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An American Witness to the Vandeleur Estate Evictions
by Ed O’Shaughnessy

Clare County Library is grateful to Ed O’Shaughnessy for donating this article which was first published in The Other Clare, Vol. 44 (2020) pp. 79-85.

“It was on the ‘ever glorious Fourth’ that we first struck Ireland via Dublin, and, as the latter was our first stopping place, we naturally called upon Colonel McCaskill, the American Consul.” (1) So began a published account written by Major E. J. O’Shaughnessy about a visit to Ireland in the summer of 1888. This account, and an interview published at the same time, served not only as travelogues, but contain the only known American witness account of the infamous evictions on the Vandeleur Estate, county Clare. (2) By design or by happenstance, “the Major”, as he was called by friends and family, was among a handful of American and British tourists present for the evictions of twenty-five families near Kilrush, one of the most documented and, as we now know, the most photographed of the Victorian era Irish evictions.

An Irish American Nationalist

Who was this Major O’Shaughnessy whose first stop in Ireland was with the American Consul? An interview published upon return from his European travels described Major O’Shaughnessy as “well known in Irish Nationalist circles and prominent in Irish political movements this side of the water during many years past”. (3) He was indeed a well-known Irish Nationalist, and was also a merchant who supplied wholesale cloth to New York City’s Garment District. Despite the title of Major he so publicly carried, E. J. O’Shaughnessy had never served in uniform. (4) Born in Montreal in 1848 to emigrants from Clare, he arrived in New York City in 1865 “only one step ahead of the law”, his son would say with a smile. The Major claimed to have been a member of a Montreal Fenian circle, plotting revolutionary activities. When his group was revealed by an informer he ran for the border. No proof of this is likely ever to be found, but if the company one keeps is truly an indication of one’s character, his claim has the ring of truth. The New York City press frequently reported him in the company of well-known Fenians, many of them of the “physical force” persuasion (Fig. 1) (5)

The Major starts to appear regularly in the New York City press in the wake of Charles Stewart Parnell’s January 1880 visit to that city. The Major will become an actor in the organizations that subsequently formed seeking land reform in Ireland, relief of the Irish poor, financial support of the Irish Parliamentary Party and the advancement of Home Rule. He was not unique in this. Parnell’s visit to the US provided direction to many Irish Americans who only needed direction. As participation in Irish nationalist activities gathered momentum so did the desire to visit the old country. By the mid-1880s steamship travel to Ireland was widely advertised and readily booked. In April 1888, days after his 40th birthday, the Major and his party of six, three adults and three children, steamed off to Europe.

Fig. 1. Major O’Shaughnessy, c. 1907. Born in Montreal in 1848, not long after his Clare family had emigrated, he fled Canada in 1865 when his Fenian Circle was infiltrated. When he visited Ireland in 1888 he was living in Manhattan, a dealer in wholesale cloth and a well-known Irish republican
Visit to Ireland

At the time of the Major’s visit, Ireland was in the throes of the so-called Land War. Pitting the formidable might of the landlord class, backed by every lever of power the British Crown had at its disposal, against the tenant farmers, backed by the Irish National League, which was underwritten to a significant degree by contributions from Irish Americans. Wholesale evictions, devastating during the Famine years, were again becoming frequent. Then in 1887 a horrible new tool was added to the paraphernalia of eviction, namely the battering ram. The Major would see the monstrous ram in action.

Fig. 2. Obverse of a carte de visite photograph which depicted the Cleary family eviction. The Major had a similar carte de visite when he tried to remember the first name of the photographer he met at the evictions. This copy was found in the James Wilson Collection at the Sheffield Library.
Communications and Publications

We are able to recreate much of the Major’s experiences while visiting Ireland ‘under coercion’, as the country was sometimes described, because of his determination to communicate what he saw. A remonstrative man, he was outraged by much of what he perceived while in Ireland and felt compelled to get his story out. A capable correspondent, he sent a steady stream of communication back home while he was abroad. He did so by wire and by post. We know from published accounts that he sent multiple letters home describing what he saw in Ireland. But of all the things he saw while in Ireland, the greatest impact on him and on the two adult women in his party was realized in their witness to the evictions on the Vandeleur estate.

