The following is a copy of an Essay, taken from the original, which is in my possession. It was written by Benjamin Martin (my Grandfather) in or around 1895 and it deals with his eviction from His farm at Kilbehenny, C. Limerick, in 1882 and the subsequent happenings in his dealings with the Landloard. (Denis Martin of Ireland)
AN EVICTED TENANTS GRIEVANCES
I was evicted from the Buckley Estate, parish of Kilbenny, Co, Limerick on the 22nd of September 1882 for non-payment of an impossible rent. My rent was £9O ($225) a year, while the poor law valuation (and indeed the true value at most) was only £37.10s ($94). My farm was adjoining the demesne and for that reason was coveted by the landlord for his own use. The presence of a poor farmer’s house in such close proximity to the estate as rnlne was cause to be regarded by him as an eyesore to be got rld of by some means foul or fair.
If the landlord was so anxious to extend ‘his demense by the addltlon of my farm he rnight have acquired lt for himself by conpensatlng me for my lnterest ln it. Besldes the ordinary lnterest of a tenant I had lncreased lnterest in this farm on account of the many improvenents I had just made on it. I spent a lot of labour on lt in draining and rnaklng fences. I re-claimed and improved it ln general by tilllng and manuring tt for years at great trouble and expense. Not more than two years before evlction I had just put on as top dressing, tons upon tons of clay mixed wlth 500 barrels of Lime. I had also bullt a fine slated cowhouse 64 ft. x 15 ft. But instead of conpensating me for all these inprovements and my lnterest in the place as he was in justice bound to do, he preferred to come by the farm by the much cheaper process of persecutlng me ln every way so as to make it impossible for me to pay the rent and hold the place.
Whlle other tenants were getting an abatement of 3)/=s and 4/=s (shillings) in the £, I was not allowed a slngle penny. Then they had the woods adjoining stocked with deer that, used to come in and eat up not only my grass but also my crops, especially my young crops, and so leave me without any return for my Labour and quite unable to manage rent. And when If would complain of thls serlous damage by the deer the only satisfaction l would get was to be mockingly advlsed to flrst put the trespassers in Pourrd and then I night be able to get compensatlon. This sort of thing went on untll 1882 when in spite of all my efforts f found rnyself ln arrears to the extent of one and one-half years rent and a balance of £20.00 ( $50 approx, ) , I was consequently at the landlord’s mercy at last and he dld not delay ln taklng advantage of his opportunlty. I was lmmediately served wlth a wrlt and in the month of September with my wife and helpless chlldren was evicted from my house and farm.
I determined to stay near the place to watch the property that was still mine by the rlght of Justice, and l procured a hut to livc in, But it was thought that it might be more agree-able for the castle people for the better enjoyment of their new possessions if I could be kept out of the neighbourhood. So they turned my house into a police Barracks with seven police men to look after the place and then forbade all the tenants on the property under threat of eviction or other penalties, to allow me to take shelter with them or to fix their lands. This left me no alternative but to fix my hut in a ball alley in the neighbourhood, where I lived for a number of years, although painfully conscious that for my sake the youth of the district were being deprived thereby of their usual games and recreation.
At first through the means of what money I had after sale of my cattle before the eviction and with the aid of a small grant I was getting from the League Funds, I was enabled to get along in a fair way. But soon the granr ceased from want of funds and my own little fund was also exhausted, and I was reduced to the sore necessity of moving away from my wife and family and working as a common labourer to keep my young children from starving in the hut.
