The Curraghs Campaign took place on the Leader estate in the townlands of Garrison, Knockardfree, Kilpatrick, Knockagolig and Cloghboola in the late 1880’s. In depressed times, due to a drop in the prices of milk, butter and cattle, the Landlord Mr..W. N. Leader was asked by the tenants to reduce the high rents. He refused. They then joined the Plan of Campaign. This meant they offered the Landlord a reasonable rent. The non-judicial tenants wanted a reduction of 37 ½% and the judicial tenants 25%. As he refused to accept it, the rents were then collected by campaigners who banked them in the name of a committee of trustees, Rev..Fr..Collins C.C., Castlemagner and Rev. Fr. Ml. O’Keeffe C.C., Kilbrin and they were used to assist evicted tenants. The Plan Of Campaign was adopted in Curraghs at a meeting in Kilbrin on 19th December, 1886, addressed by Fr..Timothy Leader P.P., Ballyclough and Kilbrin, and Mr. J.C. Flynn, M.P.
In a letter to the Cork Examiner 3rd January,1887, Fr. Leader says the reply of Mr. W.N. Leader, Dromagh Castle and his agent Mr. Henry Harte Barry, Solicitor, Kanturk to the reasonable demand of the Curraghs tenants was a “downpour of writs” (threats of eviction). Fr. Leader suggested “a little kindness and indulgence to the tenants in these hard times, at the same time that it would be more seemly, might be just as profitable to Mr. Leader and Mr. Harte Barry". He wasn’t heeded
Immediately the tenants sold their stock. They removed their hay and meagre furnishings and belongings to neighbouring farms outside of Leader’s estate. The report of the Folklore Commission collected at Curraghs National School in 1938 says they were taken to Ballybahallow.
Then in early February,' the farms were sold at the Courthouse. The tenants’ representatives bid on the farms up to within a few pounds of the total amount due and then allowed all the farms go to the Landlord’s representative.
On 9th August, three of the tenants, Patrick Murphy, Daniel J. Daly and Daniel Daly, were evicted and a number of people were arrested, released and later charged. Daniel J. Daly, John Kearney and Patrick Fitzpatrick were sentenced to a months imprisonment in Cork jail.
All the labourers employed at Curraghs refused to work for Leader who was in effect boycotted.
Meanwhile the Plan Of Campaign was adopted by more of Leader’s tenants in Meelin. The National League received great support and indeed leadership from the clergy. Several priests are listed in attendance at meetings all over the place and quite often a priest acted as chairman. The Government introduced a Coercion Bill which outlawed National League Meetings.
Fr.Timothy Leader, Parish Priest of Ballyclough & Kilbrin, Fr.C. Collins, C.C. Castlemagner, Fr. M.B. Kennedy, C.C. Meelin, who was later imprisoned and Fr. Ml. O’Keeffe, C.C. Kilbrin were totally supportive of the Plan Of Campaign and non-violent protest resistance.
In June, 1888, six Curraghs men, Daniel J. Daly, Patrick Murphy, John Field, John Frawley, Denis Fitzpatrick and Timothy Daly, were "tried” for having attended an unlawful assembly, namely a meeting at which the Plan Of Campaign was encouraged, and also of having taken part in a conspiracy not to pay Mr.Leader, their landlord his rackrents. The stated meeting took place at Cloghboola cross, Curraghs on the 23rd March. Five of the men were sentenced to three weeks imprisonment for taking part in an illegal meeting. The sentence was increased and an appeal lodged which, like that of the Field brothers, was refused.
