Eviction at Drimnagh, County Roscommon

Eviction at Drimnagh, County Roscommon

By Jody Moylan

The townland of Drimnagh, near the village of Tulsk (and in the Ogulla electoral division), now much under forestry, was the site of wholesale clearance and eviction in 1845, the first year of the Famine. Thomas J. Barton was the landlord (absentee). The Ordnance Survey historic 6-inch map (completed 1833-46) details numerous clusters of dwellings at Drimnagh; numbering 58 according to the Relief Commission Papers at the National Archives of Ireland. 1.pngThe main cluster surrounds a ‘Corn Kiln’, while more clusters are visible immediately to the east and north-east.

In the Freeman’s Journal 27 August 1850 the following report was given:

‘In the townland of Glennballythomas there [were] three hundred and thirty-one    persons, now there are but four houses in that townland, containing four heads and their families. In the townland of Drimnagh, in the same electoral division, they say there [were] two hundred and nine persons, whilst there are [now] only about twenty  persons.’

Just what happened to the residents of Drimnagh who were evicted? In the Historic 25-inch map (1897-1913) only one large building remains.2

Witness accounts from the Famine relate only a handful of stories, centered on two incidents relating to Drimnagh, one of a dead man being slowly dragged across adjacent fields by his wife and son to the graveyard at Ogulla, another of a man named Garvey returning to die in the townland after his emigration ship was shipwrecked. In an 1847 report printed in the Freeman’s Journal Tulsk the parish priest Fr Michael Lennon stated that of the 5,663 population within the united parishes of Ogulla, Kilcooley and Killukin , some 2461 persons were destitute. One former Tulsk resident, who resided in London in April 1847, donated the then considerable sum of one-hundred pounds to the relief of the poor in the parish. According to Fr Lennon in a separate letter to the Relief Commissioners, the man wished to remain anonymous.

Jody Moylan is the author of Daniel O’Connell: A graphic life (Cork, 2016). For more information see



Eviction at the Kiely-Ussher estate in West Waterford

The Irish Famine Eviction Project continues to receive information on a daily basis from individuals and local history groups.

David Hallahan has sent the following information from an essay  ‘Ballysaggart Estate: Eviction, Famine and Conspiracy’ by Patrick Feeney (Decies Vol. 27, Autumn 1984) which describes how  in May 1847 the Cork Examiner sent a reporter to cover the notorious activities of Kiely-Ussher , landlord of the Ballysaggart estate in West Waterford . These interviews and comments were published in the newspaper and were then in 1946 collected together into pamphlet form and published by the Dungarvan Leader.

The estate purchased by Kiely-Ussher in 1817 or 1818 comprised 8,541 acres of which little more than one thousand acres were farmable. The rest comprised (from south to north) the boggy flood-plain of the Blackwater and the often steeply rising land up to a moorland plateau (called “Mountain”) used only for turf and summer grazing. fullsizerenderOver the next 30 years or so, he seems to have adopted a policy of appropriating the good land for his own demesne by shifting the tenants from it on to the poor land. One of them, Tim Hallahan, for instance, had been a tenant since about 1805 but his lease ran out shortly after Kiely-Ussher bought Ballysaggart. This is his reported description of what happened:

                I had twelve cows, a pair of horses and forty sheep ….. The (new) Landlord took the best of  the land from me and planted it with trees, he left me a plot towards the mountains and put  me to the cost of building a house there. He then promised me a lease but did not give it to me. In about nine years after he removed me out to the mountain altogether and made an  agreement to give it to me for the first seven years free, for the next seven years for five  shillings an acre ,and for the last seven years at 12/6d. . . . . (it now comprised) eight acres of   the bog . . . . . eleven acres of mountain. . . (and) about ten acres of middling land but it was all black mountain heath and turf when I went there.

Later, the Decies account continues:

Tim Hallinan[sic], then aged about 80, recounted his attempt to appeal to Kiely-Ussher’s better nature. What do you want? says he. After spending my whole life on your property,   says I,   will you let me die of hunger? Have you not land? he then asked. What good is it to me, sir,  says I, when it has failed on me and on the world? Give it up, says he, and go into the workhouse.

