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The Bodyke Evictions: Orators and Agitators

'The Clare Journal', 6th June, 1887

The Bodyke Tenants
The Evictions Commenced
Exciting Scenes

On Thursday morning the state of suspense in which the tenants of Colonel O’Callaghan, of Bodyke, have been for the last twelve months, was dissipated. At ten o’clock the work of evictions was commenced and only some few hundred peasantry had assembled in expectation of the advent at the hour named, large numbers having gone to the monthly fair of Scariff, which was being held. However, immediately horsemen were despatched hither and thither, and before a quarter of an hour elapsed, the chapel bells in the surrounding country were pealing out, whilst horns were blown on the hillsides. Magic could not have produced a more surprising result. Crowd after crowd of sympathisers appeared on the mountain tops, and filed down into the valley cheering in the heartiest fashion, and the scene was altogether striking to a degree. The evicting force consisted of about 300 soldiers and 300 policemen. The whole were under the command of Colonel Turner, divisional magistrate, with whom was Colonel Miller, R M, and Mr Crotty, R M. Mr Waddy and Mr Lawson, two English M P’s, were present during the day’s work. Mr Pease, son of Sir Joseph Pease, Dr Dunstan, and other English gentlemen were also present. Mr Lawson and Mr Pease were each accompanied by their wives, and the ladies watched the eviction proceedings with the keenest interest. During the day a number of other English visitors were present, including Mr Norman, the special representative of the “Pall Mall Gazette,” who succeeded in securing photographs of several of the leading incidents of the day.

Messrs David Sheehy and J R Cox, M P’s, were present, and while the first eviction was proceeding Mr Michael Davitt arrived, and was greeted with deafening applause. Mr E B Croker, of Ballingarde, acted as deputy in the absence of the sub-sheriff, Mr McMahon.

The following priests were present throughout the day—
Rev Peter Murphy, P P; Very Rev J Hayes, P P, V F, Tulla; Rev Eugene Molony, P P, Broadford; Rev M Kenny, P P, Scariff; Rev P McInerney, P P, Feakle; Rev P Little, P P, Sixmilebridge; Rev P Horan, P P, Whitegate; Rev T Lynch, C C, and Rev P Quinn, C C, Tulla; Rev J Hannon, C C, Bodyke; Rev P Glynn, C C, Scariff; Rev S Slattery,
C C, Broadford; Rev M Courtney, C C, O’Callaghan’s Mills; Rev M B Corry, C C, Quinn; and Rev M Hogan, C C, Whitegate.

With the expedition from Fort Anne were the agents, Messrs Hosford and Delmege, and some twenty emergency bailiffs, carrying massive crowbars for their fell work, which was proceeded to without any delay. After some lively interchanges between Colonel Miller and Mr Sheedy, M P, and Mr Hosford and Father Murphy, P P, Bodyke, and other clergymen, the forces having concentrated outside the village of Bodyke, marched to the farm of John Lyddey, holding twenty four Irish acres at a judicial rent of £28, the old rent having been £48 10s.

The house, not much better than the ordinary mud cabin of the Irish peasant was found with the windows and doors removed and the apertures barricaded with trunks of trees. Father Murphy charged Mr Hosford, when the expedition arrived at Lyddy’s house, of having broken his agreement, and again asked him to accept the offer which he had already made. Mr Hosford said he could not accept the terms. At this point Colonel Miller, R M, came up, and hailed out to Colonel Turner, “I am going to clear away all this crowd.” A large crowd of people were assembled about who continuously cheered for the Plan of Campaign. Colonel Turner answered back, ‘Wait a moment;’ and, taking up the reply, one of the peasantry advised Colonel Miller to ‘take it easy and restrain his ire.’ Word was then given to commence the eviction, but Mr Cox inquired who was the deputy sheriff?

Mr E Croker was indicated. Mr Cox asked him to produce his appointment, but received the reply, ‘I refuse to do it.’ Mr Sheehy, M P inquired by what right he proposed to throw any persons out of their houses, to which no answer was vouchsafed. “Never mind,” cried out Mr Sheehy, “they will go back yet, and that soon.” During the altercation Mr Sheehy appealed to Father Murphy to have nothing more to say to the agent on the subject. The landlord would soon be glad to come begging of the tenants to come to terms. Colonel Miller ordered Mr Sheehy to stand outside, adding to the police—Put this man outside the line with the people. Mr Sheehy—Yes; it is with the people I like to be. Lyddy’s house being barricaded in front with trees driven through apertures where windows had been and a doorway, the bailiffs proceeded to the rere of the house by directions of Mr Croker, and plied their crowbars in demolishing the masonry for the purpose of effecting an entrance. This was effected, and the tenant, an intelligent young man, and his wife, were put outside. Then their effects were flung out on the roadside. While this work was going on Mr Michael Davitt arrived, and was received with tremendous cheers. The people—men and women— came flocking over hillside and roadway to meet their distinguished visitor, who sat by the tenant’s wife, and seemed deeply moved at the sad scene being enacted in his presence. When possession was given to the sheriff, the opening broken through the wall of the house was blocked up with loose stones, and then the expedition marched to the homestead of Mrs Margaret McNamara, outside whose premises the sub sheriff (Mr McMahon) took suddenly ill, when the eviction of the poor old woman had to be abandoned on Friday last. All this time the people were gathering in their hundreds, and when the forces reached Mr[s] McNamara’s house there could not have been less than six thousand people present. They were, however, good humoured if anything, the exertions of the clergymen and the presence of the English visitors lending, no doubt, very much to this effect. Mrs McNamara’s house was barricaded, as on the last day, and when an entrance was effected, after the ‘modus operandi’ pursued at Lyddy’s, it was found that Mrs McNamara, her sons, and two daughters were inside, and positively refused to leave. The crowd outside cheered them to the echo, and Colonel Miller, seeing the plight of the bailiffs, ordered up five policemen to their assistance. The constables advanced the sergeant (Dowling) in charge having a shower of epithets hurled at him. The women and men stood at the opening which had been made, and seemingly prepared to resist the police, but the latter, failing to catch hold of them by the hands, rushed in with their rifles at the charge, and for a time it was conjecture to know what was going on inside. Mr Cox, Mr Davitt, Father Hannon, and other gentleman used their efforts to prevent serious consequences, and in the end, after an exciting scene, in which the legality of the police entering the house before the sheriff was raised, the tenant and her sons and daughter brought out one of the young women, who was in a very nervous state, and complained that she had been struck by a bailiff and it took the efforts of Mr Waddy and others to quiet her. The opening made in the house was, as at Mr Lyddy’s blocked up with stones, and the military and police then marched towards Lyddy’s house, in a field close to which they took refreshments. On the way some stones were thrown at the police, who were groaned, the men however taking no notice of the hostile feeling shown towards them. The officers of the Fusiliers invited the English members of Parliament and their friends to luncheon; but Father Glin said as they had come over to show their sympathies with the Irish tenants they ought not to have anything to say with the head emergencymen, Messrs Hosford and Delmege, or those ordering them. Mr Davitt, who was present interfered, and said the visitors were perfectly, free agents, they could act as they pleased, and expressed himself to the effect that the English visitors could act in the matter as they pleased. The latter accordingly accepted the invitation, and Col Turner announced that no more evictions would be carried out that day. By this time it was known that both tenants evicted had retaken possession of their holdings.

Contemporary Account 1: The Clare Journal, 6th June, 1887 (1)

Contemporary Account 1: The Clare Journal, 6th June, 1887 (2)

Contemporary Account 1: The Clare Journal, 6th June, 1887 (3)

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Bodyke Evictions: The Evictions