The Binghams, who became known as the Lords and Earls of Lucan, were descendants of Sir Richard Bingham who became Governor of Connaught in 1584. The first Earl, Charles, was created Baron in 1776 and Earl in 1795. The residence of the Lucan/Bingham families was at Lawn House, now St. Joseph's Girls Secondary School.
His daughter married a son of Earl Spencer in 1781. (This Earl Spencer was the Judge that presided over the Maamtrasna murder trials and was great grand- uncle of Lady Diana Spencer.) The Spencers later built a summer residence in Spencer Park, hence the name Spencer Street.
Charles was succeeded by his son Richard as second Earl in 1799.His son, George Charles, who was created Earl in 1839, became one of the most dreaded landlords in the country. He was known as the Great Exterminator. He carried out wholesale evictions of his tenants accompanied by his infamous Crowbar Brigade. Some villages including Knockthomas and Aughadrinagh were completely demolished. In fact Aughadrinagh was later converted into a racecourse.
The destitute tenants had nowhere to go for help but to the Workhouse, which he helped to found in 1838. The workhouse was opened in 1842 and by 1847 he, as chairman of the Board of Guardians was instrumental in closing, declaring the Board bankrupt.
His son, Lord Lucan, The Fourth Earl who was a more genial landlord and was more popular with the local people, succeeded him. He reduced the rents, provided sites for the Catholic Church and schools and donated The Mall (formerly the Lucan Cricket Pitch) to the people of the town as a public park.
Articles by Brian Hoban