One of his letters home, referenced in the published interview, gives us an introduction to what would follow; “writing later from the handsome watering place known as Kilkee, on the west coast of County Clare, Major O’Shaughnessy proceeds to give us an account of the horrible deeds that have been going on in that landlord-ridden country, on the land which the heartless Captain Vandeleur claims to own”. (6) The interviewer was likely John M. Wall, a Special Correspondent for the New York Tribune and a colleague of William O’Brien, the editor of United Ireland. A minor celebrity in the New York Irish community, John Wall would ensure that the Major’s associates were kept informed of what the Major considered significant. (7)

Some months after returning home, the Major gathered his notes and composed a lively account of his travels from which we get the details of his visit to Ireland. Subsequently interviewed, the Major’s account and interview were initially published in the New York Catholic Union and Times and later reprinted in the Montreal True Witness and Catholic Chronicle. A third account, published in The Gael years later, provided not only an account of the evictions the Major witnessed, it also featured four eviction photographs the Major provided the editor. His descendants knew that the Major brought home eviction photographs, one so important to him that he had it enlarged, framed and hung prominently in his home, but it was only a few years ago that the family discovered that these eviction photographs were taken on the Vandeleur estate.(8)

Newsworthy in their day, the Vandeleur evictions have taken on a new significance in recent years principally because of the surprising number of photographs that continue to surface, and the resulting exploration of how cleverly they were used. (9) We know now of forty existing photographs, making these evictions the most photographed of the late Victorian era.(10) Furthermore, many of these eviction photographs, shocking as they were, would rapidly travel great distances to be seen by diverse audiences. In this effort the Major played a role. “Thos. (recte Timothy) O’Connor, a photographer of Limerick, was present and took photographs of all the eviction scenes and Professor Cromwell reproduced them on his immense canvas in the Grand Opera House in this city last winter, and will show them again…” (11)

In this one sentence we find two strikingly important revelations. T. O’Connor of Limerick was named as the photographer who took the eviction photographs (Fig. 2). No other witness, reporter or otherwise, bothered to identify the photographer who was present each day of the evictions. (12) We learn also that the Major provided Professor Cromwell with his eviction photographs, which the professor copied and incorporated into his illustrated lecture on Ireland. It helps to know that Professor George Cromwell was the most famous illustrated lecturer in New York City in his day, using “magic lantern” technology to project images onto a 65 foot wide screen on a stage. There was no better opportunity to publicly disseminate O’Connor’s shocking photographs to New York City audiences. The first illustrated lecture incorporating the Major’s eviction photographs was Sunday evening, 16 December 1888, within three months of the Major’s return to New York City. Others would also project Vandeleur estate eviction photographs onto screens before audiences, but the 16 December 1888 showing may be the first time this was done. Two more of Professor Cromwell’s illustrated lectures followed on 17 March 1889, St Patrick’s Day, and one in the winter of 1889 (Fig. 3) (13)

Fig. 3. Advertisement for Professor Cromwell’s second illustrated lecture on Ireland projecting photographs of the Vandeleur evictions taken by Timothy O’Connor. 17 March 1889, New York Herald
From Kilkee to Kilrush

When the O’Shaughnessy party arrived in Dublin they were half-way through their European travels. After several months on the continent they were now visiting the land of their parents for the first time. They did not tarry in Dublin, and, after a week or so in Limerick, the Major stated “we took a small tug boat called the Vandeleur - some dub it a steamer – to Kilrush, the seat of the infamous Vandeleur evictions against the Plan of Campaign. As it happened, the O’Shaughnessy party shared the ride along the Shannon with a contingent of British troops. “A detachment of soldiers was packed down on the lower deck among the cattle, and I said to myself that it served them right for donning the hated red coat of English tyranny. They were going to protect the cut-throats and Emergency Men in evicting helpless families from their huts and holdings.” (14) The Major and his family were on their way to the seaside resort of Kilkee. The British soldiers were on their way to a temporary encampment at Kilrush House, on the grounds of the Vandeleur estate. They would soon meet again.