Hallahan was one of several hundred families who were evicted from the Kiely- Ussher estate in 1847 making it one of the largest clearances during the Famine. The removal of such a large number of people obviously caught the attention of the Cork Examiner correspondent who reported in late May 1847 that:

 an awful sight was before my eyes, I found twelve to fourteen houses levelled to the ground. The walls of a few were still standing but the roofs were taken off, the windows broken in, and the doors removed. Groups of famished women and crying children still hovered round the place of their birth, endeavouring to find shelter from the piercing cold of the mountain blast, cowering near the ruins or seeking refuge beneath the chimneys. The cow, the house, the wearing apparel, the furniture, and even in extreme cases the bed clothes were pawned to support existence. As I have been informed the whole tenantry, amounting with their families to over 700 persons, on the Ballysaggartmore estate, are proscribed.

Our thanks to Dave Hallahan for this information. Do you have information about Famine evictions? If so please get in contact via email: or twitter @famineeviction)



Clare & Limerick Evictions, 1848-1850

Much of the information below is drawn from the pages of the Limerick and Clare Examiner whose proprietor did investigative journalism work in relation to the evictions which were being carried out across the country and in particular in Meelick, county Clare.  His name was James MacCarthy, member of a prosperous family in the contiguous North Liberties of  Limerick city.  He could see the Meelick hillside from the house in which he was reared. MacCarthy’s work was widely published in other provincial and national newspapers including the Nation and the Freeman’s Journal.

Meelick, county Clare


Matthew MacNamara has kindly transcribed the names and the number of dependents (110 heads of household; 499 people) who were evicted from the Meelick and North Liberties area, principally in the townlands of Knockroe, Moneen, Cappamahony, Stonepark, Knocknaskeha, Bulls Farm, Mountgordon; Gortgarraun; Bleach; Fean Cross area; Clonconane; Knockalisheen and Woodcock Hill. In highlighting the work of James MacCarthy, Matthew has drawn attention to the fact that the Famine evictions generated considerable interest near and far as special correspondents were sent ‘into the field’ to report on the latest doings of the dreaded ‘Crowbar Brigade’.

