The farmer landlord and the labourer tenant: a County Waterford sidelight on Ireland's Land War, 1882

The dispute between John Kirwan and William Power created a little light relief in the courtroom at Tramore, County Waterford, on a November day in 1882.

Power was an agricultural labourer who occupied a one-roomed hovel belonging to Kirwan, a farmer. With the rent seriously in arrears, Kirwan was within his rights to summon the defaulter before the local magistrates. However, the episode touched a nerve in the context of Ireland at the time, in which farmers portrayed themselves as victims of greedy landlords. The case was widely reported, both at home and abroad, with some sardonic mirth.

The country was emerging from the three-year upheaval of the Land War, and social relationships at all levels remained tense. Driven by economic hardship and mobilised by the Land League, Ireland's tenant farmers had been largely successful in confrontation with their landlords. In 1881, Gladstone's Liberal government had persuaded the Westminster parliament to pass a Land Act which established Land Courts, to which tenants could and, in large numbers, most certainly did appeal for reductions in their rent. The 1881 Act also granted tenants a wide measure of security of tenure, or at the least, if evicted, the right to compensation for the improvements they had made, reforms which effectively granted them a form of property in the farms they occupied. This, in turn, pointed to the death of landlordism: no longer able to profit from their holdings, or even fully to control them, Ireland's landowners were increasingly open to State-sponsored purchase schemes, which transferred the farms to the farmers. The Land War remains a heroic episode in Irish consciousness. Perhaps its status as a mythic memory explains why two fundamental aspects of the conflict are obscured. The first is that revolutionary strategy coupled with radical, even inflammatory, rhetoric combined to produce a highly conservative eventual outcome – the establishment of a peasant proprietorship, with the  innate resistance to change that usually accompanies an entrenched rural society. While the full implications of this creation of a rural bourgeoisie would take several decades to emerge in full, a second element in the 1879-82 campaign was already apparent, a potential division between the farmers and the labourers who worked for them, and often – like William Power – also paying them rent for cottages and small plots of land.  The leadership of the Land League steered a careful course to keep the labourers on board, urging them to back the farmers as the first stage to an overall improvement in living conditions in the countryside.[1] One complication was that the labouring classes had two overlapping grievances. The availability and quality of accommodation was their basic grievance. But most farm workers belonged to the cottier class, men who partly supported their families by tilling small patches of land, mostly attached to their cottages and usually supplied by farmers, often at inflated rents. The key Land League conference of April 1880 refused even to discuss a proposal to support minimum housing standards, while Parnell's outline scheme to break up grazing land into smallholdings was criticised as impractical for its lack of detail. In any case, both policies involved challenging the interests of the solid tenant farmers who formed the backbone of the agitation.[2]

In retrospect, it may seem a puzzling feature of the Land War that the landlords did so little to mobilise the labourers into forming a second front against the tenant farmers. In 1880, at Shanagarry in east Cork, a landlord let a farm from which a tenant had been evicted, not to some individual land-grabber but in small plots to "carberies", part fishermen, part labourers, whose efforts at subsistence farming had been hampered by the high rents charged to them by farmers. The carberies alleged that farmers paid their landlords £1 an acre, but sublet at four times that rate.  To grow potatoes along the Cork coastline, the land required manuring (probably with seaweed). Farmers who repossessed conacre land could benefit from this effort by raising corn crops in subsequent seasons. Local Land Leaguers tried to force the carberies to give up their holdings, but came off second best in the subsequent conflict.[3] It seems to have been this episode that persuaded Parnell to dangle the prospect of smallholdings for labourers and cottiers. Labourer unrest continued across County Cork, with the harvest of 1881 disrupted by strikes for higher wages, backed in some places by arson attacks. In July 1881, a group of Irish MPs unsympathetic to Parnell hosted a deputation to W.E. Forster, the government's Irish secretary, to outline the grievances of labourers. Timothy Enright, from Shanagolden in County Limerick, described how he lived with his wife and five children in a cabin ten or twelve feet square, "they all living in one room, and sleeping on a sop of straw on the floor which served them for a bed. Even if he had room he never earned the price of a second bed. The cottage was made of mud, and there were only a few sticks preventing the roof from falling in." This was not even accommodation attached to his employment: he generally had to walk three miles to work, "which was a long distance to travel on a bleak winter's morning." Enright claimed that he worked 14 hours a day for one shilling and eightpence – ten shillings for a six-day week, assuming continuous full employment. His annual rent was eighteen shillings – a low enough percentage of outgoings by modern standards, but he had to repair the cabin himself. Forster asked a number of questions, and expressed his sympathy. Unfortunately, it was "impossible that the State should find cottages for the people", although he was willing to consider rating relief and the abolition of clauses in tenancy agreements that forbade the construction of cottages.[4] William Power made similar complaints during his day in court, and in terms that suggested he had heard of Enright's plea.