Kilkee, a favorite holiday destination was now abuzz with those gathered to attend the evictions. The crowd included the press, Members of Parliament (MPs), and a handful of British and American observers. (15) We may imagine the extrovert Major O’Shaughnessy working the crowd and insinuating himself into the center of things to come. It was the custom of the times to hand over a calling card when introducing oneself. The family has memory of the Major’s calling cards. His cards were to prove useful.

Early morning, Wednesday, 18 July 1888, the Major, his wife and her sister were in a jaunting car, along with a string of others, travelling to Kilrush to meet up with the eviction column. The Major recalled that “The evictions took place within a radius of ten miles around the town of Kilrush, all of which property the Vandeleurs and Studderts have been landlords and agents respectively for generations’. It was said in Irish Nationalist circles in New York City that to understand the Land War in Ireland one had to travel to Ireland to see it first-hand. The Major was about to see it first-hand. “I went to the evictions in company with the representatives of the Dublin newspapers, and I took my wife and her sister along for I knew the sight would make their hair curl, as it did”.

The observers from Kilkee would link up daily, shortly after nine o’clock, with the eviction party in Kilrush. The eviction party was formidably organized and consisted of the sub-sheriff, magistrates of various levels, the landlord’s agent, 50 mounted Hussars, 120 regular British infantry and a like number of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), a paramilitary force looking much like the regular infantry, plus the paraphernalia of eviction, including a cart carrying a newly delivered battering ram. The Major reported that “The battering ram or ‘Balfour’s Maiden’ as it is now happily called, always accompanied this procession of evictors.” The cars of observers were marshalled into place at the end of this very long column.

As the column departed Kilrush for the eviction sites, the Major commented that a “notable incident occurred during the march of the troops. The bell of the parish church of Kilrush would ring its funeral sound and all the shops and stores would have their shutters up, while the country around would be black with people following in the wake of this ghastly procession of evictors”. The ringing of the bell was a recurring experience each day of the eviction operation. The ringing of the bell not only alerted those on the eviction list that the eviction party was on the march, it also alerted the local population to move towards the roads leading from Kilrush.

From his vantage point at the end of the column the Major recalled it a “curious and novel sight it is to a stranger, and particularly an American, to see a whole regiment of Hussars, infantry, constabulary and Emergency Men, comprising over a thousand men marching over the roads and highways of County Clare to evict a family of little children and old people out of their thatched cottages.” The Major would not have known the latter at the outset, but it was often the case that the children of the tenants were the ones who resisted the evictors. “As the procession moved from one beat to another beat, it looked like a huge funeral with its long line of military in front, and outside cars following, with the people on foot bringing up the rear, besides thousands (of other spectators) crossing the fields.”

Fig. 4. An O’Connor photograph of the Cleary family eviction, titled ‘First Stroke of the Ram’.
The Cleary family was the first family to experience the battering ram on Day 1 of the 8-day eviction operation. This is one of the O’Connor photographs Major O’Shaughnessy brought home
The Cleary Family Eviction

On Day 1 of the eviction operation three families were visited. The first two offered no resistance, but the third family visited, the Cleary family, had prepared for a spirited defense. After the sub-sheriff went through the process of demanding possession, to be refused by the occupants, an attempt was made to force the front door. Finding the door too stoutly barricaded, the ram was brought from its cart and erected facing an exterior wall. “So they begin at the stone wall near the door to force an entrance, and when they make a break in the cabin, out would come a spray of (supposed to be) hot oatmeal water, and Sheriff Croker (and he is a corker) would be the first to receive it on his wicker shield. Then he and the constables would rush in and club the occupants.”

The Crown had learned operational lessons from recent evictions, to include the need for overwhelming force and the need for an effective machine to break into a defended cottage. The previous use of crowbars and sledge hammers had proven excessively time-consuming and put the men wielding those tools at risk. The idea to procure a massive battering ram was the solution.(16)

Major O’Shaughnessy brought home two photographs of the Cleary eviction, titled by O’Connor as “Frist Stroke of the Ram” and “Attacking the Breach”. The Major provided them for an article in a 1901 edition of The Gael. In both scenes the ram is found in the center of the photograph. The Emergency Men stand at their stations to swing the ram. The Constabulary stands ready to protect the Emergency Men, the bailiffs and magistrates. In the photographs those with black equipment belts are the paramilitary constabulary and those farther back wearing white equipment belts are regular infantry. Though hard to see without enlarging the photograph, the Constabulary near the ram are gripping their batons in anticipation of attacking the breach (Figs. 4 and 5).

