Sunday, 13 March 2016

13‭ ‬March‭ ‬1846:‭ ‬The Ballinglass Evictions took place on this day.‭ ‬The local landlords,‭ ‬Mr.‭ ‬and Mrs.‭ ‬Gerrard,‭ ‬had the population of this village in Co Galway evicted in order to turn over the land to grazing.‭ ‬Hundreds of men,‭ ‬many with their rent money still in their hands,‭ ‬along with their women and children were left on the side of the road.‭

‘The village of Ballinglass consisted of‭ ‬61,‭ ‬solidly built and well-kept houses,‭ ‬with thick plastered walls.‭ ‬None of the inhabitants were in arrears with their rent,‭ ‬and had by industry reclaimed about four hundred acres from a neighbouring bog.‭ ‬On the morning of the eviction a large detachment of the‭ ‬49th infantry commanded by Captain Brown and numerous police appeared with the sheriff and his men‭…‬.‭ ‬the people were officially called on to give up possession,‭ ‬and the houses were then demolished‭ ‬-‭ ‬roofs torn off,‭ ‬walls thrown down.‭ ‬The scene was frightful‭; ‬women running,‭ ‬wailing with pieces of their property,‭ ‬clinging to door-posts from which they had been forcibly removed‭; ‬men cursing,‭ ‬children screaming with fright‭…
That night the people slept in the ruins‭; ‬next day they were driven out,‭ ‬the foundations of the houses were torn up and razed,‭ ‬and no neighbour was allowed to take them in.‭’

The Great Hunger
By Cecil Woodham Smith

This outrageous action was widely reported and condemned.‭ ‬However not all were of the opinion that the landlords had overstepped the mark.‭ ‬Lord Brougham,‭ ‬speaking in the House of Lords on‭ ‬23‭ ‬March was of the opinion that:‭         

The tenants must be taught by the strong arm of the law that they had no power to oppose or resist…it was the landlord’s undoubted,‭ ‬indefeasible and most sacred right to deal with his property as he list.‭ ‬’

However his fellow Lord,‭ ‬and one of the great landowners of Ireland,‭ ‬The Marquess of Londonderry,‭ ‬speaking in the House of Lords on‭ ‬30‭ ‬March that year stated that:

I am deeply grieved,‭ ‬but there is no doubt concerning the truth of the evictions at Baltinglass.‭ ‬Seventy six families,‭ ‬comprising‭ ‬300‭ ‬individuals had not only been turned out of their houses,‭ ‬but had even‭ – ‬the unfortunate wretches‭ – ‬been mercilessly driven from the ditches to which they had betaken themselves for shelter.‭ 

Nevertheless despite widespread condemnation the evictions were never rescinded.

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