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Annual Report 1860

Annual report for year ending June 1860 containing details of the leaseholder's compensation fund, the executors' arrears, mesne rates, new rentals and the purchase of leases. Also discusses estate improvements: permanent land improvement at Meelaghans; the creation of turf banks at Colehill; management of woods and plantations at Scrubb Wood, Killeenmore and Derryweelan ('Furry Hill'); and the building of roads and bridges at Clonad and Derryclure. Particularly refers to the 'model farm' which has been established at Ballyknockan.

In relation to the construction of houses, the report describes the completion of Richard Odlum's offices in Ballyduff, 'one of the most independent and thriving farmers on a large scale on the estate.' Also discusses Odlum's house in Ballymooney to be near completion. Reports that cottages in Killeigh and the new rent offices are complete 'and ought to last forever'. Referring to dire housing conditions amongst some of the tenantry, the report justifies the expense on rebuilding houses and states that there was more than one case on the estate 'where the inhabitants were in daily danger of being buried alive.' Also reports on small repairs to existing tenants' houses and a scheme of compensation for 59 families to surrender certain tenancies.

Also reports on agrarian unrest and agitation by Ribbonmen on the estate, including arson attacks on Geashill Castle offices and outhouses, and an arson attack on the farm of Mrs. Pattison, Protestant tenant at Annagharvey. Appendix contains copy letter from John Townsend Trench, second son of W. S. Trench, who interviewed Mary Shea, barmaid of the Cross Keys public house, Geashill, at the barracks in Tullamore where she was being held for her own safety. Letter describes plot to assassinate T. W. Trench and lists the main Ribbonmen active in Geashill as told to J. T. Trench: Loughlin Kelly ('treasurer of the murder fund'), Henry Bryan of Cross Keys public house; John Whelaghan, John Helian, William Grumly, Ned Geraghty, Christopher Mooney, Johnny Clibborn and others.

Drawing on pg 151:
Sign language or secret signals of the Ribbonmen

Annual Report 1862

Annual report for year ending June 1862 containing details of the rental of the estate and the consequent worsening financial situation. Explains that rental income has decreased due to the inability of the tenants to meet their rent following the bad harvest of the previous year. Also discusses drainage and land improvements at Ballyknockan, Annagharvey, Ballyduff, Ballydownan and Colehill. In terms of buildings, the report discusses construction of a new school house at Geashill and minor repairs to existing tenants' houses. Referring to the number of tenants on the estate, the report suggests that there are too many for advantageous farming and discusses compensation scheme for emigration. Reports that 807 tenants have left in the last five years and 142 houses were levelled.

Referring to the threat from Ribbonmen, the report warns that Lord Digby is set to lose two of his best tenants, Mr Denning, bank manager of Bank of Ireland, Tullamore and Mr Dowling, attorney, Tullamore due to sustained intimidation by Ribbonmen. Appendix contains copies of letters from both men setting out their situation. Appendix also cotnains report on the woods and forests by forester Daniel Dewar.

Drawings in report:
Page 1 Drawing of cottage and yard with tenants and animals
Page 5 Drawing of large farmhouse with adjoining field being ploughed.
Page 8 Drawing of the new schoolhouse
Page 10 Drawing of Scrubb Wood before and after thinning
Page 12 Drawing of a ship sailing from the coast (emigration)
Page 105 Map of Ballycollin

Annual Report 1863

Annual report for year ending June 1863 containing details of rental and general management of the estate. Includes a general report describing the failure of the 1862 harvest and the subsequent loss of rental income, including the complete abandonment of arrears in many cases. Regrets that funds were not sufficient to entice tenants to emigrate as many small and middle farmers were 'compelled to stay half starving on their land, unable to pay rent or crop the ground, or to emigrate to another land, and barely able to support life on the miserable produce of the soil'.

Also discusses the completion of drainage works at Meelaghans, now let to Mr Goodbody of Tullamore, and at Ballyknockan, now let to Mr. Ridgeway. Referring to building works, the main project was the building of the new school house at Geashill. Other new buildings include the Castle offices to replace those previously burnt. Reports on the new forester, Daniel Dewer, who has had success in making the woods and plantations profitable, in particular at Clonad.

Annual Report 1864

Annual report for year ending June 1864 containing details of the rental of the estate and the financial situation relating to the payment of rent. Explains that while the 1863 harvest was an improvement on previous years, it was not enough to ease arrears of rent and that the most impoverished on the estate had even sold their milch cows. Reports that large farms have best withstood the pressure of the previous seasons, middle and small farmers suffered the most, and the labouring classes did not suffer too much as they gained much employment in the drainage works at Ballycollin.