Of course, it was never likely that the landowners would engage in the risky strategy of mobilising the bottom of society against the middle. For one thing, as the ineffective Labourers' Act passed in 1883 would demonstrate, there was very little that a laissez-faire political system could deliver to disadvantaged people. Raising popular expectations might unleash dangerous discontent at a time when, beyond Parnell and not always necessarily behind him, stood Michael Davitt with his schemes of land nationalisation.[5] In any case, the country was in a disturbed state, with agrarian crime rife and Land League-inspired violence. The Tramore magistrates had experienced a local example in the summer of 1882, a few months before the light relief of the Kirwan-Power case. A farmer called Michael Carroll had fallen foul of the local Land Leaguers, who fired shots at his premises at Ballycashin near Waterford City, thus driving away his labourers. Carroll succeeded in persuading a man called John O'Brien to defy the boycott and work for him. In retaliation, O'Brien was beaten up, with one assailant pinioning his arms behind his back while another smashed his teeth. From the bench, Congreve Rogers expressed his disgust. "It is a nice state of things that because a man tries to earn a decent livelihood he must be attacked on the highway and have his teeth knocked down his throat."[6] But if, in practice, Ireland's propertied classes could not ally with the labourers, they might draw some sardonic amusement from a clash between the rural sub-stratum and the countryside's new ruling class of farmers.

Of two magistrates sitting that November day, P.J. Power was a gentlemanly bachelor, a prosperous landowner but also a Nationalist who would be elected as the Home Rule MP for County Waterford at a by-election two years later. His colleague, already referred to, was Congreve Rogers, an octogenarian Protestant, resident of Tramore and a small-scale landowner who had good reason to resent the recent social upheavals. According to an 1876 return, he owned 603 acres in County Waterford and 1180 acres in Wexford.[7]   Their total annual valuation of £989 placed him in the lower echelons of the local elite: given management costs and taxes, his net income as a landlord was probably around £800 a year. In 1879, a journalistic profile of the Home Rule leader had dismissed reports "that Parnell is a wealthy man", adding that his County Wicklow property "does not bring him in more than £1,500 a year".[8] Congreve Rogers may well have investments other than in land, and he farmed some of his holdings himself, presumably (given his advanced years) through the services of a manager. However, his potential margin for concession to his tenants was hardly vast.

Because he was directly engaged in farming, Congreve Rogers was vulnerable to agrarian terrorism. In October 1880, a steam-powered threshing machine was left overnight on his land near Arthurstown in County Wexford, ready to harvest corn the next morning. During the hours of darkness, a placard appeared threatening to smash the equipment and kill anyone who operated it. To underline their threat, the vandals docked the tails of two heifers, grazing "some grass set by Mr. Rogers." This minor outrage was angrily denounced by Canon Thomas Doyle, the parish priest of nearby Ramsgrange. "It would be difficult to find any landlord within the four seas on such terms with his tenantry. The relations between them are not merely friendly, but intimate and familiar. He knows them all by name: when he visits them his cheerful voice brings joy to every household; when he meets them, even in the crowded city, on the quay of Waterford, his manner is like that of a dear old friend. He invites them to his house, and treats them with the most generous and paternal kindness. I know some good and benevolent landlords, but I know no one on such cordial terms with his tenantry as Mr. Congreve Rogers of Tramore. ... It is needless to say the tenants are more indignant than Mr. Rogers himself at this wicked yet silly attempt to create, if not ill will, feelings of coldness between them and their landlord."[9] But a few weeks later, Rogers encountered a more serious threat closer to home. He was the victim of an arson attack on a cow house at Carrigavantry, about two miles west of Tramore. Two heifers, both in calf, died in the fire. "The outrage is attributed to disputes Mr Rogers has had lately with some of his tenantry," one newspaper reported.[10]

