GALWAY, TUESDAY, 3, PM – Immediately after the conclusion of the crown business the doors of the grand jury room were opened, and your correspondent was admitted, who was the only representative of the press in attendance. The subject of the packet station and the subsidy was taken into consideration. The foreman (Sir Thomas Burke) in the chair. It was introduced by Christopher St. George, Esq., of Tyrone House, who after an able speech, which time does not admit of my reporting in full, proposed the following resolution:-
“We, the Grand Jury of the County of Galway, beg leave to express that, whilst we are steadfast in our opinion as to the inviolability of the contract entered into by the late government in respect to the establishment of a transatlantic packet station at Galway, we deem it necessary now to express in terms of the strongest disapprobation our condemnation of having referred to a committee of the House of Commons the consideration of this question which we had viewed as already determined on; and we further reprobate the formation of the committee. We have to reiterate our previous statements as to the superiority of our claims to those of other applicants in favour of the measure, so vitally important to our local interests, and so replete with imperial advantages. We confidently expect that parliament will not only confirm the comparatively small subsidy of £78,000 in aid of the Galway packet station but will assist our exertions to obtain such loans of money as will improve our port. We, on behalf of the county of Galway engage that, by all means at our disposal, we will advance the geographical eligibility of our bay for transatlantic communication. We call upon the representatives of the county and of the town of Galway that they will hold as paramount to all other considerations the establishment of a transatlantic packet station at Galway, and we rely upon the exertions of the other representatives of Ireland so to act at this critical juncture that they will not suffer the interests of our common country to be overlooked.”
John Martin, Esq., of Tullyra Castle, said he had very much pleasure in seconding the resolution.
Mr. St. George said there was no precedent whatever for one government violating a solemn contract entered into by its predecessors in office.
The resolution was then signed by the foreman, on behalf of the grand jury, and it was resolved that a copy of it be transmitted to Lord Palmerston – Freeman Correspondent
Tuam Herald 1837 p.2 The Poor Rates – Galway Union The Railway, a remedy (abridged) The impoverished state of the inhabitants and proprietors in this union has attracted my attention for some months past. I have over and over again endeavoured to impress upon the government and the nation at large, the rapid strides which poverty and destitution are making in this portion of Ireland, gifted by nature with advantages second to none in the empire. True the new College is building – the earthworks of a barrack begun – a fishery pier has been erected and the drainage of Lough Corrib is in progress – still the streets are as full of filth and of beggars as ever, trade seems paralysed, and the poor house filling fast. You meet few people at work – despair seems to pervade every countenance, and the only question asked, is there any hope for Galway? I emphatically answer – yes; there is hope. We are part and parcel of the United Kingdom, and our rulers must see the absolute necessity of coming to the rescue of a district blighted by the will of an all ruling providence. At Kinvarra, barricades are hoisted in a foolish mad attempt to keep their little corn, by a people driven by desperation to acts which in their sober moments they will sorely repent. This is not the way to correct the evil, rather let us endeavour to persuade the authorities to come to the rescue of this impoverished district. The potato failing again and again, dashed to the ground all hopes from the small occupier; his little corn barely sufficient to feed his family instead of the potato, his only stay, he finds must go to the support of his neighbour; he sees it certain that as long as he has anything left it will be taken to meet the necessities of the poor house. Until he himself becomes a recipient of relief, the number of contributors to the rate becomes lessened, and those to be supported by it increased – until wide-spread ruin desolate the entire union, indeed the entire county, nay, even the kingdom at large, eventually. Facts are stubborn things; therefore I make the following statement which I can prove beyond cavil, hoping it may have its use. The small occupiers in the vicinity of a demesne, about a mile or so from this town, used to work in the demesne, and thus pay their rent; that source once stopped, they yet continued by industry while the potato lasted, to pay their rent. I find in the tenants’ book their rents well paid up to, and for November, ’45; in ’46 partially paid; since then nil. How could they pay for one, two, three or four acres? The sea-weed laid on one acre or less under the potato, fed the family; since then nothing or next to nothing grew – the rents then mounting up – land useless unless money could be found to improve it. What was to be done in the absence of sufficient capital to cultivate the land? Why, to give the occupants such small sums as could be scraped together upon their giving up the land, in order to enable the poor creatures to seek out employment elsewhere, or to occupy a corner of the poor house. I subjoin a statement of the number of families who have been or are to be dealt with:-
Number of Families ... ... 22
Contents of Farms ... ... 25 Acres.
Yearly Rent ... ... ... £26
Arrears due ... ... ... 107
Money given or promised to be given on
getting possession of the land ... £84
Aged 1 6
Able bodied 29 33
Young 9 15
Total number who have left the estate with
their own free will and anxious consent,
ninety three souls.