Name Place Dependents Date
Carey Francis Knockroe 5 March 1848
Carey Daniel Knockroe 5 March 1848
Downes Michael Knockroe 2 March 1848
Collins Morty Knockroe 3 March 1848
Egan Thade Knockroe 5 March 1848
Healy John Moneen 7 March 1848
MacCormack Michael Moneen 3 March 1848
Mac Cormack John Moneen 6 March 1848
Glynn James Moneen 7 March 1848
O’Neill John Moneen 6 March 1848
O’Neill Michael Moneen 9 March 1848
Hogan Lot Cappamahony 5 March 1848
Hannifin [widow] Cappamahony 3 March 1848
Mac Cormack John Cappamahony 5 March 1848
Leddy Ned Cappamahony 4 March 1848
Markham   [widow] Cappamahony 7 March 1848
MacNamara Michael Cappamahony 8 March 1848
MacNamara James Cappamahony 4 March 1848
Campbell Denis Cappamahony 3 March 1848
Cherry [widow] Cappamahony 7 March 1848
Hartigan [widow] Cappamahony 4 March 1848
Hartigan   John Cappamahony 4 March 1848
Meany   Thomas Cappamahony 10 March 1848
Campbell   James Cappamahony 7 March 1848
Frost Pat Stonepark 8 March 1848
Gearan Laurence Stonepark 4 March 1848
MacNamara [widow] Stonepark 7 March 1848
MacInerney Patrick Stonepark 6 March 1848
Fitzpatrick Michael Stonepark 4 March 1848
Ryan James Knocknaskeha 7 March 1848
Hickey James Knocknaskeha 8 March 1848
Simmonds Pat Knocknaskeha 8 March 1848
Cooney James Knocknaskeha 5 March 1848
Fitzgerald James Knocknaskeha 6 March 1848
Hannifin John Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 5 March 1848
Walsh   [widow] Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 6 March 1848
Hickey Hugh Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 5 March 1848
Meagher Pat Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 9 March 1848
Nix Charles Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 7 March 1848
Hickey   Thomas Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 6 March 1848
Hickey Michael Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 11 March 1848
Daly Michael Bull’s Farm and adjoining area 11 March 1848
Gleeson Michael Bull’s Farm and adjoining 5 March 1848
Gallagher Michael Mountgordon 8 March   1848
Sullivan Michael Gortgarraun 5 February 1849
Tidings [widow] Gortgarraun 4 February 1849
Keogh Thomas Gortgarraun 5 February 1849
Hartigan   Martin Brennan’s Cross area 5 February 1849
Healy Thomas Brennan’s Cross area 4 February 1849
Hourigan Daniel Brennan’s Cross area 4 February 1849
Cherry John Bleach 6 February 1849
Larkin James Bleach 9 February 1849
Cherry   Pat Bleach 8 February 1849
Hickey Pat Bleach 9 February 1849
Kinnevane [widow] Fean Cross area 5 February 1849
Kinnevane [widow] Fean Cross area 2 February 1849
Kinnevane Pat Fean Cross area 6 February 1849
Hickey Thade Fean Cross area 6 February 1849
Donoghue John Fean Cross area 3 February 1849
Daly   Michael Fean Cross area 4 February 1849
Maher Pat Fean Cross area 10 February 1849
Walsh [widow] Fean Cross area 9 February 1849
Halloran John Fean Cross area 3 February 1849
Quane William Fean Cross area 12 February 1849
Kelly John Fean Cross area 9 February 1849
Connors Michael Fean Cross area 7 February 1849
Quane Patrick Fean Cross area 9 February 1849
Quane Patrick Clonconane 10 September 1849
Allen Michael Clonconane 6 September 1849
Mulqueen Michael Clonconane 5 September 1849
Halloran   [widow] Clonconane 4 September 1849
Ryan Mrs      
Keogh Michael Knockalisheen   March 1849
Morrissy James Knockalisheen   March 1849
Meehan John Knockalisheen   March 1849
Boland John Knockalisheen   March 1849
Mac Namara John Knockalisheen   March 1849
Moloney John Knockalisheen   March 1849
Hennessy   Thomas Knockalisheen   March 1849
Gallaher John Knockalisheen   March 1849
Quinn Biddy      
Flanagan Peg      
Maher James Woodcock   Hill 5 March 1850
Gleeson Michael Woodcock   Hill 5 March 1850
Ryan John Woodcock   Hill 3 March 1850
Davis Pat Woodcock   Hill 2 March 1850
Ryan Michael Woodcock   Hill 6 March 1850
Canty Patrick Woodcock   Hill 4 March 1850
Ryan Mary [widow] Woodcock   Hill 2 March 1850
Moran Michael Woodcock   Hill 1 March 1850
Gleeson John Woodcock   Hill 1 March 1850
Purcell John [with mother and 2 brothers] Woodcock   Hill   March 1850
Donoghue John [blacksmith] Woodcock   Hill   March 1850
Ryan Michael Woodcock   Hill 3 March 1850
Cusack Michael Woodcock   Hill 2 March 1850
Dolan Michael Woodcock   Hill 4 March 1850
Frost Jack Woodcock   Hill 5 March 1850
Cudmore   [widow] Woodcock   Hill 1 March 1850
Reddin   [widow] Woodcock   Hill 5 March 1850
Loughlin   Michael Woodcock   Hill 2 March 1850
MacNamara   [widow] Woodcock   Hill 3 March 1850
Cherry Michael Woodcock   Hill 4 March 1850
Griffin James Woodcock   Hill 3 March 1850
Meehan Michael Woodcock   Hill 2 March 1850
Hynes Peggy Woodcock   Hill   March 1850
Larkin   [widow] Woodcock   Hill   March 1850
Larkin [widow] Woodcock   Hill 2 March 1850
Quinlivan James Woodcock   Hill   March 1850

Our thanks to Matthew MacNamara for his contribution. These locations will soon be added to the Famine Eviction Map.  If you would like to add to the Famine Eviction Project please get in touch via email: or via Twitter: @famineeviction

The tragic case of Biddy McLaughlin and the Buncrana evictions

‘I found the girl lying in a wretched little shed, built up within the open wallsteads of the house from which the family had been lately evicted’.

