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Agrarian Unrest

About the year 1910 or 1912, there was widespread agrarian unrest throughout Clare, particularly in north Clare, which resulted in great 'cattle drives', i.e., driving cattle off the lands of big graziers. A number of men who had participated in the events were charged by the R.I.C. and brought to trial at Ennistymon. As the accused were coming to the court, they were accompanied by a number of bands and a big crowd of sympathisers. Outside the town, they were met by a large force of police who allowed the people to pass, and then fell in at the rear. Inside the town, another detachment of police with drawn batons confronted the marchers, who next found themselves being batoned in front and rear by the police. The townspeople came to the aid of the people, with ash plants and bottles. The battle continued around the courthouse throughout the day. A good number on each side received injuries, but the police, twenty-four of whom received medical treatment in the fracas, failed in the efforts to disperse the crowd who, up to the time the baton charges commenced, were behaving in an orderly way.

Behind the scenes which led up to this incident were the local landlords, on the one side, and the I.R.B. on the other side. The two big landlords in the district were Lord Inchiquin and H.V. McNamara. The latter's daughter was married to the county inspector of the R.I.C. [Royal Irish Constabulary], and it was this officer who had ordered the baton charges. Both landlords were harsh and very much out of sympathy with the people. Each of them had large tracts of land scattered through the district, which were strictly preserved for the protection of game. The gamekeepers, whom they employed, frequently poisoned the tenants’ dogs and especially where this animal happened to be a greyhound, its destruction caused a good deal of resentment among a population that had a great love for the hound and a days coursing. In fact, it was a provision of the tenant's contract on the estates of these landlords that he could not keep a greyhound and, where he failed to observe this provision, he was brought to court and generally fined or compelled to get rid of the dog.

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