Here, then, besides the poor rates which have been paid, or are to be paid – upon 25 acres of an estate that used to be well paid, is a loss to the proprietor of no less a sum than £200, and the land now lying untenanted; but this is not all, he must share, in common with his neighbours in the electoral division, the maintenance, indoor or outdoor, of these paupers perhaps. I shudder to think of it; but I had, or conceive I had, no alternative. Upon examining the list and striking off the aged, who have a right to be cared for in the workhouse, and the very young (we have of male and female, able to earn their bread 62 individuals!) I think the land lord who parts people under these circumstances from the land, ought not to forget them altogether; he is bound to assist the poor law guardians in emigrating them – the only thing to be done with those deprived of land and house, and, in emigrating the parents, they will take some of the children, and send for others. In this way the poor-house would become a blessing to the district in keeping the poor until some provision be made for them. I found these poor persons unable to support themselves without constant labour, and that I was unable to provide them with; but I am sure if the Vice Guardians would rent those 25 acres, and set the labourers to trench and clear it of rock, after paying a moderate rent, which they should have it at, they could have a quantity of prepared soil which they could sell, freed from poor rate, for a good round sum which would help to pay part of the expense of the poor house. In this way, by a temporary advance for six months, a number of able-bodied poor might be employed, and the money got back in the sale of the prepared soil for a crop. Something of the kind should be attempted for the winter – preparing land for flax, green crops, oats &c. – the sale of the soil not doubtful if the land be well trenched and deep. I hope to get some money under the Land Improvement Act to employ the tenants now on the land, and others as labourers in the neighbourhood; but the grand employment will be the underworks of the railroad, if carried on immediately. 2,000 men could be employed between Mullingar and Athlone, county Westmeath; 1,000 between Athlone and Ballinasloe, county Roscommon; 1,000 between Ballinasloe and Kilconnell; 1,000 between Kilconnell and Esker College; 1,000 between Esker College and Athenry; 2,000 between Athenry and the boundary of the county of the town of Galway; and 3,000 from thence to the town. In all 10,000 men daily, and 50,000 sould fed by a loan of £300,000 to the Midland Great Western Railway Company, or by the government guaranteeing 3 and 1/2 per cent, to debenture holders of £5; in other words, by its agreeing each half year to pay £9,000 to these debenture holders in the first instance, taking the security of the entire line, 120 miles long, and which will have cost 1 and 1/2 million for the paltry sum of £9,000 each half year! Am I not justified, then, in not allowing my friends to despair, when with such ease the Prime Minister can set our people at this the greatest work ever undertaken in the province of Connaught. A small sum if contributed by the friends to Connaught, will enable this matter to be kept constantly before the British public thro’ the press, and in no better manner than in re-publishing from time to time, the resolutions of the most important meeding every held at Ballinasloe – that in favour of the Railway from Galway to Dublin and reproductive labour – at the last October fair of that town, presided over by the Earl of Clancarty and the Marquis of Sligo. Thomas Bermingham, J.P., Honorary Secretary of the Ballinasloe Meeting. N.B. – The property alluded to is placed under the High Court of Chancery, and that excellent and human Master, “Litton,” will not hesitate to direct that assistance be given to take these poor people (now deprived of all means of support), out to America, if the Union – whose concern it now is – shall assist.
Nenagh Guardian Wednesday, May 01 1844, p.4 (abridged) On the other hand we learn that the Rev. William John Burke, who for the last thirteen years, has been a Romish priest, publicly read his recantation and conformed to the United Church of England and Ireland, in St. John’s Church, Kinvarra, in the County Clare, on Sunday last. during the return of the Rev. Mr. Burke from Church in the carriage with the two clergymen, the Rev. Mr. Moran and the Rev. Mr. Nason, who had been present at the ceremony, a mob of nearly two thousand persons, we are informed, assembled, with shoutings as the party passed, and threw several stones at the carriage. One of them struck the carriage, but the party being well armed, and defended by a body of police, escaped serious consequences. Watchman
THE IRISH TIMES Friday, January 20, 1905 p.3 QUESTION OF SALE TO TENANTS – BLAKE-FORSTER ESTATE. DECISION OF ESTATES COMMISSIONERS. Yesterday Estates Commissioners Wrench and Bailey sat at the offices of the Estates Commissioners, 26 Merrion Street, for the purpose of giving judgment in the cases of the sale of the two estates of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company to the tenants in the County of Clare, at Dooras, and islands off the coast, and in the County of Galway, at Kinvarra. The property was formerly owned by Francis O’Donnellan Blake-Forster and Fanny and Henrietta Blake-Forster, and was taken from them by the Insurance Company who, as mortgagees, bought in the Landed Estates Court on the 30th July, 1902. Mr. A. Samuels, K.C., appeared for the Insurance Company, the owners. Mr. Valentine Kilbride, solicitor, represented the tenants both on the Clare and Galway properties. The case arose on an application to the Estates Commissioners, to declare as an estate for the purposes of the Land Purchase Act, the lands in the County Galway, and in the County Clare, known in the Land Judge’s Court as the Blake-Forster estate, upon which there are a large number of tenants. Mr. Samuels, K.C., said with regard to the Galway portion of the estate there were 78 holdings altogether, and of these there were only 15 on which agreements had been signed. All the others were held under judicial rents, that is to say, there were 63 judicial tenants on the estate. Suggestions had been thrown out that these were bogus agreements, and the matter had been made a political text by certain people. It was most unfortunate, he thought, that politicians should have interfered whilst the matter was pending. Mr. Commissioner Bailey – We have nothing to do with that. Mr. Samuels said that, as a matter of fact, the agreements had been fixed at a lower rate then even the corresponding judicial rents.