In fact, several of his Wexford tenants were seriously in arrears with their payments. Congreve Rogers would be a beneficiary of the 1882 Arrears Act, by which the State wiped clean the slates of defaulting tenants. However, the legislation hardly operated as a cashpoint for landlords. By the end of 1880, Rogers was owed £182 on four of his holdings. He received £53 in compensation.[11] A default of £129 set against a net annual income of perhaps £800 was a serious loss, and 1881 was hardly the year when recalcitrant tenants would rush forward with their money. Indeed, in the summer of 1881, he granted a fifteen percent reduction on part of his Wexford holdings, and it is likely that this was conceded in Waterford as well.[12] By the time he came to sit in judgement on the dispute between John Kirwan and William Power, he would have been well aware that the tendency of the new Land Courts was to impose considerable reductions in rent. In the decade that followed, ten of his tenants would appeal their rents to the Land Courts, securing an average 22.4 percent reduction – almost a quarter.[13] A landowner on a larger scale could have absorbed such losses. Mrs Octavia Christmas, widow of William Christmas of Whitfield Court, was cushioned by over 4,000 acres of land in the county, with an annual valuation of £2,966, enough to guarantee a pleasant lifestyle in the fashionable spa town of Cheltenham, a glaring example of the diversion of Irish resources to English decadence.[14] But for Congreve Rogers, whose overheads in local taxation probably remained unchanged, the financial pressure would have been severe. At his death in 1896, a local journalist wrote that "while he possessed the means, he proved a genuine benefactor to Tramore by giving employment and dispensing to those in need."[15] It was no secret that his income had fallen in his later years.

John Kirwan of Matthewstown was what was known as a "strong" farmer. According to Griffith's Valuation, two Kirwan households had occupied most of the townland in 1853: John with 93 acres, and Patrick with 84.[16] If the John Kirwan of 1882 had inherited either or both of these holdings, he would have been a personage of some consequence in the local community. Although Matthewstown was only about four miles from Tramore, it looked primarily to the village of Fenor, where John Kirwan was an active member of the local Land League branch.[17] In March 1881, at the height of the struggle for land reform, Kirwan carried a resolution that committed the Land Leaguers of Fenor to refuse their consent to "any scheme of Land Reform as final and satisfactory unless ample security be guaranteed to the tiller of the soil, against the arbitrary despotism of the landlord, and furthermore, that the legitimate rights of the labouring classes be included."[18]  The awkward structure of the motion indicates that concern for the rights of labourers was a secondary issue, perhaps even an afterthought.

William Power occupied a one-roomed cabin at Ballydermody (locally called Ballydarmody), for which he paid fourpence a week in rent, his landlord being John Kirwan. Ballydermody, which lies between Matthewstown and Fenor, was noteworthy in 1853 for the number of small houses reported in Griffith's Valuation. There were no fewer than thirteen cottages or cabins rated at less than £1 a year, and still occupied despite the ravages of the recent Famine. It is also worth registering that twelve of the thirteen stood on patches of land, all less than an acre, but no doubt capable of producing some subsistence crop in support of a family. For instance, James Power, possibly William's father, had three-quarters of an acre attached to his humble abode. This was a point that William Power did not mention when he elaborated his grievances in court. But there can be little doubt that he told the truth about the cramped and miserable conditions that he shared with his wife and two children. The 1901 census recorded a William Power at Ballydermody. Given that the surname was borne by one person in six in the Tramore area,[19] we cannot be absolutely sure that this is the same person, but there is a good chance that the 60 year-old illiterate agricultural labourer was the aggrieved complainant of nineteen years previously. The enumerator noted that he lived in a single-roomed cabin, with mud walls and a thatched roof, a property easily classified as a dwelling of the fourth, or lowest, class.[20]

Shakespeare's great tragedies tend to explode from a few portentous words, the witches telling Macbeth that he shall be "king hereafter", King Lear warning his favourite but pigheaded daughter, "Nothing will come of nothing." The less searing tale of the clash between Kirwan and Power began with an innocuous request from landlord to dilatory tenant, "William, I must get my rent."[21] Unfortunately, it became impossible for the farmer-landlord and the occupant of his cabin to agree terms, leaving John Kirwan with no practical option but to take William Power to court. Nonetheless, for a Land League activist to pursue a farm worker for thirteen shillings and fourpence – forty weeks' rent – was undeniably an awkward strategy.[22]

