Tag Archives: Derryveagh Evictions

Remembering Derryveagh Evictions 10 April 1861

For the past two days I have reposted blogs written to commemorate the first two days of evictions of families from Derryveagh County Donegal in April 1861. Today I repost the last in the series,looking at events on 10 April 1861.

The  earlier posts can be seen at Derryveagh Evictions I: Shattered Homes Shattered Lives and Derryveagh Evictions II:Shattered Hearths

Derryveagh Evictions III: The Scattering

The 10th of April 1861 was the third day of the brutal evictions ordered by the cruel landlord John George Adair, on his estate at Derryveagh, Co Donegal. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon of that day, the work was done. The Deputy Sheriff, Crookshank, and his 200 men had changed the landscape and changed the lives of a group of unfortunate and powerless people who were already living in hardship. Liam Dolan in his ‘Land War and Evictions in Derryveagh’ states:

”By two, Wednesday afternoon, the terrible work had been accomplished and a deathly silence fell over the whole area”.

This third post in the series marking the 150th anniversary of the Derryveagh evictions looks at the fate of the dispossessed.

A Derryveagh Family –  From an article by Paul J Mc Geady, Donegal Genealogy Resources.

The names of these people and the townlands where they lived, live on in lists. Unfortunately as there are differences in family names and numbers in particular townlands, it is hard to know which list is the definitive one. However, at the end of this post, I have included the names of the families and the townlands, according to one such list, from the Londonderry Standard.

So what became of these unfortunate families? Where did they end up?

Records from the Workhouse in Letterkenny list the people who went there and provide information on their occupations, their townland of origin and their date of entry. Many of these would have left the workhouse when their prospects changed – if work became available, to go to live with relatives, or perhaps to emigrate.

Others who had been offered temporary shelter, in Cloughaneely for example, may well have stayed in the area, as perhaps would those who found shelter with relatives and friends. May McClintock suggests in her publication that many may have indeed stayed in the general area, around Creeslough, Glendowan and Churchill.

A third tranche, mostly younger people, and many probably children of the people evicted, took advantage of the Donegal Relief Committee Fund and availed of assisted passage to Australia. The Donegal Relief  Fund had been set up in Australia in 1858  for the assistance of people from Donegal who were in dire circumstances. The geography of the county in the bleak and cold north-west with its barren, mountainous terrain, together with the decision by land owners to end the practice of allowing tenants to graze their sheep on the upper slopes in summer, gave rise to an annual famine lasting about three months. Following supplications from the local clergy in Donegal, the Donegal Relief Committee in Australia raised funds to help with immigration. The relief fund appears to have operated from 1858 when large numbers of people from Gweedore, Cloughaneely and Tory Island availed of the opportunity for a new life ‘down under’. Following the Derryveagh evictions, new pleas for help were made by the local clergy with the result that many young people had an opportunity to leave for a new life in Australia. And so in January 1862, 143 persons from Derryveagh joined 130 Gweedore people who departed Plymouth on a sea voyage of 3 months or more. That more family members  left Ireland is a certainty. England and Scotland were close to home and were accessible relatively cheaply. It is known that many went to Australia, some ended up in New Zealand and a number also went to America. The nature of the records at the time – where addresses recorded on ships lists often state the county of origin and not the townland, together with the preponderance of similar family and first names provide a challenge for researchers.

One researcher in particular stands out in the telling of the story and tracing of the families of Derryveagh. She is Lindel Buckley, a direct descendant of a family from Glendowan. Her great great grandmother who lived in Stramore, just to the south west of Altnadogue, and whose sister had married a Sweeney from Derryveagh, emigrated to New Zealand in the 1860s. Lindel has located and transcribed hundreds of  historical records from Donegal and of relevance to Donegal, and has made them available without charge on her website Donegal Genealogy Resources. Her extraordinary compilation has been and continues to be an inspiration to many. Through her work and her enthusiasm, she is one of the people who keep the Derryveagh story alive.

A new book, written by local school teacher Christy Gillespie and his pupils, documents the personal stories of the people who were evicted in Derryveagh and was launched last Saturday by the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Bruce Davis and the local historian May McClintock. Aptly named “A Deathly Silence” this new book will hopefully interest a new generation and give  new insights into the people who are the key figures in this story,the people of Derryveagh.

THE  DERRYVEAGH PEOPLE BY TOWNLAND

BINGORMS

Hanna M’Award (Widow) and 7 children. – evicted and house levelled.

Joseph M’Cormack, wife and 5 children – restored to possession as caretaker.

ALTNADOGUE

Hugh Sweeney ( Widower) and 2 sons – evicted and house locked.

