The Evictions

While some concessions were granted on either side, the parties fell short of a settlement and Colonel O’Callaghan decided to apply the rigours of the law. Expecting the evictions to commence, a large crowd (8,000 according to the ‘Freeman’s Journal’) gathered daily in the village during the last week in May. On 2 June the eviction party finally arrived, consisting of the acting Sheriff, the O’Callaghan agent, a Resident Magistrate, the RIC, the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, bailiffs and 14 emergency men. Church bells and horns summoned 5,000 tenantry, most of whom were at the fair in Scariff.

The eviction party makes it way through the crowd at Bodyke

The eviction party makes it way through
the crowd at Bodyke. Image supplied
courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.
Lawrence Collection
Eblana 2661
.
Click on the image for larger version

To delay the process tenants barricaded their houses, and, as the emergencymen attacked the walls of the house with crowbars, they were showered with boiling liquid, cowdung and other unpleasant materials. All this was accompanied by the cheers and jibes of a huge crowd. After gaining entry goods and possessions were passed out and placed on the road and livestock rounded up and removed. Each evening, a public meeting was held to support those evicted and those awaiting the ‘Crowbar Brigade’. These were attended by a vast crowd who were entertained by local bands and addressed by Michael Davitt and others.

Fr Murphy (on right), some tenants and an effigy during the evictions

Fr Murphy (on right), some tenants
and an effigy during the evictions. Image
supplied courtesy of the National Library
of Ireland. Lawrence Collection Eblana 2665
Click on the image for larger version

On that first day of evictions the delaying tactics of the tenants resulted in only two households being evicted - those of John Liddy, and the eighty year old widow Margaret McNamara, who put up a noble defence.

Margaret McNamara, (in window), her sons and daughters await the eviction party

Margaret McNamara, (in window), her sons and
daughters await the eviction party. The doorway and windows have been barricaded. The priest
on the right is Fr Peter Murphy. Image supplied
courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.
Lawrence Collection Eblana 2662

Click on the image for larger version

Evictions: Contemporary Account 1
"Clare Journal"

On the 2nd day of evictions, Friday 3rd June, a large crowd attempted to lure the Sheriff and his men to a holding which had not been marked for eviction. The mistake was realised just as the emergencymen were about to make their attack on the house. Three households were evicted on the second day, involving considerable violence.

Evictions: Contemporary Account 2
"Clare Journal"

The most notable resistance put up by any tenant was that of John O’Halloran of Lisbarreen whose house acquired the title ‘O’Halloran’s Fort’ as a result.

A sketch of the Bodyke Evictions from the nationalist 'United Ireland' of 18 June 1887

A sketch of the Bodyke Evictions from the
nationalist ‘United Ireland’ of 18 June 1887.

Click on the image for larger version

Vivid account left by one of
the O’Halloran sons – Frank
"Irish Times"

The O’Halloran sisters

The O’Halloran sisters. As in most of the
evictions at Bodyke, the females of the
O’Halloran household played a prominent
defensive role. Image supplied courtesy
of the National Library of Ireland.
Lawrence Collection Eblana 2664

Click on the image for larger version

By the 15th June, the final day of evictions, 28 tenants, out of 57 in the Combination, had been evicted. After each eviction the tenants had reoccupied their houses by nightfall, the evictions being primarily a legal exercise. As the ‘Pall Mall Gazette’ reported ‘After the [eviction] forces had gone, however, the crowd rushed in, forced the door, relighted the fire, replaced the furniture, and a score of willing hands rebuilt the wall. So much for O'Callaghan's victory and the supremacy of the English law.’

The Press

The presence of the local and international press at Bodyke ensured widespread coverage of the evictions, coverage which was considered biased by many. Henry Norman, a reporter with the radical ‘Pall Mall Gazette’, reported, photographed and sketched extensively throughout the proceedings. Other liberal newspapers reported the evictions in great detail, to the acute embarrassment of the Conservative government whose Land Bill reached the Commons in June 1887. Balfour, the Chief Secretary, expressed the wish that evictions be restrained during that month.

Below is a four-page letter where
Colonel O’Callaghan’s son, George,
objects to unfair reporting of the
evictions.

Colonel O’Callaghan’s son, George, objects to unfair reporting of the evictions

Click on the image for larger version
Click here for transcription of letter

Colonel O’Callaghan’s son, George, objects to unfair reporting of the evictions

Click on the image for larger version
Click here for transcription of letter

Colonel O’Callaghan’s son, George, objects to unfair reporting of the evictions

Click on the image for larger version
Click here for transcription of letter

Colonel O’Callaghan’s son, George, objects to unfair reporting of the evictions

Click on the image for larger version
Click here for transcription of letter

Twenty six people, twenty two of them females, were charged with assaulting and obstructing the forces of the law and tried in Ennis court on June 18th. Some were freed, or given bail, others given hard labour of up to 3 months. Colonel O’Callaghan lost heavily as he had to pay the cost of the sub-sheriff, bailiffs and emergencymen. The evictions also caused an unbreachable rift between the landlord and his tenants which ultimately led to the dissolution of the O’Callaghan Estate.

Plaque erected in Bodyke to commemorate the centenary of the evictions

Plaque erected in Bodyke to commemorate
the centenary of the evictions.
Click on the image for larger version