The court case quickly degenerated into an unstructured dialogue between plaintiff and defendant, deliciously stirred by interventions from Congreve Rogers, coupled with a few interventions by P.J. Power, on the bench. The verbatim report, lovingly recycled by newspaper editors across the world, benefits from some tidying-up. William Power's initial objection to payment related to its timing, as he explained to the court. "'Faith,' says I,' but that is awkward, because none of the boys is paying the rent, and how can I do it?', says I to him." This explanation produced "great laughter" in the courtroom. Power added that he had assured Kirwan "when they all begin to pay you'll find me to the fore but when they don't pay don't expect me to pay, for I'm as good as any of them. I'll pay, never fear, when they all begin to pay." His point seemed fair enough. The Land League was backing a general rent strike across the countryside. It was no doubt inconvenient and anomalous that his own landlord happened to be one of those tillers who were destined to inherit that part of the Earth that surrounded the village of Fenor, but William Power could see no way around the problem.

However, as the No-Rent campaign lapsed, the two men found them disagreeing about how much  was owed. Kirwan had offered to " knock 1s 8d off the rent" – the equivalent of a five-week rebate. Congreve Rogers here made his first intervention, mildly observing, "That wasn't bad." But the Land War had dented the traditional deference of the Irish peasantry. "Just hold on a bit till I am done," Power cautioned him, causing renewed mirth in court. (Conscious that he might have overstepped the mark, Power now addressed the magistrates as "Your Lordships"; Kirwan could not bring himself to go beyond "Your worships".) Power had encountered Kirwan in Waterford City "when all the boys were paying their rent", and had offered him five shillings to settle his rent arrears, a compromise that was refused. Asked by Rogers if Kirwan had offered him any reduction, Power replied: "not at all, at all", the repetition representing a traditional Hiberno-English form of emphasis. Kirwan interjected to repeat that he had offered one and eightpence, which Rogers seemed to regard as a generous concession. "He only offered the 1s 8d for that year, and he would not stick to it," Power retorted. Asked by Congreve Rogers to clarify that he sought "to get the abatement permanently?", William Power replied, "To be sure I did ; why wouldn't I? Sure all the farmers have got reductions, and why wouldn't they give it to the poor labourers?" This sally produced applause. He returned to the point a little later, after Kirwan had insensitively remarked that the dispute had arisen "all because I won't give him a permanent abatement of a penny in the week."  Power indignantly rounded on his persecutor, challenging him: "And didn't you get it yourself?" He then turned to Congreve Rogers ("Your Honor") to explain that Kirwan held his farm from the absentee Mrs Christmas.[23]  She had granted him a £14 annual reduction in his rent, a year, yet "he refused to me an abatement of a penny a week. Should not I get an abatement as well as him? He is a nice specimen of a landlord. When he got an abatement why shouldn't he give it to me?" "There is logic in that," commented P.J. Power from the bench.

John Kirwan still failed to realise that he stood on very weak ground. Indignantly, he told the court that Power "wants to get the house at about twopence a week instead of fourpence," an enormity that failed to shock those present. William Power rounded on him: "And don't you know as a man and Christian that twopence a week is too high?" His namesake the magistrate asked: "What sort of habitation is it at all when it is only worth twopence a week?" "Why, Your Worship," came the reply, "it would not hold a decent-sized goat." To renewed laughter, he added: "I can stand at the fire and jump into bed." He appealed to the magistrates to visit his dwelling and see for themselves, "and if a donkey can turn in it I am satisfied to pay the full fourpence a week."

For Congreve Rogers, the episode was now providing a cathartic opportunity to turn the tables on a prominent local Land Leaguer. Rogers had been active in local affairs for decades, and was still an avid newspaper reader a few months before his death. John Kirwan would certainly have been known to him.[24] It is likely that Rogers suspected that Kirwan and his fellow Land Leaguers knew more about the arson attack on his own cowshed at Carrigavantry, which was only two miles from Matthewstown, than they were prepared to admit. He also had recent knowledge of the unsettled state of Ballydermody. In April 1882, he had been one of the magistrates who had heard the preliminaries of the case against a labourer accused of  "having maliciously burned a house at Ballydarmody". A young widow, attempting to rear three children in another one-roomed cabin, Anne Lonergan could not afford to make sacrifices for other people's principles. When she was warned to stop working for a boycotted farmer called Jeffrey Murphy at nearby Ballyphilip, she refused. "Murphy was a good man to give her work, and she did not like to leave him." The thatched roof of her cabin was set alight, and she lost her home. Some magistrates were reluctant to assume that the crime was an officially sanctioned act of terrorism. "The Land League has enough to answer for without this," one of them remarked.[25] Maybe not, but the line between assertive communal action and outright violence was a narrow one. At all events, Congreve Rogers took a malicious pleasure in encouraging a dissentient voice from Ballydermody.