James Sweeney, wife and 8 children- evicted and house locked.

Owen Sweeney, wife, mother and 8 children – evicted and house locked.

MAGHERNASHANGAN

James M’Monagle, wife and 6 children- readmitted as tenant until November.

John Brady, wife and 5 children- readmitted as weekly tenant.

Francis Bradley, wife and 5 children -readmitted as weekly tenant.

Patrick Bradley, wife and 4 children -evicted and house levelled.

John and Fanny Bradley, a brother and sister, both deaf and dumb – allowed to retain possession.

Roger O’Flanigan, wife, brother, mother and 4 children- evicted and house levelled.

James Gallagher, wife and 7 children – evicted and house levelled.

SLOGHALL (STAGHALL?)

Daniel Friel, wife, mother, brother, and 1 child- evicted.

William M’Award, wife and 2 children- evicted and house levelled.

James Doherty, wife and 1 child- evicted and house levelled.

James Lawn, wife and 9 children – readmitted as tenant until November.

CLAGGAN

John Bradley, wife and 3 children – evicted and house levelled.

Michael Bradley, wife and 4 children – evicted and house levelled.

Catherine Conaghan (Widow), sister in law, brother in law, and 2 children – evicted and house levelled.

WARRENTOWN

Edward Coyle,wife and 1 child – evicted and house levelled.

Knocker Friel, wife and 6 children – evicted and house levelled.

Knocker Kelly and two servants – evicted and house levelled.

William Armstrong (Widower), and 3 children-evicted and house levelled.

Rose Dermot, Orphan – evicted and house levelled.

ARDARTUR

Daniel M’Award, wife and 6 children- evicted and house levelled.

Charles Doohan, wife, son and  2 grandchildren – evicted and house levelled.

William Doohan, wife and 4 children- evicted and house levelled.

John Doohan, wife and 5 children -evicted and house levelled.

Connell Doohan, wife – retained as weekly tenants.

Patrick Curran, wife and 5 children – evicted and house levelled.

DRUMNALIFFERNEY

Owen M’Award, wife and 4 children – evicted and house levelled

Mary M’Award (Widow) and 3 children -evicted and house levelled.

CASTLETOWN

Bryan Doherty (Widower), mother, sister and 1 child – evicted and house levelled.

Hugh Coll, wife and 4 children – evicted and house levelled.

Patrick Devenney, wife and 2 children -evicted and house levelled.

John Friel, wife and 2 children – evicted and house levelled.

Michael Friel and 1 child – evicted and house levelled.

Robert Burke, wife – evicted and house levelled.

Charles Callaghan- evicted and house levelled.

John Moore, wife and 2 children – evicted and house levelled.

Manus Rodden, brother and two sisters – orphans- evicted and house levelled.

Bernard Callaghan, mother and brother – evicted and house levelled.

SHREEHAGANON (SRUHANGARROW?)

Edward Sweeney and 3 children – evicted and house levelled.

Daniel Doherty, wife, father and 2 children -evicted and house levelled.

Bryan Doherty, wife and 4 children-evicted and house levelled.

– From the Londonderry Standard, Glenveagh, April 10th 1861.

References:

Dolan, Liam. 1980. Land War and Eviction in Derryveagh, 1840- 65. Annaverna Press.

McClintock, May. After the Battering Ram- the trail of the dispossessed from Derryveagh, 1861- 1991. An Taisce Pamphlet

Vaughan, William Edward. 1983. Sin, Sheep and Scotsmen: John George Adair and the Derryveagh evictions 1861. Ulster Historical Foundation. Accessed at TARA: Trinity Access to Research Archive

Families evicted from Derryveagh

Donegal Relief Fund- Australia. Accessed at Donegal Genealogy Resources

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Remembering Derryveagh Evictions 9 April 1861

Yesterday on 8 April I  reposted a blog commemorating the 1st day of evictions from Derryveagh County Donegal on this day in 1861. This post, Derryveagh Evictions 1: Shattered homes, shattered lives, can be seen here. Today I  the continue the series with the events of day 2 of the evictions on 9 April 1861.

Derryveagh Evictions II: Shattered Hearths

On April 9th 1861, the second day of the Derryveagh Evictions, the Deputy Sheriff and his 200 men, armed with battering rams and crowbars made their way through the townlands of Derryveagh. Their purpose was to clear the land of men, women and children to make way for the flocks of sheep that landlord John George Adair had imported from Scotland. Convinced that one of his stewards had been murdered by his tenants, and vexed that the murderers had not been identified by police, he set in train a legal process to evict all of them from his lands.