In July 1849 the tragic case of Biddy McLaughlin was brought before the Buncrana Petty Sessions in county Donegal. Few in attendance, or indeed those reading about the incident in the weeks that followed, could ever recall such an appalling case. Indeed, few stories during the Famine matched its horror. In late June 1849 the landlord George Harvey of Linsfort House issued a notice of ejectment against the widow McLaughlin of Leophin and her three children. Prior to this McLaughlin had been an industrious

The McLaughlin’s lived in the townland of Leophin, six kilometres from Buncrana

tenant, selling her eggs and butter in nearby Buncrana but had fallen on hard times and now sought a stay of execution with the eviction notice. In an effort to highlight her plight, the widow McLaughlin went to Derry to meet the landlord. Having failed to do so she returned to Buncrana where she was intercepted by the police who had also arrested her children. The eviction had proceeded and two bailiffs McLaughlin and Kelly had knocked the walls of the house. Biddy, her eldest daughter aged 18, she was told, had been severely beaten by the hut tumblers.


Visiting the scene Dr Waddy found the McLaughlin children living in a veritable ‘pig stye’. In his own words he was ‘altogether disturbed by the state of the children’. However, it was Biddy ‘terribly bruised and wounded’ about whom he provided most information. According to the other children the bailiffs had severely beaten Biddy when she attempted to resist the eviction order. Determined to put up a fight she had hit one of the bailiffs with a spade. For her efforts she was severely beaten and was now ‘a horrid sight- her hair appeared to be clotted with blood, her mouth was severely wounded, there were one or two painful contusions on her head, and four or five bloody marks on her neck’.

Freeman’s Journal, 14 July 1849.


When the case came before the Buncrana Petty Sessions, the courthouse we are told was ‘densely crowded with the gentry, shopkeepers and merchants’ of Buncrana and the surrounding area anxious to see the outcome of the case. Remarkably, after hearing evidence from several witnesses (although some refused to testify out of fear) the magistrates fined Biddy McLaughlin ten shillings or failing to do so she would be imprisoned for a fortnight. It was little wonder such a verdict had been arrived at seeing as one of the magistrates was a man called Miller, agent to George Harvey.

What happened to the McLaughlins thereafter?

If you have information about this story or any Famine eviction please contact us at or on twitter @famineeviction


Evictions and clearances were widespread in county Kerry during the Famine, none more so than on the properties owned by Trinity College Dublin. One of the biggest landowners in the country, eviction soared on the college estates as middlemen were pushed out during the 1840s. In 1849 the Cork Examiner sent a reporter to Kerry to investigate Trinity College following the eviction of 127 families,  or approximately 635 individuals in north Kerry, where college property was leased to landlords named Stoughton, Pope and Rice. These evictions and much more are covered in-depth in the groundbreaking new study by Bryan MacMahon, The Great Famine in Tralee and north Kerry published last month by Mercier Press.9781781174678

Among the evictions which MacMahon has unearthed included those at: Ballinascrena (35 families), Ballinvranig (16 families) Knockavuhig (15 families), Acres (11 families), Corabally (13 families), Cloarbougher (9 families), Derryreagh (15 families), Beendhuve (7 families) Crotto (2 families), Maulin (2 families). The reporter concentrated on Knockavuhig where he saw the unroofed cottages recently vacated, and then saw smoke coming from some huts on the roadside. These were about five feet long and three feet high and were made of old timbers and sods of grass. In these huts there were three evicted families, two named Leahy and one named Halloran. John Leahy had held four acres of land from Pope who held the land under Stoughton who held it under Trinity College, according to the middleman system. Leahy paid £4 a year in rent and was one year behind when he was evicted by order of the solicitor of Trinity College. He was receiving one and three-quarters of a stone of meal every week to feed his family of five. The reporter crouched down to enter the hovel through the opening which was three feet high and operated as both door and chimney:

  ‘On the damp earth was shaken a little straw, on which lay some eight or nine sickly- looking children, their faces as black as those of Negroes from the turf smoke. I have often seen pigs better littered.’ 