Meanwhile Mr. Buckley was preparing to sell their holdings to the tenants on a portion of his property. But my case was felt to be an obstacle to the sale for the Rev. Dr. Delaney, P.P. Ballyporeen, (Now PP of Carrick) who was acting for the tenants refused to agree to terms until I was reinstated or in some other way compensated. To meet the difficulty the Landlord promised Dr Delaney that he would gige me a strip of land elsewhere as good as the farm I had left and pointed it out to him. Dr. Delaney sent for me to meet him on a certain day when he told me how things were to be settled with me, but as there were so many tenants about the place and so much other business in hands that day he said we should put off the final arrangement of my case till some other day. Negotiations were adjourned for a week and it happened before that week had expired the death of his brother took place and caused the Landlord to be absent for about 3 months. On his return I wrote to him about the settlement he was to make with me and to my amazement his reply was that he had never made any such promise to Dr Delaney as I had referred to. When I showed his reply to Dr. Delaney he was horrified at the thought of being so badly swindled by these promises and could only say that he who broke his word so disgracefully was no gentleman.
When Mr Buckley died his property passed to his nephew the present Mr Abel Buckley Jnr. who now rides with such light heart through the scenes of these deeds of his ancestors and seeks popularity amongst a short memories public by occasionally scattering in well selected moments a few pounds from what might represent some blood-sucking rack-nuts that were drawn from me on the confiscated property that he still unjustly holds on me.
Mr. Somers, his Uncle, was his manager and agent and proved himself fully qualified to maintain the traditions that were handed down to him on the Buckley Estate. In 1892 my brother-in-law who was home from America suggested that we should again approach the landlord for a settlement, with hime we went to the Castle and had an interview with Mr Somers. He would give us no Terms except terms he knew we could not accept, that is, we should pay him all his monies that had been laid out on the place since the eviction and also the expenses of the eviction itself and then fall under the same old rent as before. This, my brother-in-law pointed out would in no way improve my position and could only result in keeping my head above water altogether and he asked hi,m to give me some fair compensation that would put me in a way to rear my helpless young family. This worthy representative of Mr. Abel Buckley Jnr. said that he was in no way bound to compensate me as it was not he who evicted me so Mr. Abel Buckley Jnr. could repudiate the obligation of Mr Buckley Snr. although he inherited the ill-gotten goods. Nice logic in slapping the face of his victims. But I must not do them an injustice for all the Buckley family loved to be known as generous. And it isn only right for me to state that beforeI left, Mr. Buckley piously said that he would, however, give me £5 for my blessing. I need not say that I did not accept the £5 and as for my blessing the less said about it perhaps the better.
That same evening my wife had an interview with Mrs Buckley and represented to her the great injustice that had been done her by being thrown on the roadside with her 8 young children and to be put out without a penny compensation from a home into which she brought a fortune of £300. The lady said that she had nothing to do with these matters, but that she sympatised with her as with all poor people and offered he some charity like she was in the habit of dispensing in the locality. Like the offer of Mr Somers her charity was not accepted and she became quite indignant at the idea of an evicted tenant refusing charity.
(The next part of the story is missing and it then continues thus)
As there was no work for me in the country, there was nothing before me but the workhouse for my wife and young children, and the Galtee Castle people knew that. In my desperation I felt that in justice to mky children and to keep them from the brand of the workhouse I should accept for the present anything at all that I could lay my hands on. I was told I could get £150 (approx $375). Dr. Delaney P.P. who took an interest in my case all along characterised this as a mere trifle of the value of the farm that was taken from me or even of the farm that was promised instead, But he admitted that as mine was a case of necessity having no law, I could not be blamed for taking what I could get.
I took the £150 and never got another penny since for my interest in that farm with all the improvements I had made on it. There was another farm of not more than twice the size or twice the value adjoining mine and when the landlord wanted to take it for himself he had to compensate the tenant to the extent of £2,000 (approx. $5,000) so that in putting me off with £150 he simply confiscated on my property to the value in plain figures of at least £850. (approx. $2,125)
This confiscated property is still in the hands of Mr Abel Buckley Jnr. and justice still calls for its restoration to its rightful owner.
(Written in or around 1895 and deals with the eviction from his farm at Kilbehenny, Co Limerick in 1882 and the subsequent happenings in his dealings with the Landlord)