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Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same online

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dear.

16681. Is it bad land? — It is not worth 5s. an acre
— with rocks and stones. It is spongey ground.

16682. Did you buy it? — No, my father lived there
before me.

16683. Ch AIRMAN. — Did you do anything in the
way of improving it ? — I did. I reclaimed about an
acre and a half myself since I came there, I took
stones and rocks out of it.

16684. Was it old turf bog 1 — It was clay land.

16685. Did turf grow on it 1—No, it was hilly.

16686. Did you make the stones into walls and
roads ? — Yes.

16687. Did you make any drains with stones'? —
Yes, I did the best I could.

16688. Did you find that that improved the land a
good deal 1 — I found all the drains I made drained the
land, but I have about ten acres of hill, and it could
not be drained, for it is all rocks and stones, and you
could not get three yards without a big rock. The
rent was not raised on me, but it was strijjed a few
years before I went there, and he raised the rent too
high. My father lived there, and I remained there
and got married after he died. He is dead about ten
or twelve years.

16689. Mr. Shaw. — Did you ask him to reduce the
rent at all 1 — He would not reduce it. We offered
hiTTi the valuation of the land a few days ago.

16690. Before these bad times did you ever com-
plain ? — We often complained, but it was no use, he
would not reduce the rent.

16691. You built a honse 1 — Yes, my father built
one housej and when I got married I built another



-He said he would not give it.
Their valuation is



Mr. Patrick
O'Donnell.



house. My father died, and I have got both houses Oct. 19, 1880
now.

16692. Ci-iAmiiAX. — What did he say when you
asked for a reduction 't
I was sent here by the townland.
low, and their rent very high.

16693. How many tenants are there on the town-
land 1 — There's John Ready, Pat. Heally, John Hanley,
Thomas Gibbons, Martin Murray, and others.

16694. Are their rents in the same way? — Yes;
the valuation is low, but it was high enough for the
land, and the rent is up to nearly double on each of them.

16695. Do you find by the actual working of the
land that you cannot make the rent properly out of it,
or is it only because you see that the valuation is low
that you think the rent high 1 — No, sir, but the land
is bad.

16696. You say it is not worth the rent ? — I could
swear to it.

16697. 'From trying it yourself? — Yes.

16698. Have you worked hard upon it? — Yes, and
I could say it is not worth anything like the rent, and
signs upon it we are not able to pay it. This last
three years the crops failed, and the potatoes did not
grow.

16699. Mr. Shaw. — Were they able to pay the rent
before in the good times ? — Yes they were, and did
pay it, but some owed two years' rent before.

1 6700. Chairman. — Before the bad years were they
able to lay by anything 1 — No, sir. They got along
with the rent paid, they might have a cow or two.

,16701. Were any of them in the habit of going
to England 1 — Yes, most of them.

16702. Do you go yourself? — No, I had no help.
The Commissioners then adjourned until next



TWENTY-THIRD DAY— WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1880.

The Commissioners sat in the Courthouse, Castlebar, at 10.30 o'clock.

Present : — The Eight Hon. the Earl of Bessborough, Chairman ; The O'CoNOR DON, and

William Shaw, Esq., m.p.

Mr. Edwin Thomas, Barley Hill, Westport examined.



Oct, 20, 1880.



Mr. Edwin
Thomas.



16703. Chairman. — You are an agent and also a
tenant farmer ? — Yes.

16704. What is the extent of yoixr agency? — One
agency is 7,600 acres.

16705. 7,600 acres — whereabouts is that? — That is
the Newport estate. Sir George O'Donnell's.

1 6706. 9,700 acres — where isthat ? — Between Clare-
morris and Ballyhaunis.

16707. And whose is that? — Mr. John Nolan
Ferrall's.

16708. 19,150 acres? — ^Yes; I was agent to that.
I am not agent to that estate now, but I can speak of
it ; in fact, I know it better than the others.

16709. Whose is that ?— The trustees of the Achill
Mission estate. It is on the island of Achill.

16710. Mr. Shaw. — Has that been sold ? — No.

16711. They were ti-ying to sell it? — Yes, but they
would not get anybody to buy it at present.

16712. Chairman. — On the properties you are con-
nected with, is there tenant-right or something corres-
ponding to it ? — There is tenant-right on all of them,
a sale with the consent of the landlord.

16713. Any restriction as to price? — No restriction
as to price whatever, provided the tenant is solvent —
the sale is even not restricted to the other tenants on
the estate.