The townlands of Derryveagh where the evictions took place. Click to enlarge. Compiled from Historic and OSI maps – With many thanks to Sara Nylund.

According to the official report, 37 Husbands, 35 Wives, 159 Children and 13 ‘Other Inmates’ were evicted – a total of 244 people. Of these, 31 people, representing 4 families, were readmitted into possession as tenants, and a further 28 people, representing 6 families, were readmitted into possession as caretakers. These numbers include children. Eventually however, only 3 of these families were permanently reinstated, the rest were removed in the months after the main evictions. In Derryveagh, on those 3 terrible days, 28 of the 46 houses were either levelled or had the roof removed.

Accounts of the evictions and the effects on the families concerned make for harrowing reading. The first house to be levelled was that of a 60-year-old widow, Hanna Ward (Award), her 6 daughters and one son. Eyewitness accounts tell of the wailing and deep distress as they were forced from their home. When the ‘crowbar brigade’ began to demolish the house, the family ”became frantic with despair, throwing themselves to the ground; their terrifying cries resounding along the mountains for many miles”. It was said that ”those who witnessed their agony will never forget the sight”. This scene was repeated over and over again during the following few days. It was reported that the scenes were so harrowing that the policemen carrying out the evictions were moved to tears. In one house, an elderly man was repeatedly told by the sheriff to leave the house, and “the old man in doing so, kissed the walls of his house and each member of his family did the same”. There was no regard for individual circumstances  – no mercy was shown to Rose Dermott, an orphan, whose house was levelled just the same as those of 3 of her close neighbours, although a brother and sister who were both deaf and dumb had their house spared.

Such unimaginable terror was in itself bad enough, but the evicted families and their children had to find someplace to live. In the townland of Altnadogue for example, three Sweeney families with 18 children between them, were locked out of their homes. They moved to nearby Glendowan, away from Adair lands, and built sod houses for themselves. Hearing of the evictions, people in nearby Cloughaneely provided temporary shelter for some of the families. One family in Staghall, a man his wife and two children,were found to still be living in the ruins of their house some time later. The family had lived there for generations. A further group of five men were discovered huddled around a fire with no shelter as they were unwilling to move away. A month after the evictions, 14 families were still unaccounted for or were wandering through the ruins of their homes.

Six families found shelter with or near to, relatives and friends, but 13 families had to take refuge in the Workhouse in Letterkenny. In the Workhouse it was reported that the Derryveagh people sat in a huddle weeping, and were so distressed that they were unable to eat. The elderly John Doherty of Castletown died only days after being admitted to the Workhouse and Michael Bradley is said to have gone insane.

News of the evictions and the desperate plight of the dispossessed reached Irish people across the world. In Dublin, in France and in Australia  money was collected. The Donegal Relief Committee assisted young people from Derryveagh in making new lives in Australia. On January 18th 1862, emotional and heart-rending scenes once again broke the hearts of the people of Derryveagh as parents and friends bade farewell to 68 young men, 70 young women and a young married couple with their 2 small children, as they left Derryveagh forever on the long journey to Australia, probably never to return.

Over the next few years, many mostly young people emigrated from this locality – they headed to America, to Australia, to New Zealand.

References:

Dolan, Liam. 1980. Land War and Eviction in Derryveagh, 1840- 65. Annaverna Press.

McClintock, May. After the Battering Ram- the trail of the dispossessed from Derryveagh, 1861- 1991. An Taisce Pamphlet

Vaughan, William Edward. 1983. Sin, Sheep and Scotsmen: John George Adair and the Derryveagh evictions 1861. Ulster Historical Foundation. Accessed at TARA: Trinity Access to Research Archive

Official Statistic Report of the Evictions

Donegal Relief Fund- Australia. Accessed at Donegal Genealogy Resources

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Derryveagh Evictions:Walking to remember

In Donegal,Ireland this weekend there will be a walking event to mark the  150th anniversary of the infamous Derryveagh Evictions.

Deserted Road in Derryveagh. Image commons.wikimedia

The walk will trace the footsteps of the 85 adults and 159 children who were brutally evicted from their homes and livelihoods by their cruel landlord in April 1861. ( See my earlier ‘trilogy’ posts here, here and here).

