|EVICTIONS IN KERRY.
(Correspondent of the Dublin Freeman)
|Nine tenants have been evicted on Miss Thomson's estate. The property is situated in one of the wildest and most barren districts in North Kerry. Driving to it from Castleisland I had to pass for miles over bleak and, in their natural state, barren mountains. But the industry of the tenants on all sides is abundantly testified to. Large tracts of mountain pasture have been reclaimed. Side by side with the "prairie" land may be seen large tracts which have been brought into a fair state of cultivation a result brought about, I was informed, in almost every case by the industry of the occupying tenants. The first of Miss Thomson's tenants whom I met was John M'Carthy. His house on the roadside was locked up, and I was at first inclined to believe that the occupants had been evicted. This proved not to be the case ; but M'Carthy, whom I found in a neighbouring field, on another man's farm where he had obtained permission to put down some potatoes informed me that he was still in possession. His story, substantially similar to that of the evicted tenants whose holdings I visited subsequently was to the effect that up to two years ago he had held under lease jointly with his brother a farm, for which they paid a rent of £50, the poor-law valuation being £22 10s. On the expiration of the lease he was induced to give up possession, and was then put back as a caretaker. Not knowing his legal rights, he did not make any claim for compensation, but remained in occupation. A rise of rent (to £55) was demanded, and in desperation he agreed to this, although knowing well, he said, that he could not pay it. He signed a document, of the nature of which he said he knew nothing. His farm was to be sold on the following day by the sheriff at Tralee ; but, he added, he would not go near the sale. Further on I came upon the farms of some of the evicted tenants. Two tenants had been evicted the day before my arrival Patrick Ahern and Michael Ahern. Their cases, I was informed differed little from that of M'Carthy. Their leases had expired, they bad been put in as caretakers, and an increased rent had been demanded. Both had large families of young children dependent on them six in one case and eight in the other. The evictions were carried out by Mr. Hartnett, the Sub-Sheriff of Kerry about five o'clock the previous evening. The unfortunate people had been sheltered during the night in the houses of neighbouring farmers, and Land League wooden houses, similar to those already erected in different parts of Mayo, Clare, and Limerick, are in course of erection. One was nearly completed, and two others were being put up. The first is intended for the accommodation of Daniel Scanlan, a tenant who was evicted in January last. Close to the farms of the Aherns I met a representative of the local branch of the Ladies' Land League. She had come a distance of six or eight miles to "cheer up the poor people ;" to take particulars of their cases, in order to forward them to Dublin ; and to assure them that the necessary assistance would be forthcoming. The evicted tenants on Miss Thomson's estate are : Patrick Quill whose rent, at one time only £10 12s 6d, was under the late lease £43, the Government valuation being £20 10s. The increase demanded on the expiration of the lease was £10. John Ahern, former rent, £17 10s ; present rent, £38 ; Government valuation, £15 13s ; attempted increase, £12. Michael Moloney, present rent. £33 ; Government valuation, £8 5s ; attempted increase, £16. J. Donoghue, former rent, £10 : present rent, £21 ; Government valuation, £9 10s. Patrick Ahern, former rent £6 15s : present rent, £19 ; Government valuation, £8. Michael Ahern, former rent, £6 15s ; present rent, £19 ; Government valuation, £8 ; attempted increase, £10. Denis Scanlan, present rent, £20 ; Government valuation, £8 10s. Several of the other tenants on the estate are in hourly expectation of eviction. There is an impression amongst the better informed classes in the district that the action of Miss Thomson is largely due to want of proper information as to the actual condition of the tenantry and their ability to pay the exorbitant rents demanded of them. The facts are, as I was informed, that the recent bad seasons have left them in a state of extreme poverty. They depend chiefly on pasture, and they have had to sell their stock in order to stave off eviction. They have every appearance of being industrious and thrifty ; they are simple, ingenuous people, whose wants are few and to whom the best testimony that can be borne is that they were able in the past to live upon such land and to pay the rent for it. They would, there is every reason to believe, have continued to do so but for the attempt to increase their rents at a time when nearly all other landlords were making reductions ; and it is not to be wondered at, therefore, that they should regard their case as one of exceptional hardship.|
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