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Geashill (Bar.) Historical events
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Annual Report 1920

Annual report addressed to the 11th Baron Digby following the death of his predecessor. Goodbody reports that £7000 has been remitted and briefs the new Lord Digby on the state of the Ireland during the War of Independence: 'Ireland continues in a disturbed and unsatisfactory condition. This neighbourhood has not escaped the general destruction of Constabulary barracks, the only three barracks on your estate having been maliciously and wantonly burnt and wrecked, those of Clonmore being wholly destroyed and of Geashill & Killeigh partially so. The police authorities having vacated them prior to their destruction have since surrendered same, with a consequent loss of future rental. Claims for compensation have been lodged for substantial amounts and are still pending.'

Goodbody, Lewis

Annual Report 1882

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1882. Remarking on the 'extraordinary events in Ireland of the last 12 months', Digby reports that consequently there is a large amount of arrears, including abandoned arrears which are mainly the rents of Ballydownan and Roskeen farms which are in Lord Digby's hands having been surrendered.

Land improvements have ceased due to the suspension of rent and the generally disorganised state of the country, a new dwelling house for William Payne, Killeenmore being the chief expenditure. Thirty acres of young plantations in Derrygunnigan and Newtown woods and the maintenance of other young plantations accounted for expenditure in forestry.

Warns that the country is in a 'frightful crisis' and reports on the tactics of the Land League with their 'No Rent' manifesto (Autumn 1881), which was eagerly adopted and led to a complete suspension of the payment of rent. After an abatement was refused, tenantry on the Geashill Estate held a meeting in Killeigh in January 1882 at which a resolution was passed not to pay rent unless abatements were conceded. Proceedings were issued against nine of the principal agitators, their properties seized and put up for public auction in Tullamore. Digby reports that in seven cases, the tenants allowed him to be the purchaser, and in the other two cases, the tenants bought in their farms for the full amount of rent claimed and costs. Evictions followed, five of which required the aid of 'a large force of military and police and bailiffs supplied by the Property Defence Association.'

Annual Report 1883

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1883, describing a considerable improvement in the financial situation with a large drop in arrears outstanding due to the Arrears Act of 1882. Reports that abandoned and boycotted farms now account for 850 statute acres of land in Lord Digby's hands set for temporary grazing and necessitating the purchase of cattle. Also reports that despite a decrease in the net rental due to the action of the Land Commission Courts and voluntary reduction of rents, it was possible to remit profits of £11,500. No land improvements or works were carried out, but 50 acres of replanting was carried out at Derrygunnigan Wood, River Wood at Clonad and Derrygolan.

Describes a general improvement in the condition of the estate and attributes the cessation of agitation to the Prevention of Crimes Act brought in following the Phoenix Park murders in spring 1882.

Annual Report 1886

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1886, showing a further reduction in the gross rental received by £152.13.0 and noting a considerable increase in arrears outstanding mainly attributable to the continued and intensified depression in the value of almost all kind of stock and farm produce, recent proposed legislation and a renewed demand for alteration of land laws. Forestry works consisted of 20 acres planted in Derryclure Wood and Scrubb Wood.

Describes a further agitation at the winter collection of rents (1885) with the object of procuring an abatement of rents that have been recently judicially fixed. Also describes the 'great excitement' among the tenantry derived from the Home Rule movement and the Parnellite party.

Annual Report 1887

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1887, showing a small decrease in rent, a moderate increase in arrears which Digby blames on a 'grave agricultural depression'. Abandoned arrears are high with much of this land consisting of boycotted farms and lands now 'on hand' following surrender. Principal amounts of expenditure is for forestry at Scrubb Wood and Derryadd, which he points out led to a large amount of employment in the reach of small tenants and labourers on the estate who must otherwise have suffered from enforced idleness. Describes a 'half-hearted' agitation against the payment of any more rent than the National League authorities advised. Also notes that meetings were held before the winter collection of rents and a proposal to inaugurate the League's 'Plan of Campaign' was not successful.