Reports on other large drainage works one one side of the Tullamore Road at Geashill, a large tract of land mainly made up of the farms of surrendered tenants. Also discusses farming and waste farms - 227 acres at Ballycollin and 34 acres at Bawnmore are now under tillage. Referring to the estate buildings, the report discusses improvements to the castle offices, construction of farm offices required by larger tenants, construction of a house for the drainage superintendent and the general poor condition of the village of Killeigh. Also includes a report by forester, Daniel Dewar, on woods and plantations. Further reports that Dewar will be leaving the estate as he was sought by Lord Lovat for a superior position.

Regarding emigration, the report suggests that not as much emigration as anticipated has occurred on the estate due to the 'vigorous opposition from priests', but does report that a considerable number of middle-sized farmers have been compelled to leave the estate for economic reasons.

Drawings in report:
Page 89 'Ancient Monastery Killeigh' - window opes

Annual Report 1867

Annual report and rental for year end June 1867, containing reports on the continuously improving financial situation of the estate, due mainly to the increase in rental receipts. Also reports on drainage at Ballyknockan and the remarkable effect of Dublin dairy manure has had on the land in this area. Other farming improvements include the invention and introduction by Trench of a new drainage plough which was given special merit by the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland. Further farm machinery was also purchased such as a mowing machine and a hay-tedder which were hired out by the farmers of the estate.

Reports that building and slating has increased all over the estate and provides a description of various building repairs and a newly-built farmhouse let to the Commons family - 'one of the oldest and most respectable families on the estate.' Also reports that four new labourers' cottages built in Killeigh for people whose houses were in ruins, were awarded the Gold Medal and Challenge Cup by the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland. Also refers to the sale of timber to the Great Southern & Western Railway, which allowed for a large portion of Derryclure to be thinned of beech and replanted with larch and oak, and also necessitated the purchase of a weighing machine for timber to avoid the tolls of the weighbridge in Tullamore.

Referring to past agrarian outrages, Trench remarks that the tone on the estate is 'excellent' and 'it is as if Fenianism never existed'.

Annual Report 1869

Annual report and rental for year ending June 1869, containing detailed report and accounts showing the receipts and disbursements on the estate for the preceding year. Records that the financial situation is favourable and that the largest expenditure was on drainage at Ballyknockan, Newtown, Killeenmore and Ballyduff. Reports that the RASI have awarded a 3rd Gold Medal and the Hall Challenge Cup for the best drainage in all Ireland. In relation to buildings and other improvements, he refers to ongoing renovations rather than new builds. Reports that the RASI have awarded a Gold Medal for improving existing labourers' cottages and that Mr Mallison, architect, was awarded £25 for best plans of labourers' cottages.(See 'Architectural drawings' preceding Index.) The constabulary barrack was fortified to withstand any attack. Woods and plantations were not as profitable as other years and reports on works on Derryclure, Clonad, Derryadd and Killeenmore.

In general, reports that 'an excellent tone pervades the people', that they appear satisfied and there is an absence of outrages. Regrets to say that part of the county boundary in Westmeath not for from estate is in a 'lawless condition'. Also reports on a 'curious incident' outside Tullamore where a ruse was employed by locals who wanted to divert police from an intended cock-fight. Also reports on the murder of Captain Tarleton and on a Mr Roberts who was forcefully ejected from his farm having 'seized' another farm which had belonged to a relative of his who had recently died. Appendix (pp54 and 55) contains copy correspondence between Lord Digby and RASI in relation to the establishment of a Digby Challenge Cup.

Annual Report 1870

Annual report and rental for year ending June 1870, containing general reports and accounts detailing the receipts and disbursement on the estate for the preceding year. Financial report is generally favourable. Drainage report outlines a reclamation project in Newtown between the railway and Tullamore Road. Also reports on 11 acres drained in Ballyduff for large tenant, Richard Odlum, 50 acres reclaimed in Ballinagar where previously marshes made the road from Ballinasloe unsafe for cattle, and the draining of Flynn's Moors in Derryweelan. Describes the success of the new sheep-washing pool formed in Lugmore main drain. Reports that it is used by almost everyone and that one of the largest tenants, Mr Ridgeway, proposed to wash 1110 sheep within one hour. The Trenchs came out at the appointed time, seats were provided for spectators 'and he won his bet easily with 7 minutes to spare.'

