I do not understand the land situation in Ireland at all. There, I’ve said it. I try not to be judgemental about the system, but it confuses me, which makes researching there more difficult. Who owns which property? How do you know who is living where? Farming where? Is the name I see in two different places in Griffith’s Valuation the same man, or different men?
If the Irish census records from the 1800s hadn’t burned in 1922, perhaps I wouldn’t have this problem. If I could see specific family groups, and then tie them to a particular parcel of land, it might start making sense to me. That’s not the reality, so instead, I do what I can to muddle through. I read articles, watch webinars, and wander around Irish websites in an attempt to figure out what’s what. It’s been slow going!
I can safely say I know more now than I used to, though that’s not saying much! Some pieces are starting to fall into place. My Irish research is all on Mike’s family, with the Nolan/[H]Alpine lines on the east side of the island, and the Carmodys on the west side. The Nolans emigrated from Clonegall, which decided to locate itself at the junction of Counties Carlow, Wexford, and Wicklow. That adds a level of confusion I’ve yet to tackle, so I’ll leave them for another time. We’ll head across the island to Ennis, in County Clare, for Mike’s Carmodys.
I’ve written about his Carmodys on both sides of the Atlantic. Most recently I wrote about the hotel disaster of the “maybe they’re related to us” Carmody line in Ennis. And I wrote about the three Andrews who were first cousins. I also wrote about their grandfather, Andrew, in Brick Wall. That post briefly discussed (complete with map) the land he lived on in The Borheen. At least, I think it was him. He was not, however, the only Carmody in that townland. Was there any way the land records could help me sort them out? Connect some to each other? I don’t know. Maybe. To recap, this was the listing I found in Griffith’s:
Brick Wall didn’t really dig into the details about the land. Many questions still lurked about, and I now realize there were things I misunderstood. I’ll try to tackle those, now.
First off: Francis Gore, the landlord. What’s his backstory? The Gore family first acquired the lease in Drumcliff in 1712, from Henry, 8th Earl of Thomond.¹ It was leased in perpetuity, for an annual rent of £60. One inflation calculator equates that to a current value of £6500. Of course that doesn’t take into account any increase in land value. A better consideration might be that most of Gore’s tennants paid less than £1 rent per year. The land managed by the Gore family extended beyond the Drumcliff parish in Ennis, with seven houses situated throughout their land holdings.
In late 1852, the lease for over 1,000 acres they managed near Ennis was listed for sale, yet a later descendant (another Francis) still maintained over 3000 acres in County Clare into the 1870s—in addition to land leased elsewhere. This family had control over (not ownership of, though!) a lot of land.
That brings up the next point. I’d been confused about why Andrew Carmody was a tennant, if he owned land that he leased to someone else. I didn’t grasp the idea the NO ONE owned the land except the 8th Earl of Thomond! Francis Gore was paying rent, subletting the land to lots of other people, with some of those people (like Andrew) subletting it yet again. Did subletting some of the land one was leasing indicate being “better off” than others? I don’t know. It’s certainly no surprise that North America, and the possiblity of land ownership, looked like a dream come true, to many Irishmen!
The Tithe Applotment Survey recorded another tax assessment based on land. In the Drumcliff parish, Lifford townland, I can find:
- 1833: Jno Carmody, 1 3/4 acres (one of 6 names for that land!)³
- 1833: Patt Carmody, 2½ acres³
Unfortunately, we get only a name; no family members and no maps accompany it. A name with a date and a vague general area isn’t terribly useful, so that didn’t really help.
A complication that cropped up when I looked back at Griffith’s Valuation was the map situation. AskAboutIreland.com located as many maps as they could for each area. For Ennis, they have four. Great! Well, not really, because none of the maps are dated. All the site says is that tinted maps (like below) are most recent. One map had very few parcels, and a very different numbering system, so I believe that one was the oldest.
The other two (below) showed numbers crossed out and new ones written in, matching the later numbers (above). That created a problem for me: which lot 24 did Thomas Carmody occupy? The one lower in the map (below Andrew’s garden), or the one that merged and became part of lot 10? Maybe the lots I labeled above are the wrong ones?
I took the 1855 valuation list, trying to match up the lot acreage to the relative sizes shown on the maps. Lots 23-27 have roughly the same area—10-11 perches. Is that consistent with the tinted map? Pretty much. On the black & white maps, old lot 24 is much smaller than old 23 (new 9) or old 25, which merged with 24 to become new 10. Andrew’s lot 29 on the tinted map (37 perches) seems proportionately larger than 23 and 24, but the old 29 (below the new 10) doesn’t seem to be the right size.