The townlands of Derryveagh where the evictions took place. Click to enlarge. Compiled from Historic and OSI maps - With many thanks to Sara Nylund

The memory of this event is deeply rooted in the surrounding area. On the long car journey from Carrigart to Glenties in the 1950s my late father used to tell us children the story of Adair as he pointed out the ruined and deserted cottages in the lonely landscape. I had imagined then in my child’s mind that was the end of the sad story for these poor people.
Decades later on revisiting this story, it has been exciting to discover that the people who used to live in those destroyed homes are remembered still; that their tragedy has been researched, documented and recalled and that they have been honoured at the 150th anniversary of the event in April of this year.
Their descendants and extended family proudly remember them.
James Sweeney lived in Altnadogue(9). He was evicted with his wife and 8 children and the house was locked.  Two of  James’ sons – Edward and James – later lived in Stramore, an adjoining townland , and married their 2nd cousins Bridget and Grace Sweeney. Bridget and Grace had a sister Fanny, whose grandson, Petie McGee represented that family at the commemoration events in April.
A small number of families were readmitted as tenants, some until the following November and some as weekly tenants. On the shores of Lough Barra is Bingorms (10) with two families the McCormicks  and the M’Awards. The McCormicks were evicted but then reinstated as caretakers. Bingorms was strategically located near an access path to the castle in Glenveagh, and it is thought that Adair wanted someone to look out for sheep stealers using this path and so the McCormicks were spared.  It is hard to imagine what they must have felt as they saw their neighbour the Widow Hanna M’Award and her 7 children being pulled screaming from their house that was levelled to the ground. John (Joseph) McCormick and his wife Grace are the great grandparents of Susan Hemming who represented that family at the commemoration in April.
Susan writes: ”With my 21st century hat on, I am not at all sure that I like the idea of my great, great-grandfather being so “helpful” to his terrible landlord, but then I ask myself “What choice did he have?”. Stay on the land, or be thrown off like so many others?
I hope that he stayed as tenant with a heavy heart, that he and his wife were moved to tears as they witnessed the eviction of the widow McAward and her children. I wonder also, had Owen McAward still been alive, would Adair have chosen that family to stay as caretakers of this lonely route out of Glenveagh? Would the McCormicks have been evicted?”
Also in attendance were two great granddaughters of evictee Catherine Ward, who had travelled from Australia for the 150th anniversary commemoration. To see a TV news report on their setting foot at the site where their ancestor was thrown out,click on this link .
The work and research of many people has served to keep the Derryveagh story alive and has been inspirational to many.  Susan Hemming acknowledges the work and help of Paddy McCormick of Inniskill, Sally Greene (nee McClafferty) of McClafferty’s bar in Churchill in her research.
Two other names are inextricably linked to the ‘rediscovery’ of the events in Derryveagh in 1861:
Lindel Buckley’s ancestors emigrated to New Zealand from this area. Lindel, through her amazing website Donegal Genealogy Resources,  has been instrumental in linking many descendants of the evicted families back to their roots in Derryveagh. Lindel has located and transcribed hundreds of  historical records from Donegal and of relevance to Donegal, and they are available without charge on her website. Her work has been an inspiration to many, including this writer.
May McClintock of An Taisce, has a passionate interest in the Derryveagh Evictions and was instrumental in having a permanent plaque put in place to remember the families.  Through her writing and efforts she is highly regarded by anyone who delves into the story of  the Derryveagh evictions.
A local school teacher Christy Gillespie and his pupils  have documented the personal stories of the people who were evicted in Derryveagh. The book,  “A Deathly Silence”will interest a new generation and give new insights into the people who are the key figures in this story,the people of Derryveagh.
Today, Saturday August 27th 2011 May Mc Clintock  will participate in the ‘We Remember’ commemorative walk that will begin at the ruins of  Bradleys Cottage in the townland of Cleggan, and follow a route to Churchill. She will add insights along the way and at Churchill graveyard she will deliver a short talk. The commemoration of the 150th anniversary will draw to a close tonight with a musical gathering and fitting tributes.
This post is in tribute to the tenants who had to endure this dreadful event in 1861, to their descendants who have discovered who they are, and very specially in appreciation of the people who continue to freely give the benefits of their extensive research and knowledge that is an inspiration to us all.
References
Dolan, Liam. 1980. Land War and Eviction in Derryveagh, 1840- 65. Annaverna Press.

McClintock, May. After the Battering Ram- the trail of the dispossessed from Derryveagh, 1861- 1991. An Taisce Pamphlet

Vaughan, William Edward. 1983. Sin, Sheep and Scotsmen: John George Adair and the Derryveagh evictions 1861. Ulster Historical Foundation. Accessed at TARA: Trinity Access to Research Archive

Families evicted from Derryveagh

Donegal Genealogy Resources – The work of Lindel Buckley
Special thanks to Susan Hemming and Petie McGee for sharing their stories.
 

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