Major O’Shaughnessy, his wife and her sister, were often granted permission to be within the military perimeter, a process repeated daily by providing a calling card for consideration by Colonel Turner, the Divisional Magistrate. The Major gave in to some braggadocio; “No one but the reporters, your humble servant, and my two ladies were allowed within the lines of steel. Even Jeremiah Jordan, the MP for that district was summarily ejected by the Magistrate Cecil Roche.” In an environment where military titles abounded Major O’Shaughnessy’s calling card may have helped grant him access over other civilian witnesses. The Clare Journal noted that among the witnesses to the evictions was a “Major O’Shaughnessy of the American Army, New York.” (17) The Major’s calling card did not state he was “of the American Army”, but he probably did not see it an advantage to correct a misrepresentation.

Inside the “lines of steel” the Major was often close to the action and to the actors. He described the Emergency Men as “broken down soldiers, the scum and blacklegs from the North who do the dirty work of the sheriff and the removeables.” The man who bossed the ram crew “would have his twelve cutthroats on either side of the battering ram, sailor-fashion, so that when they were ready he would say – ‘Back away with them – Back away with them’ – but whether he meant away with the Irish or away with the stones that fell at every thud of the battering ram the writer is at a loss to discover, but certain that one would not like to meet any of these emergency men on a dark road.”

When a breach was made, according to the Major, “the constables would rush in and club the occupants right and left and being bruised and bleeding, they would be taken before Cecil Roche, the so-called removable-magistrate, who would plant himself on top of a hedge wall and arrogate to himself the powers of judge, court and jury…” Magistrate Roche was known to be a particularly nasty character, selected over others to be the sentencing official for these evictions. Magistrate Roche “would vent his spleen on these poor victims, with his hat cocked on the side of his head and nearly covering his nose.” After sentencing “they would be handcuffed to each other, young and old alike, and marched off under military escort to the bridewell, as they call it, or prison, in Kilrush, a distance of perhaps seven miles from where they were evicted.”

“After they evicted Cleary’s family they razed his cabin to the ground, because it was a good substantial farm house, slated roofed and with three chimneys. Their object in demolishing the house completely was so that nobody could re-occupy it again. This was their policy right straight through. An old tumbled down hut, they would only go through the formality of evicting, but where it was a fine house they would tear it to the ground.” It is important to remember that the Major was telling a story to an audience which did not hold agents of the Crown in high esteem. Demolishing a cottage out of sheer cussedness was the story he told, but a close examination of the historical record indicates that the decision to raze a cabin to the ground had more to do with the level of resistance than to the state of construction.(18)

As the first family to experience the ram, the Cleary family’s eviction was shocking to see. Several newspaper reporters commented that the American visitors made clear their displeasure and dismay. This dismay can be felt in the Major’s telling of the Cleary story in his accounts more so than other family evictions, and he made sure to bring home two photographs of the Cleary family’s eviction. The London Daily News reported that after this eviction the American “supporters” remained on site, and they handed money to a parish priest for the relief of the Cleary family. We know the identities of the Americans present for this eviction, and of the priest. The priest was Fr. Thomas O’Meara of Dysart, a National League man. The Americans were the O’Shaughnessy party of three and Thomas Fitzpatrick of Boston. The Americans were correctly identified as “supporters” as Major O’Shaughnessy and Mr. Fitzpatrick were both American National League men, and long supporters of this cause.