The one “problem” is lot 33, with only 7 perches. On the tinted map, 33 is fairly large—much larger than 7 perches! Old 33 was smaller, most of it “liable to floods.” It’s possible there were only 7 perches of “usable” land on that lot, but how do I resolve the area discrepancy? Which map should I use?Looking at the second page of the 1855 valuation list, I noticed there were 66 lots in The Borheen. The tinted map went only up to lot 59, so it must be after 1855. Both black & white maps have 76 lots. The valuation list needs a different map!
Obviously the lot changes did not occur all at one time. Unfortunately, there’s no time-lapse recording of how they occurred. Presumably they renumbered starting with low lot numbers, and I might be able to recreate the sequence, but I don’t really have time or energy for that. The Carmody lot numbers I need are low enough that I feel comfortable that I have identified them correctly on the tinted map.
For the sake of
my OCD thoroughness, I checked FamilySearch’s database. It provides images of the handwritten ledger pages, though it claims to be an 1845 book. I could not locate a date anywhere on the images, and there are slight name differences, though the Carmodys all seemed to be in the same locations. Ancestry had the printed valuation list, and the earliest map, without the plot numbers.
As a hint, though, Ancestry pointed me to the “Ireland, Encumbered Estates, 1850-1885”4 database. What was that? Apparently, as a result of the potato blight and subsequent famine, tenants couldn’t pay their rents. Landlords couldn’t pay their rents, either, because not enough was coming in. The Encumbered Estates Court was created so lending banks could force the sale of land whose rents were in arrears.
It would be like selling an apartment building. That listing would detail how many units, what the monthly rent was for those units, what the current occupancy was, and so on, so a prospective buyer knew what to expect as potential income. Similarly, the Encumbered Estates records listed each tennant, what the property consisted of, acreage, annual rent, when the “Gale Days” (dates the rent was due) were, and the tenure of each tennant—when the lease was renewable. Some people had longer leases. Most were year-long leases, renewable on 25 March, and some were weekly, renewing on Saturday!
Similar to a personal possession auction, the properties were offered in “lots” of various sizes—both area and number of individual properties. A map accompanied each group of property listings, and there was always a definite sale date to identify time period. These were different maps from the Griffith’s ones, and varying dates! I decided a spreadsheet would be useful to sort out the assorted Carmodys with all the different years. I had 79 entries to process through. There wasn’t enough time to handle all of them, but I was able to complete about a third, which included Andrew, Thomas, and Margaret, who had shown up in the Griffith’s Valuation list.
All three were listed on the 29 June 1868 action that was held at the Ennis court house. As you can see from the map (below), these were different parcels than the ones on the Griffith’s map. They were “town properties” located in the the area now referred to as “The Borheen.”
On the Griffith’s map, this area wasn’t accounted for, though it was visible as the slightly angled road heading away from the “bump up” on the River Fergus, and continuing into the N/S road effectively bisecting the top half of the map. It may have been considered a different section in Griffith’s, so I may need to see if those properties were identified with other people, earlier.
I would LOVE to tie this last map to either Patrick or Michael, sons of Andrew. Both are listed in the 1901 census, but none of the forms list an actual address or lot number. The households were simply numbered in the order visited. The only street name is “The Borheen,” but the map above simply refers to the road as “County Road.” That’s not much help. There’s no map showing the census locations.
Still, I feel confident this was still Mike’s Andrew. It gives documentation that he probably died after 1868, six years after John Joseph’s (Mike’s grandfather) birth. If I have to make a page-by-page search for him in a death register, it gives me a starting date, at least. That’s better than I had!
We were supposed to be in Ennis a week ago, wandering the lanes, looking for these places, taking photos of the properties belonging (hopefully) to Mike’s great-grandfather, Andrew. Sigh. With those plans torpedoed, we’ll have to wait for another opportunity to travel there and explore his family’s ancestral town.
So, do I understand everythinng about land in Ireland? Not even close! I still have questions, but they are different than before. I guess I have more time to research answers before we go. S0, maybe half a win? Or only half a loss?
¹”Estate Record: Gore (Clonroad & Tyredagh Castle)”. 2020. Landedestates.Nuigalway.Ie. http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=1909, accessed 20 April 2020.
²”Griffith’s Valuation, 1847-1864″, database, AskAboutIreland.ie, Ask About Ireland (http://griffiths.askaboutireland.ie), General Valuation, p. 169, for Andrew CARMODY, occupier, The Borheen, Ennis (town), Lifford (townland), Drumcliff (parish), Ennis (union), Islands (barony), County Clare, accessed 7 April 2019.
³”Tithe Applotment Books, 1814-1855″, database, The National Archives of Ireland (titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie/), Jno. CARMODY, 1833; citing Drumcliff, Lifford, Clare, p. 23, accessed 23 April 2020; also Patt CARMODY, 1833, no page given.
4“Ireland, Encumbered Estates, 1850-1885”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 26 April 2020, entry for Andrew CARMODY, 1868, lot # 12, # on map 6, Lifford, Drumcliff, Islands, Clare; citing Landed Estate Records, The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.