SELLING THE CATTLE
When the tenants refused to pay the rent demands by the landlord, eleven of them were served with writs for the full half year’s rent. They determined to forestall the landlord, and accordingly it was arranged that those against whom legal proceedings were taken should sell their farm stock by auction at Kanturk, on January 4th, 1887. This arrangement was published in the newspapers and after its appearance in print, the rumour was spread about that the landlord would seize under a warrant of distress the cattle that might be brought together for sale. To prevent any such occurence, the tenants arranged to drive their cattle to the fair at Mallow, and there they were sold, some by public auction others by ordinary sale. The weather was extremely inclement that morning. The wind and rain were furious, and yet the threatened tenants brought their cattle, to the number of nearly two hundred, to the fair. A considerable number of neighbouring farmers accompanied the sellers to the fair. The Rev. T. Leader, P.P., Ballyclough, the Rev. Dr. O’Keeffe, the Rev. M. O’Keeffe and the Rev. R. Collins were among the spectators. Mr. Thomas Linehan, auctioneer, Kanturk was the salesman. Before the commencement of the sale Fr. Leader addressed a few words to the crowd that assembled in the fair field in explanation of the reason why they were there under such unusual circumstances. He commended the course the tenants took in this matter, and said they were justified in doing what they had done as a protection to themselves and their families, and as a protest against the unjust conduct of their landlord, Mr. Leader. Mr. Linehan, also, made a few observations on the relations between Mr. Leader and his tenants. He said Mr. Leader farmed 500 acres himself. His business was managed by a trained agriculturist from Scotland, a Mr. Hutchinson, and it would be a matter of great interest to the tenants to know how much profit had been made out of the working of those 500 acres of land during the past two years. He (Mr. Linehan) said he felt perfectly satisfied that the farm had not paid the expense of its working, and that if the accounts were produced for inspection, it would be found that according to the state of them, the tenants on the Leader estate would be entitled to an allotment of 75 per cent of their rents.
The sale was a success, the full value having being obtained for every animal. The cows were purchased by local farmers in lots of one or two each. Amongst the cattle dealers, who purchased some, were Mr. John Slattery, Cork and Mr.Callaghan McCarthy, Kanturk.
Later that evening Mr.Slattery & Mr.Barry, Killavullen were arrested in Mallow for no real reason.
A few days later, a Plan Of Campaign meeting was held at Churchtown to organise the tenants on the Egmont Estate. At this meeting, Fr. O’Keeffe, Kilbrin condemned in forcible terms the action of the police in arresting Mr. Slattery and Mr. Barry, Fr. Collins, Castlemagner showed the gathering the writs that had been served on the Curraghs tenants and said he hoped the men of Churchtown would support them in their fight. He then set fire to the writs.
REMOVING THE HAY
On 12/1/1887 a most enthusiastic demonstration in support of the "Plan of Campaign" took place on Mr.Leader’s estate at Curraghs, attended by upwards of five thousand people, and the Plan of Campaign, already taken up on this estate, was formally adopted. In accordance with preconceived action, the people of several districts, within a radius of fifteen miles flocked in from an early hour in the morning, for the purpose of removing the hay and all the available chattels off the farms of the tenants who had been served with writs by Mr.Leader in this district. About one thousand horses and cars were on the farms, and the hay, which was sold by private sale the previous day to dealers and others, was safely deposited beyond reach of the landlord. Deputations attended from far distant places, and from an early hour, the roads were thronged with people, in anticipation of the extraordinary exciting proceeding of the day. A meeting was held on the estate and addressed by the Rev. Father Collins C.C., Rev. Father O’Keeffe C.C., Kilbrin. Mr. T. Linehan congratulated them upon their adoption of the Plan Of Campaign.
Fr. O’Keeffe said he thought he should be only expressing the sentiments of the tenant farmers of Curraghs in offering to them on their behalf their best thanks for the gallant and generous work they had accomplished that day. By their presence there they had given the rulers of the country to understand that they were determined not to stand by and see their fellow countrymen rack-rented and driven penniless out of the country. They had a right to live in the country and those, who demanded from the tenant farmers of this country, rents which they could not pay, or the land could not pay, were the worst enemies of the country. There could be no prosperity in this country as long as landlordism reigned in the country, and the sooner it came to the ground the sooner this county would see prosperous days. At present, it was the bounded duty of every tenant farmer to stand with his class, to raise his voice, to protest against the system which was pauperising this country, and tell the rulers of the country that they were determined to stand by them and by the tenant farmers for the cause of their dear old country. Of course, they would be looked upon as agitators; as acting as furious demagogues by the class which was attempting to crush the tenant farmers of this country. But, they (the farmers) cared as little for the landlords as the latter cared for the farmers, and perhaps before the landlords were rid of them they would respect the farmers more than the farmers would them. If there happened to be one or two black sheep amongst a body of tenants