For further details see

Genealogy and the Irish Famine Eviction Project

cover_640x360With over 60 regional and national newspapers now available on the Irish Newspaper Archive website ( ) there exists the potential to examine in great detail the lived experiences of individuals, families and the wider community during the Great Famine. It is no secret that family historians, genealogists and others are often left frustrated by the lack of information pertaining to the Great Famine and before where only fragmentary evidence allows them to piece together individual stories. Over the past ten months or so as data has been collected and collated a staggering amount of information has been thrown up in relation to eviction and genealogy. In many instances newspaper reports carry the names and numbers of the evicted. Over the next few weeks we will post details of many of these families who are mentioned in the hope that more information can be other obtained about them or that in the very least these snippets will add to the overall genealogy jigsaw.

Described in the newspaper as being located on the Old Cork Road/Glen, Charleville, Cork, in Jul 1847 the eviction of fifty-eight families on the earl of Cork’s estate was widely publicised. It must have been a scene of utter devastation as these people moved along the road on the day of the eviction. Where did they go? How many died enroute to or in the workhouse? How many emigrated? How many were reinstated or took on larger holdings, thriving in the post-Famine period? Some family units consisted of thirteen and fourteen people, in some cases higher, while they also included the aptly named ‘John Poor’. Fifty-six of these families are below. Can you add anything to these famine experiences? If so contact us at or on twitter @famineeviction

Patt Reagan (7 persons)
Sandy O’Keeffe (9 persons)
Patt Sullivan (9 persons)
Daniel Brine (8 persons)
Pat Malone (8 persons)
Michael King (8 persons)
Michae Neal (12 persons)
Widow Kelly (3 persons)
Thomas Lane (4 persons)
William Sullivan (5 persons)
Widow Grady (11 persons)
Patt Galvin (9 persons)
Michael Dorney (5 persons)
David Leeny (7 persons)
John Corbett (8 persons)
Widow Reidy (7 persons)
John Harrigan (13 persons)
Widow Connors (19 persons)
James Grady (7 persons)
James Grady (9 persons)
Henry Garvan (9 persons)
Jeremiah Day (14 persons)
John Coghlan (19 persons)
John Poor (5 persons)
Edmond Quin (6 persons)
Maurice Power (16 persons)
William Kealar (6 persons)
Widow Purtill (7 persons)
Widow Moore (8 persons)
John Connell (3 persons)
Timothy Sullivan (9 persons)
Michael Sweeny (6 persons)
John Sheahan (7 persons)
Michael Quin (13 persons)
Patt Murphy (4 persons)
Redmond Kirby (4 persons)
William Anster (4 persons)
Patt McNamara (3 persons)
Daniel Anster (5 people)
Widow Connell (4 persons)
John Collins (4 persons)
Widow Callaghan (4 persons)
Ralihand Cathy (3 persons)
John Lyons (7 persons)
William Sheahan (8 persons)
Batt Quin (6 persons)
Edmond Barry (14 persons)
Denis Connell (4 persons)
Timothy Day (7 persons)
Widow Ryan (7 persons)
John Dealy (6 persons)
John Hickey (7 persons)
Timothy Ryan (4 persons)
Edmond Cloghessy (13 persons)
Catheine Kirby (13 persons)
John Sheehan (6 persons)


*Note: Spellings as taken from the original newspaper account

‘I speak of what these eyes have seen, these hands have touched, these ears heard’: Fr James Maher of Carlow

In September 1847 the county Carlow based priest, Fr James Maher, appealed for help across all classes and religions 4as another year of Famine gripped Ireland. Maher was a staunch critic of evictions and openly criticised landlords who engaged in such practice. It was hardly surprising given the level of eviction in the Carlow area during the 1840s; the county amongst the worst in Leinster in 1849. In his address to the people of Ireland in 1847 Maher claimed that the devastating effects of eviction were now an all too  common occurrence and that in some parts of the country men were simply ‘left to expire in the ditches’.