Annual Report 1910

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1910, in which Digby reports that rents payable by tenant purchasers to the Land Commission have been satisfactorily met with only one defaulter, and that the rents of those who refused to sign purchase agreements have also been paid punctually. Also notes that the grasslands which have for several years been in Lord Digby's occupation have been let at satisfactory rents to solvent and respectable tenants and reports that there were none of the difficulties 'which have recently attended the letting of grasslands in so many parts of this county and in Ireland generally.'

Annual Report 1915

Annual report, accounts and rental for year end June 1915, in which Digby describes in detail the events surrounding the Geashill Cattle Drive on the grasslands of Ballydownan in November 1914. Describes the bands and banners accompanying the drive, the injuring of several policemen, and the arrest of 46 men who subsequently pleaded guilty at the Winter Assizes in Dublin. Also notes that despite the jailing of the ring-leaders, agitation continued and boycotting and intimidation on the estate were rife. Also notes that inspection of the boundaries of the estate has been completed by the Land Commission but that the final inspection has yet to be made.

Annual Report 1919

Report for year ending June 1919 outlining a remittance of £10,250 to Lord Digby, the increased amount being ascribed to revenue derived from the woods, particularly mature Scotch pine from Clonad Wood to a firm of match-makers. Remarks that although Ireland ‘remains in a disturbed an unsatisfactory condition this immediate neighbourhood has been very free from agitation and outrage and from a continuance of high prices for all agricultural produce and abundant crops, the Irish farmer is enjoying an era of unprecedented prosperity.’

Letterbook 1914-1915

Copies of approximately 1000 letters, averaging 1 per page. Some letters illegible due to fading. Contains many letters relating to ongoing sale of the Purdon Estate, Philipstown (Daingean) as well as letters relating to the Geashill Cattle Drive.
Includes letter to R. F. Barry, Esq., Crown Solicitor re The King v Adams and 45 others Geashill Case: 'I give you on annexed page particulars of the rail fare paid by the 45 defendants to take them to Kingsbridge for their trial in December last. There were 46 charged, but one, Thomas Hynes, was a prisoner and was conveyed up by the Authorities. Two witnesses were also brought up, namely, Father MacDonald and Dr. Barry of Philipstown, and both were examined. I also include their single fares. The accused and the witnesses had, of course, to be conveyed to Green Street, and I put £1 down for this though it would not probably nearly cover it as several of them took cars from the station. There can be no controversy however about the railway fares. I also give the figure of the return fares in case these are allowed. The parties had to come back, and as a matter of fact, were kept in Dublin two days; but I do not think these expenses are payable. I trust you will be able to kindly have whatever they are legally entitled to paid to them through me.' (29 March 1915)

Annual Report 1880

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1880, wherein Digby contrasts the Geashill estate favourably with other estates in the country during this 'almost unprecedented agricultural disaster of the past season'. Reports that although the usual remittance is reduced by £1500 due to increased arrears, there was an overall net increase in rental income at £17,307.1.8.

Reports that there is an increase in the number of unskilled labour available and therefore more drainage works and land improvement projects were carried out with the result that there was hardly a person on the estate in want of work compared with other parts of Ireland where there was great distress and beginnings of famine. Notes that many of the projects are being executed under the Board of Works. To offset any failure of the potato crop on the estate, Digby reports that he has imported 50 tonnes of champion seed potatoes from Scotland and distributed among the tenantry.

Construction works included a pair of double cottages at Killeigh; a further addition to Thomas Cobbe's farmhouse at Annagharvey; a labourer's cottage for Mr Delamere at the Meelaghans; and the repair of the roof and offices at Ballymooney House. Forestry works included clearing and replanting of Scrubb Wood and new plantations at Gorteen and Derryadd.

Notes that the past year will long be remembered by every landlord and tenant 'as one of the most disastrous ever experienced', with bad weather, failure of root crops, and 'a potato crop more diseased than any since the famine years.' Warns that the Land League have seized upon the bad harvest as a means to increase agitation amongst tenants and have organised meetings the length and breadth of Ireland, and hopes that forthcoming legislation by the government will solve the Irish Land Question.

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