19th Century records have survived, in many cases, in better condition and more abundantly than those of the centuries preceding and the growth and extension of the regional newspaper system allows us a greater insight into the life of the landed gentry and the 'Big House.'
Kildare County Library holds copies of the Leinster Express published at Maryborough, for the years 1831 to 1884, the Kildare Observer (hardcopy) published at Naas, for the period 1882 - 1926 (incomplete) and the Leinster Leader published at Naas from 1881 to the present.
These often give us an insight to the social life of Moore Abbey as well as chronicling the political situation, and analysing national politics at local level.
For example, the Leinster Express for 1 January 1853 gives an account of amateur theatricals at Moore Abbey with the performance of the Comedy of Charles XII by the Moore family, relatives and friends.
The Leinster Leader often carries accounts of concerts and gala dinners, the shooting and hunting engagements and the improvements to the town of Monasterevin and its inhabitants, such as the supply of materials for basket-making to the branch of the Technical Industry for boys (Leader August 1900).
The nationalist sentiment of the Leader is offset by the unionist rhetoric of the Observer.
But the Big House and the landed estate of Moore Abbey and the Drogheda Family also stood for property and business and demonstrated the relationship between landlord and tenant.
Luckily some of the rentals for the estate survive in the National Library and in the Kildare Local Studies Collection. The latter are the Rentals for 1875 and Jan. 1879 - Jan. 1888.
The period of the 1880's in Irish History is the period of land agitation, of Davitt and the Land League, of Parnell and the fight for Home Rule. It is an important period in the history of the great landed estates, it is a time of change and of turbulence. It was the time of evictions and emergency men, of boycotts and bailiffs.
County Kildare suffered through these times and the Rentals of the Drogheda Estate offer us an insight into this period in the county. Scribbled notes of the serving of an order for ejectment for the non-payment of rent for 2 years previous and the subsequent attempt by tenant to pay one years rent indicate troubled times on the estate.
Below is a contemporary illustration in the Illustrated London News shows farmers stopping the Reloare Hunt at the Moore Abbey Gates. In time, by closely studying the rentals books available a better understanding of this period in County Kildare will become possible.
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