"This is a shocking case," he remarked. Kirwan defended himself, pointing out that he had offered to knock one penny off the weekly rent. "A penny a week is not a bad abatement out of a rent of fourpence," Rogers suggested, but William Power was not satisfied."Ah, but your Worship, fourpence a week is far too high." Having invited the magistrates to inspect his cabin, he now sought to make his housing problem a national issue. "Let Judge O'Hagan or Mr Parnell come and look at it, and if they say it is worth fourpence a week I am satisfied to pay it." Thomas O'Hagan had recently retired from the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, having been the first Catholic to hold the office in two hundred years. William Power could not read or write, but he kept in touch with public events. Asked the size of his family, he replied: "There's four of us in it." Accidentally or otherwise, Rogers misunderstood the answer. "It is a shocking case!", he reiterated. "A man, his wife, and four children living in a hut that will not hold a donkey." "How much rent can you pay?", Rogers helpfully enquired. Realising that he was being invited to dictate his own terms, William Power replied: "I'll pay him 3d a week in the future, and let him forgive the arrears between us. All the farmers are themselves getting the arrears forgiven, and why shouldn't the labourers? We need it more than the farmers." Rogers pointed out that William Power seemed only recently to have concluded that his rent was too high. "That's quite right," Power retorted, omitting honorific forms of address to the bench, "and there's a great difference between that time and now." "What is the difference?", Rogers innocently enquired.  "Since I took this house every farmer has got abatements in his rent," came the reply. Ultimately, this was a dispute about fairness. However, Congreve Rogers now discerned the outlines of a deal. Kirwan grudgingly agreed to reduce the weekly rent to threepence, so long as William Power settled his arrears. Rogers, presumably with the assent of his fellow magistrate P.J. Power, pronounced: " We give a decree for 10s and costs, and the rent for the future is to be 3d a week."

The Irish Times, voice of the landlord class, published a sardonic leading article on the "farcical" proceedings, although it gave generous credit to William Power for the "dry humour" with which he wrong-footed his landlord and won over the magistrates. "The labourers are standing up for themselves," it concluded, predicting, with tongue in cheek, that Gladstone's government would soon be forced to pass a Cabin Act, creating "a brace of judges" and an army of officials "to go through the country into every mud edifice, with valuers in their wake, to fix fair rents for fifteen years to come, if the cabin stand so long," complete with "clauses to secure the tenant's improvements, and full allowance for every sod stuck in a hole in the thatch during the former period of the tenancy."[26] The Weekly Irish Times likened the episode to Maria Edgeworth's novel Castle Rackrent, and recounted the episode, with some exaggeration, in the form of a vernacular letter by a bucolic correspondent to an imaginary friend in America. William Power would have been flattered to be called "a labourin' man, that ought to be in Parliament he's so clever", although it may be doubted whether it was a newspaper that was read aloud in the public houses in the Fenor.[27]

For John Kirwan, the outcome could hardly have been a very satisfying victory. His only real success, the verdict that William Power must pay him ten shillings in rent arrears, was almost certainly undercut by the likelihood that there was no way his tenant had access to so vast an amount of cash. The arrears were no doubt paid off a few pence at a time, a continuous imposition that could hardly have enhanced Kirwan's standing in the locality. In 1884, an energetic priest at the nearby village of Dunhill set about raising money to rebuild the parish church. As a prominent local farmer, John Kirwan would no doubt have been expected to contribute anyway, but there may have been a symbolic significance in the amount he donated – ten shillings.[28] Whether his aim was to salve his conscience or rebuild his public image, he probably intended to signal that he had not, in the end, benefited from taking action against his recalcitrant tenant. Kirwan died in 1897, aged 72, and the farm passed to his eldest son, Edmond. At some point, the family took advantage of the Land Purchase Acts, and took control of the title from the absentee Christmas family by substituting annuity payments for rent. The 1901 census records 39 year-old Edmond living at Matthewstown, with two brothers and an unmarried sister, one of those households of celibate siblings that were such a widespread and woeful feature of the Irish countryside until recent times. By 1926, only two of them were left at the farm. When his brother Patrick died, Edmond, in "failing health", decided to sell up.[29] The brothers had farmed 85 acres of land, a substantial holding by local standards.

