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. The 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.
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 https://www.collinspress.ie/daniel-oconnell.html