Crown Eviction in Kilconcouse, Offaly in 1852 (Courtesy of Mary Lee Dunn)
Under 21-year leases let in 1829, the tenants of Kilconcouse, an 871-acre expanse in the parish of Kinnitty in County Offaly, paid their rents to the Crown fairly regularly until the Famine struck. In 1847, they asked for leniency and indulgence was bestowed to individuals “as their circumstances may require.” By 1850, however, the tenants owed more than 1,500 pounds in rent. At that time, the Crown agents acted to oust the “surplus” tenants, re-divide the land, and forego the owed arrearage. In the end 56 people were emigrated at Crown expense, all but one family taking leave from Liverpool on June 11, 1852. Their passage cost the Crown 363 pounds.
It was the management of the estate and the disposition of one property that produced hearings, as part of an inquiry by a committee of Parliament’s House of Lords:
“The management of the Crown Estates in all parts of the United Kingdom had attracted in former years the attention of Parliament, from the fact that they were, without exception, the worst managed properties in the country; and in 1851 an Act was passed for putting them under a different system of management from that which existed.”
A civil servant named T.F. Kennedy was named the Chief Commissioner of the Crown Estates in Ireland.
The above details were taken from government documents about the emigration from Kilconcouse. The tenants identified in the record of that emigration, except for Patrick Lowry, who had only one eye, sailed from Liverpool to New York, but Lowry was termed “unfit for New York”, and was sent to Philadelphia (Source: Eilish Ellis). Here are names of the evictees from Kilconcouse:
Edward Blake, 50 (relationships not given)
James, 3, Ann, 25, Sarah, 20, Sarah, 1.
William Dunn, 45
Wife Ann 43, Sons James 8, William 6, daughter Biddy, 19.
James Fitzgerald, 55
Wife Margaret 58, Son James 16, daughters Hanoria 18 and Margaret 19
John Fitzgerald 42
Wife Ellen 30, Sons Denis 12 and Thomas 8, daughter Margaret 10
Patrick Horan 30
Wife Catherine 29, Son John 3, daughters Ann 7, Catherine 5, Margaret 12, and Mary 10
Patrick Karney or Kearney 45
Wife Ann 37, Sons Joseph 11, Pat 18, Thomas 16, William 8, daughters Ann 14, Mary 21
John Kenehan 45
Wife Mary 37, Sons Jeremiah 16, John 12, Matthew, 18, William 6, daughter Ann 8
Peter Kennedy 63
Wife Mary 50
Patrick Lowry 40
Wife Ann 43, Son John 20, daughters Ann 12 and Sarah 17
Biddy Spain 30
Sister Catherine 25
Mary White 38
Sons James 13, John 8, daughters Bridget 16, Mary 5
At least 12 of the 56 people sent off from Kilconcouse, County Offaly, resettled in Troy, New York, on the Hudson River across from Albany. They represented three family groups, all related with surnames Fitzgerald and Spain. John and James Fitzgerald were brothers. Biddy and Catherine Spain were sisters of John Fitzgerald’s wife Ellen. The 1840 federal census of Troy suggests that they followed a relative to Troy since a Rodger Spain is listed in that census a dozen years earlier.
Eilish Ellis in Analectca Hibernia, xxii, (1960). Pp320-394 as reported at http://www.offaly-history.com/articles/188/1/Kinnitty-Notes-on-the-emigration-scheme- from-Kilconcouse-Kinnitty-1847-52/Page 1.html
Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords appointed to inquire into “The Management of the Crown Estate of Kilconcouse …”, Session 1854. Provided by Dennis Fitzgerald.
Research by Dennis Fitzgerald in pursuit of his family history in Offaly and Troy. Thanks to descendant Dennis Fitzgerald of Loudonville, N.Y., for copies of government documents of the Kilconcouse emigration of his ancestors. An earlier version of this account written by Mary Lee Dunn appeared in The Bonfire: the newsletter of the Ballykilcline Society (Spring 2010, page 6)