let them stand aside. There would be no force or compulsion used to drag any man into an agitation for his just and reasonable rights. They should stand aside and let them not be a drag on the effort which the country was making to defend itself against unjust rates. He repeated in the most emphatic terms what he had said at the meeting at Churchtown, that the sooner landlordism goes down, the better for the country. Rev. Fr. Collins C.C., Castlemagner, said he had only to express thanks on behalf of the Curraghs tenantry to all present for their support and encouragement. He should say for himself he was proud in having taken a small part in bringing the matter to a crisis and if Mr. Leader had sense, the sooner he listened to the terms offered, the better for himself, because if before that day Mr.Leader had not sufficient proof that they were in earnest he had it now, and if he wanted further proof of it let him get his agent to proceed with evictions, and the Curraghs men were quite prepared for him. At that moment there were in the hands of an unknown trustee something very close on £300, which was deposited to be used for the simple purpose of forcing Mr. Leader to come to his senses. They did not want to speak violently because they did not require to do so-they spoke practically but determinedly. Once they put their hand to the plough they should not look back, they should fight side by side, the cause of the Curraghs tenants against their landlord. As a matter of fact the work was just beginning. They were only clearing the decks that day. They had only just braced themselves for the fight, and if the landlord sent his bailiffs to Curraghs, he might take all he got. One thing was perfectly certain that the Curraghs tenantry were the first to go into this matter practically. They were fighting the tenants’ cause throughout the country and he ventured to say that, since the land war commenced, in Ireland there was never an incident more pregnant in its importance and in the consequences to the landlords than the meeting and the action they had taken that day and there was no doubt if kindred estates followed the example of the Curraghs men the land question would have settled itself long ago outside Parliament. The action they had taken had been tried by the law and could not be proven illegal. The moneys they got, even if they were seized upon, could not be given to the landlord. That law which had been laid down by the Tory Attorney General, and if right was to be done, the tenant had a great deal more call to it than the landlords.
The Curraghsmen had given the example that they were determined in making one gallant stand, and they called upon the country to give them support. The people, present promised, that as long as they had a penny in their pockets, they would support the Curraghs men, and would indemnify them against any loss they may have incurred in the fight. The action of the Curraghs men would stimulate the men on the Egmont estate at Churchtown to action, and bring Lord Egmont to his knees too if he refused mercy. If Mr. Leader would not get his senses soon and sudden, the tenants would dictate their own terms and when these terms were dictated by themselves they would not be as liberal as they were prepared to make now. The people then quietly dispersed. A number of policemen were present. A monster meeting was held at Kilbrin on 31st January, 1887, to express sympathy with the Curaghs tenantry. Mr. John Dillon M.P. said the Plan Of Campaign was not only just equitable but also perfectly legal since the law of England recognised in the tenant a share in the ownership of the land. The police were to give evidence in court later on of seeing various tenants attend this and other meetings.
SALE OF THE INTEREST OF TEN CURRAS TENANTS
Early in February, 1887, a number of execution sales for rent took place in the County Courthouse. Mr. John Gale, Sub-Sherriff, presided. A good number of people were in attendance, as it was known that the farms of the Curraghs tenants, who had adopted the Plan of Campaign, would come under the hammer. The tenants were all present, and were accompanied by the Rev. Fr. Leader, Rev. Fr. Collins, and Rev. Fr. O’Keeffe, D. J. Daly, D. Daly jun., John Field, Wm. Bennett, M. Lucy, P. Egan, Thos. Frawley, Wm. J. Egan, P. Fitzpatrick etc. The landlord was represented by a Mr. Hanna and after the tenants’ representatives had run the bidding up to within a few pounds of the total amount due, they allowed all the farms go to the landlord’s representive.
The first farm put up was that of Michael O’Brien, Curraghs, the amount of debt and costs being £33 18s 8d. Mr. Hanna (for the landlord) bid £5, and Mr. P. Egan (for the tenant) £10 and the bidding then went on between them until it reached £40. The Tenant said he drained thirty acres of the land, that he raised a loan from the Board of Works in 1884, and he had been reclaiming and improving the farm for thirty years. There were forty acres of wet land in it. He only asked for 20 per cent reduction, and the rent was 50 per cent over the valuation. The farm was knocked down to Mr. Hanna for £40.
The farm of Timothy Connors, Curraghs was next put up. The amount due was £102 1s. Mr. Hanna bid £5, Mr. Thomas Frawley (for the tenant) £10 and the bidding went on to £50 by Mr. Hanna. The tenant said the valuation was £44 3s and the rent £71 odd and he only looked for a reduction of 25 per cent. The bidding then proceeded until the farm was knocked down to the landlord’s representative for £70. The third farm put up was that of Matthew Bluitt, in whose case the amount due was £80 12s 2d. In this case also Mr. Hanna was the purchaser at £50. The farm of` Daniel James Daly was next put up, the amount of rent and costs being £70 12s 8d. The Tenant said the rent was 35 per cent over the valuation.