16714. Mr. Shaw, — Is that common in the county,
that liberty to sell ? — On some estates it is not allowed
at all ; on the adjoining estate of Lord Sligo I believe
it is forbidden, but we have had it for years on the
NeNvport estate and on Mr. Fen-all's.

16715. Chairman. — Has the result been that you
have had no great mimber of evictions ?— I don't think



it has affected it at all, but since the land agitation I
don't think they would either buy or sell, in fact they
would not be allowed by the Land League.

16716. Mr. Shaw. — If a man was selling of his own
accord would he not be allowed ? — No, not even if a
man wished to sell and go to America. I had a case
last week on Lord Vaux's estate, a small estate near
Newport; a woman wanted to sell and go to America
and she would not be allowed.

16717. Chairman. — Is that from the bad times not
making the buying so popular? — I think they are
prevented ; that the idea has got into their heads that
they can have the land for nothing.

16718. That would be a disinclination to sell, not
to purchase ? — I think both, it has completely come to a
stand-still,

16719. Mr. Shaw. — Might it not be from the times
being bad and the rents high that the people don't wish
to invest at present ? — I don't think it is, because the
tenants I speak of, their rents are very small indeed.

16720. And small holdings? — Yes, too small; in
fact it is quite impossible for them to live on them.

16721. Chairman. — How do they support them-
selves then ? — They go to England and Scotland, that
is the way the small tenants support themselves.- The
average of them only hold about seven or eight acres,
at the outside ten acres of inferior land ; some of them
not so much. In Achill they are very limited indeed.

16722. What sort of land is it?— In Achill it is all
mountain land, reclaimed.

16723. To what extent reclaimed? — On the AchUl
Mission estate there are 600 tenants, and there are only

3Z2



540



IRISH LAND ACT COMMISSION, 1880.



Oot. 20, 18S0. about 2,000 acres reclaimed, and that leaves a very
„ .Z7~. small amount for each tenant.

Thomaa'" 16724. Is that reclamation real and permanent and

of good description ? — It is reclaimed as far as giving
tillage crops.

1672.5. And land drained? — ^Well only very
moderately drained.

16726. Mr. Shaw.— All done by the tenants ?— All
done by the tenants, it is merely a mearing between
their open drains.

16727. Have they any commonage? — They have a
mountain but they pay 5s. each head for the cattle
they put on it per annum.

16728. What would be the rents now on that pro-
perty? — The rents vary from 5s. an acre to £1.

16729. There are some as high as £\ ? — Some ; very
few. They all live in villages at that place. It is
most remarkable, perhaps the only place in the west
they live in vUlages, and their holdings are a long way
from them. It is a very bad system.

16730. Then seven or eight acres would be a large
farm? — It would, ia fact the average is about four
acres.

16731. Do they fish?— Very little, it is greatly
neglected.

16732. There is fishing ?— Plenty of fishing, I have
fished myself and know what it is but it is greatly
neglected.

16733. They require large boats? — Yes, and they
; have not got those large boats, like Yarmouth boats

and Dublin trawlers, but at the same time you would
have to take away a great portion of the population,
they are too crowded, even if the fisheries were

I opened up.

i 16734. Chairman. — Does that arise from subdivi-

i sion ? — It did.

16735. Mr. Shaw.— Is that continuing ? — It is, you
cannot prevent it. I never recognised it on the rental,
but I know it was done, you cannot prevent it.

16736. Chairman. — To a great extent they live by
the money they earn in England ? — Solely.

16737. Do you think anything could be done by
giving employment there for the reclamation of the
land ? — You might give employment, but I don't think
you could get any beneficial effect from it. I don't
think the people could sustain themselves on the hold-
ings they reclaimed.

16738. Mr. Shaw. — Is there much land reclaimable
in addition to the small farms ? — A good deal of land.

16739. That could be made as good as the small
farms? — I believe it could.

16740. If their holdings were squared and they got
strips of this unreclaimed land on long leases at low
rents, do you not think they could reclaim ? — By
degrees, I think a good deal could be done, by giving
a little each year, it is very difficult to labour it.

1G741. Is there not plenty of manure to be got ? —
There is not.

16742. Sea-weed? — There is not sufficient sea
manure for the land that is tilled at present.

16743. Chairman. — If it could be done in that way,
do you think it would be remunerative to the persons
who found the money, suppose they borrowed from
Government ? Do you think there would be a rent
payable on it sufficient to make it remunerative ? — I
am afraid it would not. It has been tried in some of
the neighbouring districts, Ballycroy, by Mr. Clive,
and I don't think he has made money on it.

