long, heavily shod with iron. Following it came the chief body of the troop of Hussars, and a company of the Berkshire Infantry Regiment, with a store wagon: then a second detachment of police, followed by still more Hussars, a further section of police, and then cars of visitors and all sorts, many of them being Englishmen and Americans....
As the police and Emergency men had to walk along as best they could, the progress was slow....

The procession moved eastwards towards Killimer and the first house visited was that of Patrick McInerney at Dysert, where he had a 32-acre holding. McInerney himself was not present and his wife and family offered no resistance. After about an hour at the McInerney's house the party moved on to the house of James Finnucane at Clooneylissaun. Here the entrance was filled with bushes and heavy pieces of bog-deal. However, these were quickly cleared away by the Emergency men and very little opposition was offered.

The procession, which was now 1¼ miles long, next moved to the house of Michael Cleary, near Moneypoint. Cleary, who had a holding of 40 Irish acres, had strongly barricaded the house and was clearly prepared to resist. First of all cordon of police and soldiers were drawn up about the house, but at some distance. The only people allowed within this circle, apart from officials, were newspaper representatives and some English and American visitors. Smoke was coming from the chimney-and the first action taken was to put a ladder against the side of the house and block the chimney with straw. Possession was then demanded-and the only reply heard was a laugh from some girls inside. The police were now ordered to fix their bayonets, while the bailiffs got to work with crowbars and hatchets, but to little effect. An attack on the door moved it only slightly and hot water was thrown out. The tripod and battering ram were then brought up- and after a long time eventually made a breach in the wall. A shower of hot water was thrown out through the breach.

Finally, a large section of the wall crashed down to a cheer from the Emergency men. Two girls and their two brothers who were in the house were seized by the police and an impromptu court held in the field at which they were remanded until the following Monday. However, the girls were granted bail. The house was then knocked to the ground. When this had been done it was four o'clock and the procession returned to Kilrush, where every shop had put up its shutters for the day.

Thursday, 19th July.
There were now about 500 military and police taking part in the operation and they first moved in the direction of Ennis to evict Patrick Spellissy of Moyadda. Here the battering ram had to be used. There were just two further evictions on this day, both of them involving men named Madigan at Carnacalla. After some resistance, including the throwing of boiling water at the evictors, the battering ram did its work. It was estimated that about 10,000 people were present at the Thursday afternoon evictions.

Many priests were present at the evictions but they were excluded from the inner circle, as indeed were many of the newsmen. As a result they could see and hear very little of what was going on. On Thursday evening Fr. Dinan and 15 others issued the following statement:

Resolved that we, the undersigned priests of West Clare, present today at the evictions at the Vandeleur estate, protest in the strongest manner against the insults offered to us and the injustices inflicted on the tenants in excluding us, the trusted guides of the people, from the inner circle to which free admission was given to the representatives of the evictor and the enemies of the people.

Tuesday & Wednesday, 24th, 25th July.
The evictions did not recommence until Tuesday, 24th July, when four evictions were carried out. On this occasion the evictors moved in the Kilkee direction. The first stop was at the home of Patrick Higgins of Carnanes who barricaded himself in with his wife and ten children. The battering ram was used and a direct hit was scored on the sub-sheriff, Mr. Croker, with boiling water. Again, at the next two stops, there was considerable resistance with the now customary boiling water. The tenants involved were Marty McMahon and the Widow Higgins, both of Carnacalla. The final eviction of the day was at the house of Margaret Madigan, where buckets of boiling meal and stones were thrown by the defenders even before the wall was broken down. On Wednesday the evicting party went towards Killimer and put three tenants out of their holdings-Simon Connell, Bryan Connell and Patrick Leo.

The McGrath eviction - Moyasta 26th July.
There was only one eviction on this day- but it was the one, which got the most attention and proved to be the turning point. At 9 o'clock the evicting party left Kilrush for the house of Matthias McGrath of Moyasta, The house was firmly barricaded and the battering ram was used. When the first breach was made in the wall, a shower of filth was thrown out which narrowly missed one of the magistrates, Mr. Roche. Finally, the police got in and overpowered Patrick McGrath, son of the owner. The Clare Journal has described the scene for us.

