The role of Landlords during the Great Irish Famine

DATE: 28th September 2023
TIME: 6pm
WHERE: EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
COST: Free

What impact did the Great Famine have on landownership and estate boundaries in Ireland? What did it mean for tenant farmers and how did the landed gentry respond?

Using primary archive and secondary research sources, Tailte Éireann, the successor to the Valuation Office, will document how the landed gentry responded to the Great Irish Famine, changing estate boundaries, their treatments of their tenants and how they managed their land in the decades before and after the famine as well as their roles as members of the Board of Guardians of the Irish workhouses.

Our case studies will be:

1. Denny Family (Kerry)

An overview and history of the family estate and how William Denny engaged in a scandalous repayment scheme with the local board of guardians.

2. Mahon Family (Strokestown Roscommon)

Major Denis Mahon and Black 47’. His takeover and ownership of Strokestown, and how this affected the tenancy and repercussions for his role as a landlord seeking profit during the beginning of the Famine.

3. Jack Adair (Derryveagh to Glenveagh Donegal)

A review of the townlands of Donegal pre and mid famine and the impact on the local community of “Black” Jack Adair in Derryveagh and the transformation of Glenveagh.

4. The Board of Guardians and the Workhouses:

Final focus, where did the poor go, the changing landscape and introduction of the poor law 1840-1920s.

About the Valuation Division archives

Tailte Éireann’s Valuation Division (Formerly the Valuation Office) is the custodian of archival records that provide important information and insights into the social history of Ireland. The archive records contain physical archive books, card books and working maps dating broadly from the 1830s-early 1990s. Included in these records is The Primary Valuation of Ireland 1848-64. Better known as Griffith’s Valuation, it provides a complete list of occupiers of land, tenements, and houses. These records are seen as an invaluable resource for genealogical and historical research purposes. The materials from the Valuation Office are an invaluable resource of census data due to the loss of census and state records destroyed by fire in 1922.

Records in Context: Griffith’s first valuation

These records contain over 2 million names. They provide a comprehensive assessment of the rental value of Irish lands and property from the mid-1820s to the mid-1850s. The books reveal where and when individuals rented or owned property and provide rare glimpses of life in starting in pre-famine Ireland. As the Valuation Office was responsible for documenting changes of ownership of land as well as development of property, we can understand the impact of social and economic history as reflected in the land over time.

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