The bidding this time went on between Mr. Hanna and Mr. P. Fitzpatrick (for the tenant) until Mr. Hanna had bid £60, at which figure he was declared the Purchaser. In the case of Daniel Jerh. Daly, Garrison, where the amount due was £62 15s 2d. Mr. Hanna was purchaser at £50. In the case of Patrick Murphy, Garrison where the amount due was £85 17s 2d — Mr. Hanna was purchaser at 270. The interest in three farms held by John Field at Knockardfree was then put up. The amount required was £125.9s. The farms were knocked down to Mr. Hanna at £95. The next tenant whose farm was put up for sale was Cornelius D. O’Connor. He had held lands at Curraghs containing 75a 3r 5p at a yearly rent of £71 19s 6d. The amount required was £85 6s 2d. The landlord’s representative was declared the purchaser at £65.
The farm of Cornelius B. O’Connor was then brought under the hammer. He had 87a 1r 17p. held at rent of £82 14s 10d. The amount required was £95 12s 6d. The landlord’s representative was declared purchaser at £80. The last farm on this estate sold was that of Patrick Egan. He held 41a 2r 39p, at a yearly rent of £44. At £45 Mr. Hanna was declared the purchaser. Mr.Hanna was loudly groaned and hissed as he left court.
EVICTIONS, STUBBORN RESISTANCE, TARRING THE BAILIFFS
On 9th August 1887 Patrick Murphy, Daniel James Daly, Daniel Jer. Daly and their families were evicted. A determined spirit was shown by the three tenants evicted. The drafting of police into Kanturk the previous evening gave the note of warning to the tenants and their friends. In a few hours hundreds of men assembled together with over a hundred horses and carts, cut down the growing crops of the three tenants and carted them to neighbouring farms, so that the landlord would find nothing to seize, and the sheriffs bailiffs have nothing to do but take possession of the houses, from which all good furniture had been previously removed. But the taking of possession proved a tough job. Mr. John Gale, sub-sheriff`, accompanied by six bailiffs, travelled from Cork by train and at Mallow a number of police joined the train, as did also Major Hutchinson, R.M. When the party alighted at Banteer Station, cars were in waiting to bring them to Kanturk, and here the major body of police, had previously arrived. At ten o’clock, 100 police marched out to Curraghs, and before twelve o’clock the work of eviction had began. A large crowd of people had assembled at the first house to be evicted, that of Patrick Murphy, an old man. He and his wife were the only occupants of the dwelling. He owed a year’s rent (including the hanging gale), and it was thought that the amount of reduction in dispute between himself and his landlord was only fifty shillings, £2.50. The holding contained 57 plantation acres, the judicial and old rent being alike, £55, while the valuation was £41 15s. A steward on the Leader property, named Hutchinson, pointed out the houses to the sheriff, while two estate bailiffs were also present. The landlord did not put in an appearance at the evictions, but his Solicitor and agent, Mr. H. H. Barry, Kanturk, represented him, and got up possession from the sheriff. Mr. Charles Barry was present with his father at the three evictions. When the yard attached to Murphy’s house was entered, Colonel Turner gave orders to have the people cleared out of it, and the police proceeded with great alacrity to carry out the order, a party of thirty baton men being specially told off for the duty. A number of priests were in the yard, and they refused to leave, except put out by force. The clergymen present were - Rev. Fr. Leader, P.P., Ballyclough; Rev. Fr. Morrissey, P.P., Banteer; Rev. Fr. Collins, Castlemagner; Rev. Fr. O’Keeffe,Kilbrin; Rev. Dr. O’Keeffe, Ballyclough; Rev. Fr. McSwiney, Kanturk; Rev. Fr. Kennedy, Meelin. Rev. Fr. Collins said the priests were there in the interests of peace, and he considered it a desperate outrage to say that they should be out of the yard. District Inspector Somerville caught Fr. Collins rudely, but the rev. gentlemen warned him off. The crowd outside now became excited, when they thought hands were going to be laid on the priests, but Mr. Gale came up and smoothed matters by saying that the priests should be allowed to remain, at which the crowd cheered. This unpleasant matter ended, the bailiffs attacked the door, and it being strongly barricaded, they attacked a window, which gave way after sometime. The bailiffs then went inside, and the door was knocked out into the yard. The tenant and his wife were in the house, and when all the barricading materials-pieces of timber and iron bolts were removed, the few sticks of furniture found in the house were easily put in the yard. While this was going on, Fr. Leader asked Mr. Barry was there any prospect of settlement. Mr. Barry said not. Fr. Leader thought Mr. Barry ought to be able to settle if he tried. Mr. Barry declined to have any discussion with Fr. Leader.