16744. Do you think there is any desire there, on
the part of the people, to purchase their own hold-
ings ?— I think not, the system on that island is quite
different from other places, the holdings are so small
and so cut up jow could not lay them out. For in-
stance a strip of laud laid out years ago, there may
be eight different holdings on that now.

1674-5. There might be a restriping and then selling,
if such a tiling was to be carried out ?— Then what are
you to do with those who are cut out. I think emi-
gration is the only thing for those small people, if they
, can be assisted by Government.



16746. Mr. Shaw.— Would they go?_I really
think some of them would.

16747. Families? — Families would go if they got
an iaducement, it is really a miserable state of things
no one has an idea of it.

16748. Chairman. — Do you think if they wait
their land could be added with advantage to that held
by the others? — I do. I think if you took two-thii-ds
off, the rest might live.

16749. Mr. Shaw. — Are there any other large pro-
prietors on the island ? — Mr. Pike, he resides there.

16750. Does he allow tenant-right? — I think he
does.

16751. Subdividing? — He says he does not allow
them to subdivide, no one actually does, but you can-
not prevent it. Two of them live in one house and
divide the land between them.

16752. Divide the produce?— Yes.

16753. Chairman. ^They began by dividing tie
house, and then apportioning off' the land?— Yes.
The daughter gets married and gets one-third of the
land, or the son gets married and gets one-third, and
so on.

16754. Mr. Shaw. — But the men go to England!
— The able-bodied men go to England and the girls to
Scotland, they simply pay for these houses as lodgings
for the winter.

16755. Chairman. — Do the family all go?— The
girls go, any of those that can, to Scotland.

16756. Mr. Shaw. — The children remain there and
old women ? — Yes.

16757. And they are really English and Scotch
labourers ? — Yes.

16758. Chairman. — How is it they are not better
off when they have got the earnings of several months?
— The amount of money they bring back is on an
average £\Q, some may bring £1 or £8, and others
£15.

16759. Mr. Shaw. — Out of that they have to pay
rent ? — Yes, and they have as much potatoes, probably,
as will stand them three or four months in the winter.

16760. Chairman. — Is there turf there? — There
is plenty of turf free, but they have nothing else, they
are buying the rest of the year, going credit to all the
shops.

16761. Mr. Shaw. — Is there no industry in the
island ? — None ; no trade of any description.

16762. Do you think the land generally would not
pay for reclamation on a large scale ? — I think not.
You have first to contend with the climate and then
with the worst description of land, only poor boggy
land, some ten feet deep.

16763. Chairman. — Is the rainfall very great ?—
Yery ; it is one of the dampest places in the West.

16764. Can you tell the amo unt ?— No ; not exactly.
This has been an exceptionally dry season, but it was
very wet during the time I was staying there.

16765. Mr. Shaw. — Generally paying their rents
pretty well ? — They used to pay them uncommonly
well until the last few years.

16766. You reside near Sir- George O'Donnell's pro-
perty ? — I do.

16767. Is it mountain land ? — No ; the land is very
good there, some parts of it.

16768. Does he eject except for non-payment of
rent ? — Never.

16769. Does he buUd or improve the place, or do
the tenants ? — He has not done anything since the
passing of the Land Act. His father. Sir Richard
O'Donnell, spent £40,000 on the property, part of
which was sold in 1854.

16770. But since then he has let the tenants work
away themselves ? — Yes ; on the large holdings they
are all leased. Occasionally he gives an allowance for
improvements.

16771. They are, improving fairly ? — The men under
lease are very well off'.

16772. What are the average rents of the small
and large ? — The small tenants are about £7 or £8.

16773. How many acres ? — We allow them to take



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.



541



in as mvich as they like of moorland, and they have a
freedom of grazing, but it is very hard to say, the land
has not been measured for some time.

1 6774. Do you put on a rent when they reclaim 1 —
We do not, and they have grazing free.

16775. And are they comfortable'? — Very comfort-
able and well paid up — the best estate I have to deal
with.

16776. Is it near Westport? — Within six miles.
The land is very good, and we have some fine tenants
there.

16777. Are they Irishmen or Scotchmen ?— One
or two Scotch, but the majority are Irish.

16778. And they are improving tenants ?— Yes.

16779. And doing well? — Doing very comfortably,
and can make a good living.

16780. Chairman.^Is the climate difierent on the
land and on the island? — I think the climate is
different at Newport, there is not much difference,
Achill is 25 miles north of Newport, but then it is
an island, and it is damper and colder, and then the
land is very different ; we have some land as good as in
Meath.