Although County Waterford's assistant surveyor visited Ballydermody in the Spring of 1900, looking for sites to build labourers' cottages,[30] the 1901 census reported William Power   still living in a mud-walled, thatched, one-room cabin. Now 60 years of age, he was still working as an agricultural labourer. His 55 year-old wife Mary enters the story for the first time. The two children of 1882 are not recorded, but the couple shared their tiny home with a twelve year-old daughter. Unlike her parents, she could read and write, and indeed was still at school. Presumably they had called her after Nano Nagle, the founder of the Presentation Order that had set out to educate the poor, even though there was no Presentation convent closer than Waterford City. No doubt it was just bad luck that the enumerator recorded the girl's name with three Ns. All three members of the Power family   were gone from Ballydermody by 1911. Anne Lonergan and her 24 year-old daughter Margaret, both working as domestic servants, could also still be found living in a single-roomed cabin in Ballydermody in 1901, but at least their home had brick walls and a tiled roof. The arsonists of Land War days may have done them a favour.

In 1906, an incoming and reformist Liberal government introduced what would become the latest in a series of Labourers (Ireland) Acts. The Chief Secretary, James Bryce, was an Ulsterman, a historian and one of the founders of the modern academic discipline of political science. He was determined to carry through legislation that would actually build modern sanitary homes for Ireland's labouring population, and he was trenchant in his criticisms of the failures of the past. As he put it, "successive Governments had made promises to the labourers that their needs would be met, and it was undeniable that up to now those needs had not been met." Unconsciously echoing William Power, he admitted that "after so much had been done for the Irish tenants, and the enormous [financial] liability which had been incurred in order to enable them to become owners of their tenancies, it was very natural there should be discontent among the labourers." Indeed, "when so much had been done for the tenants, they would be greatly failing in their duty to the people of Ireland if they did not give treatment in the same liberal spirit to the labourers." But his basic point was that "the condition of the dwellings of those poor labourers was deplorably bad." It was impossible "to overstate the wretchedness and misery in which the labouring population of Ireland lived": "the sanitary condition of the labourers' dwellings" spread not only disease, especially tuberculosis, but was also responsible for mental illness as well.[31] After twenty-five years, Westminster had finally heeded the half-hearted endorsement of "the legitimate rights of the labouring classes" by the Land Leaguers of Fenor.

The slum cabins of Ballydermody have long since disappeared, replaced by a scattering of modern bungalows, some of them very likely located on earlier sites.[32]           

ENDNOTES contain references and supplementary information.

Websites were consulted at various dates in October 2018.


[1] For an overview of the Land War, D.G. Boyce, Nineteenth-Century Ireland ... (Dublin, 1990), 163-71.  The scholarly literature is extensive. P. Bew, Land and the National Question in Ireland ... (Dublin, 1979) and T.W. Moody, Davitt and Irish Revolution ... (Oxford, 1982) both demonstrate awareness of the lurking potential of the labourers. See also F. Lane, "P. F. Johnson, Nationalism, and Irish Rural Labourers, 1869-82", Irish Historical Studies, 33 (2002), 191-208. For Waterford, see D. Ó Ceallacháin, "Land Agitation in County Waterford, 1879-1882...", Decies, 53, 1997.

[2] Moody, Davitt, 340-1, 375-6; P. Bew, Enigma: a New Life of ... Parnell (Dublin, 2011), 66-7.

[3] Moody, Davitt, 423-4; J.S. Donnelly, jr, The Land and People ... of Cork (London, 1975), 238-40.

[4] Freeman's Journal, 9 July; Spectator (London), 16 July 1881, 914. No Enright family was recorded at Shanagolden in the 1901 census.

[5] L. Marley, Michael Davitt... (Dublin, 2007).

[6] Irish Times, 10 July 1872. Mary Carroll, a 60 year-old widow, was farming at Ballycashin in 1901, with her 33 year-old son, another Michael. In Griffith's Valuation (1853), three Carrolls farmed at Ballycashin, perhaps brothers. They occupied 76, 42 and 36 acres. John O'Brien has not been further traced. His assailants were sentenced to one month with hard labour.