Referring to building improvements, 80 houses were changed from thatched roofs to slate, and the RASI awarded the Gold Medal for improving the greatest amount of cottages in the best manner in the province of Leinster. Woods and plantations report included details on the thinning of Derrygunnigan of large and useless timber, which was subsequently purchased by the Great Southern and Western Railway (5000 cubic feet of beech) but that the expense of drawing it across the bog to Tullamore detracted from the profits.

Also reports on 'peculiar violence and bloodshed in the surrounding district in counties' including the shooting in the face of Mr. Warburton, High Sherrif of Queen's County by a Mr Conroy, whose land, Mr Warburton had taken up. Describes an outrage on the other side of Geashill, where the same Mr Conroy attacked Mr O'Connor and cut his nose off while two other men held revolvers to his chest. 'Mr. O'Connor got an excellent nose to replace the one he had' and Conroy was sentenced to 14 years penal servitude. Other outrages included the brutal murder by Shields and his sister of a Mr Dunn - 'Very little excitement in the county and both were quietly hanged & buried within the precincts of the gaol.' Also includes further reports of attacks on gentry in Meath and Westmeath.

Annual Report 1871

Annual report and rental for year end June 1871, reporting a favourable financial situation on the estate and outlining the receipts and disbursements for the previous year. Describes the drainage of lands contiguous to the Clodiagh river and the formation of the Clodiagh Embankment, 490 statute perches in length. Also describes the completion of main drains at Derryweelan, Annagharvey and Killellery and notes improvements undertaken in Ballinagar and Ballyduff. In relation to buildings and repairs, he notes that there has been almost complete remodel of old houses and sundry other improvements 'that they might almost be classes as under new buildings.' Also reports that income from woods and plantations is reduced this year due to the 'improper and dishonest conduct of Forester Corbett'. Roskeen, Queen's County, is introduced to the accounts for the first time as an independent estate as Trench cites the differing rental schedules and differing counties as reasons for them not to be amalgamated in the rental.

In general, Trench is pleased not only with the improvements in the houses but also in the habits of the people, the tillage and agriculture and the green crops. On a more personal note, he expresses his 'deep grief' at the decision of his son, T. W. Trench to resign his post as Resident Agent on the Geashill estate. Describes him as 'beloved and respected by the tenantry and looked up to and appreciated by men of all creeds, politics or religions as a man of integrity, honour and intelligence.' Concludes by expressing this confidence that Lord Digby's nephew, Reginald Digby, will be an able successor to his son.

Annual Report 1874

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1874, containing a positive report on the financial condition of the estate with an increase in the overall rental income. Expenditure consisted of further land improvements including drainage works in Roskeen, Killarles, Cappyroe and Clonmore. A drain was sunk at Meelaghans and Cloncon which serves as a boundary between the Geashill and Charleville Estates and report notes that Lord Charleville has undertaken to pay half the cost of the drain. Construction of a new farmhouse for Mr Riddell of Annagharvey cost £514.19.6.

Report also discusses the introduction of concrete works as a construction method due to the difficulty in sourcing masons, many of which have emigrated. Also notes that the forester has had to be replaced as Mr McIntosh had emigrated to California. New plantations were established at Cappyroe and the Meelaghans.

Despite the eviction of Mr. Connolly of Clunagh who was in occupation of a farm in Clonad, overall agitation on the estate dissipated after the death of the former parish priest, and Digby describes his successor as 'a bright exception amongst Irish priests.'

Annual Report 1875

Annual report, rental and accounts for year ending June 1875, containing a positive report on the financial condition of the estate, with £9000 profit remitted to Lord Digby as in other years. Expenditure included the purchase of the glebe lands of Geashill from the Commission of Church Temporalities in Ireland for the sum of £3200. The glebe lands were subsequently let to Mr. Chissell.

Drainage works continued with the completion of a drain between Meelaghans and Cloncon to which the Earl of Charleville had paid £50. Other works included extensive reclamation works at Cappyroe and new reclamation works at Cappancur near the town of Tullamore. Expenditure on construction included £700 for a new and substantial farmhouse for Mr E. J. Odlum at Cappancur; two new houses at Killurin; a back yard for Mr Riddell at Annagharvey; raising and re-roofing of Mr Tarleton's house at Killeigh; and improvements to J. Forester's house in Ballinagar.

Notes the bad state of timber at Clonad and discusses new plan to recover the plantation there. Overall the condition of the estate is reported to satisfactory and having 'absolute immunity from disturbance or apparent discontent', with only one man in all the tenantry owing one half-year's rent, all others paid punctually.

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