Mrs. Murphy refused to leave the house for the bailiffs, and two of them dragged her out, after a struggle, her husband having to be restrained from striking one of the bailiffs. All the Curraghs tenants were present at the evictions, and at the outset, W. J. Egan, one of them, was arrested for groaning at the police, but was soon released. At all the evictions Mr. Barry and his son were hooted and groans were given for the landlord, while cheers were given for the priests and the Plan of Campaign. An English gentleman, named Mr. Fleming (of Bristol) with his wife were present all through, and when Mrs. Fleming saw the work of eviction going on at Murphy’s house she wept. The Kanturk National League was represented by Messrs. T. Linehan, C. McCarthy, C. Vaughan, M. Lucy, P. Renehan and D. Sheehan. The eviction of Murphy having been completed, the doors and windows were nailed up, and the evicting force started for the house of Daniel Daly, sen. The crowd had now augmented considerably, and there was great groaning. The yard was again cleared, and in doing this Mr. T. Linehan was rudely shoved by a policeman. The bailiffs tried the door of Daly’s house, but it would not budge, and then an entrance was effected through a window, after which the door was put out as before. There were two pots of boiling water in the place, apparently intended to use on the bailiffs, but Mr. Gale was the first to enter, and in all probability this was why the water was not brought into requisition. The tenant and his wife, and some eight or nine other persons, were in the house, and when the barricades had been removed, the fumiture was put out in the yard. The tenant then came out, and his wife was pushed out by the bailiffs, with her eyes red from crying, and bearing a little crucifix in her hands. Amid her tears she stated that they were being put out of their grandfather’s place, where they were reared, while her husband cried out “Oh, glory be to God, what a Constitution we live under!" The Kanturk Band now came up the road playing, and Colonel Tumer met them with a body of twenty police, and called on them to stop playing, stating their presence there would lead to a breach of peace. Fr. O’Keeffe said not, that they would preserve the peace. Colonel Turner said he was the best judge of that; he was the law and he would keep it. The band stopped playing, and he ordered the police to charge them at once if the playing was renewed. The band remained mute so that the police did not get an opportunity of charging. While this was going on, on the road, Mrs. Daly in the yard rushed at Mr. Barry and struck him on the head knocking off his hat. The crowd cheered her for the act, while they groaned Mr. Barry. She was arrested for the assault but released shortly after. The eviction of Daniel Daly, senior was soon completed.
The farm contained 30 3/4 plantation acres; the judicial rent £58 (a reduction of 2s 6d on the old rent) and the valuation £43. He also owed a year’s rent including the hanging gale. The house being central for the three evicted, an estate bailiff, named Quirke, with a guard of five police, was put in possession of the house, in order, presumably, that they may have a watch and see that the other two tenants did not retake possession. When the third home was reached occupied by another Daniel Daly, second cousin of the last evicted tenant, the crowd were very demonstrative, but they were soon cleared out of the yard. About a dozen young men had climbed to the top of the trees close to the house, and Colonel Turner ordered them to come down. They refused. One of the priest’s told the men to come down, and they said they would at once do what the priest asked. Repeated cheers were given for the Plan of Campaign, as the bailiffs tried in vain to smash in the kitchen door, tar and hot water being thrown out at intervals at the two head bailiffs as they worked hard to effect an opening. Father Leader called to the people inside not to throw anymore tar, but to offer whatever passive ’resistance they could. The bailiffs now turned their attention to a window in the front of the house, and after taking turns at it for half an hour, the tar and hot water again being lashed out now and then, they succeeded in dragging the window out. In the meantime, two of the bailiffs had their faces and clothing all dashed with tar and hot water. Some stones were thrown by the crowd during the progress of eviction, and a man, named Peter Fitzpatrick was arrested but subsequently released. Six police went into the house, after the bailiffs, and two women Mrs. Daly and Mrs. Murphy were found inside. Their hands were covered with tar, and when they appeared the crowd cheered them. The three young children of the family were not in the house at the time. There was no appearance of the tenant until the eviction was almost closed, and when the door of an attic in the house, also strongly barricaded, was burst open, the tenant and three other men were found in the attic. They were well besmeared with tar. The three men with the tenant were named Patk. Fitzpatick, Timothy Walsh and John Keamey. The men were arrested and taken up the road in custody for a short distance, when they were released on the understanding that summonses would be issued against them. The two women were also informed that they would be summoned for tar throwing. The holding contained 29 acres, the judicial rent £39 (old rent £46) and the valuation £28 10s. Before Mr. Barry had left the yard, Mrs. Daly gave the left side of his face a smearing with her tar covered hands. At half past three the eviction was completed and the evicting party marched back to Kanturk.
