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Annual Report 1873

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1873, containing positive reports on the financial condition of the estate with only 'trifling arrears' of £32 and a general increase in overall rental income. Expenditure consisted of main drainage of lands at Roskeen, Queen's County; the reclamation of the bog at Killurin; thorough drainage at Bawnmore; construction of two new cottages in Geashill Village and a substantial range of offices for Mr Warren of Gorteen. Also comments on the scarcity of labour on the estate due to emigration to America, and that the 'Russian Village' (portable labourers' housing) has been moved to Cappyroe from Ballyknockan.

Regrets to say that relations with the tenantry are not entirely satisfactory. Tenants without a written contract were asked to sign one but the parish priest, using 'the extraordinary and mischievous power which an Irish priest possesses over an ignorant Roman Catholic tenantry', informed tenants that by signing they will exclude themselves from any benefit under the Land Act.

Describes the eviction of Mr. O'Flanagan, a large tenant on the estate, who had tried to establish 'tenant-right' through the courts but 'failed signally, as at the last moment before the claim came before the Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, Mr. O'Flanagan signed a paper admitting that he had no claim whatever to tenant-right in his holding.'

Annual Report 1876

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1876, containing 'an entirely satisfactory' financial report with an absence of any outstanding arrears. Notes however that expenditure was high as the glebe lands of Killeigh were purchased from the Church Temporalities Commission for £950, and major drainage and reclamation works were completed at Cappyroe, Cappancur, Roskeen, Geashill glebe lands, Clonmore, and Killarles.

Forestry works included a new plantation at Aghanrush, and the clearance of twenty acres of the River Wood at Clonad of all decaying birch and timber, the construction of new drainage works therein and the replantation of the wood. Digby reports the same plan is in place for the wood at Derrygolan. Construction works included a new cattle shed for Mr Tottenham at Springfield; new offices for Mr Delamere in the Meelaghans; new stores for T. Fegan in Geashill Village due to increased trade; new forge in Killeigh and new offices for J. Buckley in Geashill Village and for Mary Hones in Cappancur, along with descriptions of other repairs and alterations.

Overall he reports the condition of the estate as 'prosperous' but warns of mischievous attempts 'to inspire the Irish tenantry with distrust of their landlords. '

Annual Report 1877

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1877, reporting no outstanding arrears with all rents paid punctually and not a single farm surrendered despite a bad harvest. Increased profit of £10,000 remitted to Lord Digby attributable to extra rents from the glebe lands of Killeigh and Geashill. Expenditure on drainage continued with works at Ballydownan bog and the thorough cleaning of the watercourse on the estate boundary between Cappancur and the late McMullen's bog at Ballydaly. Digby reports that the only centenarian tenant on the estate had been forced to sleep on his kitchen table due to the repeated flooding of his cabin in this area. A new drain was also sunk near Ballycommon canal bridge through the valley behind Ballinagar.

Construction works consisted of a new cattle shed for Darby Kelly, 'an improving tenant' in Cloncoher; new labourer's cottages at the Meelaghans; new cattle shed for Mr Davis, tenant of the reclaimed Meelaghans lands; a new dwelling house for J. Smollen of the Meelaghans; and the raising and repairing of the smith's house in Killeigh. Eighteen acres of the River Wood at Clonad was thoroughly drained and replanted with larch and oak.

Overall Digby reports that the estate is quiet and free from the disturbances and outrages perpetrated in other parts of the county.

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.

Annual Report 1881

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1881. Reports that the financial condition of the estate had disimproved, outstanding arrears remaining due and abandoned arrears considerably increased. Profit remitted was £8500, a decrease on previous years, although there was a net increase in the overall rental income. Also reports that the Roskeen lease was surrendered by the reps of Mr. Bailey, and that the farm at Ballydownan was surrendered by Mr Adams and now in Lord Digby's hands and set for grazing with newly purchased cattle.

In terms of land improvement, Digby reports on the completion of a number of Board of Works projects including the draining and squaring of the moors under Scrubb Wood, the deepening of the boundary stream at Cappancur and the sinking of a large main drain in Balinvally bog. Construction works included new offices for Mr Arthur of Killurin and Patrick Nugent of Ballycollin; new cottages completed at Killeigh; new cottage commenced in Geashill Village and assistance give to William Mathews to erect substantial new dwelling house in Killurin. Also reports on the thinning and replanting of Derrygunnigan Wood.

Warns that agrarian agitation is increasing encouraged by the Land League. Blames the Government for slow response to agitation. Reports on a 'monster meeting' held in Tullamore by the Land League prior to the winter collection of rents (1880) where the Geashill tenantry requested en masse Griffith's Valuation as a fair rent which was subsequently refused by Lord Digby, but who abated the rent by 10% on the half year's rent payable. Identifies William Adams as the leader of the agitation and describes the court proceedings taken against him individually. With the result of being faced with bankruptcy, Adams paid his rent and then surrendered farm at Ballydownan, with the result that all other agitation on the estate ceased and rents were collected within three weeks. Also refers to 'boycotting' occurring throughout the estate but that no acts of violence or outrages took place. A further attempt at withholding rent in May 1881 was similarly short-lived.

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 1884

Annual report, accounts and rental for year end June 1884, showing a net reduction in the rental by £207.19.6 resulting from alterations by the Irish Land Commission or agreed to out of court. Also reports that there is a reduction in outstanding arrears but a high level of abandoned arrears owing to the amount of grazing land now 'on hand'. No estate improvements to report bar the topdressing of lands at Cappyroe for cultivation, minor works of maintenance and a further addition to Thomas Cobbe's offices at Annagharvey. Forestry work included the drainage of 14 acres of cutaway bog at Killeenmore and replanting with seven acres of larch and other hardwoods.

Describes the condition of the estate as 'uneventful;' with rents being fairly paid though not punctually and legal proceedings are resorted to with more frequency than formerly.

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.

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