Mr. Wrench, in delivering his judgment, said:
Mr. Samuels has argued that where all the agreements come within the 1st section of the Act, as in this case, the Estates Commissioners have no discretion, but must declare the lands comprised in the application and estate for the purpose of the Act. This appears to me to be a purely legal question which should be determined by the judicial commissioner, and, if the parties so apply, it must be referred to him in accordance with Sub-section 1 of the 23rd section; and even if they do not so apply it should, in my opinion, be so referred to us. Pending the result of the judicial commissioner’s decision as to whether the Estate Commissioners have discretion in the matter or not it appears to me that it would be decidedly indiscreet of us to discuss beforehand the course we might properly adopt. Mr. Commissioner Bailey, in delivering judgment for Commissioner Finucane and himself, said:
The vendor in this case lodged an originating application to have declared as a separate estate for the purpose of the Irish Land Act, 1903, certain lands which are set out in the first schedule to the application, and are situate in the Barony of Kiltartan, in County Galway, and in the Baronies of Burren and Corcomroe, in County Clare. The lands to which this application relate have not now come before the Land Commission for the first time. They formed Lots 2, 3 and 4 of a property which was for sale in the Land Judge’s Court in the matter of the estate of Francis O’Donnellan Blake-Forster, owner; Hester Blake-Forster and others, petitioners, and in respect of which the Land Judges issued a request under the 40th Section of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1896, on the 21st November, 1897. The Land Commission (Commissioners, Lynch and Wrench) made a report dated 30th June, 1899, respecting the Galway portion of the lands no for sale – known as the Kinvarra property – which was comprised in Lot 2 of the Land Judge’s rental, and the circumstances thereof, portion of which report is as follows: – “There are 77 holdings on this lot, and only six exceed £10 in rental value. They are, with a few exceptions, most inconveniently arranged, consisting of detached plots which, in some cases, are a mile or more distant from each other. Many of the holdings comprise from 20 to 30 different patches, and many of the parcels are held in common. The lands have been divided without any regard to their future profitable working, and any clearing or fencing done has added little to the letting value of the land.” They particularly noticed one holding on the lands of Crosshooha, No. 12 to 13v on the map, occupied by Kate Moylan, in which there were 23 lots, besides undivided shares of the foreshore, and went on to say; – “Having regard to the character of this estate, and the manner in which the holding have become sub-divided, and the undivided shares in which many of the plots are held, we are of opinion that, with the exception of four holding on the townland of Ballybranagan, none of the holdings on this lot could be sold to the occupying tenants under existing conditions, and that the case is one in which, as a condition precedent to sales under th 40th Section of the Purchase of Land Act, 1885, should be put in force with a view to the proper rearrangement of the holdings comprised in the lot. It further appears to us that advances under the Land Purchase Acts upon an estate so circumstanced would not be adequately secured, and that there would be no possibility of recovering instalment, or reselling holdings in the event of default.”
The Land Judge caused that report to be returned, stating that the Congested Districts Board had refused to buy the property, and requesting the Land Commission to estimate the prices at which the holdings could properly be sold on the occupying tenants. The Land Commission, in their further report, dated 5th November, 1900, stated with respect to this property that, with the exception of the townland of Ballybranagan, none of the holding should be sold to the occupying tenants, under existing conditions, that the holdings should be rearranged under the provisions of Section II of the Action of 1885, and that no advance could be made under the Land Purchase Acts on an estate so circumstances, and they said that as no rearrangement had been made, they assumed that the Land Judges contemplated offering the holdings to the respective occupiers without the suggested rearrangement upon the terms of cash payments. With a view, therefore, to assisting the Land Judge in forming an estimate of the selling value of the lot, they inserted in their original report, opposite each holding, the price at which, in their opinion, the holding might be sold for cash, but even a sale for cash they thought could not be made unless the question raised in their former report as to the rental and maps had been disposed of. The price of the holdings, if so sold for cash, in respect of which agreements for purchase have now been lodged under the Act of 1903, was then (in 1899) estimated by the Land Commission at £7,243, or 15.5 years’ purchase of the then existing rents. Subsequent to the date of the report the Scottish Union acquired the property which was conveyed to them by the Land Judge on the 30th July, 1902, and they now ask that it, together with certain other lands in County Clare, already referred to, be declared a separate estate for the purposes of the Act.
There appear to be now on the Kinvarra property 78 tenants, of whom 63 had judicial rents fixed by order of the Court form 1888 to 1898, and 15 by agreements and declarations to fix judicial rents lodged on 11th April, 1904, which were not filed till 11th July, 1904, so that it is questionable whether these tenancies, at the date of signing the purchase agreements i.e. 4th May, 1904 were holdings subject to judicial rents fixed or agreed to…