Subsequently a meeting was held close to the house of the last evicted tenant. Rev. Fr. Leader was moved to the chair. He addressed those present as friends and parishioners of Kilbrin, and said that it was decidedly an eventful day of their lives. They had witnessed scenes which he hoped they would not witness again. They had witnessed a display of tyrant power which, to some extent at least, had seldom been seen in this island. Some of the most industrious, hard-working, honest and upright tenants that could found in the entire land had been evicted. These farmers had been evicted and their properties and lands and dwellings had been confiscated and rotted. They had toiled hard, made improvements on their lands and built additions to their houses.
CURAGHS LABOURERS REFUSE TO WORK
A few days later all the labourers in the employment of W. N. Leader, at Curraghs, refused to work till he would agree to reinstate the three tenants cruelly evicted, and grant equitable terms to all contending under the Plan of Campaign. "Let him now advertise for a number of the unholy, unwashed, Emergency corps to come to help him to do the dirty work which poor but honourable men refused to do. He may give them 5s a day, and he need not expect that they will overstrain their muscles in doing his work".
REMARKABLE DEMONSTRATION ON THE CURRAGHS ESTATE
On 24 August an impressive demonstration was witnessed on the Curraghs Estate. Every man left his employment at Curraghs and the crops on the farms were rotting, and nobody could be found to cut them down. The labourers in his employment at Curraghs refused to become emergency men and the work of herding the cattle fell on the police and the emergency men in charge. Mr. Leader on hearing of the refusal of his men to work entered personally into the fight, and proceeding to Curraghs, took personal charge of his cattle. Mr.Leader had recourse to his Dromagh workmen and compelled them under pain of evictions to go to Curraghs, and cut down the crops. It was thought that these men would not have co- operated but events proved the contrary.
Early in the morning, a strong contingent of the landlord’s Dromagh labourers with three machines proceeded to Curraghs. Immediately Kanturk was astir and all the leading Nationalists assembled in great force and, accompanied by the Rev.Fr.Collins C.C., and the local band, followed quickly in the rear of the landlord’s party. A force of police was drawn up on the heights of Curraghs who received the mowers and the binders and proceeded them, as they marched off and began to cut down the crops under the personal supervision of Mr.Leader. The Nationalist and Plan Of Campaign procession was, in the meantime, forming and various contingents were arriving from the surrounding localities. Before twelve o’clock, up to 2000 persons had assembled and the Rev.Fr.Collins taking charge of the assembly, got the men into four deep, and accompanied by the priests passed on to where Mr.Leader’s, Dromagh labourers were working. Along the way, something over a mile, cheering continued for the Plan Of Campaign and the Curraghs evicted tenants, the three tenants and their wives in front. At the field where the work was now proceeding, Mr. Leader, with some policemen were standing, and coming out on the road, he faced the procession in a most defiant manner, lit his pipe, and walked on in an apparently complacent mood all along the line. As he approached, the cheering was deafening and as he walked past there were a few groans for Mr. Leader. The Rev. Fr. Collins instantly forbade groaning, but recommended cheering for the Plan of Campaign. Mr. Leader was not groaned, and the immense crowd filed peaceably away. The machines and the men in the field continued their work and the procession went off quietly. When the procession halted, Rev. Fr. Leader appeared, and observed that the landlord had approached him with a view of settlement. Mr.Leader, with four policemen, was at the gate leading into the field, apparently to receive the people, but when they appeared he turned around to walk away. Rev. Fr. Leader approached, but Mr. Leader declined to hear a deputation, and Fr. Leader going in person. Mr. Leader turned his back to him, declined to speak to him, pulled out his pipe, lit a match and threw it at the feet of the Rev. gentleman. This was noticed by the crowd who started groaning and hissing and the hostile feelings hitherto kept in check broke loose and an angry demonstration was made whilst Mr. Leader told Fr. Leader then the settlement he would give was to send up their name to Dublin Castle.
