Jottings of my Life in Tyrone, Ireland – Land Agents

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Land Agents

Uncle Edmund’s brother, John Blake, was land agent for Lord Clanricard. He was shot to death while driving to church with his wife. She got a bullet in her hip, which never could be removed, so that part of the country was taxed and she received a 1,000 -pounds a year for life. The tenants simply hated His Lordship, and I don’t blame them; they called him the “little Irish Jew.” His next agent, Frank Joyce was just as severe, if not more so for he knew that, once the rents were collected, he was sure of his salary and could then have a real good time as one of the big men of the county — often, I am sorry to say, with money that was not strictly his. Our family realized this when he got the agency for the La. Hiff estate. Lord Brassey and Henry Persse went security him but he did not by any means live up to the trust placed in him by these gentlemen. Mother often had to call on him with regard to her income, and he kept putting her off from month to month, saying that the tenants had not, or were not paying their rents, a statement she afterwards found to be quite untrue. Sometime afterwards he was killed by a fall from his car.

The jaunting car is the popular style for getting around the country in Ireland: the passengers sit on each side, while the driver sits on a little box seat in the middle near the shafts. Frank Joyce was returning from a racing committee when, to avoid another car that was running into his, he threw his feet up and toppled over, striking his head against a stone, just above the temple, killing him instantly. The stone, of course, was on the road. Quite a few of our friends passed out that way suddenly coming in contact with a stone, either on the road or at the bottom of a lake when diving. When mother told of it, she was very shocked, and it certainly placed her in an unenviable position, not knowing just how her affairs were left.

Of course, all landlords or their agents did not act like this. There were numbers of them who took a deep interest in their tenants; among those I could mention were Sir Henry Bellew, Christopher Reddington, John Martin of Tullira and several others who did not need protection. Now, the Taylors of Castle Taylor had peculiar ideas about the treatment their tenants should get. They used to hold what we called a “souper’s meeting” every Friday, and any poor people from the villages on their estate could attend these meetings and have a meat dinner. However, sad to relate, this worked a great hard on tenants who were Catholics who, refusing to eat flesh instead of fish, were promptly ordered off the estate. My grandfather, hearing of this, gave some of them cottages on his place and employment as well.

Note: In June 1882, Clanricarde’s Land Agent, John Blake was murdered near Loughrea. Writing to The Times, Clanricarde blamed this ‘ghastly act’ on his resistance to a combination of the tenants, who had been encouraged by the new Arrears Bill to pay no rent on land that was let to them too cheaply anyway.

Blake was replaced by an even tougher agent, a Mr. Frank Joyce, (One of the Joyces of Mervue, Galway) who was expected to pay £20,000 annually of collected rent into Clanricarde’s bank, and Joyce did that, extracting much more than £20,000 from the already beleaguered tenant farmers of south-Galway.  Brian Nolan 2017

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About this record

Written by Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert

Published here 08 Sep 2022 and originally published 1979

Page 0095 of the Athenry History archive.

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