Orators and Agitators

At a tenant rights meeting in Ennis in September 1879 a motion was adopted that, owing to the downturn in the economy, landlords in the county would be requested to reduce their rents. During the following weeks various letters from landlords and tenants appeared in the Clare Journal stating that reductions of between 15% and 20% were being granted on a number of Clare estates. Prior to 1879, landlord-tenant relations on the O'Callaghan estate were good and there was little manifestation of ill-will between the parties. However, when Colonel O'Callaghan offered abatements of rent in 1879, a number of tenants considered them insufficient, claiming inability to pay. In 1880 Colonel O'Callaghan was boycotted.

In the two-page letter below, a tenant, Michael Hogan, asks for more time before he pays his rent.


Tenant Michael Hogan Letter, page 1

Tenant Michael Hogan Letter, page 1 -

Tenant Michael Hogan Letter, page 2

Tenant Michael Hogan Letter, page 2 -

A demonstration organised by the Land League in Scariff, in November 1880, attracted over 10,000 people. A notable feature of the meeting was the prominence of the local clergy in the conflict.

Fathers Peter Murphy and J. Hannon, parish priest and curate respectively of Tuamgraney/Bodyke, were active and enthusiastic 'Leaguers'. For Fr Murphy the solution to the land question was simply tenant ownership and the only means available to achieve this was organised resistance.

The motions adopted at the Scariff meeting included refusal to pay rack rents and refusal to take land rendered vacant by non-payment of rent. On the other hand, Colonel O'Callaghan felt that any attempt to organise the peasants was a crime in itself and the Government was to blame 'for allowing stump orators and agitators to preach at public meetings a most dishonest gospel to the hoodwinked and misguided peasants.'

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