Four of the fourteen largest landowners' properties of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were located in County Mayo, a region noted for the wild primitive beauty of its peasantry.
In Bohola at that time, there was no middle class to bridge the gap, only the landlord and the small poor tenants. The tenants, who owned between 2 and 15 acres of land, were totally at the mercy of their landlords, and most of them found it very hard to eke out a living for themselves and their family.
The landlords were the backbone of the ascendancy class in Ireland, and the majority of them differed from their tenants in every way - religion, politics, wealth, education, traditions, language, and culture. Neither laws nor lands, homes no government belonged to the people. They were treated as intruders and outlaws in their own mother country.
The tenants held the land at will of their landlords, they were totally without capital, and rent was always paid in arrears. The tenant's father and grandfather before him would have lived on the same property, or in the same townland. His grandfather would have reclaimed the farm from bog and waste, he would sow the spring crops early, and in April he would go to England or Scotland to get work, returning in October or November to help gather the harvest and plant the winter crops.
If a tenant showed signs of prosperity his rent was immediately raised. If someone got a new coat or re-thatched his hut or made any improvements in his living conditions the same demands were made. All the tenants lived in constant fear of an increase in rent, as they knew that refusal to pay meant instant eviction.
Along with excessively high rents, Catholic tenants also had to pay tithes (a tax of one-tenth of their total income) for the upkeep of the Protestant church. Bohola parish, which had neither Protestant church nor clergy, was assessed in 1834 at £374 17s. 8d. in tithe payment, half of which was payable to the Reverend John O'Rourke of Galway, and the other half payable to Walter Bourke Esq of Turlough, Castlebar.
However, the local tenants were united in their refusal to pay this money. In 1838, the tithes were reduced by 25% and included the rent paid to the landlord, who then passed the money onto the parson. They were finally abolished in 1869.
Some of the landlords lived abroad and spent their entire incomes outside of the country, a financial loss that Ireland could ill afford. The landlord who lived on his estate was in close touch with his tenants and could see for himself the conditions of his people. He was usually represented on the estate by an agent who collected the rents for him. Tenants who could not pay were evicted, and most were eventually reduced to begging.
In Bohola there were three landlords who owned big houses in the parish - McManus of Barleyhill, Deane of Carragowan and Jordan of Roslevin. These landlords enjoyed high living in local society, hunting and racing, betting, high entertaining, balls, banquets, something for every day of the week.
In the 1840s, a lot of the landlords were in financial trouble. Some had helped their tenants in the famine years, and, as a result, were in debt when the famine ended in 1847. In 1879 the threat of another big famine provided the justification for a reform of the landlord system, and Michael Davitt from Straide founded the Land League, which led to tenant farmers becoming owner-occupiers of the land.
In 1881 when the Land League was founded, a branch was set up in Bohola, at the back of the present day church, by Miss Frances Parnell, sister of the well-known Charles Stewart.
The big houses started to decay, and many of them fell into ruins. The land was developed and fences were made with stone wall. The result was the emergence of the family farm with mixed tillage and livestock production.
Bryan o Mulcluffe had the half qr called Noliatichaell in the qr of Lissmerran and one third of the qr in Carrowmore. Alexander Roe mc Donnell had one cartron in the qr of Carroward. Garrott Dillon mcThomas had the castle of Bohollo and the lands there, called the half qr of Bochollo, with a mill. He also owned the half qr of Ardacharha; the cartron of Lissinisk; 3 cartrons in the qr of Rathruane; and 1 cartron in the qr of Altebane. Bryen mc Gerrald o Ruane had a cartron in the qr of Lismerrane. Edmond mc Henry had one cartron in the half quarter of Lissmirrane.John o Henegan leased most of Lecarrow from Mullmurry mc Swine and family, and Shane o Hara and family. William boy mc Knorckane, Moyler mc Knorckane, Edmond mc Knorckane, and Bryan mc Knorckan jointly owned the half quarter of Lecarroward. Rorie Roe mc Jordane had the quarter called Rathslevine; the cartron of Listrustan; and a cartron in the quarter of Altybane. Hubert Duffe mc Nicholas had one-sixth of a cartron in the half quarter of Lysmerrane. Walter oge mc Nicholas leased one-sixth of a cartron in the half quarter of Lishmearan from Stephen Roe mc Nicholas. Richard boy mc Nicholas leased two-thirds of a cartron of Lissmerane from Thomas mc Nicholas and Walter oge mc Nicholas. Jordan mc Jordan had the quarter of Tuoromye and one cartron in the quarter of Shanachy. Walter Keogh mc Jordan had the quarter called Lyshgormyn and a quarter cartron of Lishcosney of Shanogie in the cartron of Carrowkeele. Rickard Boy mc Jordan had the quarter called Trinfonhamish; three cartrons in the quarter of Shanoghie and a half cartron called Liscosney in the half quarter of Carrowkeele. Lord Viscount Gerrald Dillon of Mayo had the two half quarters of Lissmearan and Twochanne.
Henry Jordan had the quarter of Roslume. He also had land in Listrustane.Marcus Joyce ffitz Martin had land in Attybane; Leniske; Carrowkeele; Rahelvine and Roearowaner. Theobald Dillon had land in Attybane; Buchola; Ardoghera; and Collyleagh. Lord Dillon had land in Attybane; Lisgormyne; Listrustane; Carroward; Buchola; Ardoghera; Collyleagh; Leniske; Carrowkeele; Rahelvine; Carrowgowne; Lenoghy als Shanoghy; Trynefoghane; Tawnaghshrow; and Roearowaner. Vallentine Browne had land in Turromeoth; Lisgormyne;Lenoghy; als Shanoghy; and Trynefoghane. Tirlagh McDonnogh had land in Listrustane and Carrowkeele. Dr. Richard Madden had land in Tohannane. Dominick Meade had land in Tohannane; Carrowmore; and Lishubart. Tirlagh O Neale had land in Buchola; Collyleagh and Ardoghera. Richard Martin had land in Leniske and Carrowkeele. Oliver Jones had land in Carrowmore.
Henry E. Taafe, of Dublin, had the property of Altbaun, Bohomore, Carrowntsleva, Sraheens, Tavnakaniffe and Toocananagh. Taafe's agent in Bohola was Alexander Glendenning of Ballinrobe. Samuel Kirkwood had property in Ardacarra, and his agent was Robert Kirkwood, Esq., of Killala. George Moore, of Moorehill, had the property of Ballinlag, Carrowmore, Gortnasillagh and Lismirrane. Thomas Ormsby of Ballyglass was Moore's agent. Sir Richard Steele had the property of Carroward. Lt. Col. McAlpin, who leased the property from John Knox Esq., was the landlord in Carrowgowan and Carrowcastle. McAlpin's agent was Lt. Clair O'Malley, Esq. Joseph Taafe Esq. had the property of Carrowkeel. Edward Rosen Esq. had the property of Lissinaska. Joseph McDonald had the property of Lisgorman, Shanaghy, Tooromeen and Treenfoughnane. Henry Jordan had the property of Listrisnane and Rathslevin. Christopher McManus had the property of Barleyhill, Bohola and Rathruane. Edward Deane, Esq., of Carragowan, Foxford was the agent responsible for these lands.
Extract from “Bohola: Its history and its people”. Reproduced by kind permission of its publishers, Sheridan Memorial Community Centre Committee. “Bohola: Its history and its people” was published in 1992 under the auspices of Bohola Community Centre Committee which was established in 1988.