16781. What kind ofland is Sir George O'Donnell's?
— Clay gravel.

16782. Is there any limestone ?— No ; but it can be
got easily from the islands.

16783. Mr. Shaw.— Mr. Ferrall's is near that?—
No ; between this and Ballyhaunis.

16784. Are the farms very large ? — There are some
very fair farms — men paying £30, £40, £50, and £60
1 year, and others £5 or £6.

16785. They have no mountain grazing 1 — No.

16786. But they have bog there? — No, very little
in some places.

16787. Chaieman. — Is there tenant-right there ? —
Yea,

16788. Mr. Shaw. — Are they able to get any
money for the holdings ? — No.

16789. Did they before this? — Oh, yes , it was very
general, but now there is no changing at all and no
Duying.

16790. Paying the rents pretty regularly ? — They
have done up to the last year, but they all owe money
now — they are not allowed to pay. I went down to
collect the May rents, and four of the Land League
were outside and examined every receipt I gave, to see
WHS I giving a reduction. The men told me we have
got our money, but we are not allowed to pay it.

16791. Did you give a reduction last year? —
Twenty-five per cent, on the year's rent, and 10 per
cent, on the half-year's rent due 1st of November.

16792. Chaieman. — Is there subdivision on these
two properties ? — Oh, not at all to the same extent ;
in fact, I may say it does not go on at aU,

16793. In the island has subdivision increased
since the Land Act?^-I don't think it has made any
change.

16794. Has it made no difference in consequence
of the claims of all the family on the death of the
father ? — No, it generally reverts in that case to the
eldest son. Sometimes they have disputes, and the
other brothers leave. Generally speaking they live
on good terms with one anothe/ and divide the land.

16795. Then that is subdivision? — ^Yes, that is on
the island.

16796. Mr. Shaw. — ^Is there anyone to prevent
them there ; the Society does not take much trouble
about it ? — The agent is supposed to prevent them.
If I found it out I generally served an ejectment on
them, but it is impossible to find it out with a large
population. It is done before you know anything
about it ; you cannot watch over it in these villages ;
the vUlages are common and they are not paying rent
for the houses.

16797. Chaieman. — This was on a common ? — Yes,
squatters on a common.

16798. How do they keep house? — Wretchedly
miserable.

16799. Mr. Shaw. — The other landlords have a



rule against subdivision ? — On Mr. Pike's estate, I Oet. 20, isso.
believe, they subdivide, but are prevented if possible. ,, JT".

16800. But, on Sir George O'Donnell's?— It is -ihomas!""
not allowed. We have a much better way of pre-
venting it, because the houses are not up together and

each tenant is on his own holding.

16801. Do they ask your permission to subdivide?
— No, they have gone away to America latterly, a
good many of them.

16802. Chaieman. — Do they arrange among them-
selves the stare, or get an arbitration ?— They arrange
among themselves the division.

16803. The holding itself being reckoned towards
the share of one of them ? — Exactly.

16804. In general the oldest ? — Yes.

16805. Are there many leases still existing on
these properties 1 — On the island there are no leases
hardly at all, but on Sir George's estate there are a
good many leases of the large holders.

16806. Are they underlet ? — They are not sublet.

16807. Mr. Shaw. — They don't seem to care about
doing it? — That class of tenants do not ; they know
their own interest better.

16808. Chaieman. — I see in reply to the question
as to any suggestion of alterations in the law you
say, " Ulster tenant-right should be extended to all
parts, and the rents fixed by revaluation " ? — Yes, I
think there ought to be a revaluation.

16809. You mean in place of the present Poor Law
valuation ? — Yes, I don't think it is a criterion to let
land by.

16810. And causes dissatisfaction from the excess
of rent over the valuation ? — It does.

16811. Do you think there ought to be, as much as
possible, written agreements between landlord and
tenant ? — Yes ; certainly.

1 6 8 1 2. So that they may know exactly the terms upon
which they hold 1 — I think so. I think the system
is much too loose now the way they hold.

16813. I suppose on the island there is very little
of a labouring population separate from those who are
called labourers ? — They are all the same.

16814. But, on the other properties are there
labourers on the farms ? — Yes, under the farmers,
and they have a house and garden as part of their
wages.