Fig. 5. The second O’Connor photograph of the Cleary family eviction, titled ‘Attacking the Breach’. Here we can see the constabulary griping their batons in anticipation of the order. Major O’Shaughnessy brought this photograph home.
Further Observations and Impressions

From the published accounts and from the photographs he brought home, we can place the Major at many of the evictions that occurred during the eight-day eviction operation. The Major described specific eviction actions on days 1, 4 and 6; photographs he later provided for use in the 1901 edition of The Gael were of evictions on Days 1 and 8. He also described a weekend off-duty encounter with some of the Army officers that took place in Kilkee on the weekend before evictions resumed on Day 7. If he did not attend each day of the evictions, he certainly remained in the area to obtain photographs developed at the conclusion of the eviction operation.

When not describing a specific eviction the Major provided a general narrative giving the impression that he was present throughout: “Thousands of families on this Vandeleur estate have been kept in suspense for months expecting any day to be evicted, and after they would evict one family, the parade and show of cavalry, battering rams, dragoons, etc. would take up their line of march again and go to some other hut perhaps nine miles away. No one knew whose turn it would be next, but when they did, smoke would be issuing from the chimney, a sure sign that they were preparing to give these emergency men a warm reception, before they would surrender.”

Once the eviction party arrived at a home on the eviction list they would secure the site with a perimeter established by the regular infantry. The sub-sheriff, magistrates, the Emergency Men and the RIC would station themselves near the front door of the cottage, and the Major would place himself as close as observers were permitted to be. Admiring the tenacity of the resistors the Major stated “When smoke was seen issuing from the chimney these pirates would get a ladder climb up and stuff the chimney with straw, in order to suffocate and smoke the tenants out, but they would never budge until compelled to by superior force” (Fig.6).

The Major’s narratives also provide insightful comments about the conditions around Kilrush, landlordism in general and in specific, overheard conversations and chance observations which are useful to the researcher and provide authenticity to his reporting. “Dotted all over the green isle can be seen the barracks, the workhouse and the prison. This is the triangle by which the paternal government of England rules poor old Ireland.” The Major would have seen all three around Kilrush, and he was deeply disturbed by the stationing of English troops in the major towns. When describing the British soldier in Ireland he commented “five-sixths are Protestants and have no sympathy for the feelings and aspiration of Irish people.” These “Scotch-capped and red-coated gravel crushers... are a standing menace to every little town and hamlet throughout Ireland.”

But not all of the officers present at the evictions were happy with the service they were tasked to perform. During one eviction “the officers remarked to the reporters that this was not the kind of warfare that they had agreed to engage in when they got their commissions. There is no doubt that this is true in some circumstances.” (19)

Major O’Shaughnessy also caught the actions of some officers and eviction party officials during an off-the-record moment. “On Sunday during the eviction times, some of the officers in civilian dress and some of the authorities in command drove from the Kilrush House to Moore’s Hotel in Kilkee, and, after making a day of it, returned to the hotel drunk. When asked to settle, they disputed their bill, kicked and squirmed, and finally fought among themselves. Some of these officers in ‘Her Majesty’s Service’ think they can ride rough shod over the poor people of Ireland, (but) when they doff their gorgeous regimentals they look very ‘snide’ and bum, to say the least.”

It was not just the Scotch-capped and red-coated regulars that the Major mistrusted, most of the officials at every level were serving or former British officers. The Divisional Magistrate in charge of these evictions was Colonel Turner, many of the Resident Magistrates had officer titles, the sub-sheriff was Captain Croker, and the absentee landlord was Captain Hector Vandeleur, son of Colonel Crofton Vandeleur. “Another singular fact is that the majority of the landlords are all officers ‘On her Majesty’s Service’, another reason why brute force and wealth keeps Ireland on the ragged edge.”
Major O’Shaughnessy was also interested in the local retail economy and he spoke with the shopkeepers and housekeepers he encountered. A merchant himself, he found that the shopkeepers “are all in favor of a change. They say that business could not be worse, and Home Rule is the panacea that would revive it.” He came away with the conclusion that “landlordism has seen its best days…thanks to Davitt, Parnell and William O’Brien, and it surprised me to find that the Land League agitation did not begin a hundred years ago instead of ten, for no matter where you go in Ireland you will see evidence of extreme wealth and extreme poverty.”

