What happened the Widow Corboy?


In May 1846 Michael Corboy of Cullenwaine, near Shinrone in King’s County (Offaly) was brought before the Moneygall Petty Sessions for using insulting and threatening behaviour towards a landlord . Henry Smith of Clareen, near Shinrone summoned young Corboy for insulting behaviour and having ‘curled as wattle’ over his head following the eviction of his mother, the Widow Corboy. Smith, it seems had served an ejectment notice on the Widow who owed him £3 in arrears for her two acre holding which she was unable to pay. The Kerry Examiner (12 May 1846) reported that ‘the lamentable cries of the widow and her seven children on that occasion would move to pity the heart’.

At the petty sessions at Moneygall Smith, it seems, was not happy that Captain Kelly, the magistrate appeared to pity the plight of the widow, although he demanded the Michael Corboy produce bail money and ordered him to keep the peace with Smith and ‘the rest of the world’.

Smith, on leaving the courthouse stated  that the Corboy’s could ‘hedge fire’ all they wanted at him but that he would proceed to do as he wished with his property. As soon as the court case concluded Smith proceeded to evict the widow from a house she had on the land as the previous eviction only involved the two acres of land. Here he was defying a promise he had made to the Rev Nolan that he would not evict the widow and her children during this time of distress.


The Irish Famine Eviction project is very keen to explore individual stories such as that of the Widow Corboy. These are the human stories of the Famine putting names to those who suffered most during these years of hunger. So what happened the Widow Corboy and her seven children? Did they survive the Famine and remain at Cullenwaine?



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