The struggle was for the moment dreadful. McGrath laid about him with extraordinary vigour. He had stones and missiles of all sorts around him, but he struck out with his fists and fought with the courage of a lion, but the numbers against him were more than a dozen such men could cope with, and he was at last pulled violently, still resisting, through the breach over the rubbish, when he was thrown to the ground for the purpose of having the handcuffs put on him. He presented a shocking appearance as he lay gasping for breath under the weight of several policemen, with the blood pouring from his battered head, while to add to the frightfulness of the scene, his mother was filling the air with her shrieks and lamentations...

The report mentions that a photographer arrived on the scene before McGrath was taken away, and he was allowed to take a picture of the ruined house and the Emergency men, with the sheriff holding his shield. More interestingly, he also took a photograph of McGrath, standing between two policemen. One wonders if this was Mr. French whose work can be seen in the Lawrence Collection in the National Library, Dublin. It is certain that French was present at the McGrath and some other evictions and his photographs (copies of which are in the Clare County Library with identification of the places and some of the people) have left us with a vivid record of the eviction procedures. However, there is no record of the photograph of McGrath. After the photograph had been taken he was led away. Before the day ended he secured a lasting place for himself in the folk history of the area by breaking his handcuffs not once but three times. He was later sentenced to eight months in goal.

After the evictions McGrath's mother became ill and died in mid August. At the inquest the jury returned the following verdict.

We find that the deceased, Bridget McGrath, died of pneumonia, and we believe her death to have been accelerated by the eviction of her husband and the imprisonment of her son.

In Moyasta a hearse and coffin were placed outside the ruined house. “A pole bearing a black flag surmounted the vehicle, and the spectacle, combined with the ruin was altogether ghastly. They formed a horrible and miserable picture of what the relations of land are coming to at this crisis in Ireland”.

The McGrath eviction was the one which got most attention and in retrospect, it can be seen with its accompanying tragedy, to have put immense pressure on the landlord. There were two further days of evictions with Mr. French, the photographer, present on both days. On Monday 30th July Patrick Carrig, Thomas Considine, John Flanagan, the Widow O'Dea and Johanna O'Dea from the Tullycrine area were evicted, and a Mrs.O'Dea had her door burst in with a sledge before the evictors realised they had come to the wrong house. On the following day the procession again moved in the Kilkee direction and evicted John Connell, Thomas Bermingham and Thomas Higgins. Thomas Higgins was the last person to be put out of his house and holding in the Vandeleur Evictions of the summer of 1888.

Conclusion.
Evictions had taken place on seven separate days and had affected 22 holdings before they were suspended pending a possible settlement-and in fact, were not subsequently resumed. The tenants attempted to bring charges of carrying out evictions illegally against Captain Croker and others but the magistrate refused to allow the actions to proceed. In late July a number of questions were asked about the Vandeleur evictions in the House of Commons. Referring to one particular eviction Mr. Balfour, the Chief Secretary, replied that the bailiffs had not thrown the tenant's furniture into the yard and broken it. On the contrary it “was carefully removed”, - a reply which drew an “Oh!” from some of his audience.

Although resistance was offered in most cases-sometimes considerable resistance- it was nevertheless nothing more than a token as the people were well aware after the first day that they had no hope of holding out against the battering ram. However, the resistance did ensure widespread publicity for the tenants' case and this was their strongest weapon in effecting an eventual settlement. The settlement came through the intervention of Sir Charles Russell, the famous lawyer and later Lord Chief Justice of England, and in accordance with its terms, the evicted tenants were allowed back to their holdings.

Evcitions in Tullycrine, Kilmurry, Coolmeen and Labasheeda[104]in the nineteenth century.
In 1879, Michael Davitt founded the Land League. This was the first movements which tried to get justice for the smallholders of land. The demands of the Land League were known as the 3 F's- Fair rent, Fixity of tenure and Freedom of Sale. The land question caused major upheaval in the county and people flocked to Ennis in 1880 to hear Charles Stuart Parnell make his famous “Boycott” speech.

