The Ballinlass Evictions

The behaviour of the Bellew family is in contrast with the story of the Ballinlass evictions which took place about a mile to the east of the town when the Gerrard family evicted many families from their land, as was reported in a famous account in the Freeman's Journal of 1846 by S. Redmond.

According to this vivid report, 4,000 people had been evicted by the Gerrard family in the last three years. Their means varied, with some better off than others, but all had offered their rents. However, in the words of a local man, a relative of this family, Mrs Gerrard "is the greatest exterminator of tenantry in the country -- perhaps in Ireland, and it is not now she has commenced it -- she is at it more than twenty years … she has turned out hundreds, aye thousands of people for the last twenty years, and, as you will perceive, turned the places into bullock pastures."

This is pitifully contrasted with the poor families lingering around their old houses trying to dig up a few potatoes. A parishioner said to Redmond: "Sir, the parish chapel … which used to be crowded, and where you could not sit on a Sunday by reason of the numbers, is now so deserted that you might make a ballroom of it; for since the people were turned out it is all but empty. The root and branch, and they are now scattered about in all directions."

Ballinlass Evictions Memorial Monument
 
 
 A roadside Memorial Monument at Ballinlass, about one and a half miles from Mountbellew at a lay-by on the Mountbellew-Ballygar road was erected in 2011 to commemorate the notorious eviction of 13th March, 1846.  61 families, comprising a total of 270 people were evicted by local landlord, Mrs. Marcella Gerrard (nee Netterville) who owned up to 15,000 acres in the area. Happening in an era of land clearances, this was the single worst episode of eviction in the country at the time and was universally condemned. It was raised in the House of Commons, by William Smith O’Brien and brought odium on the Irish Landlord system. The families evicted dispersed from Mountbellew some found refuge locally, while the great majority left the area most likely to emigrate. The organising Committee are very anxious to trace the descendants of those evicted from Ballinlass.
 
The memorial design includes the names of all families involved, carved on stone, together with display boards with detailed information.
 
 

 

 

 

01 Aug 2017
Mountbellew 113th Agricultural Show
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01 Aug 2017
http://www.visitgalway.ie/
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