Fr Maher left behind a memoir of his experiences of the Famine and those of county Carlow. Maher it seems was relentless in writing to Dublin Castle and other members of the British government determined to provide relief for those most in need. In his memoirs Maher provides horrifying descriptions of the dead, in this case in county Mayo.


Freeman’s Journal, 27 Sept 1847

According to Maher, in one letter to the Lord Lieutenant at Dublin Castle, a poor woman found dead on the roadside,  near Westport was left for days unburied on the highway, with a stone at her head and another at her feet. Likewise, Rose Hoban, of Knocksaxon, in the parish of Straide was eight days dead before she was interred. Another man who was refused entry to the workhouse scrambled about three miles from Swinford after he had been evicted and where he dropped dead on the road.

Maher as already alluded to was particularly vocal about the actions of the crowbar brigade and the destructive nature of eviction. About one eviction in county Galway he quoted The Times:

” The tenantry are turned out of the cottages by scores at a time. As many as 205 men, women, and  children have been driven out upon the road and ditches  by way of one day s work, and have no resource but to  beg their bread in desolate places, or to bury their griefs,  in many instances, for ever within {he walls of the union  workhouse. Land agents direct the operation. The  work is done by a large force of police and soldiery.  Under the protection of the latter the crowbar brigade  advances to the devoted township, takes possession of  the houses, and with a few turns of the crowbar, and a  few pulls of the ropes, brings down the roof, and leaves  nothing but a tottering chimney, if even that. The sun  that rose on a village sets on a desert. The police return  to their barracks, and the people are nowhere to be found,  or are vainly watching from some covert for the chance  of crouching once more under their ruined homes. In  some places the population has disappeared, leaving  only mounds to denote the site of their cottages.





Tackling the smallholders: The notorious George Garvey

Tackling the smallholders: The notorious George Garvey

Throughout the course of the Great Famine George Garvey served as agent to a number of estates in King’s County (Offaly) including the Holmes estate at Moneygall; the Drought at Whigsborough; the Moony estate at Doon; the Norbury estate at Durrow; the Toler estate at Parsonstown (now Birr); the Bennett estate at Thomastown and the Rosse   at Parsonstown. For his efforts Garvey was frequently the target for disgruntled and evicted tenants. Indeed, he survived a number of attempts on his life (See below Kerry Evening Press, 13 Nov. 1847).

Appointed agent of the Rosse estate at Birr in April 1853, Garvey quickly moved to establish law and order on one of the county’s largest estates. Addressing the tenants of the estate Garvey stated that he hoped:

            for the cordial co-operation of his lordships respectable and well-dispoPicture1sed tenants;            their general intelligence will point out to them that the late revolution in Irish   landed   property caused by the potato failure and its results has created much confusion where  small tenancies have been numerous and where immediate interests usually termed  ‘middlemen’s have ceased to exist.

In particular, Garvey quickly moved to collect what rents he could and received over £11,134 in rent in 1854 (although arrears still amounted to over £6,000). This arrear meant that Garvey now targeted those who were never likely to pay their arrears and a large clearance of tenants was undertaken in 1853 and 1854. These evictions resulted in the loss of over £1,404 in arrears, but both Rosse and Garvey believed this was necessary going forward. In the majority of cases these were smallholders who owed small amounts of arrears.

Eviction on the Rosse Estate in 1849 followed the printing of ‘Estate Rules’ in 1847.

Those evicted included James Towers of Carrigeen, Deborah Guinan at Clonbonniff and, at Fadden, several others including the Claffey and Malone families. Generally, and this applied to many King’s County estates, the philosophy going forward was that the arrears of smallholders could be done without, it was more important to gain access to their lands so that they could be redistributed in the process of creating more viable farms and in some cases extensive ranches.