The National League introduced the Plan of Campaign in 1886. The first evictions in the Kilrush area were carried out in October 1887. The battering ram was augmented by extra police and troops. The Land Leaguers were defiant and determined to break the power and might of the landlord. Here it is worth recording that the curate of Kilmurry McMahon, Fr. Lawrence Gilligan was sentenced to one month's imprisonment in Limerick jail for addressing a meeting of the Irish National League at Labasheeda village on May 20th 1888. -------------

In all 22 evictions had taken place during July of 1888 in West Clare. Soon a settlement was reached, the Kilrush and Tullycrine evictions were raised in the House of Commons and Capt. Vandeleur was forced to call a halt to the evictions.

1889 1st June – Clare Saturday Record.
The Vandeleur Estate.
The agent, Mr. Hallam Studdert, He been very busy in Kilrush, receiving the rents from the Vandeleur tenants. The agent refused to accept a year's rent from Mr. Simon O'Donnell of Tullycrine, evicted four or five years ago, on the grounds that he had long ceased to be a tenant. The amount of arrears wiped out by Captain Vandeleur's settlement is indeed enormous. There is a curious, but yet thrifty old woman on the estate, who says, “tis a quare thing to ask me for rent after 17 years”. She holds a few acres and says she won't pay a penny to Colonel Vandeleur.

1890 March – Clare Journal.
Kilmurry Evictions
On Monday Captain Edward Croker, sub-Sheriff of Clare, protected by a large force of police under the command of District Inspector W.S. Irwin, Kildysart, carried out two evictions at Kilmurry, on the Butler and Vandeleur estates, for non-payment of rent.

1895 July – Clare Journal.
Tenant Re-instated.

An evicted tenant named James Galvin has been reinstated in his farm at Coolmeen from which he was evicted last year by the Count de Boissi for non-payment of rent. It is stated that a large amount of arrears has been wiped out and that the tenant has resumed possession under a substantially reduced rent.

1897 September –Clare Journal.
On Friday morning last at four o’clock, the Sub-Sheriff for the county, Major F. Cullinan attended by his bailiffs, and accompanied by a heavy police escort made several seizures on the Vandeleur Estate, under foot of county court decrees for rent. The amount of the decrees were in most cases realized, cattle, sheep and horses, being found on the land. Settlements in order cases were effected. Mr.E.J. Murphy land steward represented the landlord. The different places on the property visited included Knock, Carradotia, Ballymacrinan, Ballynote, Tullycrine and Colmanstown. The unredeemed are in the Kilrush Pound and will be sold by auction on Tuesday.

1899 June- Clare Journal.
Evictions near Labasheeda.
Our correspondent writes that one of the hardest cases of evictions, which has taken place in West Clare for some time past was that of Michael Molony, of Ballina, near Labasheeda, and his family on the Annally Estate. Owing to the losses of cattle and other reverses. Mr. Molony, who is one of the hardest working farmers in the whole country side, fell into arrears of rent, and when his cattle and other effects had been seized in satisfaction of the landlord's claim for high rent, the final step of dispossessing him was resorted to. Much sympathy is felt for Mr. Molony, and his friends and fellow tenants in the parishes of Killofin, Kildysart and Kilfiddane, have promised to stand by him until a settlement is affected. A number of other tenants on the estate are under notice of eviction, and to show practical sympathy with them steps are being taken to hold a monster meeting at Kildysart

1900 3rd November –Saturday Record.
Eviction at Tullycrine.
An eviction which excited much local comment was carried out at Tullycrine last week, when Mr Simon O'Donnell and a young and helpless family of fourteen were ejected from their home. Mr. O'Donnell is one of the most respected families in West Clare, but he has had to leave the homestead, which has sheltered him and his ancestors for generations. There was a force of police present to preserve order and after possession had been taken over, a caretaker was put in possession. The holding is on the Vandeleur property.

 

Vandeleurs during the Famine
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Vandeleurs leave Kilrush