[7] Return of Owners of Land of one acre and upwards ... in Ireland (Dublin, 1876, version of Parliamentary Paper), 177, 93. In Griffith's Valuation of 1853 (consulted via www.askaboutireland/ie) , Rogers mainly owned urban property in Tramore. It is not clear whether he had subsequently inherited property, or had invested in land himself.

[8] Parnell's finances, and the difference between gross and net income on Irish estates, are discussed in For the incomes of Waterford landlords, L. Proudfoot, "The Estate System in Mid-Nineteenth Century Waterford" in W. Nolan and T.P. Power, eds, Waterford: History & Society ... (Dublin, 1992), 534-5. This table does not provide a direct comparison with the wealth of Congreve Rogers, as it only lists landlord income by valuations within County Waterford.

[9] Nation, 30 October 1880. Thomas Doyle (1817-1903). His parishioners erected a statue to him at Ramsgrange, bearing the inscription: "A saintly priest and a sterling patriot."

[10] Waterford News, 19 November; Nenagh Guardian, 24 November and see also Irish Times, 22 November 1880.

[11] British Parliamentary Papers [BPP], 1884, C4059, Return of Payments to Landlords..., 109. I have not traced any similar compensation payment for his Waterford properties.

[12] Wexford People, 1 June 1881.

[13] Calculated from a series of parliamentary papers called Returns of Payments to Landlords... in BPP for May 1884, 88-9; Jan-Feb. 1889 (1889, C5710), 130; May-June 1889 (1889, C5877), 210-11, 272-3; August 1891 (1892, C6577), 108-9, 168-9; May-June 1893 (1893-4, C7200), 78-9; June-July 1894 (1894, C7577), 20-1.

[14] Return of Owners of Land of one acre and upwards ... in Ireland, 174.

[15] Munster Express, 12 December 1896.

[16] The concept of a "strong" farmer is discussed for County Waterford by J. Burtchaell in "A Typology of Settlement..." in Nolan and Power, eds, Waterford, 560-4. Griffth's Valuation consulted via The fact that John's son Edmond farmed 85 acres in 1926 seems to suggest that John Kirwan was the son of Patrick Kirwan. The John Kirwan of 1853, perhaps an uncle or cousin, also occupied 45 acres of bog land in the adjoining townland of Ballydermody Bog.

[17] Munster Express, 14 May; Waterford News, 30 September 1881. A Miss Mary Kirwan (not identified) was also active in the Fenor Ladies' Land League.

[18] Munster Express, 11 March 1881.

[19] J. Burtchaell, "The Geography of Déise Surnames", Decies, 50, 1994, 41.

[20] Census information taken from the easily searchable I simplify the enumerator's description slightly, since the coding could also indicate wood as a building material.

[21] The case was widely reported, e.g. Irish Times, 15 November 1882. The story was copied overseas, and I use here the version printed in Marlborough Express, 24 January 1883, via the National Library of New Zealand's Papers Past website (, supplemented by the Nenagh Guardian, 18 November 1882.

[22] Given the changes in the value of money since 1882, little purpose is served by translating these amounts into modern decimal currency. For the record, 13 shillings and fourpence is approximately 66 pence, while William Power's unpaid weekly rent was less than 2 pence.

[23] Octavia Christmas died at Cheltenham on 10 February 1882, aged 84: Kirwan's abatement may have been granted by a land agent acting on her behalf.  The daughter of an East India Company official, Octavia Whinyates had married William Christmas at Cheltenham in 1828. Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, 26, 1828, 134.

[24] An Edward Kirwan took him to the Land Court in 1891 and forced a rent reduction on 114 acres of land at Carrigavantry. BPP, 1892, C6577, 108-9.

[25] Waterford News, 26 May, 2 June 1882.

[26] Irish Times, 15 November 1882, quoted Munster Express, 18 November 1882.

[27] Weekly Irish Times, 18 November 1882.

[28] Waterford News, 18 January 1884.

[29] Information from John Kirwan's headstone at Fenor, from and Waterford News, 1 April 1926, 13 September 1927.  Edmond was in fact the second son, two years younger than Patrick, who perhaps had some disability that prevented him from running the farm.

[30] Munster Express, 12 May 1900.

[31] Hansard, 28 May 1906, 158, columns 107-16.

[32] The laptop traveller may visit them, and their pleasant Waterford countryside surroundings, via Google Streetview.