The procession then continued its march on the third field about to be reaped. The people lined the road on both sides and waited the coming of the reapers to the next field. Mr. Leader appeared in front, behind him his machine and men. They were allowed to pass quietly through and reaping operations were at once commenced in no.3 field. About four o’clock, the people assembled in the field adjacent to where the mowing was going on, and a meeting was organised. The Rev. Fr. Leader P.P. took the chair. The Rev.Fr.Collins introduced the Rev.Fr.O’Regan to the meeting.
The Rev.Fr.O’Regan said:- Fellow countrymen, I am very glad to see the enthuiastic and patriotic demonstration here today, called at a moment’s notice for a legitimate and lawful object, and called to show sympathy with those great heroes of Curraghs, and greater heroes still the labourers of Curraghs for I may tell you that I claim the privilege of belonging to the old guard of the Land League, and I do hold during that campaign that it was the labourers carried the flag, and showed amongst themselves more sympathy with the national movement and even more unity than did the farmers. They proved the spirit of their forefathers - they showed that splendid union and unity and they carried the flag of the Land Leagues where even the tenant farmers shied in the commencement. They will be honoured and they will be supported, and even on the spot they will be paid their lawful due for whatever loss they suffered in this case. This is certainly a grand demonstration. I hope you will keep up that splendid unity, and prove that you can hold a peaceable meeting even in the face of a Coercion Act.
The Rev. Fr. Kennedy remarked that those labourers had come from a distant part of the country to reap down the exterminator’s crops and this incident brought back to their minds the conduct of a traitor. He said it was well to show that no man within a radius of ten miles was willing to do the exterminator’s work. They had Mr. Leader there that day threading in the footsteps of the veritable Captain Boycott and believe him (Fr. Kennedy), before many months went by they would find Mr. Leader in his repentant mood, and as perfect an Irishman as they were informed Captain Boycott had become. It was regrettable that in the town of Kanturk, men were to be found aiding, by every means in their power, the exterminator of Curraghs. Referring to the district of Meelin, he was glad that such a great spirit existed in that locality, and that the people of Curraghs had enlisted with them in purse and sympathy, their brother tenants in Meelin, and never until this struggle was closed would a shilling of the tenants’ money at Meelin cross into the hands of Mr. Leader.
Mr. Thomas Lenihan said he was really delighted at the magnificent demonstration assembled to enter its protest against the conduct that was unpatriotic anti-Nationalist, and unchristian. The tenant farmers of Curraghs and the labourers had magnificently assisted them in their effort in favour of justice, in favour of right, and in favour of their National principles.
Mr. McCabe congratulated the people of Curraghs on the stand they had made against tyranny oppression and confiscation. It was the labourers who carried the flag of independence during the Land League. He regretted to see such low scum come there to do the dirty work of emergencymen. The meeting dispersed quietly.
THE BUILDING OF NEW HUTS FOR THE TENANTS
It was decided to erect dwelling (huts) for the evicted tenants on the land of Mr. Fitzgerald at Curraghs. The first sod was turned by Rev. Fr. O’Keeffe C.C., Kilbrin on August 28th. Earlier in the day meetings were held at Castlemagner and Kilbrin, which were addressed by Fr. Collins and Fr.O’Keeffe and at which the following resolutions were adopted:—
“That we, the evicted and other tenants on the Leader Estate, Curraghs desire to express our deepest gratitude to Messrs. Wm. O’Brien M.P. and John Dillon M.P. for the words of sympathy sent us by them through our rev.delegates, Frs.Kennedy, and for the practical support of which said rev.gentlemen were the bearers; and we pledge ourselves to stand steadfast to the principles of the Plan of Campaign to the end. That we, the labourers having already experienced the strength of national organisation and believing our cause and that of the farmers to be identical, we pledge ourselves to the farmers of Curraghs and call upon our fellow labourers of Dromtariff to throw in their lot with us.
“That we offer our sympathies to Father Collins for the outrage inflicted upon him by the lying statement which has been made by the police to the Government in regard to their recent police illegality at the rev. gentleman’s residence, and that we thank the Rev. Fr. Collins for his exertions on our behalf throughout this struggle, and we furthermore desire to protest against the insult offered to the Rev. Father Leader, P.P. by Mr. Leader, the exterminator”.
