31st December, 1892
KILFENORA, Dec. 7, 1892
We have been witnesses, here, of a very extraordinary scene, indeed. Visitors to Lisdoonvarna who have made the usual excursion to the Lake of Inchiquin will remember the pretty park which skirts this village, and within which a finely built residence looks out from the shelter of the trees. The inquiring excursionist will have been told that this is the residence of Mr. O’Donnell Blake Foster. It is no longer. Yesterday Mr. Blake Foster was evicted with all due formality of law. The sub-sheriff, Mr. Cullinan, officiated, and the inevitable Mr. Emerson represented the claimants for rent. When the eviction was completed an Emergencyman was duly installed in the spacious house- the most imposing mansion in which an emergencyman has as yet established himself.
The circumstances which led to Mr .Blake Foster’s eviction were as follow:- When he came of age he found his property heavily encumbered, so heavily, indeed, that after a time he surrendered it to the courts, and himself became simply a tenant of Ballykeal, paying a smart rent for his “holding.” Like other farmers here about, Mr. Blake Foster found and insuperable difficulty in making land pay; and though he fought gallantly against the hard times, the battle was a losing one, and he fell into arrears. The creditors of the estate gave him short shrift, and the result has been the appearance at Ballykeal House of Mr. Cullinan, the sub-sheriff, and of Mr. Emerson, and the Emergencymen.
The scene was a striking one in its way. About ten o’clock the sub-sheriff, unaccompanied by any protective force, walked up the avenue, between the rows of tall trees, leading to he house. On his arrival he found a large number of sympathising friends gathered round the tenant, who was waiting for eviction. The parish priest, Father Crowe, and the larger farmers of the neighborhood were gathered round Mr. Blake Foster, while a large crowd of people from the surrounding country were engaged removing the furniture and other property. I may mention that on the previous day 500 men with 300 carts, had gathered to remove the potatoes, hay, and other movable farm produce and that on Friday of last week 75 carts had been engaged removing the tenant’s turf ricks beyond Mr. Emerson’s reach.
The eviction was duly carried out, as far as the “big house” was concerned. But a difficulty still exercised the legal representative of the creditors’ claims. Near the gate of the demesne and within the boundary wall, a Land League hut had been erected, and here for many years Andy Lynch, who had been evicted off a neighboring property, had lived, in view of Mr. Blake Foster’s hall door. The evictors demanded that the hut should be pulled down and the demesne surrendered without this incumbrance. The sub-sheriff did not think this any part of his duty, and said so. Andy Lynch was summoned to make terms with the new occupants of Ballykeal. He appealed to Mr. Blake Foster, who told he that he would never advise any man to break up his home, and bade him do as he thought best for himself. Andy, left to his own choice, refused to enter into terms with the evictors, and his poor chattels were accordingly transferred to the roadside.
Perhaps the Property Defence Association will be satisfied with the day’s work. They have an old grudge against Mr. Blake Foster. Six or seven years ago he was removed from the Commission of the Peace because of his sympathy with his distressed neighbors. He built on his own land two huts for tenants who had been evicted and maintained them there in spite of denunciations of the class to which he belonged. Immediately after this the Tory Lord Chancellor discovered that Mr. Blake Foster was unworthy to hold “her Majesty’s Commission of the Peace;” and he was accordingly despoiled of that “dignity.” He had also, given grievous offence to the landlord class, as an ex-officio guardian of the Ballyvaughn Union by opposing Mr. William Lane Joynt at the Board. However, all this has been explained now; Mr. Blake Foster has shared the fate which he tried to mitigate for other tenants in distress It is needless to say that public sympathy is wholly on his side, and that it will support him in any struggle he may make to regain the home from which he has been expelled.