Fig. 6. An O’Connor photograph of the Madigan family eviction, the Major watched Emergency Men stuff hay down chimneys hoping to smoke out the defenders. This photograph is by courtesy of the Sean Sexton collection
The Absentee Landlord

He also shared some tittle-tattle about one landlord. Reports have it, he stated “that the present Captain Vandeleur, married to an English wife…would not live in Ireland, and during the evictions they resided in London…” Knowing the owner was away, the Major went to see Kilrush House. Speaking with the housekeeper, a Protestant he stated, he learned that the custom of the Ascendancy gentry was to “...invite guests from London to visit with them for a month or six weeks, in their demesne in Ireland.” Then, their rural retreat over, all would happily return to urbane London.
But Kilrush House was not entirely devoid of residents because, as the Major observed, it had been “converted with its grounds into a camp with barracks.” It must have been an interesting sight. The officers and the civilian officials were billeted in the very large manor house while the rank and file were billeted in the stables, various outbuildings or sheltered under canvas, as was the case for the 3rd Hussars.

While engaging in criticism of Captain Vandeleur’s poor stewardship and lack of humanity towards his tenants, the Major made a declarative statement: “It is a fact that thousands of American dollars have gone into the coffers of the same Vandeleur and his father before, to keep ‘the wolf’ (agent Studdert) from the door.” (20) When the Major stated that thousands of American dollars went to the Vandeleur landlords, he was speaking with some authority. He was an associate of those who collected funds in New York City, an accounting of which was frequently published in the Irish American press, and with those who knew how the funds were distributed in Ireland, an accounting of which was frequently published in United Ireland. (21) United Ireland would often report an amount provided to a tenant identified to an estate or a landlord.

Success of the Plan of Campaign

The Major’s account was published in early autumn 1889, by which time Captain Vandeleur had been forced into arbitration with his tenants. Acknowledging this the Major stated: “But it seems Vandeleur has returned a poorer, if not a wiser, man and he had to finally submit to arbitration, proving that the ‘Plan of Campaign’ was, after all, successful.”
The Plan of Campaign, as implemented on the Vandeleur Estate, can be considered successful. The evictions had proven to be an embarrassment to the Crown, forcing Captain Vandeleur into arbitration with his tenants, an action he did not want. He tried to seek reimbursement for the tenant homes that were demolished by the battering ram, claiming the damage depreciated the value of his estate. In this he was unsuccessful. The negative publicity generated by the comprehensive press coverage, which travelled internationally through syndicate channels, the broad distribution of shocking eviction photographs, and the story carried home by visitors such as Henry B. Wilson of Sheffield, England, Major O’Shaughnessy of New York and Thomas Fitzpatrick of Boston, all played a part. But that is not to say that this test of wills was an unmitigated success for the Vandeleur tenants. All the tenants suffered, to a greater or lesser degree. Fathers, sons and brothers were jailed, many sentenced to months of hard labor. But as Major O’Shaughnessy correctly concluded, “landlordism had seen its best days” and as land purchase laws gathered momentum many of the former Vandeleur tenants were eventually able to purchase the land their families had worked for generations.(22)