After the meeting at Kilbrin the Rev. Fr. Collins and Mr. Kelly called together the labourers of Mr. Leader, who refused to work any longer for that gentleman in consequence of his injustice towards his tenants. Fr. Collins paid every man of them a sum equivalent to the wages he had been `receiving from Mr. Leader and they went away highly pleased.
TENANTS IN PRISON
On 15th September 1887 at a special court under the Crimes Act held at Liscarroll, Daniel Jer Daly, Patrick Fitzpatrick, John Kearney were each sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour for unlawful obstruction of the sheriff and bailiff during the evicting of Daniel Jer Daly at Garisson on August 9th. On the night of June 13th, 1888 Daniel Jerh Daly, Patrick Murphy, John Frawley, Timothy Daly, Denis Fitzpatrick and John Field were arrested in their homes and taken to Kanturk barrack where they were kept until late the following evening. They were then brought before Capt.Seagrave and given bail without being formally told of the charge against them. On 25th June all except John Field were sentenced to three weeks imprisonment, on the evidence of two policemen, for having taken part in an illegal meeting at Cloghboola Cross forge on 23rd March. Their appeal was refused at Mallow Court in October. On September 5th, 1888 five more tenants were evicted namely Timothy,Connors, Kilpatrick, Cornelius Connors, Kilpatrick, John Field, Knockardfree, Denis Fitzpatrick and Michael Blewett. Field’s dwelling-house, erected by himself at his own expense, was strongly built and looked a comfortable two storey house. He had his farm in three "takes” about ninety acres. The house was strongly barricaded and fortified. There was a huge crowd of spectators controlled by the police.
John Field’s wife and sons James and John were upstairs throwing out hot water and stones at the bailiffs. The windows on the ground floor were filled up with white thorn bushes. When the crowbar brigade broke down the back door, there was a gate inside with blocks of wood behind it and stones were thrown out through the bars of the gate. There was a portico over the back door which protected the bailiffs somewhat from the hot water. Bailiff Heenan, retreating from the door was struck in the back by a bottle. An emergencyman quickly replied with a heavy stick which struck young Field at the window from which he threw the bottle. The emergencymen then threw stones, sticks or anything they could find. Had the occupants of the house not dodged behind barriers they would have been seriously injured. This illegal behaviour by the emergency bailiffs was looked on approvingly by Captain Plunkett. The police stood round the yard with loaded rifles pointed at the windows.
Two carts laden with ladders and stands were brought into the yard and everyone thought the battering ram was about to be used. Instead they broke a hole in the gable end with crowbars. The bailiff and police entered the house to find the stairs were blocked with bushes. Some stones were thrown down the stairs. Soon James and John Field were arrested and handcuffed. Mrs.Field was also arrested. At their trial in September, the head Constable said he also saw their sister in the house and nobody else.
At Buttevant station Mr. Flynn M.P. and Fr. Buckley offered to go security for James and John Field but Capt. Plunkett refused to allow them out on bail. Fr. Leader addressed the tenants asking them to persevere for the more tenacious they were in their determination to gain their rights, the surer they were to succeed in the end. He hoped they would behave like good soldiers in the fight, he asked them in conclusion to go home quietly after they had heard a few words from their M.P.
On 17th September James & John Field were brought from Cork jail to Liscarroll to be tried for resisting and obstructing the sheriff on the occassion of the eviction of their home. James was sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour. John was sentenced to six weeks with hard labour. Notice of appeal was given and they were allowed out on bail of £50 and two sureties of £25 each. On November 7th the appeal was refused at Mallow by Judge Hamilton.
The Sheriff` had all his trouble for nothing because he left behind in the house a little boy who was concealed in a closet. Police were placed in charge of` the premises for Mr. Leader. Later on in the evening Mr. Flynn M.P. visited the house and a notice was served on the Landlord that the eviction was invalid and told the police or anybody else of that kind would be dealt with as trespassers.
When the bailiffs forced in Denis Fitzpatrick’s door, they discovered a swarm of` bees had been let loose and were in possession of the house.
The Cork Examiner (1887 & 1888)
James Donnelly: The Land People of Nineteeth Century
Folklore Commission, Curraghs National School (1938)
Fr. Anthony O'Brien
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