16815. And are they pretty comfortable? — They
are as long as they get the earning.

16816. What sort of houses do they get? — A fair
cottier's house.

16817. Built by the farmer?— Built by the farmer.

16818. Are there many labourers holding from Sir
George O'Donnell ? — No, there are not ; they live in
the town of Newport. A great deal of it is grass
country which does not require much labouring.

16819. Mr. Shaw. — Is it principally large grass
farms? — Yes. In fact they, the large farmers, found
labour so expensive, and crops not turning out so
well of late years, they found it better to turn it into
grass.

16820. It is hard ripening crops there? — Yes, from
the rains and storms.

16821. Chaieman. — I suppose these last seasons
have been very bad ?— Yes, there have been three
very bad seasons, indeed.

16822. And the previotis seasons had been very
good for some time ? — They had, and the three late
have been very bad.

16823. They got into what you may call a better
style of living, at all events a more expensive style in
good times? — Yes.

16824. And the consequence was they could not go
back in their expenses, and they got into debt ? — Yes.
There is one man in Westport, a shopkeeper, is owed
£5,000 in Achill.

16825. Do they keep poultry in these parts? —
Very few. There are dealers in Westport and New-
port, they buy them in the markets.

16826. Mr. Shaw. — Euy eggs too ? — Yes.



542



lEISH LAND ACT COMMISSION, 1880.



1G827. But the fisliing business is not pursued ? — It
is utterly neglected. . I think a great deal can be made
out of it if properly worked, but it -would have to be
done by strangers, natives -would not do it.

16828. The natives would -work the boats well? —



If they were taught, but it takes them a long while
to learn, because they are not fishermen, and the boats
they have got are very inferior, also the gear.

(The -witness then -withdrew).



Kev. Anthony-
Waters, E.c.A.



Rev. Anthony Waters, R.C.A., Castlebar, examined.



16829. Chairman. — You have some information
you can give us as to the property of Mr. Falkiner 1 —

Yes.

16830. Is he a landlord in this neighbourhood? —
He is, sir.

16831. Close round 1 — Living in Castlebar.

16832. And the property just outside? — The pro-
perty within about two miles of the town, in this
parish.

16833. What is the point you specially wish to
bring under our notice? — I have been speaking to
the tenants, there are more landlords mentioned in
that paper than Mr. Falkiner, but I have given particu-
lar cases. In Mr. Ealkiner's they are nearly all the
sa-me. I have given the first there ; the valuation is
355., and the rent £9, I think.

IGSS-t. Five acres of land'? — Yes, sir.

16835. Is that on the ground of its being a town-
park ? — Not at all, it is too far off, I believe it is
hardly worth the valuation.

1C83G. Mr. Shaw.— Poor land?— Poor land.

16837. Is it boggy or stony 1 — It is boggy, and that
sort of weak, half clay ground, and bog groiind.

16838. Plas the rent been raised lately? — Not as a
townland, but there are some persons in the townland
who were asked to give an increase, for instance one
man told me, and told me in the presence of the whole
village, his neighbours, that his rent was £12, the
Government valuation £5. However, it must be said
for Mr. Falkiner, that he has put on no actual in-
crease, he bought at these figures, and kept it un-
changed.

16839. Chairman. — Is that tenant named Michael
Lawless ? — Yes.

16840. And are other tenants at the same? — They
are about the same.

16841. Mr. Shaw.— The same class of land?—
Yes.

16842. Chairman. — Do you know when this high
rent was put on ? — It was at the time it was in the
hands of the late proprietor, Mr. Sheridan, who lived at
Pheasant Hill, and he was constantly increasing it,
and was anxious to sell it, as he did ; he thought that by
iia-\-ing a high mark of rents it would go high in the
market.

16843. Do the tenants improve at all? — The place '
is nearly in the same state for the last twenty years.

1G344. Mr. Shaw.— Is it improvable land ?— Well
it is a cold worn-out sort of land.

168-45. When did Mr. Falkiner purchase ?— Seven
or eight years ago.

16846. And up to that' time the rents were beino-
in sreased. — Constantly increased.

1 6847. CiiAiKMAN. — This was in Derrywash ? Yes.

16843. Mr. Shaw. — Is it a large property? — I think

the rental of it must be something about £500 or £600
a year.

16849. And a good many tenan'ts? — Too many ten-
ants for the amount of land. It is on the road from
this to Westport.

1G850. Chairman. In the townland of Corres,
John Fox ■'( -Yes ; that is a place that was bought by



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Commissioners of inquiry into the wReport of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same → online text (page 234 of 295)