Notes and References

1. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, Montreal, 4 September 1889.
2. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, 4 September and 9 October 1889. The third account appeared in The Gael August 1901. All three accounts can be read on line.
3. The published interview first appeared in the Catholic Union and Times, Buffalo, NY, but was later published in the True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, 9 October 1889, p. 2, Montreal, Canada.
4. The family has pondered the source of “the Major” title for generations. The latest thinking is that the title was a social application, perhaps in reference to a popular pulp fiction character Major Fergus O’Shaughnessy featured in Charles O’Malley’s The Irish Dragoon and on stage in Better Late than Never, in 1869.
5. Among the Major’s Fenian colleagues was General Michael Kerwin, a one-time Fenian Brotherhood Secretary of War, Alexander Sullivan, leader of the Clan na Gael, John Breslin, organizer of the rescue of Fenians imprisoned in Australia, Colonel Denis Burke, imprisoned with Michael Kerwin in Mountjoy Prison in 1866 and Patrick Ford, newspaper editor and collector of the Fenian Skirmishing Fund.
6. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, 9 October 1889, p. 2.
7. John Wall was a newspaper correspondent and member of the Land League in Ireland, who in October 1881 was imprisoned in Kilmainham jail along with Charles Stewart Parnell, William O’Brien and other prominent Land League members. In December 1883 Wall entered the US and applied for citizenship. In New York he continued to work as a correspondent, for the Tribune, and continued his activities in support of the Land League and Home Rule.
8. The Major’s collection of eviction photographs was last seen by the author’s father in the 1930s when he was a young boy. The photographs have since disappeared. While the family knew that eviction photographs once existed, it was only with the discovery of four printed in the August 1901 issue of The Gael that we learned the photographs were taken at the Vandeleur Estate evictions.
9. The most recent discoveries were found in the Henry B. Wilson, MP, papers archived in the Sheffield Library, England. Wilson, a Liberal M.P., was sympathetic to the cause of Home Rule. He visited Kilrush, 14 August 1888, two weeks after the evictions, and was escorted by Fr. O’Meara to several of the eviction homesteads and he interviewed several evicted families. We may assume that Mr. Wilson obtained the photographs either from Fr. O’Meara, a National League man, or he received them from the photographer who took them. Distribution of these photographs to men such as Mr. Wilson served the cause of the National League.
10. It had long been thought that only 21 eviction photographs had survived the years, and these survived because they were commercialized by the William Lawrence firm of Dublin. Continued interest in these evictions, however, has uncovered as many more in private collections, archived files and in early 20th Century publications.
11. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, 4 September 1889.
12. Research has verified Major O’Shaughnessy’s statement that T. O’Connor of Limerick, was a photographer who took a substantial number of Vandeleur Estate eviction photographs. An open question is his motivation, was it by individual initiative or at National League direction?
13. New York Times, 14 December 1888. The “pictures will include views of the natural scenery and famous buildings, portraits of Gladstone and the Irish leaders, and timely scenes of evictions showing the way the constables turned out the tenants.”
14. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, 4 September 1889, p. 2
15. Some seven or so Members of Parliament were present, as were numerous British and Irish reporters. The Major specifically identified Mr. Kelly of United Ireland and Mr. Hall of the Freeman’s Journal in his published account.
16. The first time we read of a ram available for use in an eviction was during the evictions on Lord Clanricarde’s estate, County Galway, in August 1886. The ram used in the Vandeleur Evictions was reported to be new, delivered to Sub-Sherriff Croker at his home in Ennis about two weeks before the evictions began. See the article on ‘The Vandeleur Ram’, The Other Clare 43(2019), pp. 78-83.
17. The Clare Journal, 21 July 1888.
18. The major witnessed three, and possibly four, cottages demolished by the battering ram. In each case the homestead had been rigorously defended. Those evictions were of the Cleary family, the Magrath family and the Birmingham family. Simon Connell’s home was also demolished after his resistance. These four demolished homes were photographed days and weeks after the evictions and served propaganda purposes. The demolitions were intended to intimidate the population, but the intent was not realized.
19. Captain Duncan Vernon Pirie was likely the officer the Major referenced. Captain Pirie resigned from the Army a year later, returned to Scotland and in 1890 was elected as a Radical Member of Parliament. “[Captain Pirie’s] experience of sufferings of the people and breaking up of their homes was to him a complete revolution of all his former views. …. He came back from the Vandeleur evictions in strong sympathy with the people, contested, to prove the depth of his convictions, a hopeless seat, and eventually became a member of the House of Commons, in which he is a thorough-going supporter of the popular rights and liberties.” Freeman’s Journal, 7 October 1909.
20. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, 4 September 1889, p. 2.
21. Patrick Ford, editor of the Irish World, was an editor who published an accounting of Land League/National League donations. Patrick Eagan, the Treasurer of the American Land League, regularly reported on donations collected and sent to Ireland. John Wall, a close friend of William O’Brien, editor of United Ireland, would have known how Land League donations were distributed in Ireland.
22. After years of negotiation Captain Vandeleur sold off his entire estate to his former tenants and others under the authority of the Wyndham Act of 1903.

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